President-Elect Trump Is An Existential Threat To America's Scientific Legacy

President-Elect Donald Trump campaigning in New Hampshire back in August 2015. Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

“I Have A Very Good Brain”

Trump claims to be smart fairly often, something that strikes us as suspiciously defensive. Then again, he “knows words, [he] has the best words,” so fair play to him. Most people don’t know words. If you can read this sentence, then you must be, at the very least, as smart as the future President.

For someone so cognitively advanced, however, he does appear to mention very little about so much science that impacts so many people. Where are all the policy positions on the state of the oceans, or on volcanic or earthquake hazard preparation? What about funding for the National Institutes of Health, investing in technological entrepreneurs, or looking into artificial intelligence or self-driving cars?

Speaking at the UN climate conference in Morocco this week, the Sierra Club’s head Michael Brune told reporters that “Trump must choose whether he will be a President remembered for putting America and the world on a path to climate disaster, or for listening to the American public and keeping us on a path to climate progress.”

He defiantly added that “Trump better choose wisely. Otherwise, we can guarantee him the hardest fight of his life every step of the way.” Although he specifically referred to climate change here, he could be talking for a plethora of scientific fields.

Trump is a uniquely, unprecedentedly, ignorant President-elect with no urge to begin to understand or appreciate the scientific method and its remarkable achievements. The office of President is not as powerful as he might imagine, though, and the arc of progress will still continue towards a scientifically enlightened future whether he likes it or not.

It does, however, require those who are scientists and engineers – or just those who recognize how important science is – to stand up and fight for their profession and their goals. So please, by all means, do give Trump the hardest fight of his life.

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