Okay… It’s a little bit of a deviation from the normal type of post that I do, but I couldn’t remain silent.
Recently, my Facebook and Twitter feeds blew up with people objecting to political involvement in science. I was in the dark as to what was really going on. I had posted on my Facebook page the following message:
My Facebook and Twitter feeds are currently blowing up about something the Trump has done with regards to #science, and I have no idea what has happened. The feeds are suggesting tighter regulations for scientific research, cutting funding to particular areas, but I can’t seem to find details or facts — just a lot of hot-headed remarks about science being real. Can someone help a girl out and point me to the real facts of the latest frenzy?
It took a significant amount of research of my own, but I was able to work out what were the root causes for concern. At the end of January (when I first wrote this post), Trump had yet to appoint key science-related positions and there were rumors that he was looking at appointing non-scientists (people that have publicly shot down science as a hoax) into some of these roles. The most noted was Trump’s nomination of former Texas governor Rick Perry as the head of the Department of Energy, a post that has been held by respected physicists.
There were gag orders in place within several US governmental scientific departments, with people wondering if these were just orders for the transition or whether they would become permanent policy, muzzling scientist who just happen to work for the US government.
The Environmental Protection Agency was one such agency under gag order, with scientific findings requiring political review before they are released to the public.
The heads of many scientific organisations were being stonewalled, unable to get any answers out of the current administration as to what was happening. I will grant Trump has been in office for less than a month, but surely in this technological era, one would think that any government would want its scientists on its side.