Why American scientists should care about the political state of the nation.
Humans are very good at self-deception, and at believing we’re thinking rationally and dispassionately when the opposite is true. One way we deceive ourselves is thinking and saying that “science is apolitical”. What we really mean, of course, is “science should be allowed to pursue the ends we like, without undue interference from politics” (with hands out for government grant money).
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States really brings the political nature of science to the forefront. Even before he has taken office, Trump has met with antivaccination groups, tweeted that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China, and threatened government regulations on food safety, water quality, and environmental protection. Some of these things are more obviously science than others, but they are all areas that are informed by science, and affect all of us.
Climate research is an obvious branch of science that is and has been under political attack. Trump spokespeople have already said NASA’s climate studies will be defunded in favor of other programs. Since NASA Earth-observing satellites provide a lot of the essential publicly-available data for climate ...