Scientific American’s editorial board has taken the unusual action of involving themselves in political affairs, blasting Donald Trump for taking “anti-science to previously unexplored terrain” with his denial of man-made climate change and vow to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency.
In an editorial, which is set to be published in the magazine on Sept. 1, the editors of Scientific American wrote that Trump “has repeatedly and resoundingly demonstrated a disregard, if not outright contempt, for science.” They noted that the publication is “not in the business of endorsing political candidates.” However, in this case, the editors felt they had no choice but to “take a stand for science.”
For more than 170 years we have documented, for better and for worse, the rise of science and technology and their impact on the nation and the world. We have strived to assert in our reporting, writing and editing the principle that decision making in the sphere of public policy should accept the conclusions that evidence, gathered in the spirit and with the methods of science, tells us to be true.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who pays even superficial attention to politics that over the past few decades facts have become an undervalued commodity. Many politicians are hostile to science, on both sides of the political aisle. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has a routine practice of meddling in petty science-funding matters to score political points. Science has not played nearly as prominent a role as it should in informing debates over the labeling of genetically modified foods, end of life care and energy policy, among many issues.
The current presidential race, however, is something special. It takes antiscience to previously unexplored terrain. When the major Republican candidate for president has tweeted that global warming is a Chinese plot, threatens to dismantle a climate agreement 20 years in the making and to eliminate an agency that enforces clean air and water regulations, and speaks passionately about a link between vaccines and autism that was utterly discredited years ago, we can only hope that there is nowhere to go but up.
The scathing editorial concludes with a plea to American voters, urging them to take Trump’s anti-science stances into account when they go to the polls in November to choose the next President of the United States.
In October, as we did four years previously, we will assemble answers from the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican nominees on the public policy questions that touch on science, technology and public health and then publish them online. We will support ScienceDebate.org’s efforts to persuade moderators to ask important science-related questions during the presidential debates. We encourage the nation’s political leaders to demonstrate a respect for scientific truths in word and deed. And we urge the people who vote to hold them to that standard.
The editorial in Scientific American comes just a month after an editorial in the Washington Post slammed Trump as “a unique threat to American democracy.” The editors of the Post said that under normal circumstances, they would wait until much closer to the general election before weighing in on any of the candidates, however, this election has been anything but normal. They said in no uncertain terms that they “cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall” because they had no doubts that a “Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.”
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