Trump and Science
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/11/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23434
Although Trump is called anti-science he simply continues a trend that started with Reagan. Calling him anti-science can mask how his policies and tactics are rational ideologies in the service of neoliberalism.
Trump is often characterized as being anti-science and, more generally, against fact-based thinking. Much that Trump does and says certainly suggests that this view is correct. However, there are important aspects that are missed when we characterize Trump, climate change deniers and others of that ilk as being anti-science.
The same people who espouse some scientifically untenable positions hold other views that are in the main perfectly compatible with science and empirical data. Indeed, it would be difficult for them to function without having a largely science-compatible worldview. Their selective fact-defying positions are not random but determined by their very real material interests.
An important example of this was exposed within the past few years by Inside Climate News. They broke the detailed eye-opening story of how Exxon had perpetrated a climate change-denying fraud that defied and suppressed the findings of their own scientists. In other words, the science that Exxon itself funded and produced was incompatible with its public pronouncements about the effect of fossil fuels on global warming.
As the research of their scientists had the potential to undermine their profit-making model, Exxon opted for suppressing the science instead. This example (along with so many others such as from the tobacco industry) illustrates the problem with treating our political opponents as irrational and anti-science. They are in fact perfectly rational neoliberal actors whose interests lie in suppressing or denying inconvenient facts.