Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Trump effect is rapidly undermining science all over the country.

Remembering the way things used to be.
Courtesy of CBS News:

The science division of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was unstaffed as of Friday as the three remaining employees departed this week, sources tell CBS News. 

All three employees were holdovers from the Obama administration. The departures from the division -- one of four subdivisions within the OSTP -- highlight the different commitment to scientific research under Presidents Obama and Trump. 

Under Mr. Obama, the science division was staffed with nine employees who led the charge on policy issues such as STEM education, biotechnology and crisis response. It's possible that the White House will handle these issues through staff in other divisions within the OSTP.

That actually may prove difficult since the entire OSTP is dramatically understaffed.

"All of the work that we have been doing is still being done," a White House official familiar with the matter told CBS News, adding that 35 staffers currently work across the OSTP. 

"Under the previous administration, OSTP had grown exponentially over what it had been before," the official said. "Before the Obama administration, it had usually held 50 to 60 or so policy experts, director-level people, for all of OSTP." 

The Obama administration staffed the OSTP with more than 100 employees.

35 down from 100, does not seem like a large enough staff to handle too many extra duties, and now with the science division completely vacated it does not bode well for the representation of science in the White House.

But wait, there's more.

Courtesy of Slate:  

Scott Pruitt is hatching a new plan to turn his personal and unreasonable denial of the accepted science on climate change into official federal policy: He’ll employ military tactics to review climate science to assess the “truth.” Or, as a new report in E&E News’ ClimateWire put it, Donald Trump’s EPA chief is “leading a formal initiative to challenge mainstream climate science:” 

The program will use “red team, blue team” exercises to conduct an “at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,” the official said, referring to a concept developed by the military to identify vulnerabilities in field operations. “The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals ... provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science," the source said. 

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

This is being presented as an adversarial way to get to the best science. But in fact we already have that.

It's called "peer review," and what it means is that any scientific paper outlining a new theory, or some progress on an old one, is submitted to a number of other scientists in that field who then test its research and findings to see if they can be replicated and that they are based on sound scientific principles.

If the answer is no, then the paper and its findings are rejected. If the answer is yes, it meets the criteria, the paper is accepted. However it should be noted that scientific research is constantly being revisited and challenged, all of the time.

Having a paper published, and a theory accepted, does not mean that it will never be examined and challenged again.

In other words a "red team" if you will, already exists.

So what Pruitt is suggesting is finding a team of folks who may not be from the scientific community to challenge actual climate scientists, and the only reason to do that is to find a way to undermine the kind of science which fossil fuel companies argue is standing in their way of their profit margin.

But hey it could be worse, they could allow just any idiot off the street to challenge the science.

You know, like they are doing in Florida:

Any resident in Florida can now challenge what kids learn in public schools, thanks to a new law that science education advocates worry will make it harder to teach evolution and climate change. 

The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) this week and goes into effect Saturday, requires school boards to hire an “unbiased hearing officer” who will handle complaints about instructional materials, such as movies, textbooks and novels, that are used in local schools. Any parent or county resident can file a complaint, regardless of whether they have a student in the school system. If the hearing officer deems the challenge justified, he or she can require schools to remove the material in question. 

The statute includes general guidelines about what counts as grounds for removal: belief that the material is “pornographic” or “is not suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented, or is inappropriate for the grade level and age group.” 

Proponents of the new law say it makes the challenge process easier for parents and gives residents a greater say in their children's education. And state Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples), who sponsored the bill, told Nature in May that his intent wasn't to target any particular subject. 

But Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Council for Science Education, said that affidavits filed by supporters of the bill suggest that science instruction will be a focus of challenges. One affidavit from a Collier County resident complained that evolution and global warming were taught as “reality.” Another criticized her child's sixth-grade science curriculum, writing that “the two main theories on the origin of man are the theory of evolution and creationism,” and that her daughter had only been taught about evolution. 

“It's just the candor with which the backers of the bill have been saying, 'Yeah, we’re going to go after evolution, we’re going to go after climate change,'" that has him worried, Branch said. 

With Trump in office the Republicans are emboldened to take on their greatest foe.....facts.

Especially scientific facts which anger their corporate masters, or undermine the religious belief that drives so many of their supporters to the polls.

Donald Trump was not simply spouting nonsense when he said that he "loved the poorly educated."

That is the backbone of the Republican party.

The more of those you can create, the longer the party remains in power.

And what is the value of scientific fact or human progress when weighed against power?


  1. Anonymous4:17 AM

    Yes, facts and reality are pesky creatures. Republicans keep them as far away as possible. When there are ocean waves cresting on Pennsylvania Avenue, do you think Republicans will acknowledge the reality of climate change?

  2. Anonymous4:55 AM

    Yeah, deny science but watch 'em whine when the power goes out. Come to think of it, how about fireworks?

    My biggest head shaker, though, is "there's no such thing as global warming because it's snowing outside."

    I've pounded my forehead so much of late that I swear I've left a dent.

  3. Grey One talks sass5:46 AM

    The scariest part of climate change for me is where scientists state the climate model predicted for 2050 is happening now. I've read reports which say when the Gulf Stream collapses, and it will, then events get 'exciting'. Whew, so glad 'climate change' is just a hoax (////s)

    In a just world those who put profits ahead of humanity would be paraded in front of crowds as a source of ridicule. We don't live in a just world, at least not yet.


  4. Anonymous5:49 AM

    That stupid bit again about evolution/creationism. One is science. The other is religion. The most any science teacher should ever say about creationism is that some people believe, without evidence, in creationism.ike some people believe in unicorns. Want to know more about it, see the religious institution of your choice.

    1. Anonymous6:00 AM

      I was raised in the church, and I just do not GET their frame of mind. Two totally separate entities, and they CAN peacefully coexist if they'd let them.

    2. Anonymous9:15 AM



  5. As the "original" Stephen Colbert used to say, "Facts have a liberal bias."

  6. Anonymous6:09 AM

    Where are all of the brilliant people Trump said he had lined up to make America great again? The Trump administration does not fill vacancies and reduces staff. Almost daily the administration undermines or slashes resources that clean up and protect our country and the planet.

    I suppose eliminating funding and jobs can make a dent paying for the Trumps' long weekends promoting his properties playing golf out of town.

    1. Anonymous6:59 AM

      And he's a shitty golfer at that.

    2. Anonymous12:41 PM

      Gannon, remember, HATES government. The big plan now is to shrink it by not filling positions. Not sure where those salaries are going, but you can bet it's not toward the poor, public schools, or research.

  7. Anonymous6:50 AM

    "And what is the value of scientific fact or human progress when weighed against power?"
    apocalypse or end times...nothing...

  8. Anonymous6:56 AM


  9. Leland7:10 AM

    Let's say - just for the sake of argument, okay? - that this "Team" effort actually goes into affect. How long do you think it will take Humpty Trumpty to stick his tiny little fingers into their pie and demand they find as he believes?

    What's that you say? He's already got his fingers in there? DING DING DING DING! You win today's booby prize!

    Of course, the fool knows absolutely NOTHING about science and little enough about religion so....

    We are SO screwed. Even with as little time as he's had in office it will take YEARS to correct what he's already f**ked with.

    "Space" anyone?

    1. Anonymous12:42 PM

      "What would we do without space?" Lord, the space between his ears is empty-maybe we can put 'space' there?

  10. Anonymous7:21 AM

    INCOMING ALASKA! and it ain't potatoes!


    1. Anonymous7:33 AM

      Blowing up!



  11. Anonymous8:05 AM



  12. Anonymous8:09 AM


  13. Anonymous8:11 AM


    because of the process used to update the law — it should have been done through the Supreme Court, not the legislature according to Florida’s constitution.
    “As a matter of constitutional separation of powers, that procedure cannot be legislatively modified,”

  14. Anonymous8:29 AM



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