By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Last Saturday (April 22nd) was a very important (and busy) day for the scientific community. The March for Science (formerly known as the Scientists’ March on Washington was observed with a series of rallies and marches held in Washington, D.C., and more than 600 other cities across the world; and it was also Earth Day. According to organizers, the march is a non-partisan movement to celebrate science and the role it plays in everyday lives. The goals of the marches and rallies were to emphasize that science upholds the common good and to call for evidence-based policy in the public’s best interest.
These public demonstrations took on even added significance this year, considering the new political reality in the Nation’s Capital. As is evident by the fact that the man that now occupies the White House and leads this country, fervently subscribes to the unscientific belief that climate change is a hoax. Hence, it’s truly essential that we have people who are willing to stand up for science and facts.
With a newly launched group now advocates that we should stop holding our breath waiting for politicians to embrace science. Instead, scientists should become politicians themselves. The group named 314 Action, after the first three digits of the number pi, has undertaken as its mission: to encourage politically-engaged scientists to run for office at all levels of government; to connect them with traditional sources of campaign funding; and to get as many scientists elected during the 2018 campaign cycle as possible. The hope is that with more politician scientists speaking sense on issues such as climate change, they will serve as a counterbalance to the anti-science policies that have arisen mainly on the right.
Unfortunately, this blatant dismissal of evidence- based research and facts is just the tip of the iceberg. Donald Trump and his political hacks have taken it a step further and openly admit that they not only rely, but make policy decisions, based on “alternative facts.” Clearly, this would seem to be the case. On most days, Trump appears to live in his own alternate universe and routinely makes statements that are blatantly false or outright lies. For example, Trump created a firestorm when he falsely alleged that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign or when he claimed that an “armada” had been deployed to North Korea, when in fact these U.S. warships were heading in the opposite direction to Australia for joint naval maneuvers.
At the end of the day, Donald Trump’s proclivity for using alternative facts should be seen for exactly what it is: A political ploy to mask his utter incompetence, lack of experience and propensity for lying. Someone should remind Mr. Trump that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own set of facts.