Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Trump war on science is the Republican War on Science

Drawing by Gary Larson.

Something else to be paranoid about from the Trump White House, as if you didn't have enough already, in yesterday's Guardian:
US statisticians are concerned that Donald Trump’s administration might suppress or manipulate public statistics that don’t fit his narrative of the truththe Guardian has learned. In a series of interviews, individuals who have recently left high-level positions at federal statistical agencies expressed worry that the administration may stop collecting and publishing data on subjects such as abortion, racial inequality and poverty.
“We should all be starting from the same numbers. I think that’s a fear that many of us have at this point – it’s that picking and choosing your numbers to suit your politics is not the way that we ought to be doing it,” said Katherine Wallman, chief statistician of the United States from 1992 to 3 January this year.
Trump himself doesn't really need statistics, as Sean Spicer explained:
“The president, he’s not focused on statistics as much as he is on whether or not the American people are doing better as a whole.”
I mean, how would a bunch of numbers help him understand something like that? (He probably suffers from math anxiety too, like David F. Brooks, which in turn threatens his masculinity because dudes are supposed to be good at that, and if there's anything that Donald J. Trump can really not get with, it's having his masculinity threatened.)

Or as Steve M puts it,
To conservatives, anecdotes are the news. At right-wing sites, it's impossible to escape the impression that statistics on crime by the undocumented or violence by Muslims are somehow elitist -- the real truth is in the anecdotes, and only effete bubble-dwelling liberals object that these anecdotes may be unrepresentative.
I just want to remind everybody that this is another one of these dreadful savage-Trump stories that turns out, if you think about it for 14 seconds, to be a story about the Republican party, as it is and as it has been for decades, since Ronald Reagan and his killer trees, the Congressional prohibition against research on gun violence (which I have written about fairly often), and much much more.

Enough for a book chiefly about the G.W. Bush administration entitled, The Republican War on Science, which you probably heard about at the time. Repeat after me:


I don't care if Reagan passed an amnesty for immigrants or Trump suggested (briefly) closing the carried-interest loophole or negotiating drug prices with Big Pharma (he's given that up too, after a chummy meeting with Pharma lobbyists). Trump and House Speaker Ryan are in perfect agreement about the handful of issues Ryan gives a shit about, which amount to making America safe for rent-seekers and sticking it to the rest of us. I know this makes David Brooks sad, but it can't be helped.

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