Dissing Science

I’m hardly going out on a limb with the prediction that the next few years will be tumultuous. A manifestly unqualified candidate who lagged the “loser” by nearly 3 million  votes will occupy the Oval Office, and he has sent daily signals that he intends to dismantle important institutions of American government and pursue policies that most of us will bitterly oppose.

Our government hasn’t been working properly for some time; hopefully, once the fever breaks–assuming our utterly clueless “Commander in Chief” hasn’t destroyed us all in a nuclear war– this unfortunate election is likely to precipitate a crisis that will force us to make long-needed repairs to our civic infrastructure.

Of course, in the interim, if Trump and the Republican Congress follow through on their threats to shred the social safety net, a lot of people are likely to suffer and die before the damage can be undone.

The two biggest dangers we face under a mentally unstable President and a cabinet filled with know-nothings, however, will not be “fixable” at some saner future time. One is the prospect that Trump actually will use nuclear weapons in response to some provocation; the other is that his administration will set back efforts to abate climate change until it is too late to ameliorate much of the damage.

I understand climate change denial from people like the Koch brothers, whose economic interests are tied to fossil fuels. I’m at a loss to understand the success of their cynical disinformation campaign with people who should know better.

A recent New Yorker article quoted George Orwell,

In a 1946 essay, George Orwell wrote that “to see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” It’s not just that we’re easily misled. It’s that, by “impudently twisting the facts,” we can convince ourselves of “things which we know to be untrue.” A whole society, he wrote, can deceive itself “for an indefinite time,” and the only check on that mass delusion is that “sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality.” Science is one source of that solid reality. The Trump Administration seems determined to keep it at bay, and the consequences for society and the environment will be profound.

Case in point: Myron Ebell–who heads the EPA transition team.

In the aughts, as a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, he worked to kill a cap-and-trade bill proposed by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; in 2012, when the conservative American Enterprise Institute held a meeting about the economics of a possible carbon tax, he asked donors to defund it. It’s possible, of course, to oppose cap-and-trade or carbon taxes in good faith—and yet, in recent years, Ebell’s work has come to center on lies about science and scientists. Today, as the leader of the Cooler Heads Coalition, an anti-climate-science group, Ebell denies the veracity and methodology of science itself. He dismisses complex computer models that have been developed by hundreds of researchers by saying that they “don’t even pass the laugh test.” If Ebell’s methods seem similar to those used by the tobacco industry to deny the adverse health effects of smoking in the nineteen-nineties, that’s because he worked as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.

When Ebell’s appointment was announced, Jeremy Symons, of the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “I got a sick feeling in my gut. . . . I can’t believe we got to the point when someone who is as unqualified and intellectually dishonest as Myron Ebell has been put in a position of trust for the future of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we are going to leave our kids.”

We can eventually fix the damage a Betsy DeVos will do to public education; we can (probably) repair the damage to civil rights likely to be done by Jeff Sessions, and the sorts of unfortunate measures likely to be taken by others in the cast of inexperienced and unqualified characters being nominated for cabinet positions.

But if major portions of the earth become uninhabitable–and millions of people die or are forced to migrate as a result–a return to sanity and respect for science and “solid reality” will come too late to repair the damage.

As someone once said, elections have consequences.

Tomorrow is Christmas; I’ll try to be more cheerful….


  1. Watching the move “Soylent Green” should be required viewing for those who support Trump/Pence and the tawdry list of cabinet appointees. They might also watch “The Grapes of Wrath” to understand how this country – and the world – can begin moves to possibly reach “Soylent Green” levels of Climate Change and Global Warming.

    As with the cause of so many deaths; causes can only be found at autopsy…which is the condition we will begin nearing after January 20, 2017.

  2. So much that’s been brewing is coming to a head. It feels to me like we are now an occupied country – occupied by Americans! By all of those abominable American qualities we used to export and deny were ours.

  3. Myron Ebell must be one of the people that pence worships, since pence publicly stated that tobacco use did not cause cancer. Pence is the real evil in trump’s administration and I can only assume that he is personally creating the team of destroyers that will be in power next month.

  4. “Follow the money” indeed.

    Here is how I see the coming attacks on the EPA. As Republicans have gained power over a majority of states much of their motive behind these power grabs and then solidification of that power has been to gain control over the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. And how do they do that? Why, they just don’t fund enforcement. When you control the state legislatures this is as easy as taking candy from a baby. Oh, my state of Indiana has very strict environmental laws and regulations, but what good are they if you do not fund their enforcement? So if Republicans already have it their way, why go after the EPA? Because the EPA speaks truth to this abuse of power, and Lord knows the Republicans cannot tolerate any entity shining the bright light of truth on them.

  5. This is a Koch and ALEC administration. Big Oil is using the same game plan used by Big Tobacco.

    If you like science, you should read Albert Einsteins famous dictum called “Why Socialism” written in the 1940’s. He called communism and capitalism, “evil”. He used science and spirituality to explain why. He was right then, and he’s still right.

    The institutions built under capitalism are failing us. It happened slowly over time, but the corruption inherent in an economic system which rewards greed was inevitable. I can’t honestly think of one institution remaining which hasn’t been tainted with power/corruption/money.

    Hoosiers should know what a corrupt environmental agency looks like…we have IDEM. The republicans owned by Koch and Duke Energy have been running the show for decades. They know how to create an inept regulatory agency. The sole purpose of IDEM is to protect the corporations behind pollution. Of all the states, we are the only one with four super polluters. There are four power plants around Evansville pumping out toxins.

    Cancer in this region is a major consequence, but where are the studies? Where is the data collection? Where is the American Medical Association?

    I know a pediatrician connect the dots between our infant mortality rates and mercury from those smoke stacks. She and her associates went to Indy to testify to this and their microphones were turned off. In the statehouse, they aren’t allowed to speak the truth.

    So, is this a state run by the people, for the people?

    No, it’s a state run by employees of a corporation for the corporation. It doesn’t matter what political persuasion you identify with, corporations run this state and they run this country. Einstein told us this in the 40’s. George Carlin made fun of this in the 80’s.

    Nobody is laughing now, but if we think voting in 2020 is going to fix what’s wrong, you don’t grasp the problem.

  6. Todd, I totally agree with you. There is not one institution in this society that is not corrupt to the core. How will this end? Perhaps it won’t. The other possibility is too bloody to contemplate.

  7. Republicans have this tendency to submit to impulse. Every psychologist of any merit has said that lack of impulse control is a marked characteristic of immaturity. In the way-back old day when I was a child, we had to wait for dinner to get ready before we could all eat together. That was in the year of BTV (Before Television). A host of Americans have an immature perspective on the universe, as if it were a candy store one can plunder at any hour. Currently our big “candy” is oil, which should be used rarely. We have pillaged the earth and raped mother nature so much we think it is normal. It’s like the old chemically crafted artificial “butter” commercial wherein mother nature says, “You don’t mess with mother nature!” No people know that better than scientists. Margarine turns out to be laced with chemical preservatives and other dysfunctional elements. But it is cheap. I like margarine; I’ve gotten used to it. Now, what was I trying to remember.

  8. Todd; your last paragraph says it all. But I have been wondering if the voter purge will be expanded well beyond African-Americans and if any of us will have our right to vote in 2020? I’m old, disabled and deaf; Trump believes deaf people are retarded. Will religion become an issue for keeping our voting rights? Will registered Democrats and Independents be purged from voter lists? The GOP owns the government outright at this time; science, environment and pollution may become minor issues and simply staying alive will become our main objective. Trump and Ryan are “making a list and checking it twice” to know whose food stamps and health care to remove next.

    The “God bless us, every one” list will be made by Pence; It will be a shorter list than if he has to make a list of those to omit from “his God’s” blessings. There are many issues in our future we haven’t considered yet; our simple civil and human rights such as our basic existence as Americans.

  9. I have come to appreciate the prophetic nature of H.L. Mencken’ statement,”Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” I find that the Trump supporters are living in a fact-free zone where they believe that he is out to get those nameless bureaucrats, and until it starts to hit the fan they can do that. It’s macho to recklessly insult and threaten China, but when the Chinese target the Red states, cancel their soybean contracts and send the farmers into bankruptcy, or they triple the price of car parts, the pitchforks will come out. You don’t have to know anything to wave your flag for ideology, but even the truest believer can count the money in his pocket. They will get what they want “good and hard”.

  10. When it comes to ” science” remember what Richard C. Hoagland ( NASA science advisor to Walter Cronkite ) said about current attitudes .
    The current thought is that if something has NOT been proven TRUE , or FALSE , then it is NOT to be considered.
    THAT constitutes DOGMA, which is religion, which IS mind control by definition.
    Everything that Sheila has said here , I have heard for the last 6 years watching Infowars , Matt Drudge , and Breitbart. The only difference here is that Sheila is twisting it to make it seem like he – Trump is in with the Koch Bros . , and George Soros – a self admitted anti-Semitic Zionist who is NOW financing a website called Snopes, who is to be put in charge of defining and eliminating ” fake news”.

  11. Sorry, but could you explain what an “anti-Semitic Zionist” is? I guess I missed that in my reading.

  12. I see the next year, and no more than two, as the final exam of Congress. With Trump we know what we are getting. And so, whether I agree with them or not on policy, it will be their collective willingness to stand up to the bully President that I will be watching. I wish I could say I am optimistic. I cannot. But our climate and nuclear proliferation are certainly issues worth marching for. There are no arrests on my resume. Perhaps it’s time to act like MLK rather than just admire him.

  13. I have often blogged that total corporate control of Americana is my greatest fear, greater than Putin, Iran or anything or anybody else, and that we are being taken over from within and not without, by Wall Street and not by Putin, Iran or Chinese trade treaties (though Putin did have more than a passing influence in our recent election). We are being taken over not by Republicans but by corporatists; Republicans are merely their paid help in effecting the corporatists’ ultimate aim, to wit: the total ownership of every socioeconomic institution we thought we had while telling us to enjoy the blessings of our democracy. That’s democracy?

    Evidence? Well, corporatists first begin with the destruction of trust in government. Then they enlist government’s statutory and rule-making power into a brand of corporate socialism marked by lower taxes and regulation of the corporate (and especially banking) sector, all the while feeding the manipulated gentry with incessant propaganda of how private enterprise and a free market are the answers to all our ills and that government is oppressive and bad for America. Having thus prepared an unwary public to buy in to corporate control and having greased the skids for such purchase with inane Supreme Court decisions financing the venture, they then proceed to elect a president and Congress who espouse the above and take control of every facet of political, economic and even social Americana.

    When this happens (if it hasn’t happened already), we will be living in a world of what I have designated as corporate fascism, even though such fascists will continue through their propaganda organs to insist that we are living in a democracy. Don’t believe it. The practice of democracy requires rist that we are self-governing, not governed by kings, emperors or corporations, and where we are headed (if not there already) is serfdom, not democratic rule.

  14. Bill Bailey, yes, I think the question is how much time will have to pass and what will have to happen before the Congress actually asserts itself and tells this guy to stop. That’s the only way this whole charade will come to an end, because he has no empathy or willingness to understand the meaning of his reckless behavior, but these (mostly) guys seem not to have the moral courage to act on their own. The pressure will have to come from the constituents. And if/when he is confronted with a list of 300 members of the House who are willing to impeach him if he doesn’t change, he will simply resign. It will be a big and bitter pill for the Republicans to swallow,but they do have Mr. Empty Suit Pence (who can easily be pushed around) waiting in the wings. I wonder how that will be finessed. In resigning, he will blame everyone for his resignation. He wants the authority but not the responsibility. This guy is really a mess.

    Today’s lesson: Write to your Republican representative soon and often. You certainly have enough to write about. That’s the only way things will happen.

  15. An Anti Semitic Zionist is one who is a Zionist Jew , but will send other – Kazarian Jews to death camps. Soros pointed out fellow Jews to the Nazis to remove. He did this when he was in his early teens – 13,14.
    He has bragged on this in an interview on 60 Minutes .
    Another example of Anti Semitic Zionism is Adolph Schepplegrubber , who change his last name to Hitler to avoid being exposed as a Jew.

  16. You are definitely a Republican and believe the world would have been save if Hillary was the incoming. Except she would be facing the same Real Issues none of which you discussed

  17. Trump is a con man with a Con-way.

    The world now has literally no idea what he, or now America, will or won’t do

    Will he merely concentrate on building his brand, looting the Treasury or establishing a dynasty?

    Nobody in the world has any idea. (Except for maybe Putin and Comey)

    However the Republicans are now forced to take an actual stand on several issues.

    Education, energy, the environment, healthcare, SS and Medicare, Wall St regulation, welfare, the size of the military, deficit reduction, etc.

    They are literally like the bus chasing dog who suddenly finds himself with a mouthful of number.

    Now what?

  18. The Climate Change deniers and the Evolution Deniers (they travel in the same anti-knowledge ship) constantly tell us our science is wrong or flawed. OK, IMHO we should throw it back at them. Tell us where we are wrong. Which formulas are incorrect, which values are suspect. Make them prove we are wrong. So far it seems the deniers throw these wild punches out there, but are never called upon to prove the science of climate change, or evolution is incorrect. As an exaggeration to make my point – We say 2 + 2 =4, you say it is 5. Tell us why we are wrong.

    Those of us who do believe we are polluting our selves into extinction should not respond with more scientific reports when challenged. (Not that more science is bad thing) We need make the deniers scientifically and/or mathematically justify their critiques. Then we can consider and expose source of their critiques.

  19. William Schraer; if Hillary were the incoming president, we would be facing what we have been dealing with the past eight years. A Democratic president controlled by the Republican Congress; a much more welcome future than what we are facing with Trump, Pence, Ryan and the incoming White Nationalist party. Which makes even having a future questionable. No thinking person voted against Trump expecting miracles; merely the continuing right to live as Americans without fear of nuclear war.

  20. The overarching denial of science stems from the ignorance produced by most right-wing extremist churches and “think” tanks. It is pure politics. How, for example, is our might military going to expand and become even bigger and stronger without those pencil-pocket protector people doing what they do to defy the science advances in the countries of our enemies?

    To deny science is not only a practical folly, it is counter-productive and dangerous. Clearly, these people who want to deny science and its progressive-driving outcomes, have no idea what they’re talking about and need to be removed from positions where they are harmful by we the people.

    Start by finding your local chapter of Progressive Democrats for America and volunteer. Get to work to save the planet and everything on it from the vagaries of for-profit everything. How much profit is there when the Earth has been ruined such that it can no longer support human life?

  21. A good book title might be “When Ignorance Triumphed”.

    Of course those against political correctness love it when it is directed towards them and would object when “ignorant” came their way.

    But it is an accurate description of the mess that we are in which is a direct consequence of the post-truth era.

  22. Trump believes that by greatly increasing our number of nuclear weapons we will force the rest of the world to come to their senses and disarm. What kind of crazy logic is this? The guy is looney.

  23. “The Trumps Administration seems determined to keep ‘Science’ at bay” in reading a recent business article about Trumps Realestate Empire and the source of his perceived wealth he values those assets as needed to fit his on needs for leverage, or net worth to fit the situation he is operating in, always with great plans, huge plans the best plan that develope them into billions of dollar.
    Trumps stock and trade will never be based in Facts or Science because truth pops his false reality bubbles that makes up Trumps world.
    If he excepts Science truth then he looses his ability to shape his message , and if those around him try to alter his views of his truths they will be “Fired” and I suspect we are about to hear that word a lot. It fits his command style perfectly.
    My fear for America is the death of Truth, Facts and Integrity . And if our Free press does not step up and claim their right to expose and share those Facts and Truths.
    I’m fearful for Americas future, we just saw in America where a large portion of Americans living in that red state Arch of Ignorance and the pride they took in the fact that their ignorance was equal to or greater than edicuated views. This is the MO Trump functions in best claiming “he likes uneducated people” because it easy and lazy to share that false reality bubbles feeling confortable that Trump is just like them and shares their uneducated false hopes for America” Take America Back” means for them ” Take America Back To Where My WASP Status ruled the Nation and Held Power in the World.

Comments are closed.