While speculating on details like who Trump will ask to replace John Holdren as his science advisor, scientists should not just be asking what Trump will do for them. They should face up to the difficult question of what they should be doing for Trump.
Some have already written off Trump’s yet-to-be-named science advisor. For instance, Robert Cook-Deegan of Arizona State University says, “For Trump, I’m not sure [his science advisor] would matter, because there won’t be any ‘policy’ apparatus… Science won’t get much attention, except when it gets in the way or bolsters support for a political priority.” Marburger was called a “prostitute” upon taking the position under Bush.
Scientists who choose not to engage with a Trump Administration risk fueling the resentment and disenchantment that brought it to power. The scientific community could respond to the populist surge by devoting more attention to understanding the consequences of technological innovation on society, while developing alternatives paths to ensure that its benefits are shared more equitably and negative consequences more effectively anticipated and blunted.
For scientists and other experts, the surprise election of Donald Trump to the US presidency comes with choices. Many of us were dismayed at the Brexit vote and now the election of Donald Trump.
Judith Curry‘s reflections:
I was struck by an article earlier this week in the WSJ: How Donald Trump Filled the Dignity Deficit. It is focused on the white working class voters (the so-called ‘deplorables’). Here’s to hoping that a change from the Obama/Clinton world of encouraging advocacy science can restore dignity the community of scientists that choose not to advocate for progressive causes and prefer to go where the evidence leads them. Scientists (not to mention professional societies) calling other scientists ‘deniers’ and worse who directly or indirectly challenge their political causes and preferred policy outcomes needs to stop. Otherwise the scientific enterprise in the U.S. risks longterm damage.
JC message to scientists: Lets try to use the opportunity afforded by the election results to minimize advocacy science, support funding priorities that will serve the public good, and provide the best evidenced-based advice (tempered by a careful uncertainty assessment) that we can.