Antiscience Donald Trump elected President – man the science barricades

antiscience donald trump doesn't know science

I disappeared for a few days after the election of a man who espoused racism, xenophobia and misogyny as the reasons to vote for him. His actual policy proposals were threadbare and, if he really believed them, we are looking a historical dismantling of all that is special about the USA. It’s hard to choose what scares me most about this sexual predator’s policies, but the antiscience Donald Trump ranks pretty much at or near the top.

Generally, the Republican party is quite antiscience. Republicans deny climate change. Republicans deny evolution, while Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, is hypercritical of evolution. And of course, Republicans have shown themselves to be vaccine deniers. There’s a lot more, but many of us consider those topics to be in the top 5 list of science denial. Frankly, if someone said that Trump believed in alien visitations and Sasquatch, and he was sending tax money to investigate them thoroughly, I wouldn’t be surprised.

On a broader level, a Trump administration will probably gut science research by cutting funding to National Institutes of Health and NASA programs in basic scientific research. There are probably areas, where Trump will appoint directors who are opposed to the years of science that form a basis of policy.

Despite the press tacitly being in bed with Trump, never really investigating him, Hillary Clinton won the election based on the popular vote, with a several hundred thousand vote lead over Trump. I think most Americans wanted a President who supported science. Sadly, Trump won the election because the USA uses an antiquated and anachronistic method to actually choose the president. A method that is based on needs of 250 years ago and on the negotiations required to get slave holding states to agree to the new Union. But, I’m not a political scientist, and the arguments for and against the Electoral College system of voting would be far beyond what are topics for this website.

Let’s just look at the antiscience Donald Trump, sticking to the key issues of climate change, evolution, and vaccines.

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The Trump Wakefield anti-vaccine bromance – yes, it’s a thing

trump wakefield vaccines autism

Two of the most disreputable public personas today are Andrew Wakefield, fraudulent anti-vaccine “scientist” and liar, and Donald J Trump, fraudulent anti-vaccine presidential candidate and liar. The Trump Wakefield bromance developed over their mutual belief that vaccines cause autism. In case you’re wandering to this blog from another planet, there is absolutely no evidence that vaccines are related to autism.

If you follow this, or honestly any skeptic’s, website, you’d know that Andrew Wakefield is one of the greatest conmen in medicine and science. And to be honest, that’s a tough list. His delusion that vaccines are related to autism has lead to actual harm to children throughout the world, as parents listen to his junk medicine and refuse to protect their children from vaccine preventable diseases.

Of course, most rational people understand Donald Trump’s misogyny, racism, and alt-right beliefs. I’ll let political writers elsewhere continue to point that out leading up to the election. For me, there are so many reasons to dislike Trump, with his anti-vaccine ignorance being near the top.

Lovely, aren’t they? Many skeptics have pointed out Trump’s dishonesty for years. The mysterious Orac has been pointing out Trump’s ignorance on vaccines for years.

Let’s take a look at the budding Trump Wakefield bromance. I promise, it will make you ill.

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Deplorable Donald Trump – creating anti-vaccination Republicans

deplorable Donald Trump

Deplorable Donald Trump, for those who are living in a log cabin off the grid, is a wealthy (according to him) white guy running for President of the United States. Deplorable does not begin to define all that Trump embodies – ignorance of the constitution, sexism, racism, misogyny, white privilege, xenophobia, and institutionalized lying. And since this is a pro-science website, Trump’s anti-science beliefs fall far below the low bar I set for your average Republican.

But his anti-vaccine rants are particularly loathsome. As I’ve written before, Trump is completely wrong about vaccines by claiming that the “massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism.” Wrong Donald Trump, there is no scientific evidence that vaccines are related to autism. It’s hard to choose which of his hatreds are most dangerous, but I would nominate his anti-vaccine stance, because vaccines prevent diseases which can harm children, and protecting children has got to be society’s most important goal.

A little less than 2 years ago, a Huffington Post/YouGov poll found only a modest ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans regarding the science of vaccines – in fact, the difference was 1 percentage point, or essentially, vaccine support was the same between adherents of both political parties.

Unfortunately, the basket of deplorables hang on to every word uttered by the King of Deplorables himself, so one has to wonder if that difference has grown at all over the past couple of years as a result of Trump’s ignorant statements about vaccines. Lucky for us, we’ve got some data.

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Dr. Oz and Donald Trump – two anti-science salesmen promote each other

Dr. Oz and Donald Trump

For those of you returning from an outing to the Andromeda Galaxy, Donald Trump is the Republican candidate for President of the USA. And Dr. Oz is the medical quack who pushes pseudoscience and junk medicine. Yesterday, Dr. Oz and Donald Trump met on Oz’s TV show to talk about Trump’s health record. If you think this showed us anything useful, I’ve got some weed that will cure every cancer.

I was not surprised when, earlier this week, someone announced that Trump would discuss his health with Dr. Oz. My first thoughts were, “of course he would.” If I wanted anyone to do the least critical questioning of Trump, I’d choose Matt Lauer to ask Trump about international affairs, and Dr. Oz to ask him about medical issues.

On many levels, these two conmen are a perfect match. Trump hates real science like vaccines, or climate change. And Dr. Oz loves pseudoscience. Two peas in the same pod.

Since this feathery dinosaur loves politics and trashing junk science, it feels as though it can’t resist the opportunity for some fun. Who wouldn’t?

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Climate change denier is accurate – AP stylebook disagrees

climate change denier

I’m going to guess that a discussion of the AP stylebook isn’t a typical subject discussed in a skeptic blog. But the AP is worried that “denier” is too pejorative, and recommend that the term not be used, which made me take notice. I’m going to take umbrage with their recommendation and state emphatically that “climate change denier” is an accurate description.

Sure, it may be pejorative, but it’s based on the fact that those who deny real science, that is, the conclusion derived from a powerful and robust consensus of expert scientists in a field of study, willfully ignore said evidence and invent their own pseudoscience. Not only do I state that a climate change denier is a factual representation of those beliefs, I also think that a GMO denier, a vaccine denier, an evolution denier, and a Holocaust denier are essentially equivalent – each ignores the massive and robust mountain of evidence to come to an unsupported conclusion.

I think the use of “denier,” to anyone who rejects the scientific consensus, is accurate and acceptable. And it’s like several of orders of magnitude better than the “climate change skeptic” used by the deniers to make it sound like their denialism is actually scientifically based. Because real scientific skepticism is an honorable pursuit in which constantly questioning and doubting claims and assertions is based only on the accumulation of evidence. It requires the use of the scientific method, where claims, facts and theories are relentlessly tested and reviewed.

Deniers attempt to co-op the word “skeptic” when they really are just doubters and cynics who can’t be bothered with evidence or cherry pick just enough evidence to support their pre-conceived notions.

I want to look at what the AP Stylebook has recommended. I would like to know if my pre-conceived notion that denier is an accurate description for anyone who rejects the scientific consensus.

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Medically unfit Hillary Clinton – the doctor behind the myth

Medically unfit Hillary Clinton

Since I am a political geek as much as a biomedical geek, I love it when the two occasionally intersect. If you haven’t kept up, some right-wing websites, like Breitbart, are pushing a trope that claims that a medically unfit Hillary Clinton is incapable of becoming President of the US.

I couldn’t resist commenting on this, because there’s really so much to say. Let’s start with the basics – Breitbart is a right-wing website that seems to use the Natural News method of facts. You know, invent facts out of thin air.

You may not know much about Breitbart, but actually, they’ve been slithering around the Donald Trump campaign for a long time. Last spring, a Breitbart reporter was actually assaulted by Trump’s then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Eventually, Breitbart suppressed the news, because Trump was their guy, and the reporter, Michelle Fields, resigned from the website.

But the incestuous relationship between Breitbart and Trump gets even juicier. This week, Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, will become the Republican campaign’s chief executive. I’ve never heard of a chief executive in a political campaign, but I guess my feelings would be “whatever.”

If you think that Breitbart is anything but a right-wing nut job website who’s in bed with Trump, you should disabuse yourself of those notions quickly. It is a right wing nut job website in bed with Trump

But back to the “medically unfit Hillary Clinton” trope. Let’s see where Breitbart got this “fact.” Because it has something to do with Gardasil – maybe not directly, but I’m having fun here. Just go with it.

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Nobel laureate Andrew Wakefield – and other delusions

Nobel laureate Andrew Wakefield

You’d think I would be kidding, but I am not. But I am not the delusional one. Yes, there is an effort to try to get the world’s greatest scientific fraud to become Nobel laureate Andrew Wakefield.

I know. I have to give all of you a few minutes to vomit or go scream at the wall. Please, take your time. I’m here for you.

Before you get too upset, this is just a change.org petition. Change.org is probably the least one can do to effect change in the world. Many of us think it’s the center of the slacktivist universe.

What’s a slacktivist? Well, it’s those individuals who think they’re making change by literally sitting on their butts and sharing a meme on Facebook.

What I’m saying, in so many words, is that there is more of a chance that sasquatch exists than the Nobel Foundation even considering Wakefield for any award. Then again, Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for US President, so who knows? Maybe the Nobel Foundation will drink too much aquavit and wake up the next morning with a hangover – Wakefield is announced as the winner by some clerk.

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Jill Stein anti vaccine message – be aware progressives

Jill stein anti vaccine

The focus of this blog is science, though I occasionally wander into other topics. But in today’s world science and politics intersects a lot – and mostly politics comes up woefully short on science. Case in point, the Green Party in the USA has a candidate for President of the US, Jill Stein, who may deny more science than your standard Republican. For example, the Jill Stein anti vaccine message should make every progressive run away.

Before I delve into Dr. Stein’s anti-vaccine beliefs, I want to point out why I think that both those on the left and right need to be taken to task for their beliefs trumping science. If a politician denies scientific evidence to come to their own personal conclusions, then how can they be trusted to use real evidence to come to conclusions about anything else?

Do you want your leaders to use bad evidence or maybe invented evidence to start a war that killed thousands of young people and nearly bankrupted several economies? Well, that has happened recently, when President George W Bush used weak or invented intelligence reports to cause the world to go to war. Unsurprisingly, President Bush was also an extreme science denier.

There are many reasons why scientific facts shouldn’t be a political volleyball, but they are, with people bouncing it back and forth until someone gets exhausted. To be fair, science isn’t a volleyball. To most of us, it’s a mountain that can only be moved with higher quality and quantity of evidence, not by badly done metaphors from the science deniers.

Let’s take some time to examine the Jill Stein anti vaccine belief – it makes her really the same as your every day science denying Republican.

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Bernie Sanders embraces alternative medicine – UPDATED

Bernie Sanders embraces alternative medicine and pseudoscience.

For regular readers of this blog, you know that I’m a progressive plus being a strong supporter of scientific evidence. I don’t spend a lot of time writing about politics, though I am a strong critic of the left when it comes to science. And it’s time call out a presidential candidate, who is not Donald Trump –  Bernie Sanders embraces alternative medicine which is not good for health care.

Senator Sanders is a self-proclaimed “socialist” or social democrat, although I doubt he would compare economically to real socialists or social democrats in Europe. His brother, a Green Party politician in the UK, probably would make a real socialist. He fits the crunchy liberalism of the state he represents, Vermont. These are generally the progressives I criticize the most – generally anti-vaccine, anti-GMO and pro-alternative medicine.

Sanders has promoted GMO labeling, a policy that will lead to increased food costs for those who least deserve to pay more for food.  For those of us who look only at science based evidence for claims, there is little difference between climate change deniers and GMO deniers.

Even though there is absolutely no evidence (unless cherry picking is your thing) that GMO foods are a health risk, individuals like Sanders push that trope to probably pander to his most liberal supporters. Or maybe Sanders embraces pseudoscience, because that’s his core belief. I’m beginning to wonder.

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Hey Donald Trump – vaccines do not cause autism

Donald Trump and vaccines

Let me start with this simple fact based on an enormous amount of scientific evidence – vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines are unrelated to autism. There is no correlation between vaccines and autism. How many different ways should we parse this?

Annoyingly, there is a broad swath of vaccine deniers who continue to make this claim, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence. If this idea weren’t so dangerous to preventing diseases in children, it would be laughable.

The myth that vaccines are related to autism can be squarely blamed on MrAndy Wakefield who fraudulently alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. Wakefield published his claims in the Lancet, a mostly respected medical journal who seemed to have forgotten how to do proper peer review. However, it was retracted by the journal, while most of Wakefield’s coauthors disavowed the findings.

Predictably, this lie has had the effect of suppressing vaccination rates in many countries.

Of course, given the dangerous comments about vaccines made by Republican presidential candidates, like Donald Trump, Ben Carson (ironically, a neurosurgeon) and Rand Paul (we’ve laughed at his vaccine denial before), maybe the new data would disabuse them of their science denialism about vaccines?

Probably not, given that the Republican Party is mostly a science denying party. Sadly, there are a lot of science denying Democrats who agree with Trump on vaccines, unconvinced by real scientific evidence and seduced by logical fallacies. This is why we can’t have good things.

Obviously, we need more investment in research that vaccines do not cause autism – maybe a recently published one will convince the vaccine deniers.

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