Before I started writing about politics, I wrote extensively about scientific issues such as agricultural biotechnology and climate change. The day after Trump was elected, I saw many scientists I once respected turn into raving lunatics.
For weeks, I debated these folks on social media, cautioning them against their united pledge to stop Donald Trump. It was alarming to see how readily these scientists were willing to burn the integrity of their work and their professional reputations just because they were angry Hillary Clinton lost.
Which brings us to the escalation of the politicization of science in the Trump era. It’s nothing new—please see climate change—but now leading scientists are producing political documents disguised as research to advance their anti-Trump agenda. The paper issued by George Washington University that claimed nearly 3,000 people died due to Hurricane Maria is one recent example. Authored by a team of researchers at GWU’s School of Public Health, the study makes up imaginary fatalities so the catastrophe looks much worse, which is intended to make Trump look worse. (I deconstructed the study in my piece today.)
Lynn Goldman, the dean of the school, was widely quoted in the media about the report she also co-authored. She also suggested that a follow-up report might be in the works that could boost the death toll even higher. But here’s a problem: Goldman is a former Clinton EPA official and environmental activist. Far from being an objective, dispassionate finder of facts, Goldman is a peddler of climate change propaganda and myths about chemicals and fracking. Her Twitter timeline includes several anti-Trump posts on immigration and health care.
After Trump exited the Paris Climate Accord, she implored her academic colleagues to fight against his decision because it will result in “rising temperatures that will lead to more wildfires as well as deaths from heat stroke.” She’s an outspoken critic of Trump’s EPA: The month before the Maria paper was released, she wrote a lengthy piece in The Hill (where she is a contributor) criticizing the agency’s new secret science rule. In an interview in February 2017, Goldman explained how she would try to avoid implementing any of Trump’s executive orders if she still worked at the EPA.
Goldman is not an unbiased researcher: She is an activist. And that’s why the media and the public should be very wary about this report (aside from its obvious flaws) and seriously question its methodology and results. The scientific establishment made it clear after November 2016 that they would be part of #TheResistance. Their “but, science!” defense just doesn’t work anymore.