In a rare move, Scientific American’s editorial board has taken a stand against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “antiscience” views, including his denial of man-made climate change and pledge to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency.
Trump “has repeatedly and resoundingly demonstrated a disregard, if not outright contempt, for science,” wrote the Scientific American editors in an editorial that will be published in the September 1 edition of the magazine. The editorial noted that Scientific American is “not in the business of endorsing political candidates,” but is taking a stand for science this year because the current presidential race “takes antiscience to a previously unexplored terrain.” Scientific American concluded that it will support ScienceDebate.org’s efforts to persuade moderators to address science in the presidential debates and “encourage the nation's political leaders to demonstrate a respect for scientific truths in word and deed.”
The Scientific American editorial follows a July 22 Washington Post editorial that came out against Trump as “a unique threat to American democracy.” The Post editorial board stated that while it would typically wait to weigh in on the candidates until much later in the campaign, it “cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall” because a “Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.”
From Scientific American’s editorial titled, "Donald Trump’s Lack of Respect for Science Is Alarming”:
Scientific American is not in the business of endorsing political candidates. But we do take a stand for science—the most reliable path to objective knowledge the world has seen—and the Enlightenment values that gave rise to it. For more than 170 years we have documented, for better and for worse, the rise of science and technology and their impact on the nation and the world. We have strived to assert in our reporting, writing and editing the principle that decision making in the sphere of public policy should accept the conclusions that evidence, gathered in the spirit and with the methods of science, tells us to be true.
It won't come as a surprise to anyone who pays even superficial attention to politics that over the past few decades facts have become an undervalued commodity. Many politicians are hostile to science, on both sides of the political aisle. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has a routine practice of meddling in petty science-funding matters to score political points. Science has not played nearly as prominent a role as it should in informing debates over the labeling of genetically modified foods, end of life care and energy policy, among many issues.
The current presidential race, however, is something special. It takes antiscience to previously unexplored terrain. When the major Republican candidate for president has tweeted that global warming is a Chinese plot, threatens to dismantle a climate agreement 20 years in the making and to eliminate an agency that enforces clean air and water regulations, and speaks passionately about a link between vaccines and autism that was utterly discredited years ago, we can only hope that there is nowhere to go but up.
In October, as we did four years previously, we will assemble answers from the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican nominees on the public policy questions that touch on science, technology and public health and then publish them online. We will support ScienceDebate.org's efforts to persuade moderators to ask important science-related questions during the presidential debates. We encourage the nation's political leaders to demonstrate a respect for scientific truths in word and deed. And we urge the people who vote to hold them to that standard.