Bracing for President Trump

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the U.S. caught nearly everyone by surprise, and fingers were immediately pointed in all directions as the election’s losers looked to lay blame. Chad Orzel offers one relevant narrative: “There are a lot of people who feel like they’re being screwed by a system run for the benefit of people in big cities on the coasts who sneer at them as ignorant, racist hicks.” Ethan Siegel extends an olive branch on Starts With a Bang, saying “we all have our biases, even if we ourselves are scientists,” and encourages EVERYONE to accept the responsibility of becoming more informed in a political climate that drips with misinformation and emotional spin.

On Denialism Blog, Mark Hoofnagle examines the conspiracist worldview and what we might expect from a conspiracist White House, noting “we now have a president and vice president elect who have conspiratorial views on vaccines, evolution and climate change, rejecting, effectively, the most important public health intervention of all time, the underpinning of all modern biology, and arguably the greatest threat to human survival on Earth.” Meanwhile, on The Pump Handle, Kim Krisberg sounds a scientific battle cry, writing “public health has plenty of practice confronting and overcoming powerfully entrenched interests for the greater good. Just ask Big Tobacco.”

Finally, John DuPuis has started to document the damage done by Trump to important scientific issues, such as vaccination. On Respectful Insolence, Orac writes “it’s no surprise that antivaxers are very happy about the election of Donald Trump, and they hope to get something out of it.” The true consequences of Trump’s presidency remain to be seen, but his win is a wake-up call to advocates of science and social justice. We must remain vigilant, and we must remember that without effective outreach and communication, we will lose. As Chad Orzel notes, the fight going forward “involves working to treat everyone with respect and decency and empathy,” and not merely casting stones at those who think differently.

See also:

Myron Ebell, Evil Arch Climate Uber Villain on Stoat

Clinton-Trump Gap in Key States on Greg Laden’s Blog


Prophylactic vs. Poison

The will of the voters in Portland, Oregon has endured for more than fifty years, for the fourth time rejecting fluoridation of the city’s tap water in a ballot referendum.  On Respectful Insolence, Orac writes “public water supplies are a precious commodity. To justify putting something in them requires good evidence of safety and efficacy.”  And continues “since 1945 the fluoridation of drinking water has reduced tooth decay by 40-70% in children and tooth loss in adults by 40-60%.”  Orac respects Portlanders’ right to more cavities, but says “classic antiscience arguments” won the day at the polls.  There were posters and comics likening fluoride to a deadly poison—which, in drastically different concentrations, it is.  Orac says “the dose makes the poison, and the levels used in municipal water supplies has a long history of safety.”  Elizabeth Grossman chronicles a different poison on The Pump Handle: lead, which according to the CDC, will harm you from any exposure.  Unlike fluoride, lead plays no known role in human health, and can cause severe neurological damage.  But it does have useful properties when mixed with paint (among other things).  The US banned lead paint in 1977, but it still exists in some 30 million homes across the country, and is still used worldwide.