Wednesday, September 16, 2020


As an old college professor, one of the things that has distressed me the most about Donald Trump and the Trumpistas is their attack on facts, truth, and reason. They have created an alternative realm of existence that is based on untruths, exaggerations, "alternative facts," and wild and baseless conspiracy theories. President Trump lives in this imaginary world of a reality of his own making. Apparently, he says whatever comes to his mind without regard to truth, even if he could define objective truth. Whether something is empirically verifiable is irrelevant in this self-created world. The Washington Post has documented more than 20,000 of Trump's public lies since he was sworn in as president. His attacks on science are well-known and well-documented: e.g., his egregious withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. What makes this anti-reason all the more serious is that Trump apparently has no moral or ethical principles so that cause and effect have no bases in objective reality or guiding principles. Statements and their aftereffects are merely expediences of the moment, and they may change in the next moment. This is evidenced in the chaotic and tumultuous nature of Trump's administration. There is no stability.

In ordinary times, this alternative universe may not have been a big deal. We could have just shrugged it off as a president's harmless idiosyncrasy. However, these are not ordinary times. Trump's parallel universe of unreality has had, and is still having, a deadly effect on us the American citizens. We the people are paying a big price for his denial of the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and his subsequent failure to define a national policy and enact a coherent, concerted effort to mitigate the most serious public health crisis in a century. Nearly 200,000 of our fellow citizens are dead. This is one (huge) cost of denying science.  

For the first time in its 175-year history, the highly respected, non-political magazine, Scientific American, has come out to oppose Trump's reelection. It has just published an editorial endorsing Joe Biden for president. It is an eloquent statement, well worth the read. 

Trump's attack on science in general is appalling, but to me two aspects are the worst: the denial of climate change and his (continuous) public denial of COVID-19. He is now even holding packed rallies where he himself is protected but no one else is. These are super-spreader events where thousands of his devotees gather. They live in this parallel universe where there is no science. Taking their lead from the president, many of them call the disease a "hoax" cooked up by the "fake media." They simply refuse to believe science. Someone defined a religion as a system where the leader dies for his followers and a cult as a system where the followers die for the leader. If so, Trump has a cult. He will not die for them, but some of them are likely to die for him. This is a result of the denial of objective truth. This is dangerous now and for the future; and those of us who value facts, truth, and reason ought to say so before matters get even worse. 

I recommend the Scientific American editorial. Find it here.  I for one thank the editors for this. No one could have said what needs to be said better.