- One of his first acts in office was to place a gag order on federal scientists reporting their results and removing their past scientific reports from government websites.
- Trump denies empirical evidence that torture is not an effective interrogation method.
- He appointed a Secretary of Education who thinks that schools funded with public dollars should teach Christian doctrine, something that has consistently involved rejection of evolution in favor of creationism.
- He appointed a climate change denier as head of the EPA. More generally, his EPA appointee denies many well documented scientific links between pollution and public health harms.
- He has proposed deep budget cuts to science funding in the National Institute of Health (NIH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Department of Energy (DOE), and directed funding away from Earth oriented climate research in the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA).
- He insists that vaccines are connected to autism.
- He has appointed an attorney-general who has discontinued efforts to improve the accuracy of forensic science in criminal investigations to reduce wrongful convictions:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers.
In a statement Monday, Sessions said he would not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science, a roughly 30-member advisory panel of scientists, judges, crime lab leaders, prosecutors and defense lawyers chartered by the Obama administration in 2013.
- His attorney-general has also supported empirically untrue statements about marijuana, for example, stating that heroin and marijuana are equally harmful.
Evidence That Conservatives Are Anti-Science
The connection between U.S. conservatives and the anti-science movement is real and is largely a product of the strong ties between U.S. conservative politics and Evangelical Christianity (see the links in this article on the topic).
These ties started to develop when Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater adopted a Southern strategy, but Nixon established the EPA and Trump SCOTUS appointee Neil Gorsuch’s mother lead that agency. The Evangelical merger with conservative Republican politics really took hold in the 1980s.
There are particular points of contention including:
- the teaching of creationism in schools (see above), Republicans in the rank and file are also more creationist in their beliefs,
- support for abstinence only education which has been empirically proven not to work,
- taking the position that birth-control and abortion are equivalent (see also this article and the links therein),
- denial of climate change,
- faith healing (especially denying children modern medical care under the rubric of parental rights),
- embrace of scientifically false statements that rape cannot cause pregnancy,
- rejection of the use of forensic science to exonerate the wrongfully convicted (see above),
- opposition to stem cell research:
[O]n every poll measure for which data are available, Republicans are less supportive than Democrats. About half of Republicans favor medical research involving embryonic stem cells (52%) and believe that such research should not be forbidden (51%), as compared with two thirds (67%) of Democrats on each of these measures (VCU 2010; HSPH 2011). On the question of federal funding, a majority (58%) of Republicans expressed opposition, whereas a majority (70%) of Democrats said they were in favor (CNN-ORC 2010).
- conservative claims that natural disasters and diseases are God’s wrath.
Anti-Science Positions On The Left
There are anti-science positions on the left as well as the right.
- The left tends to underplay the fact that there are meaningful sex differences both physically and psychologically.
- The left tends to overstate the extent to which race lacks a biological component. While it is correct that definitions of race vary culturally and the meaning of race varies, it tends to ignore the obvious fact that sociological race is heavily correlated (in part due to history) with the geographic place of origin of one’s ancestors and that geographic ancestry can be ascertained with genetics in an objective manner.
- The left tends to have exaggerated perceptions of the benefits of organic agriculture and to understate the benefits of non-organic agriculture and GMOs in preventing world hunger.
- The left tends to be unduly skeptical of the reality of IQ as a construct and of the extent to which IQ is hereditary.
- anti-vaccination sentiment is roughly the same across the political spectrum and is not unique to conservatives. (Of course, it is perfectly possible for more than one political party to share a particular anti-science opinion.)
But, despite specific policy driven instances, the political left, in general, tends to have much more trust in the scientific establishment and a more positive attitude towards science.
Scientists and the Political Left Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Many allegations (from, for example, Fox News and political commentators such as Ben Shapiro) indicate that the Science March of 2017 is organized and promoted not by scientists, but by US left wing politics instead.
The notion that scientists and the US left wing politics are exclusive of each other that this statement assumes, is false.
Many scientists, either by happenstance or as a result of their experience as scientists are part of the political left in the U.S. and it is hardly crazy to think that the March on Science could be organized by people who are both scientists with wide backing in the scientific establishment and active in the political left in the U.S. with wide backing in that community.
This is not to say that there are not any conservative scientists (although only 6% of scientists identify as Republican), by all means there are and indeed on most college campuses, the sciences tend to be relative “safe spaces” for conservatives among faculty and students alike. But, scientists are, for example, systemically less religious than non-scientists, and non-religious people are far more likely to lean left in their politics than right, although there are exceptions (e.g. noted blogger and conservative atheist Razib Khan).