World’s largest general science organisation slams Trump’s lack of ‘scientific thinking’

The head of the world’s largest general science organisation has accused the Trump administration of paying “scant attention” to research and lacking understanding of scientific thinking.

Dr Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), pointed to the “great slowness” in appointing people with a scientific background to senior positions.

And he said that scientists had “not been at the table for most of the policy discussions”.

Donald Trump has infamously dismissed climate change as a “hoax”, but Dr Holt said the problems were much more widespread, encompassing a range of issues from public health to the military.

He was speaking amid controversy over the US Department of Interior’s decision to halt a $1m study into the effects of “mountain-top” coal mining on the health of people living nearby. Mr Trump has spoken repeatedly about his desire to reinvigorate the ailing US coal industry.

In an outspoken editorial, the prestigious journal Nature said the decision suggested the Trump administration might cancel other scientific studies it did not like in “another blow for science and for academic freedom”.

Marches for science were held in the US and other cities around the world in April because of concerns over Mr Trump’s attitudes towards climate change and hard evidence generally.

And, in an interview, Dr Holt told The Independent there had been little sign of improvement.

“Within the administration, there’s scant attention paid to science, to the scientific way of thinking, to the support for science, not in policy and not in funding,” he said.

“So it really is not just a matter of great slowness in appointing people who know something about science to mid-level and high-level positions in the agencies.

“It also seems to be a failure to recognise that science has much to offer.”

He said this applied to issues such as public health, social welfare programmes, immigration discussions and “even security and military matters”.

The Washington Post and a non-profit group has been tracking 591 key administration posts that must be confirmed by the Senate. According to the latest figures, just 117 people out of that number had been confirmed in their jobs, 106 had been nominated for a post, two were awaiting nomination and there were no nominees for the other 366 jobs.

The US…

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