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    • The Slow Bipartisan Slide to Authoritarianism
      The funniest thing about Trump are those who feel he is of a piece, separate from American history, and somehow a break from it.  That this government is significantly qualitatively worse than those that came before, rather than an extension of it. (A good example is immigration policy, in which Trump is somewhat worse than […]
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Pandering to the unscientific base

The CDC just got a new style guide. According to new Trump administration rules, it is no longer supposed to use the words “transgender”, “fetus”, “science based” or “evidence based” in its publications.

Well. Talk about political correctness. I can see the long arm of the evangelical contingent, sweeping the table of any references to things that make it feel oogy. Will evolution be next or will it require a little disclaimer about how “evolution is only a theory and not a fact due to diversity of opinion in the scientific community”.

In general, scientists get a bad rap in this country. I’ll admit that when I spent most of my research career in R&D territory for 2+ decades, it never occurred to me that we were so reviled outside of our enclave. To me, the world made sense when I was surrounded by people who viewed their environment rationally, using cause and effect to guide them.

What’s weird about being out of science in another city is I am amazed at how many people would prefer it if we *didn’t* use evidence based methods to make sense of the world. No, they walk through the world where nothing is predictable, people’s motivations make no sense and rational thought is inferior to thinking with your heart and gut. Paranoia and godliness.

This is stupid. I’m allowed to say that because I’m using evidence based methods to draw my conclusions.

Case in point: there are a lot of people, including people I know who should know better, who are very concerned with North Korea gazorching a nuke across the Pacific at Seattle.

Mebbe. Mebbe not.

What I find a LOT more likely, easier to pull off and much more deadly would be for North Korea to create a bio-weapon. Oh, heck yeah. This is a piece of cake if you can mine a public sequence database and have the equipment to make some synthetic DNA, pick a vector to transfect with multiple routes of infection and play a game of Plague. (Played it. Killed off humanity several times. Then playing God lost its charm) The North Koreans could launch a thousand little new diseases and bring the west to its knees in no time. Engineer a flu that triggers a cytokine storm that takes out a lot of young healthy people. What’s to stop it?

Why isn’t the base freaking out about that much more likely scenario?

Probably because understanding that enough to be rationally fearful of it requires knowledge of evolution and evidence based methodologies and the base is much more concerned with smothering the life out of transgender people and women who have no desire to become mothers because they don’t see it as part of their destiny.

But the base should be concerned because it doesn’t take a lot of money or years of labor to make a biological weapon. Maybe what the base really lacks is the ability to imaginate. They’re really very boring and easily lead. If they weren’t so dangerous to us, we could safely ignore them.

For sure, I don’t expect anyone at the CDC to follow the new guidelines. I guess Trump could fire all of them. It would make for an interesting experiment.

Slightly off topic: earlier in the year when I had heard that Trump was planning to stifle the climate scientists and they were busily packing up their data and ftp-ing it to Canada and France, I mused on Twitter about what would happen to the public databases with NIH research, FASTA sequences and protein databases, the biggest one containing my published crystal structures.

Not to fear, tweeted one involved governmental scientist in charge of the databases, that data is being globalized so it will be safe in another country’s servers, like in Japan.

I should have been reassured.

It actually made me feel more dread, not less.

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