William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Nature: The Scientists Who Support Trump — I’m Quoted

Sociology is, as is well known, doomed.

Sociology is, as is well known, doomed.

Sara Reardon from Nature magazine, the most widely read science journal in the world, put the word out: what working scientist would admit publicly to supporting Trump?

Why wouldn’t any scientist admit to supporting one of the two (major) nominees to the presidency of the once United States of America? Maybe the responses to Reardon’s tweet give a clue.

“>crickets<”

“I’m doing a side piece on ignominious career blunders, mind if I borrow some quotes”

Who’s up for murder? “you will tell us if you find one? We need them for our herbarium.”

“I cannot see how someone with adequate knowledge in the scientific method could agree with Trump’s statements.”

“HAHAHA. As if any Trump-supporting scientist is going to commit career suicide by admitting such.”

And then the truth: “Come tell us who you are, so we can put a blackmark on your career file! Not even a Nobel Prize saved Watson.”

The scientists who support Donald Trump

“Science policy fades into background for many who back Republican candidate in US presidential race.”

Finally the article itself.

[Kaylee, not her real name, a woman biologist and Catholic is for Trump.]

Trump, a Republican, has run a brash, often divisive, campaign that has prompted some leading members of his own party to disavow him. He has drawn criticism for his treatment of women, his pledge to block Muslim immigration to the United States, and his plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Still, Kaylee says, “I am 100% certain I will not vote for Hillary Clinton,” Trump’s Democratic opponent, despite her fears that supporting Trump could harm her job prospects…

Her fears do not surprise Neil Gross, a sociologist at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Surveys have shown that conservative faculty members are a minority in US universities, although the proportion varies by field (see ‘Field reports’). “My sense is that the candidacy of Donald Trump has really intensified disputes that were there already in academic life,” Gross says. “If Republicans in academia and science felt uncomfortable before, I think the candidacy of Mr Trump has made them all the more uncomfortable.”

[Our friend Stan Young is for Trump, as is a fellow named David Deming, a geophysicist.]

William Briggs, a statistician at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, likes the fact that Trump has not emphasized science. “The federal government has become far too involved in setting the scientific agenda,” says Briggs, who argues that Obama has misused science in politically charged debates over climate change and energy policy. “I think Hillary would worsen that.”

…[Kaylee’s] lab’s principal investigator…has given her a safe space to express conservative views.

But not everyone is so lucky. And as the 8 November election nears, talk of the hard-fought presidential race grows trickier to escape. Some scientists who support Trump worry that political discussions in the lab will not only harm their careers in the long term, but also hinder current collaborations with colleagues, and waste time…

My affiliation is off slightly. I am an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell, in charge of nobody and nothing and with no funding; and I don’t live in Ithaca (once voted the most enlightened city in the world). I spoke with Reardon for some forty-five minutes: another day I’ll discuss the important details of that conversation. Meanwhile…

Did you notice it? Was it obvious?

Imagine if Reardon wrote this: “Some scientists who support Hillary worry that political discussions will not only harm their careers in the long term, but also hinder current collaborations with colleagues.

You can’t imagine it, can you. The very idea is preposterous! Of course supporting Hillary wouldn’t be problematic; indeed, it is the only sane thing to do. Nobody anywhere, even at the most “conservative” institution you can imagine, would suffer more than a sidelong glance for supporting Hillary.

But Trumpers have to go underground, like “Kaylee”, if any part of their careers are ahead of them. If they are near retirement and mostly untouchable like Young, they can speak out. If they are on the outside and resigned to that fate, like Yours Truly, there’s no more harm that can be done by revealing themselves.

The reasonable fear of unthinking vindictive colleagues is a prime reason to support Trump.

Nature, perhaps wisely, turned off comments to Reardon’s article. But there’s been reaction on-line. Responding to a tweet of the article’s title, one fellow said “All four of them :-)”, to which Reardon replied, “Plenty more who didn’t make it in there or changed their minds. And people are afraid to admit it.”

A non-scientist science-worshiping journalist said “Sounds to me like mental gymnastics to look past his contempt for science.” Note: science is not a conscious being worthy of worship. Try saying “He has contempt for walnuts” to see what I mean.

Dumb jokes abounded, like: “Some scientists support Trump (many anonymous due to strong bias of colleagues in favor of rationality and facts).”

There were numerous bug-witted responses to Nature’s original tweet.

“THEY’RE CRAZY SAME THAN TRUMP.”

My favorites, “yes, when you a RACIST, you always support another RACIST regardless of facts” and “pitiful scum… Poor excuse for a scientist. But yeah, racists back racists…”

Only a racist? Sigh. I am also a homophobic trannyphobic Islamophobic sexist.

The article just came out, so there’s bound to be more reaction. I’ll see that updates are put here; and you can add finds in the comment section.

14 Comments

  1. Bet you never thought you’d see your name in *Nature*.

  2. Some holiday. I hope you’re getting enough beer.

  3. I’m waiting to see the mental gymnastics that the media and universities go through should Trump win. How does one resolve the decades of “enlightenment” tossed out the window, leaving those who were claimed to be Godlike and all-knowing in their views on society out in the cold. Only so many “dark ages” references are possible before people just shut out the whiners* who lost the election. Of course, no one will call them whiners, because you actually have to listen to them to know if they are whiners or not. Ask the NFL…..

    *(Term courtesy of the current mom jean wearing, bike helment wearing, “I just found out on the news” POTUS in reference to those who do no like the current nature of elections.)

  4. I was also interviewed by Ms. Reardon for about 45 minutes, but I didn’t want my affiliation known, and that was an obstacle to making it into the article. I was worried I came across as paranoid, but apparently I’m not the only one feeling the apprehension of this new McCarthyism.

  5. I. J. Kennedy, you are not paranoid, not in the least. Where I teach, I know of someone who was let go, in part, for not teaching global warming. When it came my turn to teach that class you better believe I changed my tune! I had pictures of Al Gore, hockey stick graphs, polar bears, and melting ice everywhere. Heck, if they paid me enough I would have went out and bought a Prius.

    Academic freedom my @$$.

    And yes I know the article talks about supporting Trump, but as many know who read this blog, if you don’t tow the line on the liberal agenda, sayonara!

  6. I’m not surprised at the high liberal percentage in astronomy/astrophysics. Some years back, a former acquaintance who was working at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics–he was an astrophysicist studying the sun–and I got into a debate about climate change. Somewhere along the way I made a remark about the “NPR crowd,” to which he took great umbrage. I mean it, he was stunned that I thought NPR was largely silly and totally left-wing groupthink (state radio). Anyway, he was as certain that climate change was a soon we’re all going to be dead if we don’t turn off the lights kind of wingnut as your average brainwashed 3rd grader. He was a physicist!

    Your graph corroborates my fears. Astronomy is lost.

  7. RE: “…not vote for Hillary Clinton,” Trump’s Democratic opponent, despite her fears that supporting Trump could harm her job prospects…”

    … “Of course supporting Hillary wouldn’t be problematic; indeed, it is the only sane thing to do. Nobody anywhere, even at the most “conservative” institution you can imagine, would suffer more than a sidelong glance for supporting Hillary.”

    Duh … obvious to many independents a those on the Right (and, many on the Left!):

    NOTE: As the Wikileaks is making increasingly clear, it’s not the real Hillary that the mainstream Left supports, its the public facade — the pretense — they like … and choose to believe is the reality.

    … and how dare anyone pop that blissful image by supplying facts that prove the self-inflicted [by willfully imposed ignorance] delusion!

    The real Hillary, based on speeches, etc. with Wall Street firms & the like, could almost pass for a particularly opportunistic Republican … but as the revealed correspondence shows, manipulating the Democratic constituency for selfish gain is much much easier…like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a6YdNmK77k

    The mainstream Left sidesteps the acknowledgment of reality by focusing on something closely related — now, who allegedly hacked the accounts to reveal documents that reveal their two-faced nature. That’s the problem they’ll focus on to preserve their delusions & twisted philosophy, the hackers…not the revealed truths.

    Curiously, Black Sabbath succinctly summarized this kind of mindset in “Children of the Grave” (off their 3rd album, “Master of Reality”):

    Revolution in their minds the children start to march
    Against the world in which they have to live
    And all the hate that’s in their hearts

    They’ll fight the world until they’ve won
    And love comes flowing through, …

    In the song at the time written, the fear was nuclear war … but the philosophy described was and remains an accurate summary of the extreme Left — immature minds (“children”) rebel out of hate (Wikileaks has revealed some of the depths & depravity of that hate) and expect love & some form of social Utopia to result. Utter nonsense — as history keeps showing, hate can never be the genesis of wholesome love in any form, including some “Utopian” society.

  8. “Astronomy is lost.”
    Dr. James Hansen, global warming zealot, was trained in physics and astronomy. If I recall correctly, he warned us all the Arctic ice would be gone by 2016.

  9. Good Morning, America! This has happened all over. Think of the affairs with Sir Roger Scruton well in advance of his knighthood. Think the fate of those who spoke out against miserable Reich-Ranicki, the “Pope of the German Literature Critics”. And so on, one could conceivably fill in pages with similar bitter stories virtually from any branch of sciences and of any countries – at least from Europe.
    Apart from being a disgusting trait it is completely insane serving only destruction via a really uncontrolled world with only positive feedback. A dreamworld turning into nightmare.

  10. You are utterly deplorable! Conform to the norm!

  11. Congratulations! It is amusing how the media act as if it is shocking that anyone might deviate from the orthodoxy.

  12. Nothing will change unless Trump seizes the endowments, purges the institutions, razes the buildings, and salts the earth where once they stood.

  13. Humans are social beings, and as such quite sensitive to the “pride” they belong to. The political preference of the “pride”, the scientists, by and large, is democratic/liberal. And the “pride” will embrace those who align with the “pride”, but ridicule, offend, and expel anyone who disagrees.

    So far for Robert Menton’s “universalism, communism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism.”

  14. Briggs, since you are a scholar, a writer and an academic, I wonder if you (and your accomplished readers) would consider adding your name(s) to the list of notable Trump supporters compiled by Dr. Paul Gottfried, Dr. Walter Block and Dr. Boyd Cathey?

    To be eligible: “If you are unsure whether or not you qualify as a scholar (we are looking for those with PhDs, academics, and professors, and those with medical, law, engineering, architectural and other such professional degrees, also masters’ degrees, published writers and authors) err on the side of including yourself, but give us more information about yourself. In order to do the most good, we want this list to be as large as possible, while still adhering to common definitions of ‘scholar.’ ”

    Their statement and a recent list of names can be found here:
    http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=2818:scholars-and-academics-pledge-support-to-trump

    An earlier version is here: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/07/paul-gottfried/scholars-trump/

    Warning: On Oct. 3, 2016, Dr. Gottfried reported a hijacking of the list by those of the neo-con bent . He had innocently shared the list with someone who altered it by removing those without that preference, including the originators(!). The list was then expanded upon by others of that ilk and shared on a neo-con site. Details here: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/10/paul-gottfried/neocons-trump/

    Accept no substitutes. To be certain you are added to the original list, I assume it safest to join by going through Dr. Gottfried at gottfried@etown.edu.

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