Subido por Carlos H. Ulate Ulloa

Science Magazine - October 30, 2020 (ENSAYO) LECTURA EN INGLES

It’s just louder this time
s if there were any doubt that U.S. President
Donald Trump has no respect for scientists, he
now refers to public health scholars as “Fauci
and all these idiots.” That’s how he’s describing experts in virology, immunology, epidemiology, and infectious disease. Never mind that
after recovering from coronavirus disease 2019
(COVID-19), Trump suddenly became excited about future vaccines and “Regeneron,” which is what he calls
monoclonal antibodies in general. (Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is probably thrilled to have achieved
the product-brand status of Xerox and Kleenex, but Eli
Lilly also has developed promising monoclonals, and
more are in clinical trials.) Apparently, no one told the
president that scientists from these same fields—many
of whom live in “Democrat-run cities” or college towns and are immigrants who wouldn’t be here under
his policies—created these drugs
and carried out the decades of science that made them possible. This
paradox of loving the drug but hating the science is nothing new. It’s
just louder this time.
Republican presidents were not
always rhetorically hostile to science. As described earlier this year
on this page, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, James Morton
Turner and Andrew Isenberg carefully traced how the United States got to this point.
In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon worked hard to
pass important pieces of public health and environmental legislation that were approved with large bipartisan majorities in Congress. Then, when Ronald
Reagan arrived as a candidate in the 1980 election, he
advocated teaching creationism in public schools and
mocked environmental science and regulation. In his
brand of conservatism, the free market and American
exceptionalism could not coexist with a shared responsibility for caring for the planet or its inhabitants.
Vice President Mike Pence is carrying on Reagan’s
tradition. In a widely viewed speech on the House floor
when he was a member of Congress, Pence extolled “intelligent design.” He cited a then-recent study of new fos-
sils, which enhanced our understanding of how human
life unfolded on Earth, as evidence that evolution was
invalid because scientists were always changing theories when new data were obtained. He was criticizing
scientists for doing science, as my colleague Jon Cohen
recently tweeted. If Pence thinks we can’t change our understanding with new data, then we’d have to go back to
breathing phlogiston and being orbited by the Sun.
The paradox has played out for years. Many Republicans in Congress have been strong advocates for science
funding, especially for the National Institutes of Health,
although some simultaneously espouse antiscience
views and embrace creationism. Biology is the study of
evolution, and biomedicine is applied evolution. Why
would creationists spend money to study and apply
this heresy? Because they want their
new medicines. They want to tell
their constituents that they are fighting diseases that are harming their
families. Arguing for science funding
by promising new cures has been a
winning political strategy for the 75
years that the United States has had
federally funded science.
A recent survey from the Pew Research Center found that only 20%
of the political right has “a lot” of
confidence in scientists. Yet when
folks at this end of the political
spectrum get sick, they want the
best treatments that secular academic medicine can
provide. The consequences of this are profound and
especially apparent in the COVID-19 crisis. The same
politicians who are criticizing public health guidance
are praising vaccines and antibodies without acknowledging that they come from the same principles and
researchers as masks and social distancing.
When the presidential election is over, science will
face an important choice. Should the scientific community try to get the missing 80% of the ideological
right to understand its people and its methods? Or
should science write it off as a lost cause and continue
to take the funding while providing the outstanding
new medicines?
–H. Holden Thorp
H. Holden Thorp
Science journals.
[email protected];
“This paradox
of loving the
drug but hating
the science is
nothing new.”
30 OCTOBER 2020 • VOL 370 ISSUE 6516