Trump has told all agencies to cut at least a third of their advisory committees by September, thus weakening the science-based regulations process that the administration has pushed back against since Trump took office. 462 committees are potentially on the chopping block, excluding agencies that are mandated by law. The exclusion of scientists from health matters is particularly troublesome – the civil servants are generally good and conscientious people, but they don’t necessarily have the needed technical medical expertise.
The inclusion of scientists in land management issues, for instance, is a way to bring in local voices, as well as industry leaders, to discuss how best to manage public lands. It is also a transparent way get scientific input. But the Administration has spent two years neglecting and undermining the advisory network, and are now trying to use that neglect as a justification for removing these very advisory boards for “not being useful.”
The Trump administration in recent years has shuffled career scientists out of their positions, put limits on which science experts are qualified to sit on advisory boards and created a special White House panel that’s designed in part to counter the science linking climate change to national security threats.
Where does this extreme dislike (fear?) of science and scientists come from? Some of it must be suspicion of the mysterious and unknown. The Republicans are now the party of the proudly and fundamentally ignorant; generally coming out of school with no science at all, wary of scientists who use technical (elitist?) words, and lacking the vocabulary to learn about or discuss science even if they wanted to. This is the inevitable outcome when education has withered, as funding has been cut, and good, broad education has become something that only the rich can afford.
Without science and the scientific method we would still be digging turnips, riding horses, and strapping swords to our belts when we go out.