"You Have to Be Albert Einstein to Figure It Out": Trump's Scientific Ignorance Is Crippling His Coronavirus Response - 2020-04-29
Thomas Jefferson was an amateur paleontologist and published a scholarly paper on the prehistoric Megalonyx—a giant sloth. John Quincy Adams had a passion for astronomy. Abraham Lincoln applied for and received a patent for a device to lift boats off of sandbars. James Garfield developed a mathematical proof of the Pythagorean theorem. Teddy Roosevelt was a published ornithologist. Jimmy Carter studied engineering. And we all know that Donald Trump suggested injecting disinfectant to treat a virus that has killed more than 50,000 Americans.
From the beginning, scientific innovation was part of the DNA of America. The nation was discovered by explorers, and our early leaders were scientific autodidacts. In a speech to the National Academy of Sciences in 1961, President John F. Kennedy said that the founding fathers had "a most happy understanding of the ties which bind science and government together." For the early American presidents, the American experiment was just that—an experiment. Now we have the most scientifically illiterate president in American history presiding over that experiment during a pandemic. What could possibly go wrong?
Trump's scientific ignorance goes a whole lot further than musings about bleach and shining ultraviolet light inside the body. For many years Trump referred to climate change as a hoax. He has said that the noise from wind turbines—he calls them "windmills"—causes cancer. The image of him gazing up at the sun without protection during the 2017 solar eclipse in violation of astronomers' warnings is the perfect symbol of his macho disregard for science and its practitioners.