When we think of politically-oriented publications, it’s unlikely that venerable, more than 170-year-old Scientific American typically comes to mind.
So I was definitely stopped in my tracks when I saw their new editorial titled “Donald Trump’s Lack of Respect for Science Is Alarming” — that included these very accurate words:
“Scientific American is not in the business of endorsing political candidates. But we do take a stand for science — the most reliable path to objective knowledge the world has seen — and the Enlightenment values that gave rise to it. For more than 170 years we have documented, for better and for worse, the rise of science and technology and their impact on the nation and the world. We have strived to assert in our reporting, writing and editing the principle that decision making in the sphere of public policy should accept the conclusions that evidence, gathered in the spirit and with the methods of science, tells us to be true.”
For those of us who care about science and technology, about demonstrable truths vis-à-vis ignorant, tinfoil-hat ramblings, it’s clear that we’ve now come to a critical, likely historic, moment of reckoning.
It’s long been de rigueur for scientists and technologists — most of whom have spent entire careers working tirelessly (and often vastly underpaid) to advance the developments in their fields for the sake of the global community at large — to be told that they should avoid directly engaging in political matters, even when their work is directly involved.
There have always been some individuals in these fields who have ignored this dictum and spoken out anyway — sometimes to the serious detriment of their careers and livelihoods.
But when a publication with the stature of Scientific American raises the red flag about a major presidential candidate, it’s time for everyone in the tech and science fields to take notice and do some serious soul searching.
Because the dangerous, ignorant, fascist, racist, misogynist, continually lying monster that is Donald Trump is significantly of own creation.
We must now come to terms with this truth while we still can, much as ultimately did J. Robert Oppenheimer relating to his key role in the creation of nuclear weapons.
By staying relatively silent regarding specific political matters and in particular regarding specific political candidates, we have permitted anti-science, anti-technology propaganda, misinformation, lies, and fantasies to flourish — all of which can have and have had serious detrimental real-world impacts.
Fear of invoking the Streisand Effect or being accused of “not being balanced” has caused various major tech firms to not speak out directly against obviously false statements by ignorant and opportunistic politicians regarding established scientific principles and technological realities — this holds true for everything from climate change to Internet competition and net neutrality, and far beyond.
We have also more explicitly contributed to the chain of events that has led to a hideous, sociopathic, erratic creation like Trump, who — if given control over our nuclear arsenal as USA president — could literally destroy human civilization on this planet in only slightly more time than it currently takes him to send out a stream of incoherent, babbling Tweets.
The incredible global Internet that we have spent decades building and nurturing is a quintessential tool that can be used for both incredible good and for horrific evil.
There’s no avoiding the fact that it is very much various aspects of the Internet and Web that have enabled “echo chambers” where like-minded thugs, bullies, white supremacists, and other ignorant and violent haters could congregate and then coalesce around Donald Trump, who feeds on their vileness as a diseased-laden mosquito feeds on human blood.
Censorship of such demons is of course not an answer — but political action is indeed the solution.
If you honor humanity and civilization, if you care about science and technology and what’s factually true on our world and in the greater universe, then you must accept that keeping Donald Trump out of the White House is of the very highest priority. For his presence behind the desk of the Oval Office and his possession of nuclear codes could quite literally be the greatest threat to all that we have created and hold dear since the rise of civilization.
All legal means must be employed to STOP TRUMP. It’s not enough just to register to vote and to get your friends, family, and associates to register. Actually following through and voting for Hillary Clinton — even with her various acknowledged faults — is the only effective means to stop the human nightmare of Trump in his tracks.
Complacency in this election — not actually bothering to vote, or throwing away a vote on a third-party candidate (even in states that Trump is overwhelmingly unlikely to win) — would be a disastrous mistake that could net Trump a victory that would cause fascists and racists of the past to smile broadly from their graves.
Nor is it enough to simply stop Trump on Tuesday, November 8th.
He needs to be overwhelmingly beaten, massively crushed in a landslide if possible. We must send a message to future right-wing, racist demagogues — who could be even more dangerous than Trump given similar heinous sensibilities but fewer of his obvious, self-defeating character flaws — that they will not be anointed with political power and that American patriots will always reject their vile rants of hate.
Early voting starts in less than six weeks in some locales. I ask that you please take a few minutes away from your current projects to consider carefully what is at risk in this election and what a Donald Trump presidency would mean for us all should he and his ignorant band of anti-science, anti-technology cronies gain such awesome power.
I earnestly hope that the thought sends a chill down your spine.
Now we must move from that very real fear to very real political action. There is no time to waste. History would never forgive our faltering at this crucial juncture.
STOP DONALD TRUMP.
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!