Junk Reasoning Isn’t Simply a Problem at the Top

Helena Bottemiller Evich reports ‘It feels like something out of a bad sci-fi movie’ (‘A top climate scientist quit USDA, following others who say Trump has politicized science’):

One of the nation’s leading climate change scientists is quitting the Agriculture Department in protest over the Trump administration’s efforts to bury his groundbreaking study about how rice is losing nutrients because of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Lewis Ziska, a 62-year-old plant physiologist who’s worked at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service for more than two decades, told POLITICO he was alarmed when department officials not only questioned the findings of the study — which raised serious concerns for the 600 million people who depend on rice for most of their calories — but also tried to minimize media coverage of the paper, which was published in the journal Science Advances last year.

“You get the sense that things have changed, that this is not a place for you to be exploring things that don’t agree with someone’s political views,” Ziska said in a wide-ranging interview. “That’s so sad. I can’t even begin to tell you how sad that is.”

One should be sympathetic to Ziska – he believes in serious research, and finds now that biased and ignorant men impede his work. Ziska and all America deserve better.

And yet, and yet — Ziska’s circumstances may have changed, but cities and towns have seen junk studies, policies, and the sunny lies of boosterism for many years. Trump is  unfit, and Trumpism is mendaciously malevolent, but there has been much junk science and policy that gently paved the way to utter mediocrity, from this small city and doubtless others (e.g., 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6, and 7).

Smaller maladies in a part of the body sometimes weaken a patient, and make her vulnerable to catastrophic illnesses.

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