What Political Volatility Means for the Future of Science
It has been a grim year. In the U.S. and the U.K, tribalism and anti-intellectualism seem to have triumphed over facts and reason. The effects have rippled around the globe. Some nations, such as China, stand to benefit while historical science powerhouses stumble.
Moving forward will require understanding the cultural and psychological reasons people reject scientific thinking. Many researchers are reconsidering their traditional detachment from politics and learning that public opinion is a force to take seriously.
Elections, as they say, have consequences. In the U.S., the Trump administration threatens to roll back environmental protections, cut research funding and undermine the very concept of objective truth. The U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union is destabilizing science throughout Europe. Not everyone is moving backward: some nations, such as China, see opportunity in the upheaval. But it's safe to say that everyone with a stake in the future of science is asking themselves, What comes next?