On his first day as president, Joe Biden, flanked by a portrait of Ben Franklin, called on the federal government to “advance environmental justice” and “be guided by the best science.”
In many ways, Biden’s words came as no surprise.
Throughout the 2020 campaign and after, Biden had often repeated the phrases “listen to the science” and “I believe in science,” presumably to contrast himself with his opponent.
Biden didn’t stop there, however. He included the mantra in one of the first executive orders he signed, noting that it would be his administration’s official policy to “listen to the science.”
The phrase seems harmless enough. The scientific method is highly trusted, and for good reason. It has been a boon to humanity and helped bring about many of the marvels of our modern world.
Yet distinguished thinkers new and old have warned us to proceed with caution when confronted with pleas to “listen to the science.”
It was a common theme heard throughout 2020 — Donald Trump would dispute recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, and in the course of ‘’ignoring science’’ put lives at risk. As far back as February Trump was said to have discounted advice from the CDC regarding flying American citizens back from Asia. Frequently we were told how the administration would discard recommendations from the agency on matters such as initial quarantine orders, reopening the economy, how he would listen to administration officials first, and refused to follow guidance on opening schools and churches.
According to Bloomberg News, ‘’Ordinarily, presidents listen to experts because it serves their own political interests. That’s not happening this time.’’ These issues, of course, caused consternation and accusations he was ignoring science, elevating things to scandal levels, we were told. It then becomes rather telling how changing the curtains in the oval office makes these exact same actions far less serious and grave for the nation.
For two consecutive days this week we have seen bright and shiny new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki at the podium during her daily press briefings contradicting the CDC, directly. While her words were reported what is notable is the distinct lack of wailing to be heard from the press corps.