Coronavirus pandemic and election-year politics collide, eroding trust in science

The positive development immediately became entangled in election-year politics, with President Trump repeatedly making false and exaggerated claims about the new therapeutics. He called them a cure, which they’re not. He said he was about to approve them — a premature promise given that the FDA’s career scientists are charged with reviewing the applications.

This has been the 2020 pattern: Politics has thoroughly contaminated the scientific process. The result has been an epidemic of distrust, which further undermines the nation’s already chaotic and ineffective response to the coronavirus.

The White House has repeatedly meddled with decisions by career professionals at the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other science-based agencies. Many of the nation’s leading scientists, including some of the top doctors in the administration, are deeply disturbed by the collision of politics and science and bemoan its effects on public health.

“I’ve never seen anything that closely

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Why politics may get in the way of the public accepting a COVID-19 vaccine

The key to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic may have less to do with vaccine science and logistics and more to do with public trust. Week after week, actions by Trump administration appointees have raised suspicions that political motives rather than science are driving decision-making in the development of the vaccine.

a person wearing a mask: A shot is administered March 16 as part of a first-stage clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured by Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

© Provided by The LA Times
A shot is administered March 16 as part of a first-stage clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured by Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Events like these have shaken my faith — and the faith of many others — in two of the country’s most revered scientific institutions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which collects and analyzes healthcare data, and the Food and Drug Administration, which approves diagnostic tests and treatments.

As a longtime clinical scientist at the National Institutes of Health, I worked closely

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COVID in the White House: a drastic case of science trumping politics

One can only wish Donald Trump (and first lady Melania Trump) a full recovery from COVID-19. In the meantime, the president’s illness could save many lives. To date, his focus has been on manipulating the truth about how this deadly disease is prevented — through wearing masks and social distancing — so as to minimize its effect on his reelection bid. Ironically, his illness exposes his lies to the surprisingly large minority of the population who believed him. Let’s hope they don’t continue to go maskless in public and thus follow Trump to the edge of the COVID-19 precipice.

May the president’s and first lady’s illness be a wake-up call to our country that when it comes to our nation’s health, science trumps politics.

Dr. Deborah Bershel


“Nothing ever becomes real till experienced,” wrote John Keats. And after nine months of downplaying, contradicting, and ignoring the recommendations of scientists,

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Coinbase Workers Rattled by Politics Ban and Fear Being Muzzled

(Bloomberg) — Coinbase Inc.’s clampdown on discussing politics and activism at work — and the offer of severance packages to employees who don’t want to comply — continues to ripple through the cryptocurrency exchange and Silicon Valley.

a group of people standing in a living room: Inside the Coinbase Inc. office in San Francisco, California, U.S., in 2017.

© Bloomberg
Inside the Coinbase Inc. office in San Francisco, California, U.S., in 2017.

Many employees were shocked by Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong’s blog post imposing the rules Sunday, and some are concerned that he is trying to stymie discourse that should be happening, according to two people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified. Neither knew of anyone taking an exit package from the San Francisco-based company, but employees have until Oct. 7 to apply.


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Jack Dorsey, Twitter Inc.’s CEO and a noted Bitcoin advocate, criticized Armstrong’s ban on politics, saying late Wednesday the change runs counter to the core principles of cryptocurrencies. Other veterans of

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Coinbase and Silicon Valley’s Losing War Against Politics

Illustration for article titled Silicon Valley Is Fighting a Losing War Against Politics

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair (Getty Images)

You’d be excused for not following the recent brouhaha associated with Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s announcement that the company would no longer play politics. The statement, posted to Medium on Sunday, is a doozy.

“In short, I want Coinbase to be laser focused on achieving its mission, because I believe that this is the way that we can have the biggest impact on the world. We will do this by playing as a championship team, focus on building, and being transparent about what our mission is and isn’t,” Armstrong wrote.

He rattled off a number of examples of this, culminating in something that gave many pause: “We don’t engage here when issues are unrelated to our core mission, because we believe impact only comes with focus.”

Armstrong’s post is a direct reaction to the Black Lives

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The Space Review: Venus: science and politics


An image of the surface of Venus taken by the Soviet Union’s Venera 13 mission.

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For many years, the major focus for space exploration has been Mars and the Moon. Of course, the scientific community has been involved in missions elsewhere in the solar system, but the agendas for major space agencies have been dominated by the missions to the Moon and Mars. Now, there exists a possibility that another world could push its way into those agendas.

The discovery

Venus is known as the hottest planet in the solar system, with surface temperatures as high as 470°C. In fact, Venus is even hotter than Mercury because Venus thick atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide, generating a runaway greenhouse effect. Venus is sometimes called the sister planet of the Earth, since it is very similar to the Earth in terms of size and mass.

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GOP duo reshapes Montana politics to match Trump’s vision

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Historian Jill Lepore tracks the rise of data science in US politics

David Wilson for The Boston Globe

In 2015, Jill Lepore was researching a piece for the New Yorker about the history of public opinion polling. It was fairly easy to pinpoint the start (1935, George Gallup) and easy enough to see the current situation (Cambridge Analytica, Facebook misinformation campaigns). “I couldn’t quite see where the turn had come, from polling to data collection and modeling,” said Lepore, a history professor at Harvard. A few scattered references to a company called Simulmatics piqued her interest. “I really came across this story in the archives,” said Lepore, “which is the most common way that I end up writing a book.” The result is “If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future,” which last week was longlisted for the National Book Award in nonfiction.

Born in 1959, Simulmatics closed its doors in 1970; its lifespan tracks almost perfectly with the rise of

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200,000 dead as Trump vilifies science, prioritizes politics


FILE – In this Sept. 16, 2020, file photo Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield appears at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on a “Review of Coronavirus Response Efforts” on Capitol Hill in Washington.


“I did the best I could,” President Donald Trump said.

Huddled with aides in the West Wing last week, his eyes fixed on Fox News, Trump wasn’t talking about how he had led the nation through the deadliest pandemic in a century. In a conversation overheard by an Associated Press reporter, Trump was describing how he’d just publicly rebuked one of his top scientists — Dr. Robert Redfield, a virologist and head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Redfield had angered the president by asserting that a COVID-19 vaccine wouldn’t be widely available to the general public until summer or fall of 2021. So

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National Groups Call on U.S. Federal Health Agency Leaders to Stand Strong for Science Over Politics in the Fight Against COVID-19

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) and 78 other national organizations representing patients, healthcare providers, and multi-stakeholder coalitions signed a letter directed to the leaders of federal health care agencies urging them to rise above the political considerations and focus on providing the American public with information about the well-established guidelines in place to ensure safe and effective COVID-19 prevention, detection, and treatment. Information and decisions that are perceived as anything less than science-based weaken the public’s confidence in research and innovation, and hinder adherence to mitigation efforts. In fact, a recent STAT/Harris poll found 78 percent of Americans worry the COVID-19 vaccine approval process is being driven by politics rather than science. It is this sentiment that federal government health officials must work with trusted partners to change if they intend to curb the deadly spread of COVID-19 and encourage widespread acceptance of

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