February 29, 2017
Washington, D.C. — President Donald Trump announced his choice, Steven Goddard, to head up the new commission overseeing what he calls the “War for Scientific Truth and Integrity,” an effort he introduced in a speech from the Oval Office last week.
“I was on Twitter and saw Steven has been saying lots of nice things about me and people respect him; he has over 13,000 Twitter followers. I also like that his name is ‘Steve,’” President Trump said from the steps of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “He’s also white. He’s very, very, very white. Very white,” he continued.
Goddard, whose birth name is Tony Heller, is an unknown in established scientific circles and a controversial choice for Trump. Best known for his accusations that NOAA and NASA have tampered with temperature records, he is a popular figure in the climate change skeptic community. His claims have been publicized by many conservative and alt-right news outlets including Fox News, Breitbart (newly acquired by The Trump Organization, LLC) and Drudge Report. His work has also been cited by prominent political figures such as US Senator Ted Cruz and Australian Senator-elect Malcolm Roberts. Goddard has not published his work in any peer-reviewed scientific papers to date, choosing instead to use his blog to publish the evidence which he claims debunks climate change as a scientific hoax.
At last week’s press conference, President Trump outlined the goals of his aggressive initiative to “get to the bottom of why America is not winning at science” and “drain the swamp of elites running our science.” President Trump also expressed frustration by what he saw as a lack of progress by the scientific community, stating that “We’re not winning in science any more. We used to put men on the moon. Now China is going to go there. What the hell is going on? It’s time we made science great again.”
It’s unclear, however, exactly how President Trump plans to execute his desire to reshape how scientific work is undertaken in the United States. Many presume the so-called “War for Science” commission, that Goddard now heads, will be tasked with making policy recommendations to the President and Congress.
Reaction to President Trump’s murky proposals by some established scientists has been swift and harsh. Moments after his announcement of Goddard, Michael E. Mann, a climatologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tweeted, “Our worst nightmares are coming true. Idiocracy is upon us,” referencing the 2006 Hollywood comedy movie where scientific advances are stunted as a result of the decline in the intelligence quotients of the American people. Many other scientists, however, would not go on the record citing their concerns of retaliation by President Trump’s administration officials.
Goddard was unavailable for comment but tweeted, “Thank you President Trump! Can’t wait to share a cold Brawndo with you in the oval office. You’ll love it!”