Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Donald Trump: the Evil Monster

Sorry about this a little rant of mine. And sorry also for the click-baiting title. I promise that from now on I won't publish more posts about Trump (not too many, at least) (Image source)

When I publish something about Donald Trump, I usually face criticism. People tell me that they don't expect posts about Trump in this blog -- it is off topic. And comparing Trump to Emperor Hadrian - as I did - seems to make some people angry. Maybe they are right, but I suspect that they say so in part because I am not usually describing Trump an evil monster (apart from the title of this post, to be intended as a clickbaiter!).

To tell you frankly, I find Trump not a monster, and not evil, either. He is a fascinating phenomenon, the result of factors well worth trying to understand. No matter how outrageous, nasty, politically incorrect, insulting, sexist, racist, and more, Trump is successful. And there are reasons for this success. Look at what he said about climate change.

From "The Independent."
"There is a cooling, and there’s a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”

“The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level.”

If you read this blog, you are probably the kind of person who knows that what Trump says is completely wrong. But think of any discussion you could have with some "normal" person, not a scientist. These are exactly the arguments that you would face. And you would have a hard time in convincing them that these statements conflict with facts.

That's the way the discussion is - it is not science, it is politics. And politics has different rules: it is not based on facts but on trust. You can't convince people that climate change is real with facts. You can only convince them if they trust you. And those people who mistrust science will never be convinced.

Trump, instead, follows the rules of politics: he puts himself in the role of the ordinary guy who is not a scientist. And he speaks the way an ordinary guy would speak. He gains trust because he speaks like the people he speaks to. That's why he is successful.

We'll never win this battle if we don't understand this point. Not that scientists can (nor should) transform themselves into politicians, but we need to rebuild the trust in science. That can be done, but it takes time and effort and, in particular, recognizing that if this trust was lost is, in large part, our fault (I mean, of the scientists).

Maybe this man is a genius, maybe an evil genius, maybe a numbskull who found himself by chance in the right place at the right time. I have no idea. But, as I said, he is an (evil) genius. We'll see how this story evolves.


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)