Another reason why the future of Science and STEM education in the United States is cloudy

From Nature‘s “Universities spooked by Trump order tying free speech to grants“, with the subheading “White House policy will require universities to certify that they protect free speech to remain eligible for research funding”, comes this chilling news:

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on 21 March that requires universities to certify that they protect free speech, or risk losing federal research funds.

Public institutions will have to certify that they are following free-speech protections laid out in the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and private institutions must promise to follow their stated policies on free speech, a White House official told reporters on 21 March.

The order applies to 12 research agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and NASA. It affects only money for research, not financial aid for students.

“We’re dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars,” Trump said in a speech just before signing the order. “Taxpayer dollars should not subsidize anti-First Amendment institutions.” He said that the order was the first in a series of steps that his administration intends to take to “defend students’ rights”.

Clearly, this is an attempt to magnify the pseudo-standard of “fair and balanced” so badly invoked in media to elevate unsubstantiated and illogical claims from scientifically illiterate and innumerate minorities to the status of powerful political voices. Witness the collective disposition of climate change.

Worse, though, it is another step of encroachment of an hitherto economically unsuccessful populist world view, one which coincides with basically large scale sour grapes, upon the Success Centers of United States culture. These are overwhelmingly Blue, self-made, urban, and diverse, even if they still allocate their wealth unfairly. It is an extended exercise of spiting oneself for, without these technologies, military safety and economic success won’t continue.

But, people aren’t going to wait for that to be rectified in some hypothetical future — and probably Democratic — administration. This is a dynamic business world, and people seek their own comfortable surroundings and fortunes.

And, so, there is a Brain Drain beginning from the United States to elsewhere. (This is also known as human capital flight.) First, it was limited to the rejection or imposition of discomfort of brilliant and ingenious technical entrepreneurs from India and Pakistan and China, who thought nothing better than coming to what once was the haven and incubator for free enterprise and free ideas and founding a fortune. But, now, even the best and the brightest of full born Americans, young bright minds and spirits who know how to succeed, are beginning to see the rest of the world as more inviting and accommodating, and are making the hard choice to uproot and go, emigrate.

I applaud them for their foresight. The idea of blind loyalty despite cultural sins and political idiocy is itself idiotic. It is not living, it is a self-deprecating religion.

And, so, I was not at all surprised that Nature also carried an extended article chronicling how five scientists had wrestled with the idea of moving to another country to improve their futures.


About ecoquant

See Retired data scientist and statistician. Now working projects in quantitative ecology and, specifically, phenology of Bryophyta and technical methods for their study.
This entry was posted in American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Mathematical Society, American Statistical Association, an ignorant American public, an uncaring American public, anti-intellectualism, anti-science, climate change, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, emigration, European Union, mathematics, science, United States. Bookmark the permalink.

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