How do you prove you’re really the anti-science administration? It’s not enough just to deny climate change or spout anti-evolution slogans—any Republican can do that much. To be a serious member of the anti-science brigade, you need to stop funding research, including medical research.
Mick Mulvaney, the ultra-conservative South Carolina congressman whom Donald Trump has tapped to be his budget director, has questioned whether the federal government should spend any money on scientific research.
Mulvaney recently delivered his insights to the flouride-is-a-communist-plot John Birch Society, and for those really craving a flashback to the days of “the AIDS virus does not cause AIDS,” the man who would have his finger on the figures for the nation’s research budgets justified the attack on basic science by questioning the connection between the Zika virus and birth defects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded in April that the Zika virus causes microcephaly and other defects. But Mulvaney wrote:
“Brazil’s microcephaly epidemic continues to pose a mystery — if Zika is the culprit, why are there no similar epidemics in countries also hit hard by the virus?”
The answer is likely one that Mulvaney never even paused to consider—abortion. Brazil was hit first, but as the disease spread to other areas, increased awareness of its effects made detection and treatment more available.
But for those like Mulvaney, who regard all of science as some sort of mystery religion run by a cabal of leftists who only want excuses to steal money from hard-working billionaires and halt the righteous profits that could be made selling DDT, the idea that Zika only caused 1,500 cases of microcephaly is a reason to stop the payments on science.