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Rejected Evidence

When scientific evidence gets in the way of political goals, the Trump administration appears to be following a pattern of rejecting the data, writes Joshua Sharfstein from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at JAMA Forum.

In particular, Sharfstein points to instances where evidence on mountaintop coal mining, climate change, and sex education was discounted. He adds, though, that the administration isn't just disagreeing with scientific advice, but is interfering with how that data is obtained and communicated. At the same time, the administration is selecting candidates without scientific backgrounds to run science agencies as well as candidates for other posts with fringe views, he notes.

Sharfstein acknowledges, though, that it is still fairly early in the Trump administration and that it could appoint a science advisor and shift course.

Still, he points to a concern recently voiced by surgeon Atul Gawande in a commencement address that there's a general increased mistrust of science and tolerance for pseudoscience.

"The scientific community should be on high alert for specious justifications for inappropriate actions," Sharfstein says.