As I write this, we appear to have moved rather rapidly from one world to another: from the fact-based, science-driven world we have known and relied on to what appears to be a new, troubling post-science world of “alternative facts” where the broad consensus of scientists can be dismissed or denied. For the first time, we have a new presidential administration whose stated position on climate change is denial—notwithstanding that climate change is something close to 100 percent of scientists agree on—and a Congress controlled by a party that, by and large, is in similar denial. Meanwhile, our media has been weakened as a check on truth. Much of the public, urged by the new administration, no longer view the press as an honest broker on public discourse. Instead, people willfully believe they can choose their own facts, and science is all too easily manipulated and dismissed in public debate. As people insulate themselves in their respective echo chambers, meaningful dialogue is stifled, and the broad public consensus that we should be guided by science withers.
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