President-thinks-he's-wonderful has been exercising his new powers in the opening episodes of CNN's tragicomedy, Democracy It Is, America, a genre-bending, 24-hour scripted series that uses elements of comedy, drama, horror and mock-journalism to describe the processes of Republican democracy in the U.S. after the election of a fictional character as President.
Among many other hilarious and heartbreaking moments in this week's episode, the President censored a National Park for sharing climate change facts and triggered a protest march by the scientific community. He's previously claimed that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy, so this move by the character wasn't surprising.
However, the writers are asking their audience to believe that the elected leader of an entire country would disbelieve 99% of the scientific community and continue to doubt the existence of what is possibly the greatest threat our species currently faces. It's going to require more work on their part to make this character more believable and realistic.
It's worth noting some other things on which the great majority of the scientific community has agreed. Perhaps, for the purpose of consistency and plausibility, the writers should show the character doubting these other examples of scientific consensus.
Charles Darwin's 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, introduced the Theory of Evolution. The theory explains processes such as adaptation by heredity and the applications of the passing of traits from parent to offspring. Scientists believe the "last universal common ancestor," the single ancestor of all life on Earth, lived 3.5 to 4 billion years ago. Since then it's been the same system of parents and offspring in all organisms that has led to the planet's current biodiversity. Today, there are some scientists who do not believe this theory, for religious or other reasons. It would make perfect sense for the President to share their doubts.
2. The Big Bang
The Big Bang theory (not the show, though someone will have to make that clear to the President) claims that the entire universe originated as a singularity, a single point where matter is infinitely dense. Then, it exploded and expanded to its current size over the last 14 billion years. It continues to expand in all directions for an unfathomable distance. The observable universe—only what we can see—spans over 46 billion light years. Again, the Big Bang doesn't align with various religious beliefs but it remains the consensus position in the scientific community. A requirement of a scientific theory is that it predicts a specific outcome, and the Big Bang theory has predicted something that no other theory has. But that should not stop the President from citing his own scientific studies to counter the widely-supported theory.
3. The Earth is round.
There is a movement called The Flat Earth Society, including so-called "fringe scientists" and others influenced by the vast archive of factual data found on YouTube. Their selfless objective is to free the global public from the grand conspiracy formed by governments and scientific agencies that the Earth is round. While a motive for this conspiracy is difficult to find (they don't blame it specifically on the Chinese), the Society believes strongly that all of science and the world's population have been tricked into believing a lie. They have evidence, mostly on YouTube and on their website, that the Earth is flat. Scientific agreement on the Earth's round shape has to be as close to 100% as it can get without being 100%, so the President would surely appreciate the bravery of those daring to challenge the established beliefs and present alternative facts.
Before 2001, some vaccines included a chemical, thimerosal, that contained ethylmercury. Investigations ensued because mercury is well known to have the potential to cause brain damage, and some argued that vaccines were the cause of the increase in autism cases. But the results of many studies showed that, even before the chemical was removed from some vaccines, the levels were far too low to be considered toxic. Since autism rates have continued to rise, the science community's conclusion is that vaccines are unrelated and a different cause is responsible. Meanwhile, some celebrities still support the invalidated argument that vaccines are dangerous. The President seems especially likely to champion these celebrities' cause, probably having worked with some of them on his previous show.
Nine out of ten dentists recommend Sensodyne. "Since being introduced in 1961, Sensodyne has become the favorite toothpaste for sensitive teeth/pangingilo of dentists around the world," says the company's website. It's unclear, and will likely remain so, whether or not the President has pangingilo, brushes his teeth, or has any real teeth at all. With such little evidence, and no remaining basis for truth, it might prove difficult to reach a consensus on the topic of his teeth. But based on his past statements addressing science and his wont to censor any group or organization that disagrees with him, it makes sense that he would deny the recommendation of those nine dentists and personally choose nine other dentists who share his belief.
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