In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns. In this campaign, a number of posts have discussed Trump's support for the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.
Some scientists have expressed fear about how Trump’s presidency will affect research in the United States. The president-elect has questioned the science underlying climate change and has linked autism to childhood vaccinations; his vice-president, Indiana governor Mike Pence, does not believe in evolution or that human activities have caused climate change. Still, some science advocates caution against a rush to judgement about how the Trump administration will approach science and research issues.
“The verdict remains out,” says Tobin Smith, vice-president for policy at the Association of American Universities in Washington DC. “There are many people who have been strong supporters of science you might not have been expecting.” Smith says that a prime example is Newt Gingrich, the former Republican congressman for Georgia, who is rumoured to be up for a top job in Trump's administration.At this blog pointed out nearly five years ago, Gingrich has been highly critical of the vaccine notion that Trump champions:
From To Save America (rev. ed., 2011, pp. 142-143):
But perhaps no anti-scientific argument is more dangerous today than the claim put forward by radical environmentalists, most notably Robert F. Kennedy Jr., that childhood vaccinations can cause autism. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have disproved this connection. Moreover, the Lancet, a prominent British journal that published a 1998 study confirming a vaccination-autism connection, recently retracted the study, whose findings had already been repudiated by ten of its thirteen co-authors.
Yet some parents, worried by these rumors, have stopped vaccinating their children, endangering public health.