Donald Trump and his minions have already made moves to suppress science within the government, with word going out that government employees cannot say anything to the public without the prior approval of political appointees. This has the marks of Stalinist (or should I say Putinist?) repression of free speech, not the sort of thing any of us ever expected to see in the United States. However, after running a campaign marked by outrageous anti-science claims on climate change and vaccine safety, Trump appears on track to use the enormous power of the federal government to suppress basic scientific facts.
Vladimir Putin has done the same thing. Most Russians think that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down in Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 passengers, was shot down by Ukraine–despite the overwhelming evidence that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile provided to Russian-backed separatists by Russia. Putin had a record of suppressing, threatening, and even murdering those who speak out against him. Yet Donald Trump seems to find him the most admirable of all world leaders. And one of his closest advisors, Newt Gingrich, has said that he wants to fire all federal workers who didn't vote for Trump.
In just the past few days, though, government scientists have come up with a devilishly clever–and entirely legal–strategy to oppose the Trump administration's efforts to suppress their speech. Using Twitter, the same vehicle that Trump himself used so effectively throughout his campaign, they have created a set of "rogue" and "alt" accounts that have already started tweeting the real news about science, medicine, and the environment.
All of these accounts are run by non-government employees with no government sponsorship, but government scientists, in their off-hours time, can't be prevented from sending them information. In just a few days, these accounts have over 3.3 million followers, a number that is rising fast. Here's are some of the account with their total followers as of January 29:
- @NotAltWorld 1.3 million followers
- @RogueNASA 734K followers
- @altUSEPA 226K followers
- @ActualEPAFacts (a second alt-EPA) 176K followers
- @BadHombreNPS (National Park Service) 158K followers
- @alt_fda 144K followers
- @altusda 145K followers
- @altHHS 121K followers
- @alt_CDC 106K followers
- @alt_NIH 104K followers
- @AlternativeNWS 93K followers (deactivated on 29 Jan - no idea why)
- @ungaggedEPA 79K followers
- @altNOAA 69K followers
- @NatParkUndrgrnd 52K followers
As one tweet already pointed out, quoting the ACLU, "the First Amendment still protects workers' ability to speak in their own private capacities, on their own time, about matters that concern the public."
We might not be able to trust any official statements from the government for the next few years, but perhaps we'll still be able to find accurate science through the alt-gov Twitter accounts. So when you hear the Secretary of Health and Human Services (far right Congressman Tom Price, if he's confirmed) making claims about health care, check out @AltHHS to find out the real story. And when you hear Secretary of