The United States government, under the direction of President Donald Trump, has banned the use of certain words in official documents submitted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These words, or phrases, include “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
Other words banned from use include “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender” and “fetus.”
Analysts are currently preparing reports for the 2019 budget process. According to media reports, staff were told to say the “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
The CDC has made it clear that regardless of the words they are or are not permitted to use, their recommendations will always be based in science and fact.
This attack on freedom of speech is not surprising considering Trump’s determination to push scientists out of the White House. He has also said that transgender people should not be in the military and abortion should be illegal. It seems like the President of the United States has decided that since the road towards making these statements into legislation will take too long — until then, he will simply omit them from speech in Washington.
When something is evidence-based or science-based, it means there are facts to back up a statement. It is not based on “community wishes”. There analysts work with numbers, statistics, quantitative and qualitative data. To disallow someone to use these words to describe their work is ludicrous and incredibly dangerous.
Lack of data on these important topics is already an issue. Since Trump took office, a number of federal agencies have downscaled data collection, especially on topics like climate change and the LGBTQ community. Information has even been removed from government websites as if it never existed in the first place.
As a journalist, and as a citizen, this is disheartening. Access to information is pivotal to an informed citizenry. It is how people make informed decisions. To remove information you don’t personally agree with is an affront to this critical foundation of democracy. They do that in countries with dictatorships, when the government wants the people to only adhere to certain ideals. Is this the beginning of that slippery slope?
I was really hoping that 2018 would be better than 2017 — but every time I hear something like this, I know deep down it is going to be much worse.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!