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Nobel Prize Winners Name Trump and His "Ignorance" as Top Threats to World Population

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Laureates have grave concerns about Trump's anti-science agenda as well as his recent rhetoric on nuclear war

By Julia Conley, staff writer


Trump's brand of populism was named as a major threat to scientific advances in a survey of 50 Nobel Laureates.
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Along with nuclear war and climate change, President Donald Trump has made the list of what Nobel Laureates consider to be major risks to the world population.

In a survey of 50 Nobel Prize winners in the sciences, medicine, and economics, more than a third of the respondents said damage to the environment brought about by issues like over-population and climate change, was the biggest threat to mankind. Twenty-three percent said nuclear war was their top concern, while six percent said theirs was "the ignorance of political leaders" -- with two of the winners naming Trump specifically.

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Peter Agre, winner of the chemistry Prize in 2003, told the Times Higher Education, which conducted the poll and released the results Thursday, that "Trump could play a villain in a Batman movie -- everything he does is wicked or selfish." He also called the president "extraordinarily uninformed."

The survey also found serious concerns among the respondents about the brand of populism pushed by Trump as well as right-wing European leaders. Forty percent of the Nobel winners called Trump-style populism, characterized by his distrust of climate science and the media, and political polarization "a grave threat to scientific progress, while 30 percent say that they are a serious threat."

"Today, facts seem to be questioned by many people who prefer to believe rumors rather than well-established scientific facts," said Jean-Pierre Sauvage, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year.

Another laureate added, "it is a disaster when people start believing things that are false and, even worse, when governments induce them to believe facts that are evidently wrong and ignore all evidence-based, scientifically proven data."

The Times Higher Education noted that "Agre is particularly worried by how Trump 'flaunts his ignorance' to appeal to a group of Americans who are happy to dismiss the opinions of scientists."

It's not the first time some of the world's top scientists and doctors have publicly expressed disapproval of the president. Earlier this year, 62 Nobel Laureates signed a petition denouncing Trump's executive order directing U.S. agencies to ban travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

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