AAUP Condemns Trump's Tweet on Hurricane Study

September 19, 2018

The American Association of University Professors on Tuesday condemned what it called President Trump’s “disregard for and assault on science,” this time in relation to Trump’s comments about the credibility of a study by George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. AAUP’s statement says that Trump has "falsely claimed that the study, which found some 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria" in 2017, was politically motivated. It cites a recent tweet by Trump saying, "This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"

While the AAUP takes no position on the accuracy or inaccuracy of this or any other study, reads its statement, “such research can be properly evaluated only by qualified experts through open channels of review and debate. Studies of this sort must not become political footballs. For the president of the U.S. to accuse scholars of political bias, without a shred of evidence, is an unacceptable assault on independent research and the academic freedom of scientists.”

The Milken Institute issued a statement last week standing by its research integrity and accuracy. “This study, commissioned by the government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference,” it said. “Our results show that Hurricane Maria was a very deadly storm, one that affected the entire island but hit the poor and the elderly the hardest. We are confident that the number -- 2,975 -- is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date.”

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