Here's Another STEM Group Not Down With Trump's Antics - Statisticians

June 4, 2018 |   

While every American president has their share of supporters and dissenters, during his short time in office Donald J. Trump has proven to be perhaps the most divisive in history. The fight between supporters and opponents has spilled from the political arena into other areas not normally associated with the push-pull of politics to other areas, most notably into sciences.

Along with a wide variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematician groups who have formally sounded the alarm on the Trump administrations war on science comes yet another group in the so-called STEM field. This time the warning comes from statisticians.

In a statement issued by the American Statistical Association (ASA), world’s largest community of statisticians and the second-oldest continuously operating professional society in the United States, and its Count on Stats partners, have expressed concern about what they characterized as Trump's "disregard for the long-standing protocols protecting the nation’s sensitive data." Specifically, the ASA points to an incident that happened last week. 

On Friday, June 1, Trump tweeted information indicating the results of the jobs report prior to its official release to the public. The forecast and Trump's Tweet on the matter, which showed strong job growth in May and generally viewed as favorable, were called "a breach of trust" by the ASA. 

In their statement, the Washington D.C.-based ASA stated "We urge President Trump to review the directive that requires the executive branch to withhold all comments on federal data until one hour after the data have been released publicly. Such early hints about these numbers can create artificial market disruptions, which is why safeguards have been established to protect these carefully produced data. They must be released at the correct time, without hints or insinuations."

The ASA also noted threats to the integrity of federal statistics and to the agencies that produce these data threatens everyone, particularly reliable, trusted data is used in the formation of public policy.  They contend if the trustworthiness of the information becomes compromised, the public's trust in institutions diminishes.

ASA's statement concludes by saying "The data must continue to be available, accurate, and appropriately handled by those in power. The proper handling of federal statistics, including the jobs report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is essential to our economy, society, and democracy. Anything less is a disservice to our nation. The federal statistical community follows the protocols governing their activities designed to protect the integrity of our federal statistics. The President should do the same."

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