Samuel Harvey Clovis Jr. is a former United States Air Force officer, talk radio host, national co-chair of the Donald Trump campaign during the 2016 federal election, and subsequently appointed senior White House adviser to the USDA: In July 2017, Trump nominated Clovis as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics in the United States Department of Agriculture – i.e. chief scientist – despite the fact that Clovis has no background in science (something required by statute for the position), an appointment from which Clovis withdrew because of concerns over his involvement in attempts to build relations between the Trump Campaign and Kremlin.
Now, Clovis is obviously in many ways just your standard wingnut. No fan of Obama, for example, Clovis predictably swapped political argumentation for attacking imaginary character traits, saying that Obama “uses his self-identified race as a bludgeon to assault anyone who might disagree with him ... The fact that he is a socialist, does not believe in Natural Law or Natural Rights, is incensed at the mere existence of the Constitution and cannot accept the exceptionality of this nation, probably has nothing to do with why so many people disagree with him and his value system.” Moreover, Obama “wants to be a dictator and he wants to enslave all who are not part of his regime”; the assessment being based on … well, nothing (he also thought Obama appeared “happy” after the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi; you do the math). And no fan of LGBT rights, Clovis is on record claiming that it is “logical” that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage would lead to the legalization of pedophilia.
is, for our purposes, most notable for his views on education and science: He
doesn’t like education and science. Which is presumably part of the reason the Trump administration chose him for a position that required a
background in science. As for schools, Clovis believes that they are indoctrinating students
facts understanding concepts that go against the ideals of
the founding of the United States, such as “environmentalism”, “racism”,
“feminism” and “pacifism” – “isms” that “tend to warp
and twist the logic and intellectual development of children”.
A climate change denialist, Clovis, who is not a scientist, has denounced climate research as “junk science” saying that the scientific consensus on climate change was “not proven” (thus flaunting his fundamental lack of understanding of science). In his position as chief scientist of the USDA, despite (again) having no qualifications in or understanding of science, Clovis promptly worked to ensure that the USDA would be forbidden to talk about climate change or use climate change-suggestive terminology.
He also drew upon the common denialist idea that there is something iffy about what denialists (falsely) perceive as a change in terminology from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’: “What we have to examine is how the language changes, and when you start to go away from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change,’ this goes right into the heart of progressive thinking because what it says, or what the implication is, is that somehow the progressives are going to figure out a way to create the ideal climate in all regions of the earth. And so how nonsensical is that? If you follow that logic to its logical conclusion, that’s the conclusion in which you arrive – is that there is some perfect weather or some perfect climate that we will have for everyone – everyone will thrive.” The insight that should have given him pause is of course “how nonsensical is that”, but it didn’t since he’s stupid. Clovis has also suggested that action on climate change is really a conspiracy to redistribute wealth, referring to “Agenda 21” in the process.
Diagnosis: Oh, yes: He’s your standard, vocal deranged conspiracy theorist and science denialist, and has, of course, absolutely no background in or understanding of science. And as such, he was an ideal choice for an administration seeking to dismantle any relationship between policy, on the one hand, and science, evidence and fact, on the other. As opposed to some Trump appointees, Clovis might in fact be genuinely stupid, however.