Donald Trump Can’t Stop Spewing Bad Science. We’re Here to Help.

image of phone shoring coronavirus data

Andre M. Chang/ZUMA

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

At a Fox News Town Hall in front of the Lincoln Memorial on May 3, President Donald Trump revised the US coronavirus death toll, citing a number significantly higher than what he’d been predicting just a few weeks ago. “I used to say 65,000, and now I’m saying 80 or 90, and it goes up and it goes up rapidly,” said the president.

Confused about what to make of this? Us too. And with new data and studies about the coronavirus coming out every day, understanding how science and statistics work has never felt more essential—and, let’s admit it, overwhelming. 

That’s why we brought two people onto the Mother Jones Podcast this week who can help sort through it all, providing tips and tricks for identifying reliable data. Sinduja Rangarajan, a senior data journalist at Mother Jones, has been analyzing data to show how COVID-19 is infecting Black communities at alarming rates, to highlight which communities are the least prepared for the coronavirus, and to forecast when states will run out of hospital beds. “It’s not always clear what kind of data sources are trustworthy or not,” Rangarajan tells host Jamilah King on the Mother Jones Podcast. “When I’m reporting on these topics, I tend to be skeptical of everything, no matter where that data’s coming from, whether it’s from a city or a state or from universities or nonprofits or think tanks or private companies.”

King also talks to Jackie Flynn Mogensen, an assistant editor at Mother Jones, who has been reporting on the medical science of the pandemic, answering key questions on immunity and antibodies and helping us make sense of all those terrifying death projections. Her recent reporting takes a step back and reveals just how complicated all this science actually is—and how, in the frantic rush to get more and more information about the new virus, it can sometimes be untrustworthy or riddled with conflicts of interest. “Science isn’t about being right. It’s the process of becoming less wrong,” Mogensen explains on the podcast. “What the experts have told me is that making a mistake now, like in the case of ibuprofen, can cost lives.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate