Donald Trump’s propensity for exaggeration, obfuscation and outright lying has shadowed the 2016 American presidential campaign, yet has so far not derailed it. The rise of such a provocative Republican nominee has caused disquiet abroad, with European allies contemplating with dread what a Trump presidency might mean for their own political and economic futures, as my colleagues noted this week.
Meanwhile, a slightly different constituency is also looking on aghast. Leading scientists, many of whom were appalled at Trump’s long-standing skepticism over climate change and earlier opposition to vaccinations, have written open letters to U.S. voters, beseeching them to vote against the Republican nominee. In a rare move, Scientific American magazine waded into the maelstrom in August with an op-ed denouncing Trump.
To that end, a Finnish company has also taken the former business executive to task. In a game that now exists both online and in the form of an augmented-reality mobile app, a cartoon image of Trump issues his actual tweets on climate change — including his stated belief that global warming is a Chinese ruse — and other questionable interpretations of science. Then the user can hurl cartoon globes, charts and textbooks at Trump to break apart his lie.
“In a symbolic way, you break his message with an object of science,” said Olli Rundgren, chief executive of Psyon Games, the Finland-based company that produced the game, Trump vs. Science. It’s a simple affair that’s already garnered close to 4 million clicks. But it comes with a stark message, as a note on the website makes clear:
The way Trump uses trendy internet rumors to appeal to our fears, for his own personal power, is irresponsible. Modern civilization — your phone, your TV, your car — they all depend on scientific knowledge about ourselves and the world we live in. If we ignore science now, we stand to lose all that we hold dear to floods, plagues, and politicians.
Rundgren, who has a background in science, was struck by Trump’s apparent “ignorance on big global issues” and wanted to create something that would both tear down the rhetoric and engage users in the importance of knowing scientific facts.
“Everyone knows the president of the United States is the most influential person in the world,” Rundgren told WorldViews. “What they think about big issues affects everyone.”
Rundgren is at pains to stress that’s he not trying to be partisan about the U.S. presidential race.
“Other people have said why don’t you make a game about Hillary?” he said. “But what is the big scientific mistake she has made?”