Trump's possible science adviser more than just a computer nerd
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President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE is considering another of his personnel picks and this person, his potential “science advisor,” is unusual to say the least.

The actual title of the post is Director of the Office of Science and Technology, but the office holder is not a member of the cabinet. The position was instituted by President Gerald Ford in 1976, though earlier presidents have had similar appointees acting in this capacity.

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This advisor has no authority, acting strictly as an aide to the president on matters dealing with technology.

 

The appointees in the last forty years or so have typically been academics, usually from elite universities, and often have served as upper-level administrators. They have nearly all been white men with membership in prestigious technical societies, such as the National Academy of Science (NAS).

Trump's appointee is quite different.

David Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale University. He was one of the originators of the ground-breaking technique known as "parallel computing" and is widely hailed as a genius.

Parallel computing, born over twenty years ago, allowed the connection among several small computers to replace large, hugely expensive ones. Time Magazine, in fact, calls him "an arch-genius" for his innovations in computing and artificial intelligence. Though not a member of any of the elite science societies, he is a member of the National Council of the Arts.

Gelernter is clearly more than your run-of-the-mill computer nerd — far more.

He is an avid painter (his works are on display in galleries), historian, philosopher, and professor of religion. He specializes in Judaica, the study of Judaism.

But he is most widely known for his criticism of modern-day higher education, which he dismisses as watered-down liberal nonsense. He says that today's students are, in fact, ignorant. The New Left, he argues, has conspired to produce whole generations of uneducated graduates.

He claims they have no knowledge of history, art, and literature, let alone math and science.

According to Gelernter, the New Left faculty members have diluted education, morality, attitudes, and patriotism with cynicism. Students nowadays, he says, have become ignorant of alternative thought — they have been instructed to repeat back what they hear, not question it.

He is widely quoted as saying in answer to the inquiry, "What's wrong with higher education?" is "too many Jews." This last statement is, of course, filled with sardonic irony.

He is most certainly not a "self-hating Jew." To the contrary, he is unapologetically and intensely Jewish. What he means is that too many of the leftist professors have turned academia into mindless kindergartens, as test scores clearly show. And many of these ultra-liberal professors are, unfortunately, also Jewish.

His views on education, and our society in general, are tied deeply to his faith. He feels quite strongly that Americanism is rooted in Zionism; that the Hebrew bible is the basis for both.

The concepts of freedom, equality, and democracy are common to both our Puritans and the ancient Israelites. The Puritans arrived at Plymouth and were pursued by King George III; the ancient Hebrews were led to the "Promised Land" and chased by the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Both the Puritans and the Israelites are, in a sense, "Chosen People." There is no parallel with Islam, he says, which is a religion that “rejoices in slaughter."

Gelernter's mix of theories of education and religion probably baffle many of today's students. But like him or not, there is remarkable consistency in his arguments.

One cannot deny the astonishing mix of his knowledge and skill, from the forefront of computer software design to philosophy, art, and religion. He is truly a unique and gifted individual.

Jack Winnick is Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has also been a Middle East scholar for over forty years, traveling to the area for the State Department for the purpose of technology transfer to the Arab nations, and cooperation between Israel and Egypt. Winnick's latest novel, based on the current state of international terror, is "Devil in False Colors."


The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.