He Saw It Coming: A Visit With Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky at KSJ on November 17. Photo: Iván Carrillo.


The renowned linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky predicted the rise of a figure like Donald Trump six years ago.

Journalists and pollsters, on the other hand, famously dismissed the possibility until it became a reality three weeks ago. Given the president-elect’s proclivity to dismiss climate change as a hoax, suggest that vaccines are linked to autism, and otherwise hold — or appear to hold — unscientific views on a variety of issues, science journalists are asking themselves where they might have gone wrong. Are there ways they might have done a better job covering the candidates, analyzing the issues, and understanding the overt and covert appeal to the views and policies both Trump and HIllary Clinton were espousing?

On November 17, Chomsky spoke to  the KSJ fellows. He touched on many topics, including how difficult it is to raise public concern over climate change threats, the decline in “the kinds of jobs that gave people a sense of dignity and self worth,” and how vast numbers of Americans feel culturally and economically “under attack.”

Before the seminar, Chomsky sat down with three fellows from the Class of 2016-17 — Lauren M. Whaley, Iván Carrillo, and Meera Subramanian — for a three-minute video interview for KSJ’s online magazine, Undark. You can watch it here.