Saturday, April 22, 2017

Marching For Science is countering "alternate facts"

SCIENTISTS argued among themselves whether or not to allow the March for Science be more political. It's not surprising that they would have that debate - it is part of their nature to stay above the partisan fray - but the argument to be apolitical loses its case when you consider it was politics in the first place that inspired the march.
Reluctant they may be, but scientists and their supporters came out by the 10s of thousands throughout the world, spurred by a U.S. administration that seems at odds with the work of scientists by denying their findings.

"We are at a dangerous moment in our nation's history when science and scientists are under attack, when the very words 'climate change' are being censored," artist and environmentalist Maya Lin told the crowd who attended the march in Washington D.C.

"To me, this march is important because it serves as a forum to address the many ways in which restrictions imposed on scientific research affect our lives" wrote Dhruv Arora on ScrollIn. Arora, who came to the U.S. from India, now lives in North Carolina where he helped organized the March For Science in that state. 

RELATED: Why scientists are marching
"The march should not be about scientists stepping down from the ivory tower just long enough to defend it. As important as legislation and policy are, I would first like to see the creation of a space where the scientific community can be held accountable. As a queer, person of colour, immigrant, worker, it is important to me that the very real issue of a lack of visibility and representation in science gets addressed, that scientists’ rights are seen as workers’ rights. When science is stifled, it is always the most underprivileged who suffer.

"The scientific community wishes to be part of the resistance, but where have we been all this while? What can we learn from those who have already been on the ground? How can we demonstrate solidarity? What do we have to offer? What is required of us, but also, how can we be of service above and beyond?"

Molly Jung, 29, a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins, agreed: “It’s time for scientists to get out of the ivory towers and get the message out.”

The most common sign at all the marches was, "Science, Not Silence."
Some of the marchers were able to combine two issues in one, the assault on science and the attacks against refugees and immigrants.

Thanks to Aysha S. Raza who was part of the London march. For you sci-fi fans of the BBC's Dr. Who ...

A word of encouragement from George Takei, AKA Star Trek's Mr. Sulu ...

Comedian Kumail Nanjani sums it all up ...

Supporters of science demonstrated at almost 600 cities or campuses, on all seven continents, including Antartica  where researchers had this message: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”

... and the North Pole ...
and all the places inbetween. From Tokyo ...
... To Washington D.C., where rain may have dampened the turnout but not their spirit. 
“I’ve never thought I had to march, but things are so severe I had to be here,” May Ann Ti, an former engineer from Sterling, Virginia, said. “So severe, even the nerds are here,” her sign read.

Brenda Clough, a science fiction author, has the last word. She says she marches for science because without real science, there would be nothing for the imagination to use to write fiction.

Donald Trump's motorcade passed by the marchers as he went to another event. He issued a statement later that morning but didn't mention the march.

"My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks," Trump said. "As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.

"This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our nation can come together to give thanks for the land we all love and call home," Trump added. 
(UPDATED: 4/23 to include Trump's statement.)