Scientists' March on Washington

Monkey see, monkey do is not necessarily a bad idea. According to CNN, someone posted on a Reddit thread, “There needs to be a Scientists’ March on Washington.” Within a matter of hours, someone had organized a website, a Facebook page with half-a-million followers, and a Twitter account. The website proclaims,

There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution. Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.

Oddly, they also say on another webpage that those and other things are provisionally true, but never mind. If you click on the link about me, you will find that the owner of the website is Scientist’s March on Washington; notice the location of the apostrophe. The Washington Post, however, has apparently traced the leadership to Jonathan Berman, a postdoc at the University of Texas Health Science Center and Carolyn Weinberg, a science writer and public health researcher.

People interested in volunteering or supporting the March may sign in using a Google form here. Nonscientists and other supporters of science are also welcome to join. I intend to sign in as soon as I am finished writing this article.

The organizers

hope to use this [march] as a starting point to take a stand for science in politics. Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy. This is a non-partisan issue that reaches far beyond people in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science.

Indeed. The Guardian reminds us that “staff at the Environmental Protection Agency, and the [D]epartments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services have been ordered not to send out news releases, create new blog entries or update official website content,” that “[t]he National Parks [sic] Service was temporarily banned from tweeting after retweeting images comparing Trump and Obama’s inaugurations,” not to mention that “Trump’s transition team [had asked the Department of Energy] to identify individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years.”

I will not regurgitate the Guardian article for you, but the author, James Dyke of the University of Southampton, contacted four US scientists who said, collectively and approximately, that scientists have been fighting pseudoscience and denialism for years, but now science itself is under attack by an administration that is prepared to “muzzle” facts that do not agree with its agenda, and it is time that scientists responded. Elizabeth Hadly of Stanford University bemoans that we cannot have “meaningful dialogues” and asks, “How can democracy, based on public discussions and trust in our societal truths, survive? And so we will march.”