There will be a Morris Area March for Science, and I’m planning to be there. Especially given the announced savage cuts to science funding, it’s important that we stand up and testify to the importance of science.
The Union of Concerned Scientists interviewed a number of scientists about whether they’ll participate in the march, and the answers were overwhelmingly in the affirmative. However, there was also one naysayer, and it’s a good idea to consider the opinions of those who disagree in an intelligent way. Here’s Troy Livingstone’s opinion:
I believe strongly in the values inspiring the march. But I also believe it will be a mostly white, mostly privileged and elitist group who will not be or appear inclusive of all people.
Unintentionally, marchers may reinforce the negative stereotype that science isn’t for everyone.
Finally, I believe that the millions of dollars marchers will spend would have had more tangible benefit advocating for science if they went into the accounts of AAAS or the Union of Concerned Scientists or similar organizations.
I’m all for political activism, but I worry, just like with the women’s march, that many people will call this march their contribution to this cause and leave it at that.
What will matter most is not what happens on the day of the march but everything all of us have done and will do every other day of the year.
Those are very good points. I think he’s right that institutional science, by it’s nature, is privileged, and the people who participate will not be representative of the broader group that benefit from, and will contribute to, science (this problem was also not helped by the dudebro scientists who immediately started whining about
identity politics as soon as the organizers tried to emphasize diversity). I think we need to reach out to our public schools and school teachers in addition to lab scientists to make it clear that these are issues that affect everyone. It has to be a march for all, not just working scientists, in support of science.
The concern that motivated individuals will spend “millions of dollars” on a demonstration is silly. Don’t try to police how individuals spend their personal efforts. We should be encouraging everyone to go public with their concerns.
But he’s exactly right that this can’t just be a one-shot, one-day show. This has to be the start of the work. It doesn’t immediately solve anything, but it can be a chance to get a greater commitment to working to tear down the ignoramuses in office.