Plans Are Underway for a “March for Science”

What started as offhand comments on social media have spiraled into the beginnings of a potentially large nationwide protest in support of empirical science.

Image via Christopher Penler / Shutterstock, Inc.

Inspired by the success of Women’s Marches held worldwide in support of women’s rights and other causes, and in light of numerous moves apparently aimed at silencing, minimizing, defunding, or discrediting the work of scientists during President Trump’s first week in office, numerous groups and individuals have proposed holding a “March for Science” or “Scientists’ March on Washington”.

As reported by the Washington Post, the idea went viral almost immediately after it was conceived:

In short order, the march had a Facebook page (whose membership swelled [overnight] from 200 people to more than 150,000 by ]the following afternoon]), a Twitter handle, a web site, two co-chairs, [postdoc Jonathan] Berman and science writer and public health researcher Caroline Weinberg, and a Google form through which interested researchers could sign up to help.

In response to our inquiry, organizers told us that things were moving quickly and that they plan on releasing both a date for the event and a platform statement by 30 January. In terms of the group’s ability to handle such a rapidly growing concept proposed by a diffuse group of different individuals, they said in an e-mail:

At present we have around 10 people spending a truly horrifying amount of time working to pull this off and around 30 contributing wherever they can. We also have, at present count, 9000 people who have reached out to volunteer to help.

Though their platform is not finalized, they told us that their motivation was both non-partisan and straightforward:

Scientists worldwide have been alarmed by the clear anti-science actions taken by the Trump administration. It has been less than a week and there have already been funding freezes and efforts to restrict scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public. These actions are absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy. This is not a partisan issue — people from all parts of the political spectrum should be alarmed by these efforts to deny scientific progress. Scientific research moves us forward and we should not allow asinine policies to thwart it.

According to the Scientists’ March on Washington web site, the event will be open to “anyone who believes in empirical science” and not restricted to scientists specifically.

Sources
  • Kaplan, Sarah.   “Are Scientists Going to March on Washington.”
        The Washington Post.   25 January 2017  

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