A Scientists’ March on Washington is a chance to speak truth to power

moment of truth

In an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times, a geology professor Robert S. Young decries the planned Scientists’ March on Washington in a display of shocking naïveté:

Among scientists, understandably, there is growing fear that fact-based decision making is losing its seat at the policy-making table. There’s also overwhelming frustration with the politicization of science by climate change skeptics and others who see it as threatening to their interests or beliefs.

But trying to recreate the pointedly political Women’s March will serve only to reinforce the narrative from skeptical conservatives that scientists are an interest group and politicize their data, research and findings for their own ends.

With all due respect, Prof. Young, you’ve completely missed the point! Science has become politicized by politicians and a Scientists’ March on Washington is a declaration that scientists intend to take it back.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Science has become politicized; a Scientists’ March on Washington is a declaration that scientists intend to take it back.[/pullquote]

Whether it’s creationism, climate change denial or anti-vaccine activism, those who fear science have attempted to silence scientists by falsely declaring that it is political and by moving to suppress it as if it were political speech.

Prof. Young’s central claim is nothing short of absurd.

A march by scientists, while well intentioned, will serve only to trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about, turn scientists into another group caught up in the culture wars and further drive the wedge between scientists and a certain segment of the American electorate.

Wrong again! Scientists did not put themselves in the midst of the culture wars; they were deliberately placed there. It’s not hard to understand why. When you can’t discredit the science — and the purveyors of creationism, climate denial and anti-vax nonsense can’t discredit the science — the next best thing is to discredit the scientists. How? By insisting that they are not searching for truth but rather for political or economic advantage.

Prof. Young insists:

Rather than marching on Washington and in other locations around the country, I suggest that my fellow scientists march into local civic groups, churches, schools, county fairs and, privately, into the offices of elected officials. Make contact with that part of America that doesn’t know any scientists. Put a face on the debate. Help them understand what we do, and how we do it. Give them your email, or better yet, your phone number.

Why should it be one or the other? It shouldn’t. We can simultaneously seek to help lay people understand science while making a strong stand that science exists outside of politics and therefore scientists should never be censured by politicians.

Scientists marching in opposition to a newly elected Republican president will only cement the divide.

It is impossible to increase the divide between a newly elected Republican president who seeks to suppress scientists for political advantage and scientist who venerate truth regardless of which politicians seek to use and abuse them to score political points.

Young declares:

Believe me, I understand the desire to impart to everyone how important science is to every sector of our economy, the health of our planet and the future of our families.

That reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of of a Scientists’ March. It’s not to convince everyone that science is important to our economy or to anything else. It is to take a stand against a president who is already subverting science by censoring scientists.

The goal is to speak truth to power in the most basic sense of the phrase — to speak scientific truth to Trump, an ignorant bully drunk on power.

  • Anna

    Will you go, Amy?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I think so.

  • Gene

    March for Science scheduled for April 22!!!

    • MaineJen

      I have my signs ready 🙂

  • Sue

    Totally OT, but good news:

    The Australian state of Victoria has overhauled its Health Complaints Commission to include unregistered providers. Partly inspired by ex-midwives who gave up their registration to escape regulation:

    “The overhaul comes after a series of high-profile deaths during home births in the past decade, including that of Caroline Lovell who bled to death in 2012 under the care of midwife Gaye Demanuele.

    It was later revealed Ms Demanuele had deregistered herself when she became aware the Australian Health Practitioner Registration agency, which regulates the 14 registered health professions, was investigating her.”

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/watchdog-with-teeth-to-name-shame-and-ban-dodgy-health-providers-20170131-gu25eq.html

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    Don’t forget to hammer your congress critters too! They have offices in their home states & in Washington DC. Plus, there’s the House & Senate Ethics Committess to pester.

    https://ethics.house.gov/
    http://www.ethics.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/committee-members

    If you’re not sure what to say to them here are a couple of articles that can help you plan what you’re going to say.

    http://theslot.jezebel.com/how-to-effectively-lobby-your-congressperson-1788958124

    http://lifehacker.com/how-to-make-your-voice-heard-in-politics-between-electi-1791424641

    • Eater of Worlds

      Speaking of pestering, people need to bother their congress critters about how they are denying needed pain medication to people who have valid conditions. Doctors are forcing their patients to stop medication, even those who have been on narcotics long term (like 5 years, 10 years, 15 years) with no increases in dosage and no abuse. They force them off the medication over three months time. Never mind that is too short a time to go to a lower dose. People are killing themselves from a lack of pain control. The people who take medications for chronic pain are the lowest percentage of people who go on to abuse the medication. Even with doctors writing far fewer prescriptions, the heroin addiction rates are continuing to spiral. I can post links for people who are curious. The people who see pain specialists and fall under “palliative” care used to be free from the worry of lowering medication. Now some states are limiting how much a doctor can prescribe; in essence they are practicing medicine. Maine, I think, just did this. Canada has done this also, and the people there are suffering the same problem. Tons of veterans have killed themselves because the VA unilaterally decided to follow the CDC narcotics guidelines, which were formed with information from groups that are anti-narcotic, from addiction specialists, from anti-narcotic doctors, and they didn’t contact board certified pain specialists or chronic pain patients. They basically ignored the science and statistics behind who becomes addicted and why the addiction rates are continuing despite the number of prescriptions dropping by millions.

  • Megan

    Anyone in/around Pittsburgh marching?

  • CSN0116

    WTF is with Rhiannon on the FB page? That bitch is getting seriously annoying and today identified as a nurse… go figure. More institutionalized lactivism. The fact that these anons have real life access to patients is scary. I feel so sorry for the vulnerable women under her “care.” But I’m more appalled at nursing school. How can one actually graduate without the automatic knowledge that lactivism is bunk. How is the critical thinking ability not instilled?!

    • Bombshellrisa

      Well, Nikkilee also graduated from nursing school and critical thinking is clearly not her strong point.

  • Gatita

    It’s time to put an end to liberal respectability politics. A fascist regime is destroying the US government. If the march makes people uncomfortable, GOOD. We don’t need Chamberlain, we need Churchill.

    • Sean Jungian

      Yes, I’ve done this as well. I’m not completely rude, but – yeah. No more Mrs. Nice Guy!

    • MaineJen

      Agree. No more making nice.

    • mabelcruet

      I’m in the UK and signed the petition against giving him a state visit-he can visit in his capacity as president without getting the honour of a state visit (other presidents have done this). The petition now has 1.8 million signatures and his state visit is due to be debated on 20 Feb. I have written to my member of parliament-in British terms, this means I’m absolutely steaming angry about it.

      In other news, I heard he hung up on the Australian prime minister. Very statesman-like.

      • maidmarian555

        I signed it too. I was reading this morning that just policing a State Visit is likely to cost in the region of £10mil at least! We’ve allegedly got no money for the NHS, Social Care is collapsing, Early-Years education is under threat of having funding slashed and yet they’re happy to fork out millions for a pointless visit that’s likely to erupt into riots and disaster. Uh no. No frikking way am I ok with that.

        • mabelcruet

          I’ve read that the Wotsit wanker’s people have demanded that Prince Charles isn’t allowed to lecture him about ecological issues in case it upsets him. And he wants Queenie to watch him play a round of golf. And bloody May is still appeasing him?? I’ve never been a royalist, but quite frankly, if the queen told him to eff off she’d get a standing ovation. I think it might be quite fun to send Prince Phillip off to meet him and let rip, but then again, anything Phillip said would sail straight over cheesy cheeks head.

          • maidmarian555

            I can’t stand the Royals. But they represent us as a nation. If Trump is allowed here on a State Visit with a gold carriage down the mall, I think at least 50% of the population would be sick in their own mouths. The cost (which would not be born by us for a regular visit) will be insane. It sends a message to the rest of the world that we as a nation are supportive of his hideous, racist, anti-women policies. And most of us aren’t.

            If there’s a full-on State Visit, you can guarantee both the right and the anti-fa movements will be out in force. There will be riots. Why should the rest of us pay for that? It’s bullshit.

          • Who?

            Poor Theresa May-not words I ever thought I’d say-clutching the Orange One’s hand the other day at the White House. You’d want to know where it was at all times, wouldn’t you?

            A state visit at this stage of his presidency would be an outrage, and a sign of appeasement that will send shivers around the world.

          • mabelcruet

            Interesting developments-the speaker of the commons says that he will not give permission for Trump to address the House. Bercow may be an attention seeking twit, but his position is above party politics so he can’t be pressured by the PM, and parliament is so hide bound by tradition and rules it won’t be bent for the mango Mussolini, no matter how much weeping and wailing he does.

          • maidmarian555

            Also, Wotsit Hitler. Whilst us Brits may be rubbish as many things, we’re top of the list for amazing insults. Did you see the Scot ones from last week’s March? They were amazing?

          • mabelcruet

            I think I liked the one ‘Your maw was an immigrant, you absolute roaster’ best, but there’s something quite poetic about the simplicity of ‘Ye great orange fanny’.

  • J.B.

    He also misses the point that getting together with people of like minds – can be fun! Or at least energizing. Marching by itself won’t change anything. Marching and then staying connected to the communications teams to go out and do more things is.

    And no one is stopping herr docktor professor young from approaching civics groups. Those of us with two X chromosones, AND jobs, AND kids, do need to budget our time very wisely. I’ll be there, what about you?

    • Amy

      Right?!? I have been at marches, WITH my children, the last two weeks. They lit a fire under all of us.

  • Madtowngirl

    It’s important now more than ever to make scientists’ voices heard. This administration has clearly demonstrated contempt for science in all it’s regards. The local university is “temporarily” losing funding that impacts cancer research and using human cells for toxicology studies.

    Resist on, scientists!

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    When is it?

    • J.B.

      Hasn’t been scheduled yet.

      • fiftyfifty1

        I wish they would get on it!

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        can i downvte that? 😉

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    i’m making a brain hat for my pastor for the science march. (She thinks you shouldn’t take the Bible literally.)

    • Gene

      I’m thinking about it. I’ve found a pattern. Or maybe I’ll just wear my pussy hat…

  • namaste

    Are behavioral scientists invited?

    • Roadstergal

      If you promise to behave. *rimshot*

      • namaste

        where’s the fun in that?

      • J.B.

        I would prefer to examine alcohol’s effects on behavior, actually.

    • J.B.

      As long as you can tolerate the geekiest of geeky signs. I’m trying a few ideas involving OhM and resistance…not sure yet where to get the G in though!

      • Megan

        “Resistance is futile if <1 Ohm?" (cant take credit for that; got hubby a t-shirt with it on a few years back)

  • Gene

    I will be there. Wearing my white coat.

    • Amy M

      I’ve been considering it. I like your white coat idea! Was that just something you thought of, or are most of the scientists planning to wear white coats or other science-y type things?

      • Karen in SC

        On the FB page, there is lots of talk about lab coats. I hope to make it and I’ll have goggles, too.

      • LovleAnjel

        White coats are not a great idea, since plenty of marginalized groups have been targeted for unethical or illegal research. The white coat means something very different to them.

      • Gene

        I’ve been to a few “Doctor Days” at state legislatures in the past. It’s sort of like wearing a badge saying “scientist” or “doctor”. I wouldn’t wear it outside of a science or medicine inspired rally. Plus, it has my name and degrees embroidered on it. It’s a “yes I’m legit” thing.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          i’m tempted to put my older kid in one of his grandfather’s scrubs. Only in part to annoy my father’s ghost. (Dad was a respiratory therapist and i made a bunch of his scrubs. He was also a raging conservative and was planning on voting for Trump, but died in late 2015)

        • Megan

          Wonder if it’d get me in trouble with the mother ship since I am an employee for a major health system…?

      • Amy

        A whole bunch of Harvard Med students were in their lab coats at the pro-immigration march in Boston this weekend.

    • Roadstergal

      I don’t know if I can make it, so I volunteered to help with the SF sister march. I will bring my BSL2 gear to protect me from the politicization of science.

      • BeatriceC

        We’d love to be able to make it to the Washington march, but don’t think we can pull together the funding. It’s more than just flights and hotels. We’d have to board four parrots, for however long, and feeding me anywhere but my own home is difficult due to allergies. I’m not sure if there’s going to be a San Diego march, but there’s certainly going to be one in L.A., so we will at least go to that one. Though it would be really fun to go to SF and march with you! That’s not too far and we could drive instead of fly, and then we just have the bird issue and the hotel.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          i think i’ll go to the Cleveland one

          • BeatriceC

            Looks like there’s going to be one in San Diego, but reading the social media pages I’m not sure I want to go to it. They’re eyeballing Balboa Park as a location, which is the location within the city that makes the least sense. At the very least, we’ll go to the L.A. march and combine it with one of our trips to deal with MrC’s mother’s issues (she’s 85 and still lives alone, though she really shouldn’t, so we have to go there often to help deal with stuff she can’t).

        • BeatriceC

          Just looked up train fare. I’ve always wanted to ride the train up the California coast. A train ride to SF to march there would cover two things in one trip. It’s actually not that expensive. Round trip fare for two would be about the same cost as gas to drive. I could do two things I want in one trip!

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      But, but, you’e not supposed to wear PPE outside the lab!!! Sorry , channeling the EHS officer for a brief moment :). I can’t make it to D.C. but plan to go to one in New Haven.

      • Gene

        My coat is pristine. I never wear it in the ED. Too cumbersome!