As the March for Science in Washington, D.C., grows, so does its criticism.
This should be expected. Scientists are encouraged to look at even the most widely accepted statistic or finding and question it. So of course, as soon as the march, scheduled for April 22, was announced, people began to critically examine its message, mission and goals.
This critical examination has led to a better, more inclusive diversity statement and a clearer focus for the organizers who have seen their grassroots mission explode on social media.
But other critiques of the march — which asks scientists and those who support science to stand up and say that scientific facts aren’t partisan and that science should be considered when enacting policy — haven’t been so constructive.
The main argument against the march hinges on the idea that “science isn’t political.”
These naysayers argue that science needs to be seen as objective, so marching at a pro-science rally that is, effectively, opposing a presidential administration known for “alternative facts” runs counter the scientific hunt for objective evidence and truth.
After all, the critics ask, how can scientists purport to be “objective” if they are actively involved in a march supporting something which is seemingly politicized?
That argument sounds great, but it’s also bullshit.
Science is and has always been political
Building the atomic bomb? That was a political decision, implemented by scientists. Going to the moon? That too was a political decision that involved scientists at every step of the way. Where NASA goes next will also be a decision born of a mix between science and politics.
Why do you think there are such extremely skewed gender and racial balances in the physical sciences? Is it because women and people of color are somehow worse at math or physics? Of course not. It’s because of institutionalized racism and sexism, and…