As scientists prepare to march, Science for the People reboots

Apr 5, 2017

By Jeffrey Mervis

The upcoming March for Science is frequently described as the first time U.S. scientists will take to the streets.

Epidemiologist Frank Bove and biochemist Ben Allen know better. They are part of a small cadre of “science workers” trying to revive a short-lived organization—named Science for the People (SftP)—that evolved from the 1960s antiwar and civil rights movements and engaged in demonstrations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and other forms of direct action. But whereas the current marchers want to defend open inquiry and evidence-based policy in response to outside assaults on the profession, SftP was trying to rescue science from itself.

The original group maintained that too many U.S. scientists had become willing tools of an oppressive government that was fighting an unjust war and serving corporate interests. In its early years, SftP disrupted the annual meetings of AAAS (which publishes ScienceInsider), with activists shouting down speakers, accusing prominent scientists of serving the ruling class, and staging counter sessions on hot-button political issues. 

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