The March for Evidence

Apr 13, 2018

By Rush D. Holt

The March for Science in April 2017 was a unique demonstration of concern about the role of science and engineering in society and government. More than a million people in cities and towns around the world gathered in streets, made placards and banners, and heard speakers extoling the relevance and beauty of science—and also warning of diminished influence of science in policymaking. Some have dismissed the marchers as just another interest group advocating for more government funding for their work.

But the March, as I saw it and took part in it, represented something more: a significant change in how scientists see themselves and their work. This change had been slowly developing over recent decades and is now reaching a crescendo. Plans for another March for Science tomorrow indicate that the change among scientists is real, and that last year’s march was not simply a flash in the pan.

Scientists and friends of science are excited about recent progress in almost every scientific discipline. Whether it be observations of neutron star collisions, new findings on intergenerational epigenetic changes, macroscopic quantum entanglements, or human behavior, unprecedented scientific advances abound that will improve our future. Science marchers point to science as central to improving the human condition. At the same time, they are concerned about weakening public understanding and support of scientific research and the widespread neglect of scientific evidence. These concerns brought marchers to the streets in 2017 as much as pride in scientific accomplishments.

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3 comments on “The March for Evidence

  • I’ll be there.

    Lifting the standards of voters is our most urgent task. The Mail etc., allowing a dumbing down of issues cannot be fought given the profitability of stupefaction. We must therefore fight for a smarter populace that shun such ignorant and willful idiocy.

    Idiocracies are now a thing we must contend with.

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  • I see that a global view is to some extent, bypassing the idiocracies on climate issues!

    The global shipping industry has for the first time agreed to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases.

    The move comes after talks all week at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

    Shippings has previously been excluded from climate agreements, but under the deal, emissions will be reduced by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

    One minister from a Pacific island state described the agreement as “history in the making”.

    Shipping generates roughly the same quantity of greenhouse gas as Germany and, if it were accounted for as a nation, would rank as the world’s sixth biggest emitter.

    Like aviation, it had been excluded from climate negotiations because it is an international activity while both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement involved national pledges to reduce greenhouse gases.

    The United States, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and a few other countries had not wanted to see a target for cutting shipping emissions at all.

    By contrast the European Union, including Britain, and small island states had pushed for a cut of 70-100%.

    So the deal for a 50% reduction is a compromise which some argue is unrealistic while others say does not far enough.

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