New Scientist piece on the Science March (with PCC[E])

A few days ago I expressed some doubt about the effectiveness of the March for Science, now scheduled for April 22 (Earth Day) in Washington D.C. I was worried mostly about dividing both scientists and the public by over-politicization of the march based on identity politics. This was expressed on the march organizers’ social media emissions, including Twitter and a now-removed and misguided statement of aims that indicted science for racism and sexism.

I wasn’t the only person to worry about this; as a new piece in The Scientist reports, others were concerned about the ideological problems as well; these included Steve Pinker and Jonathan Haidt. Others weren’t concerned despite the political overtones, and the article gives a good summary of the pros and cons, with quotes by several scientists—including me.

The March for Science website now has a new statement of aims (below; click screenshot to enlarge or go to site), and one that Pinker now endorses. I do, too. The diversity is still there, but in a good way, for one strength of science can be said to be its diversity insofar as the tools of science are employed the same way by people of all genders, ethnicities, and religions. But I think the real strength of science is its toolkit: the reliance on evidence that’s now a prominent part of this statement:





  1. Davide Spinello
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Much better.

    • eric
      Posted February 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Exactly what I was going to say!

      I was already planning on going. But now I’ll be going without (mental) reservations.

  2. Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Succinct and compelling.

  3. Kevin
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Good choice of day. Purposeful too.

  4. Andrew
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    If you go to the website and click the diversity tab, the original statement is still there.

    • Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      I missed that, and yes, it’s still a bit problematic with its flat statements that are unevidenced. That said, it’s not as bad as the original statement that blamed science itself for discrimination.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        What I find re this is that the revised statement appears on the main web page, but if one clicks the “Diversity” tab, the pathetic, gag-inducing, jargon-ridden, ultra-PC original statement appears; something I find disingenuous.

      • Andrew
        Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        I was very excited about the Science March when it was first announced and I very much want to show my support for empiricism in politics. The problematic statements and some of the articles that have come out from scientists I respect have given me a lot of doubts. Are masses of chanting people the best way to promote reason?
        Since it’s on Earth Day and the main galvanizing force of this movement seems to be climate change, I’m going to support it in that spirit, but I wish they would change the name. #bcuz science! doesn’t seem like a good way to convince people or explain what science is.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    As an enthusiast, I like it.

  6. Claudia Baker
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink


  7. Steve Pollard
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    For one moment I thought this was going to be an editorial from New Scientist. Thankfully it is much better than that. Good luck to all involved in it.

    • Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes, as a reader of New Scientist I misread the title too.

      This statement is something I can support.

      It’s also unexpected; the normal response of organisations to criticism these days is to double down and call their critics racists and misogynists.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        I agree on all counts.

  8. sgo
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I also made the “New Scientist” connection. In any case, I noticed they had a stronger statement than before, and now put the right emphasis on the science toolkit. I am still a bit worried about which speakers they will invite (if there are any? But seeing as how the Women March had them), so I will keep an eye on that. But I am delighted they chose to have the march on Earth Day, and that one of the strong focus points will be climate change – particularly pertinent with this government and the recent confirmation of the head of the EPA. I’ll probably join the march.

  9. Posted February 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink


  10. mikeyc
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I found this to be most chilling (from the Team tab – a who we are page); “Given the political climate, several of the people who have been instrumental in planning the event are reluctant to announce their participation publicly…”

    Reason enough to march (IMO).

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Here is what Canada’s science march looked like when Evidence for Democracy led a march to Parliament Hill.

    The message from Evidence for Democracy was and is attacking science is attacking truth and without truth you cannot have a democracy.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 3:46 am | Permalink

      I liked the way the government minister said they had increased funding in important areas, then the reporter summarized by pointing out that they had actually cut science spending by $400 million. Journalism to the rescue.

  12. JoanL
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Very nice. The “death of evidence” funeral particularly appeals.

  13. Diane G.
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Very satisfactory now.

  14. Posted February 3, 2017 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    Excellent — so glad to see that sense has prevailed!

  15. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 5, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Ah, much confusion. I was thinking that PCC(E) had written a piece for the New Scientist, not that there was a new piece in The Scientist.

%d bloggers like this: