The Regressive left and the Science March

What I thought was a fairly innocuous post about why I wasn’t participating in the Science March—but also didn’t discourage others from participating (mine was a personal decision that I didn’t want to foist on others)—turned out to inspire a lot of good discussion about what such a march should be, but also a fair amount of acrimony and arguments that I should be participating. Some people accused me, for instance,  hypocrisy, as when my claim that Bill Nye wasn’t the best honorary chair for a science march was characterized as my own deployment of identity politics. Of course there’s a difference: while you may think that Nye would be a good chair as a science popularizer, I don’t demonize people who favor Nye. It’s a suggestion, not a purity test!

So be it; with a public presence on this site, I draw criticism, and I can take it when it doesn’t verge on incivility. But these Facebook comments, posted by Lucas Lynch in response to my own post, are not only uncivil, but demonstrate exactly what’s wrong with the Science March and its infiltration by the Regressive Left:

Apparently I should not only leave science, but I “treat women and minorities like shit”. “M. K. A.”, whoever she is, apparently reached that conclusion solely because of my criticisms of the Science March. Unfortunately, I share the Leftism of most of the organizers and advocates; I just object to their excoriation of science itself for being a tool of bigotry, oppression, and murder.

This is the kind of demonization of the ideologically impure that divides the Regressive Left, and is sadly characteristic of the Science March. I’m not having it. As a friend said, “Criticizing the March is like being critical of Hillary Clinton. It’s not enough to vote for her, you have to vote for her enthusiastically and with a big happy smile on your lips and a song in your heart.”

When I talked to a reporter yesterday about my problems with the March, he said at the end that I sounded a tad defensive. That took me aback for a minute, as I didn’t think that I’m at all defensive about my position, and I don’t feel beleaguered by my critics.

But thinking about that statement, I realized that there’s one thing I am defensive about vis-à-vis the Science March. It’s both the air of sanctimoniousness surrounding the whole thing, which is manifested by “purity tests” (as when the Science March was excoriated for using the word “female” instead of “woman” in a tweet asking how “females” could be brought into engineering), and the censoriousness manifested in the first and third responses above, as if I’ve failed some kind of test. In my profession I’m used to free and open discussion of scientific ideas, and no suggestion is taboo. But that’s not true in Regressive Leftism: some positions aren’t just wrong, but taboo to mention, and if you do mention them you’re tarred for life (viz., Sam Harris’s remarks on torture and Hitchens’s support of the Iraq war).

We can do better than this. Inclusivity should encompass tolerance (discussion, not acceptance!) for not only human diversity, but diversity of ideas.  It’s the censorship that I’m defensive about


  1. Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    The Science March actually appears to be an escalation in regression.

    Regression 1.0 puts certain subjects off the table for discussion – but at least you had the Galileo option of remaining silent and keeping your Science to yourself.

    Regression 2.0 is the demand you actively support the cause by participating in an event that portrays your profession as complicit in misogyny and white supremacy.

    Nothing less than flaying your own skin and waving your bloody, shredded shirt around will do.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Sounds painful but I like the comparison.

    • Molly Harden
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Score another one for the liberal fascists and their campaign against free speech:

      • Rita
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think Bill O’Reilly is the best example.

        • darrelle
          Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          Or that Fox News, the entity getting rid of BO (and who doesn’t want to get rid of BO?), can reasonably be described as liberal fascists.

          But maybe Molly was engaging in satire?

      • colnago80
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        I am afraid that Ms. Harden doesn’t know what free speech is. Ms. Coulter has the right to free speech. However, nobody is required to provide her with a forum.

        • BJ
          Posted April 21, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          The school is required to provide her with a forum once she is invited by a legitimate student group within the school and the school is public (thus making it covered by the First Amendment). The First Amendment doesn’t just cover the right of the speaker to speak, but of the crowd to hear what they have to say.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

        Bill O’Reilly is an ignorant, sneering bigot and his departure is surely a cause for celebration.

        Frankly, I personally wouldn’t even care if he was framed (though if his network paid $19M in settlements that suggests there was more to the complaints than just hot air). There are worthier causes to worry about.

        I’m firmly in favour of defending free speech but protecting the ‘rights’ of a widely syndicated loudmouth is not IMO the place to take a stand on the issue. Particularly since he got the elbow, not for anything he said, but for what he allegedly did. I’d be more concerned about the treatment of Milo Y.


  2. eric
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I just object to their excoriation of science itself for being a tool of bigotry, oppression, and murder.

    I don’t even strongly object to that. For sure there is plenty of good discussion to be had about science ethics, both in terms of how the products of science are used and in terms of whether the disciplines/fields have been fair and ethical in their treatment of minority practitioners.

    What I object to is trying to send four or five complicated messages to lawmakers with one protest march. Send one. Get them to understand the importance of funding basic and applied research for the prosperity of the nation. After the R&D cuts are restored, we can certainly have lots of good discussion about how to prevent the weaponization of dual use technologies or whether recruitment efforts for GLBT scientists is good enough.

    ‘Keep It Simple Stupid.’ Good advice for most of life…great advice when you’re dealing with politicians. 🙂

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      I was favoring an even narrower message: March for Cleaner Energy. This should be our top priority. Nothing matters more than this one.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        On the 100th Day of the Trump Administration, we will march across the country to show the world and our leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet.

    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Good advice.

  3. Somite
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    It looks like this is a generalization from a few randos on Twitter to the march at large.

    We should support the march for science even, propobably moreso, if a misguided group of people are trying to derail it.

    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      A misguided group of people are RUNNING it.

      • Somite
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think they are misguided except for acquiescing in a couple of paragraphs to the intersectionalists. I think the mistake is to focusing on this rather than on the science outreach.

        • Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          Read their mission statement and diversity principles, which include a link to a separate statement on “diversity and inclusion”. The whole March is infused with identity politics and, as I’ve made clear, that’s one of the main misguided things the organizers did.

          • josh
            Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

            Hi Jerry,

            There are undoubtedly some misguided people who have tried to take the March for Science down a dubious path. (E.g. the dumb tweet about ‘marginalized’ ISIS fighters.) But I think that overall the March has grown bigger than that and cooler heads have prevailed. (Said tweet was retracted.)

            The page you linked to says nothing about “diversity and inclusion” and the primary pages stating the Mission and Principles and Goals are pretty unobjectionable. The separate statement on Diversity and Inclusion found on another page might be unnecessary in its emphasis but even it is not terrible.

            I have the impression you are taking the statements of some participants to characterize the entire March. But I think the March itself is not focused on these things.

            • Posted April 20, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

              “Inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility are integral to this mission and to our overall goals and principles. People have rightly pointed out that some of our own public communications, including social media posts, have not affirmed this stance. We hear your feedback and have been working to align our communications with our values. We are actively partnering with and seeking advice from organizations and individuals with expertise in this area. We cannot ignore issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, or any other form of discrimination in the discussion and implementation of science. Nor can we ignore the ways in which science has been misused to harm marginalized communities. The lack of inclusivity and diversity in STEM thwarts scientific advancements not only by limiting who conducts the research, but also by influencing what topics are studied, who participates in the research, and who will benefit from or be harmed by it.”

              From that very link that Jerry provided.

              What is the problem with this? A march for science should concern itself with public acceptance of science and the importance of scientific knowledge in policy decisions that affect us all.

              The issues of whether this group or that group are sufficiently represented in science are of course important, but trying to blend that into the above might dilute and detract from the central issue of the acceptance and importance on science.

              We have a public in the US that, for instance, fails to accept or understand the overwhelming evidence of AGW. That is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Whether the AGW researchers are sufficiently diverse and accepting of LGBTs and the handicapped is also an important, but largely separate issue.

            • Posted April 20, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

              The misguided tweets of greatest concern came directly from the Science March administrators on their official Twitter feed.

              Remember AIG’s statement of faith?

              Science March have come up with some eerily similar stuff where regressive left ideology is effectively “the bible” that acts as the final authority on which facts are accepted as valid science.

              It has also been made clear that disagreement on this point is heresy punishable by banning.

              It is carefully worded in the language of inclusion and tolerance, but the broader context and timing has given the underlying intention away.

              I am not at all comforted by the thought that they have since toned it down.

      • Posted April 21, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        + 1

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Perfectly well said, however I might mention one more thing. The idea or mentality that you are either with us or against us is a joke. As you said, just like the Hilary fling ding, making a critical remark about something or someone is just that, a remark, it is not a public condemnation. What we like to see is individual thinking and opinion, not, lets all talk and look alike.

  5. jay
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I recently read a claim that simply believing in the existence of objective truth is ‘white supremacy.

    There is no room for science in the current climate

    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Do you have a link?

        • Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          From that article:

          “Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples,” they explain. “The idea that there is a single truth–‘the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”

          • Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

            The letter was by just three students, however. All kinds of nonsense out there.

            • Taz
              Posted April 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

              It was written by three – it was signed by more than 20.

          • Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

            “…dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples…”

            That kind of talk is uniquely endemic to a distinctly Western paradigm.

        • Historian
          Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

          The article you cite has a link to the actual letter written by the three students. It reminds me of the barely comprehensible Marxist jargon of the first half of the twentieth century. This letter is but another example of the ramblings of the “illiberal left.” But, the views expressed in the letter may not be anything more than those of the authors and a few others. I hope that the president of Pomona has the good sense to simply ignore this attempt at intimidation by a small group of people.

          By the way, Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic has a scathing post in which he takes apart UC Berkeley for cancelling a talk by right wing maniac Ann Coulter. As he notes, this action is not only another attack on free speech, but gives the far right undue publicity that it richly does not deserve.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted April 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            “… barely comprehensible Marxist jargon …”

            Don’t blame Uncle Karl; he was a clear writer and a top-flight prose stylist, especially in the journalism he did for Horace Greeley’s New York Daily Tribune, including essays like “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.”

            The Marxist jargon you speak of from the first half of the last century stems from the Frankfurt School.

            • Posted April 21, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

              Maybe he wrote journal articles well, but I have been force-fed some quotes of him that rivaled Hegel.

      • BJ
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Here’s another link:

        You can also find the story on the Washington Times and the National Review, among others. Naturally, these are all conservative or libertarian-leaning sites because, as you have noted, they’re the only ones willing to report on this madness.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Probably not the first time that the regressive left discovered PoMo. The two were made for each other.

      • Bruce Gorton
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        Sometimes I think PoMo was started as a leftwing way to defend rightwing ideas.

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    The best you can do is articulate your views both clearly and consistently. And you have done this many times.

  7. Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    go to the march, because you support science. to not go just to show how much you don’t support the regressive left is irresponsible and lame. think of marching as co-opting the organizer’s plans, if that makes you feel better. think of it as a “take back the march so I can support science” march. marching does NOT mean you agree with all of the advisors on everything. it means you support science.

    large scale public demonstrations are affecting policy and politicians. don’t pass up the opportunity.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      I agree. Not going is analogous to not voting for Hillary.

    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      Let me offer a prediction:

      On Sunday, when the papers come out, the March for Science speeches and reports will focus way more on what an evil guy Trump is, the discrimination against , and the violence that will take place somewhere in some way. Buried someplace will be science but it will barely rate a mention.

      This march is useless.

      • Posted April 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Of course, it will be 99% about Trump. Which is not entirely wrong, in view of his expressed opinion on vaccines or Pence’s about evolution, but I agree that there will be plenty of anti-Trump and little of pro-science.

  8. Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    The first goal of the march as stated on the March for Science website is to “Humanize science”—this on the grounds that “Science is first and foremost a human process.” This echoes a statement made in Scientific American by Robert S. Young, professor of coastal geology at West Carolina University: “We need to show the rest of the world that we are real people, especially scientists that study things that can be controversial.”

    This is exactly the opposite of what scientists should be doing, especially those that study things that can be controversial. Science is the fruit of good method, not of good persons; being “real people” has nothing to do with it. This is why scientific papers eschew rhetoric, implicitly claiming: The purpose of this writing is to inform, not to persuade. Nothing has been added to the facts to convince you that the content is true.  

    Evelyn Fox Keller puts it this way: “The descriptive language of science is transparent and neutral; it does not require rhetoric.” Further back, Aldous Huxley writes, “One of the great achievements of science is to have developed a method which works almost independently of the people by whom it is operated.”  Or to go back about as far as we can go, in his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo has his mouthpiece, Salviati, say:  “If we were discussing the humanities, in which neither truth nor false exists, we might trust in subtlety of mind and expect him who excelled in those things to make his reasoning most plausible, and one might judge it to be the best. But in the natural sciences, conclusions are true and necessary and have nothing to do with human judgment.”

    A protest march is by definition a form of rhetoric. Scientists, like anyone else, are free to participate, but they should not do so in their capacity as scientists. I’m with Jerry on this one.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Don’t you pay the Facebook trolls no nevermind, Citizen Coyne; you do you.

    I disagree with your decision not to participate, but respect it as a matter of conscience.

  10. Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    The regressive left/identify politics crowd messes up just about any decent movement that it gets its hands on.

    Remember “Occupy Wall Street”? What started out as a laudable grassroots movement to reform our capital markets degenerated into an intramural foodfight over gender, racial and ethnic lines. The righteous left contingent can only process the world in one way, and therefore these movements get wrapped around the axle of identity politics and never get down to work on the crucial details of the problems at hand.

    Hence, committees in Occupy that were set up to formulate improvements in financial regulation became hijacked by concerns that they weren’t diverse enough (i.e. too many white and Asian males). And the hijackers were often people who did not know the first thing about the subject matter, but were merely bringing their single gender/race card hammer to every discussion.

    I imagine that similar problems are going on with the Science March.

    It’s almost as if the Regressive left are a goon squad that has been deployed by enemies of true reform.

    • Rita
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink


    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Occupy’s rallying cry – We are the 99% – was about as inclusive a revolutionary slogan as you can get.

      Then in came the identitarians and instead of the 99% reclaiming the 34% of wealth held by the 1% it was 49% demanding 7% of what the other 49% earned, and then it was 10% vs the rest, and 0.5% vs the rest…

  11. DrBrydon
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Again, the example of the inability of folks in the US to get together on common issues without requiring a ideological test for extraneous beliefs.

    On a different note, I am not sure how I feel about “M.K.A.” addressing someone as “my dude.” It seems both pompous and plain at the same time.

    • Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      It’s in the same league as addressing men as “guy”, as in “Hey Guy…”

      Whenever someone does that to me, I can’t escape the feeling that I have been condescended to.

  12. Simon Hayward
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I was very torn over this march – for many of the reasons discussed. However the decision was taken from me as I’ll be on a United flight at the relevant time. I’m not endangering my physical integrity with as much as a peep about the discomfort of being shoehorned into a semi-standing position for a couple of hours or about the dire quality of the pretzels, let alone mentioning science which, after all, is what will be keeping us in the air and will thus be important not to interfere with.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      “I’ll be on a United flight at the relevant time.”

      If they don’t drag you off it first…


  13. J. Quinton
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    But that’s not true in Regressive Leftism: some positions aren’t just wrong, but taboo to mention, and if you do mention them you’re tarred for life

    Isn’t it this aspect of religion that was what prompted the birth of New Atheism?

  14. Paul S
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me the march is being held by scientists, but it is about identity politics. It’s a march of scientists, not a march for science.

    • josh
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      You are mistaken. It’s a march for science, with many participating scientists and non-scientists. The basic and official statement of the March’s purpose reads as follows:

      “The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.”

      • darrelle
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        That is a pretty good statement.

        • Posted April 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          Except that scientists being a “diverse” group is irrelevant (science should be color- and gender-blind) and that they are a “bipartisan” group is laughable. How many Republican scientists, do you think, will be marching? For that matter, how many do you think there are? A 2013 Pew poll came up with 6%. Not exactly what I’d “bipartisan.”

          • darrelle
            Posted April 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

            No, no exceptions for me. It is still a pretty good statement. And, it doesn’t say “bipartisan” it says “nonpartisan.”

      • HBB
        Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        It appears that many of the satellite marches have their own mission statements, etc. on Facebook. Here is the one for the Sioux Falls, SD, march that I will attend:

        “OUR MISSION
        -To show support for the scientific community.
        -To safeguard the scientific process, and research funding, when seeking answers to the things that matter.
        -To publicly celebrate science, which helps us make sense of ourselves and our world.
        -To encourage curiosity and exploration, the heart of the scientific approach.

        WHY NOW
        A recent focus on science and how scientific findings impact public policy has put a spotlight on the scientific community and their research. We accept that science, as a field of knowledge and way of thinking, is not swayed by politics or opinions; it is nonpartisan and all-inclusive. This is the time for us to come together as one community, take a stand, and lead a new conversation.

        WHO WE ARE
        We are scientists.
        We are enthusiasts.
        We are seekers of knowledge.
        We are South Dakotans.
        We are humans.

        We are a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life. We are curious, intrigued by science, and enjoy learning about scientific findings. Whether we practice, use, love, or study science, technology, engineering, or math, we appreciate what they have done for us and our society.”

        This pretty well sums up why I am going.

  15. Joseph Stans
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Saying someone is “defensive” is just a passive agressive way to avoid forming an opinon or sharing it.

    Ihope yhouignored the stain on the rug.

  16. Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Found this via Twitter. Although I’m not into hard sciences (probably the majority of people criticising the march) I agree completely with people not wanting to participate for whatever reason. I mean it.
    And if people can’t convince others through open debate to participate, shaming them or excluding them is less than useless, it’s damaging.
    I didn’t like to believe something like “the regressive left” actually existed until these fast past weeks but now I really, sadly, can’t deny it anymore.

  17. Christopher
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    This is exactly why I quit tw*tter and exactly why I will be metaphorically by your side NOT marching. The fascism of the regressive leftists who are continuing their ideological ouroboros over what was supposed to be a march for Science (not gay science, black science, women science, transgender science, etc. ad naseum) will have to do so without me.

    • zoolady
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      So…they win! OR you could rise above the bullshit and march anyway.

  18. Posted April 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I don’t “Tweet” so i generally miss all of this drama. For starts, i think Bill Nye is an excellent chair. He’s knowledgeable, soft spoken and tolerant. That’s the kind of person you need to (mostly) keep the peace among a diverse collection of participants.

    Myself, i think you should go. To use your analogy; Personally boycotting the March For Science because you disagree with some aspects of it is like not voting for Hillary Clinton because you disagree with some of her policies.

    You’re a relatively high profile personality in the science community. I’m sure your absence will be noted by many science deniers and religious fundies. The Trumpers can then add your name to the list of all the prominent scientists who didn’t show.

  19. Voltaire
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    For years I came to this blog. He is one of the best if not the best, for what he teaches and for the excellentness of his commentators. It is the reason why I am not happy with the position of PCC on the March of Science, since having the authority that he has, not supporting the March, opens a gap to this march, to the point of calling the country’s attention to its dissidence.

    I would have preferred you to have your reservations but not display them. If you can not help, at least do not obstruct. Many of you will say that it is the right of PCC to state their views, but that is to forget the influence of our friend PCC. And when you have influence you lose some freedom necessarily. You have to be very careful about what you say. It is a matter of responsibility.

    The enemies of science, including Trump and Republicans, often win precisely because of our “purity” and our “politically correct” discourse. That is why Trump was elected. Since Hillary is not perfect vote for Stein or not vote. And Trump wins.

    It is impossible that there are not several whackos, in a movement of this type that aspires to cover a wide spectrum because the numbers count. In the movements that succeed it has always been this way, for the very logical reason that the good can be reached while the perfect is not attainable.

    I will go to the March.

    • Posted April 21, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      I would concur, it’s a little disheartening to see someone with such a high profile tearing down the march based on what a handful of people have said. There are many of us that simply care about science based public policy who want to make our voices heard.

      I came to a love of science late in life and it’s because of people like Jerry, Lawrence Krauss and other communicators of science that I did. I am marching in Toronto tomorrow to show my support from it and I sincerely hope that others join.

  20. Posted April 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    The way I see it not going doesn’t hurt the regressives (In fact they’ll probably happy people who aren’t there because of them aren’t there), it only hurts the march. When it comes down to it it will be reported in the mainstream media as “so, and so many people marched in support of science”. The fewer who attend the less impact it will have.

    • rickflick
      Posted April 20, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      That’s my view as well. Nobody will know about the political machinations after the event. It will be just a number. So many people were out in support of science. My local Poughkeepsie event has only 41 people signed up so far. I’ll be #42.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 20, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Is it true, as Elvis Costello says, that:

        The women in Poughkeepsie
        Take their clothes off when they’re tispsy


        • rickflick
          Posted April 20, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

          I haven’t noticed a hell of a lot of drunk women. I don’t know where he could have gotten that idea. I hope you’re not too disappointed. 😉

  21. Posted April 20, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I will share a thought here. I assume those who are advising Jerry Coyne to attend the march are all aware of the extraordinary amount of work he has already done to promote science to the general public — the vast majority of it free of charge.

    If you think an extra bod at the science march will achieve something, I assume you will also be attending; and I assume that advising Jerry to attend is not the only thing you are doing publicly to promote science at the moment.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:28 am | Permalink

      Whether or not Jerry marches is his choice; I have neither advised him to march nor praised him for not marching.

      But it seems clear that if he did march, he would not just be one more body marching; he would also be one less opinion leader speaking against the march. Very few of us here have that kind of leverage.

      • Posted April 21, 2017 at 5:27 am | Permalink

        I would have preferred that failure to get someone like Jerry Coyne on board would taken by supporters of the Science March as a warning sign of problems that need to be cleared up *before* trying to attract public attention.

        • Posted April 21, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          Well said!

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted April 21, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          Out of curiosity, how big do you imagine the set of “someone like Jerry Coyne” to be, whose opinions should have been solicited and consensus negotiated prior to any public announcement?

          • Posted April 22, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

            I intended the term “someone like” to refer to the same group who you referred to as “opinion leaders”.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted April 22, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

              That’s reasonable. For what it’s worth, I estimate the size of that group (i.e. scientific opinion leaders of Jerry’s caliber and above) to be in the hundreds. What’s your estimate?

              • Posted April 23, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

                Thanks for the response(s). I am way too far out of the loop to make any kind of sensible estimate.

  22. Filippo
    Posted April 20, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    “When I talked to a reporter yesterday about my problems with the March, he said at the end that I sounded a tad defensive.”

    Well, apparently more than a “tad,” else it would hardly be worth the mention. Though perhaps a little goes a long way with a reporter, eh?

    As I perceive it, reporters are in the business of making people defensive. I dare say more than a few of them are themselves thin-skinned but feel entitled to not be similarly questioned or put on a spot.

    Perhaps a good response would be, “I congenially thank you for your personal opinion about me,” and let it go at that. As I heard Hitch say to Laura Ingraham, “You should have me on more often so that you can give your opinion.”

    From reading the NY Times, how something “sounds” or “seems” to a reporter apparently is a reportable fact and news item.

  23. Posted April 20, 2017 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    “But that’s not true in Regressive Leftism: some positions aren’t just wrong, but taboo to mention, and if you do mention them you’re tarred for life.”

    The bit that gets me is that some positions do not have to be wrong to be taboo. Sometimes they are taboo because they are right.

  24. Steve
    Posted April 22, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    By their fruits shall ye know them, and wow does the March for Science ever attract some major fruits.

  25. Posted April 25, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Hal Conick's blog and commented:
    Good post by Jerry Coyne, Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago.

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  2. […] Jerry Coyne weighs in on his blog as does Debra Soh on Twitter. The silly sign featured seems to be a emblematic of the OPS(III) mentality: […]

  3. […] may explain the current US phenomenon of the “Regressive Left”, as University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne called them, believing that – as […]

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