Marching Orders

After weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions and introspection, many of the major American scientific societies have decided to support the March for Science. While some of the societies aligning with the march tend to be identified with advocacy of some sort or another (like the Center for Biological Diversity  and the Union of Concerned Scientists), having such large and politically neutral or even politically inactive organizations as the American Geophysical Union, Sigmi Xi, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the American Society for Cell Biology align themselves with this march is extraordinary. Basically, these organizations are putting their reputations on the line–and risking alienating members–by openly supporting a march that certainly carries the risk of being labelled as a partisan activity.

The flip side is that by having such substantial partners who are deeply concerned that the march remain non-partisan, there is a far better chance that it will be largely a non-partisan activity, so the fears of some that this might just appear as a left-wing love fest might prove unfounded.

And so, once again, as a reminder to all, science abuse is not limited to the political right in the U.S. The science on vaccinations and homeopathy is clear despite some of the left of the political spectrum thinking that vaccines are bad and homeopathy is good. Currently available GMO foods have no demonstrated ill-effects on humans who consume those foods. Issues with oil and gas development are not nearly as clearcut as some on the left would say. So while the right deserves to be pilloried when denying that the globe is warming or that humanity has little effect, or when it wants to replace the science of evolution with faith-based intelligent design curricula, it can also be true that science will inconvenience the desires of other parts of the political spectrum.

Marching for science should be marching against ignorance, marching against seeking confirmation bias for things you want to do as well as marching for evidence-based decision making and the continued support for understanding the universe we inhabit. It should not be simply a march for or against a particular politician.

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