Scientists to March on Washington?

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  • #1
gleem
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The women did it so why shouldn't we? Some 50 scientists are trying to organize a similar march.

http://www.scientistsmarchonwashington.com/

But is it the right approach to the issues that we perceive with this new administration? Would it be better for us individually to write to our senators and congressmen like the AARP encourages us older folks on issues affecting retirees instead of having an organization speaking out for our concerns? Will this, probably unspectacular march have much of an impact on the direction that the present administration seems to be going. The women's march appealed to a large group of citizens because they can identify with them. How many will identify with us?

Letter have already been sent to Washington by various scientific organizations. expressing concern over the administration's posture toward science.
 
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  • #2
phyzguy
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Maybe next time we will organize before the election instead of after. I know several scientists who voted for Gary Johnson last November - I'm guessing they wish they had a second chance to cast that vote.
 
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  • #3
Student100
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I think science (and scientists themselves) should remain fairly distant from any sort of political protesting. Report the research, and let them do what they may. To do otherwise just sends the wrong kind of signals about the objectivity of science itself.
 
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  • #4
Evo
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I don't think a march would be the best idea but concerns should be expressed, but thought needs to be given to how it should be done to make sure that it gets the right media coverage so that it can't be ignored. Staying quiet would be the worst thing to do at this time. But with the current administration, you need to be cautious.

http://www.nature.com/news/science-under-president-trump-1.20966
 
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  • #5
256bits
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I must be out of touch or something, but what is it about this administration that makes it so much more prone to being labeled as being against all and everything that any group of people can ever think up, just because they say it will go against the status quo, and that it just might maybe interrupt their psychological well being.
Go back as recent as Reagan and the fortune tellers, and yet that administration did not have an anti-science monkey on its back.
Einstein wrote a letter about atom-splitting, was it to Roosevelt, which was dismissed. Neither of them was accused of being anti-science( einstein ), nor believing in a prominent scientific opinion ( Roosevelt ).
Perplexed.
 
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  • #6
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I must be out of touch or something, but what is it about this administration that makes it so much more prone to being labeled as being against all and everything that any group of people can ever think up, just because they say it will go against the status quo, and that it just might maybe interrupt their psychological well being.
Well, Trump's campaign strategy largely consisted of speaking out against anything, even contradictory things at times, to pander to different groups.

As for science, he is a climate change denier, anti-vaxxer, thinks frakking poses no health risks, thinks wind farms are ugly and bad for people's health, and thinks that power saving lightbulbs cause cancer. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-comments-on-science-are-shockingly-ignorant/) (to name a few).

-Dave K
 
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  • #7
russ_watters
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I think science (and scientists themselves) should remain fairly distant from any sort of political protesting. Report the research, and let them do what they may. To do otherwise just sends the wrong kind of signals about the objectivity of science itself.
While I get the appeal of objectivity, I don't think it exists, nor do I think it is fair or logical to say the people who best understand the research shouldn't have a say in its implications.

In the absence of true objectivity I would rather fight bias with bias rather than keep the side with the most relevant bias silent.
 
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  • #8
russ_watters
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I don't think a march would be the best idea but concerns should be expressed, but thought needs to be given to how it should be done to make sure that it gets the right media coverage so that it can't be ignored. Staying quiet would be the worst thing to do at this time.
I know it isn't exactly what you meant, but odds are that the media is going to be more on top of the anti-science (and everything else) views of this President than ever before. I just don't have a lot of confidence they will do it well. Just playing the odds based on the positions suggests they will be more on the right side than the wrong side, but there are still big blind spots.
 
  • #9
StatGuy2000
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Well, Trump's campaign strategy largely consisted of speaking out against anything, even contradictory things at times, to pander to different groups.

As for science, he is a climate change denier, anti-vaxxer, thinks frakking poses no health risks, thinks wind farms are ugly and bad for people's health, and thinks that power saving lightbulbs cause cancer. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-comments-on-science-are-shockingly-ignorant/) (to name a few).

-Dave K
I agree that Trump's campaign strategy (and his current communication strategy, such as it is) consists of speaking out against anything to pander to different groups. What we don't know is whether Trump's ignorant comments on science reflect his true beliefs, or whether they reflect his pandering strategy.

What we also don't know (yet) is what the Trump administration will actually do with respect to any form of federal science policy, or will be capable of achieving. There has been some early reports of proposed cuts to funding in various scientific research areas (including research on climate science, nuclear physics, etc.), but that's about all we know at the moment.
 
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  • #10
russ_watters
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I must be out of touch or something, but what is it about this administration that makes it so much more prone to being labeled as being against all and everything that any group of people can ever think up, just because they say it will go against the status quo, and that it just might maybe interrupt their psychological well being.
A lot of it, I think that he is clinging to recent prominent lost battles, which makes for more prominent positions.

The other thing is how liberals vs conservatives use anti-science beliefs: conservatives who are anti-science tend to attack science/scientists directly (often on religious grounds) whereas liberals who are anti-science say their positions are scientific when they aren't. The different approaches to anti-Vax is the best example of both. Point being, it is easier to attack someone as anti-science when they come right out and say they are anti-science.
 
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  • #11
Vanadium 50
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The question is should scientists be seen as impartial providers of facts to decision-makers? Or should scientists be just another interest group?
 
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  • #12
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The question is should scientists be seen as impartial providers of facts to decision-makers?
Do scientists feel their facts turn into or are seen as "alternative facts" by this new admin?
 
  • #13
gleem
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We should not present ourselves or appear to as another interest group and that seems to be what we are if you clicked on the "scientists march" link under pages where they state

We accept the following as provisionally true:
  • The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action.
  • The diversity of life arose by evolution.
  • An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas threatens not only the environment of which humans are a part, but America itself.
  • Scientific research in the United States is underfunded. (my emphasis)
  • Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality.
But we cannot just be fact providers either. Some facts are inconvenient truths and are just too hard to accept especially when they get in the way of making money, take smoking and lung cancer. We must speak out where the public good is at stake.
 
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  • #14
russ_watters
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The question is should scientists be seen as impartial providers of facts to decision-makers? Or should scientists be just another interest group?
Since I think the first is impossible and the second overly harsh, how about: Scientists are a special interest group that is uniquely qualified to provide and analyze, for policy purposes, certain types of facts.
 
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  • #16
Vanadium 50
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Scientists are a special interest group that is uniquely qualified to provide and analyze, for policy purposes, certain types of facts.
Fine, but should such a group be involved in a protest march?

but I know a math professor that is involved: Union of Concerned Scientists.
UCS is a left-leaning group of scientists. Should there be a right-leaning organization to balance them? Should right wing scientists join the UCS in an attempt to make it less left-leaning? Or should we just accept their political leanings as the way things should be?

Russ alluded to the problem: we want scientists' views to be accepted as apolitical truth, but at the same time we want advocacy. Hard to do both.
 
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  • #17
russ_watters
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Fine, but should such a group be involved in a protest march?
Emphatically no. Scientists are professionals and have ways of voicing their opinions more professionally than waving a sign across the street from the White House. They are experts in their fields, not armchair activists.
UCS is a left-leaning group of scientists. Should there be a right-leaning organization to balance them? Should right wing scientists join the UCS in an attempt to make it less left-leaning? Or should we just accept their political leanings as the way things should be?

Russ alluded to the problem: we want scientists' views to be accepted as apolitical truth, but at the same time we want advocacy. Hard to do both.
Agreed, and IMO, the UCS strays over the line from professional advocacy to activism.
 
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  • #18
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UCS is a left-leaning group of scientists. Should there be a right-leaning organization to balance them? Should right wing scientists join the UCS in an attempt to make it less left-leaning? Or should we just accept their political leanings as the way things should be?
This data is probably getting stale but "Most scientists identify as Democrats (55%), while 32% identify as independents and just 6% say they are Republicans."

So, I don't know. It's an independent organization. People should join if they agree with what is presented. I don't think it pretends to represent anyone, but I don't see it excluding anyone either.

Russ alluded to the problem: we want scientists' views to be accepted as apolitical truth, but at the same time we want advocacy. Hard to do both.
The scientific method is apolitical. What we choose to apply that method to is always going to be motivated by some type of emotional interest at some point.

-Dave K
 
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  • #19
StatGuy2000
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Emphatically no. Scientists are professionals and have ways of voicing their opinions more professionally than waving a sign across the street from the White House. They are experts in their fields, not armchair activists.
But what you are implicitly assuming is that scientists are somehow divorced from the political process, or should not have political views. But scientists are human beings first and foremost, and like all humans, they have particular political perspectives. If certain scientists are passionate about or wish to advocate for specific political views, especially if those involve issues that is related to their work as scientists, then should we not expect them to be involved as activists?

Agreed, and IMO, the UCS strays over the line from professional advocacy to activism.
 
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  • #20
russ_watters
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But what you are implicitly assuming is that scientists are somehow divorced from the political process, or should not have political views.
I'm disappointed that you got that from my posts, because it is exactly the opposite of what I was trying to say.
If certain scientists are passionate about or wish to advocate for specific political views, especially if those involve issues that is related to their work as scientists, then should we not expect them to be involved as activists?
They can if they want, but I would hope they could do it more intelligently than sign-waving activism. And I think it would have more impact if they did.
 
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  • #21
CWatters
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The British Prime Minister Mrs May is visiting Trump in the next week or so. At Prime Ministers Questions today in parliament the last questioner suggested she offer Trump the services of British Scientists to convince him that Climate Change wasn't a Chinese hoax.

I don't know if you can see this program from outside the UK but it's here..
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08c7khd/prime-ministers-questions-25012017
 
  • #22
StatGuy2000
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I'm disappointed that you got that from my posts, because it is exactly the opposite of what I was trying to say.

They can if they want, but I would hope they could do it more intelligently than sign-waving activism. And I think it would have more impact if they did.
What you had stated earlier is that scientists can participate in the political process as a special interest group that is uniquely qualified to provide and analyze certain types of facts.

But then you state the following: "Emphatically no. Scientists are professionals and have ways of voicing their opinions more professionally than waving a sign across the street from the White House. They are experts in their fields, not armchair activists."

What I read from above is that scientists can be involved in the political process primarily in the role of analyzing certain types of facts that may have an impact on policy, and that is the only role they should play. That's all fine and good, and I agree that is a role that scientists are qualified for, and should be qualified for. But scientists are also people and citizens, and one of the fundamental rights as citizens in the US is to be able to gather and assemble and protest (peacefully) any policy that they are opposed to, and for which they can raise awareness. In other words, to be an activist. I don't see that as an "unintelligent" thing to do, nor do I see it as not having an impact.
 
  • #23
CWatters
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I think science (and scientists themselves) should remain fairly distant from any sort of political protesting. Report the research, and let them do what they may. To do otherwise just sends the wrong kind of signals about the objectivity of science itself.
That's fine as long as Trump doesn't cut your funding for research and/or make your employment conditional on you not talking to the press.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...l-media-grants-contracts-latest-a7544276.html

Donald Trump bans Environmental Protection Agency staff from talking to press after suspending all contracts
Other agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture and the Health and Human Services, have been issued a similar gag order
 
  • #24
StatGuy2000
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  • #25
BillTre
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Will this, probably unspectacular march have much of an impact on the direction that the present administration seems to be going. The women's march appealed to a large group of citizens because they can identify with them. How many will identify with us?
I would be concerned about having a party that some news organizations might say no one showed up to.
Politically, that would be a very poor result.

Instead of a Scientist's March on Washington, I would rather see something like a
March on Washington In Support of Science. Or a
March on Washington In Support of Scientific Realism
.
I see this as a more inclusive way to go. It is more likely to draw in people who like the scientific approach to problem solving rather than just being perceived as something for scientists to do (I'm guessing scientists form a relatively small proportion of society).
This approach could also tie in with what appears to be a growing set of events indicating a lack of admission of reality: crowd size at inauguration, millions of fraudulent votes, didn't rain at the inauguration.

We accept the following as provisionally true:
  • The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action.
  • The diversity of life arose by evolution.
  • An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas threatens not only the environment of which humans are a part, but America itself.
  • Scientific research in the United States is underfunded. (my emphasis)
  • Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality.
I would not use this list. If I had to I would eliminate items number 2 and 4 for the following reasons:

number 2: Although I am a very strong proponent of evolution, it is not my primary concern in these matters. That would be climate change! The evolution people have been taking care of themselves pretty well over the years in the face of various states education boards. It is also a powerful issue for some anti-science people which I see no need to further motivate.

number 4:
Complaining about the funding levels for science seems self-serving and will be projected as that by any opposed to doing something like this.

Point 5
should be promoted to the top issue. A detachment from reality will inevitably lead to trouble when new problems arise and they don't admit they exist or can't come up with a logical/feasible way to deal with them. This is an idea that could be easily be conveyed to many people and to which they would be most likely to relate to.

I would argue that there is nothing wrong with scientists getting involved with the political process, but they should do it in as inclusive a way as possible and by using issues that will appeal to non-scientists as much as possible.
Use real world issues as examples!
Keep away from obscure issues and jargon!

I would also wait a while before doing anything.
After some choice examples of true grievances with consequences for the public have been exposed, it will be time to act.
 
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