Marching for Science and Humanity
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/07/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21606
On April 22, 2017 the March for Science took place in Washington DC, which I attended. It was a dreary rainy day that was lit up by the large crowd of scientists and concerned citizens gathered at the Washington Monument. The atmosphere was festive and defiant despite the weather.
The March for Science is a long overdue response to increasingly virulent irrationalist strains of thought that have acquired undeserved legitimacy and are regularly inserted into public discourse as a counterweight to fact-driven and consensus-based science. These ideas have generally not emerged from the public, but from well-funded think tanks whose purpose is to remove obstacles to corporate profitmaking, sometimes with the help of rogue members of the scientific community.
At times over the past century, scientists have gone further than merely countering irrationalism. They have formed and joined movements that interrogate and resist the way scientific authority and knowledge are used to legitimate inequality or build weapons of increasing destructive power. They have proved willing to speak out when these projects run counter to the interests of humanity.
These movements of scientists arose not in the cyclical routines of daily scientific work, but as ruptures in historical periods when the legitimacy of the everyday was questioned more broadly in periods of political upheaval. Thus the 1930s saw the emergence of a vocal movement of scientists that tried to put science in historical, social and political context, and in the words of J. D. Bernal, to understand the "social function of science."