Why I’m Marching for Science

On April 22nd, 2017, thousands will participate in the March for Science—a show of support for science and its role in government and society. I will be one of that multitude.

So why am I marching? This question is being asked of marchers, and I think it’s important to learn each other’s reasons and build a collective understanding of our rationale for this event. To answer the question for myself, I’ll start by stating that this is actually two questions in disguise.

The first is why I care about science at all (and this is actually the answer I’m seeing most from other people).

I don’t really need to go into detail about all the benefits science provides society. It advances health, technology, art and culture, and reveals barely fathomable amounts of information about the world we live in and the bodies we inhabit. It’s a way of systematically learning what helps and harms us and what we can do to live more effectively, safely, and harmonically. It is a way of exploring and satisfying our innate human curiosity.

The philosophy of science is something else I hold dear. That base reduction to hypotheses and theories, assuming little, adhering to no sets of dogma or arbitrary rules that the scientific method provides is freeing. The search for truth above all else is a thing of purity and clarity. It harkens to the ancient and mystical search for enlightenment but using a methodology that can be refined and tested in collective, rigorous ways.

Finally, I have a deep personal connection to science (as I’m sure many fellow marchers do). Being a science geek is essentially the lifestyle I maintained in my formative years. I want to understand—I always have—and science has been the best way I’ve found to understand myself and the world. Learning about the world lets me connect myself to it and other people. Learning about natural processes is a way of telling the biggest story of all: how has everything got here?

So that is my answer to the first question. The second question is, of course, why am I actually marching to show my support for science?

The most important reason, to me, is that science does not speak for itself. It needs advocates: people who understand its value to society and who can communicate that value. These advocates can be literally anyone: scientists speaking about their work, government officials using science in lawmaking, professional science writers and communicators as the primary connection point, or just anyone who tells their friends and family about something interesting they learned and why it matters.

I want to show my support, especially, for the inclusion of science in political decision-making and governance. Marches are inherently political in nature, using publicity to effect a change in consciousness.

I also want to demonstrate my personal support by being a physical presence at the event. I want to be there, a member of the legion. This is a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself (an exciting prospect given the probable scale of the Science March and its likely relevance to contemporary culture and events).

Finally, that lifelong curiosity of mine is acting up again. I want to learn about why others are marching, too. I want to hear about what ideas there are for advocating for science and bringing science more firmly into decision-making processes. Being at the event itself, while feelings are potent and ideas are all afire and aglow in peoples’ minds, fills me with tremendous and eager anticipation.

It’s time to show our support for science.

To the reader: if you’re marching, why? What can we do to ensure science maintains an important and powerful role in society and governance?

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