On April 22, I rode to Washington, D.C., for the March for Science.
The week before the event, I stumbled upon an article that drew unexpected comparisons between the March for Science and, of all things, the 1970s farmers’ protests. If you’ve heard anything about the March for Science, you’ve probably heard the common narrative that “introverted,” “peaceable” scientists don’t normally protest. We are “timid,” but above all, “objective,” and, therefore, we eschew politics. If we, of all people, must publicly plead for respect and funding, things must be pretty bad.
In the weeks leading up to the March for Science, there was intense discussion within the scientific community over what we would be marching for, or even if we should be marching. While the march was morphing from a suggestion over social media to a highly coordinated international event, a set of clear goals and demands never emerged. Seemingly everybody who wanted to participate knew in their hearts why this was important — science denialism, threats to science funding, the environment and pollution, treatment of underrepresented groups in science — but nobody had catchy one-liners prepared for the media to explain what they had hoped to accomplish.
Some scientists didn’t even think there should have been a march: to demonstrate, they believed, would…