Why I Marched For Science — 4/22/17

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March for Science1

My sign was apparently a little too edgy.  It said:

WITHOUT SCIENCE

there would only be

IGNORANCE

& RELIGION

I think the “religion” part was the cause of the sideways glances I got.  But many people responded affirmatively anyway.  It may be a little harsh, but it is true.

I haven’t written much about religion yet on this blog, but it’s one of my favorite subjects so, stay tuned, I promise I will.

This was my favorite sign — but it has nothing to do with science:

March for Science2

I marched for SCIENCE last Saturday because Science is hard work.  Being simple-minded, superstitious and ignorant is EASY — any one can join that club.   Understanding science, science history and the application and consequences of science involves a true dedication and hunger for knowledge.  Being a critical, profound thinker, with a healthy skepticism and real facts to defend your position is MUCH HARDER.

More importantly in today’s times, science is NON-PARTISAN.  Science doesn’t care about your political or religious affiliation.  The facts and evidence are revealed — they may confirm your affiliations and beliefs or they may prove something entirely different.  I saw several signs Saturday that read a version of:  “Facts are real, whether you believe them or not”.

The March For Science is necessary because in the last several election cycles it has become apparent that roughly half of American voters are willing to reject science that conflicts with a particular ideology (mostly Conservative and Religious).  One political party has shown a strong preference for simple-minded ideologues over experienced and more intelligent candidates.  Republicans elected W. Bush (whose own father called his brother Jeb, “the smart one”) over Al Gore.  Those same voters were less enthusiastic about John McCain (much smarter and more experienced than Bush) and Mitt Romney (ditto) and now have elected Donald Trump.

What is most disturbing (and ironic) is that science deniers, anti-intellectualists and simpletons use and depend on science every single day — heating and cooling their home, much of the food they eat, their car, bus, plane or train, their computer, their cellphone, all other electronics, their hospital visit, their bank account…and the list goes on and on.  So they really don’t deny all of science, only the science which conflicts with or threatens their personal belief system.  That’s where the hypocrisy comes in.

Not all science is correct, not all science is “good”.  We need that healthy skepticism that is often forged through good education and parenting.  The beautiful thing about science is that, over time, it is self-correcting (or maybe I should say “self-improving”).  Somewhere back in grade school and again in high school or college most of us were taught about the Scientific Method — how scientific evidence is generated, analyzed and how hypotheses are transformed into useable, provable and reliable science.

The Method works like this:

  1. Make an observation.
  2. Ask questions about that observation.
  3. Look for evidence that supports or refutes that observation.
  4. Generate a hypothesis from that information and develop testable predictions.
  5. Test the hypothesis and predictions.
  6. If hypothesis appears correct, the data is often published for peer-review.
  7. If those reviewers and further testing demonstrate the hypothesis is accurate and consistent, a general theory is developed which can withstand any scrutiny.
  8. If not, the hypothesis is altered, reanalyzed, retested or rejected.

There are no short-cuts.  Knee-jerk, unsubstantiated claims or observations are quickly dismissed.  Deliberate fraud will eventually be exposed and rejected.  Ideology has no place in the equation.  This is precisely why Religion cannot be taught as science — it simply doesn’t hold up to these standards.  Use of the Scientific Method has propelled humanity to unprecedented achievement and wisdom.  If we as a species have a salvation, it is in science.  We reject sound, proven science at our peril.

This leads me to ask this question in all sincerity:  “Why do a majority of Republican voters seem to prefer less intelligent, simple-minded, ideologically driven candidates?”  Or this one:  “Why has the Republican party fostered and encouraged anti-intellectualism (which they call “elitism”), or promoted science denial, or defunding public education?  Admittedly, simple sounding solutions such as, “Build The Wall”, “Drill Baby Drill”, “Make America Great Again” are catchy and easy for people to digest.

As a result we now have a conspiracy theorist President, a climate change denier, an anti-intellectual who eschews books and is proud of his 4th grade vocabulary.  The Director of the Environmental Protection Agency is also a climate change denier, a promoter of fossil fuel use and development and a deregulator of corporate pollution.  Our Secretary of the Interior, a complete boob, once campaigned to get rid of the EPA, the Department of Education and the very department he now heads!  And let’s not forget our Secretary of Education, who until she took office, had never stepped foot in a public school and had been a leading voice to defund public education in favor of voucher programs for private and religious schools.  Make America Great Again my ass!

Science Education by country

This chart says it all.  Our academic performance is pathetic.

In this complex world in which we live, the easy, black vs. white, us vs. them, good vs. evil mentality will NEVER serve to keep America great.  The most effective solutions to the world’s problems require an intelligent, nuanced approach using the best information we have available and dynamic, innovative thinking.  That is our best hope.  To accomplish this we need a public and private education system that is second to none which produces smart people:  scientists, engineers, medical professionals, mathematicians, visionaries as well as both public and private sources of funding to make it work.  We should be striving to make America the world’s leader in these fields — that is how America remains great.

This is why I and tens of thousands of people marched for SCIENCE this weekend.  Please join us next time and fight with us for a better America for generations to come.

*** UNITE *** ACTIVATE *** PROTEST ***

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  JOIN LA RESISTANCE AMERICAN!

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