Your Identity Politics Won’t Save Science

Debra W. Soh in Playboy:

Main_1_On a beautiful sunny morning on Saturday, I followed hundreds of women, men and children making their way through Toronto’s downtown core as part of the highly publicized March for Science that took place in Washington, D.C. and another 610 cities around the world. There was no tear gas or trees lit on fire—just a lot of white lab coats and witty protest signs like “Cell-ebrate Science” and “Alternative Facts are the Square Root of Negative 1.”

Sounds uplifting, doesn’t it? In reality, scientists have been critical of the March for Science since its inception, with public figures, notably Steven Pinker and Michael Shermer, speaking out. What I found particularly concerning was the March’s emphasis on intersectionality as a “core principle.” This theory is fuelled by anti-science sentiments, such as the belief that we should prioritize subjective feelings over objective fact. These ideas have no place in the discourse on legitimate science.

Many of the people I spoke with were scientists protesting President Donald Trump’s defunding; others were self-proclaimed defenders of science or had friends and family working in research.

But at the March, it took all of about five minutes before many of the organized speakers broke out the usual identity politics rhetoric, with talk about how “race, religion, gender and class” should not divide us. Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with this, but since the goal of science is to be impartial, it really wasn’t necessary for them to keep pointing this out. Another speaker blamed “power structures” and capitalism for our current predicament. I saw people holding anti-fascism signs and wasn’t sure what this had to do with funding cuts to the NIH or NASA.

More here. [Thanks to Patrick Lee Miller.]