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It may be the largest rally in support of science ever. Hundreds of thousands of people have joined the Facebook group for the upcoming March for Science, and tens of thousands have offered to volunteer. Beyond a march in Washington, more than 400 cities worldwide will host simultaneous events on April 22 to repudiate science policies of the new White House and Congress.

Yet for all the excitement, STAT has found, plans for the march are plagued by infighting among organizers, attacks from outside scientists who don’t feel their interests are fairly represented, and operational disputes. Tensions have become so pronounced that some organizers have quit and many scientists have pledged not to attend.


What was billed as science advocates speaking with a unified voice, then, has instead surfaced long-lingering tensions within the scientific community.

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  • Again, identity politics is obscuring the real issue that affects everyone more equally than any other, which is class war. Perhaps this would be best addressed by a statement on the corporate corruption of science through study publication selectivity, lab bias shopping and then just plain paying for favorable findings, which altogether have yielded an atmosphere where scientific inquiry in general is probably less trusted than at any other time in the last century, and with good reason.

  • To me, many discussions about the Science March have dissolved into absolutism. We have room for both social issues related to science such as underrepresentation and diversity, as well as pure scientific facts and technological inventions that have impacted people very positively. We can talk about how politics has colored scientific issues like global warming and vaccines, and we can talk about how technical inventions like the transistor and oil refining have made so many people’s lives better. We can criticize underrepresentation in science and we can celebrate the wonder of photosynthesis. It need not be one or another.

  • I’m a minority woman in science and think these issues need to be seriously addressed. But this march is not the place to address them. A march is not the venue to hash out all of these internal conflicts. A large public gathering like this needs to carry a strong, unified, clear, and simple message to the general public, and trying to fit in everyone’s own hobbyhorse makes a mess of things. Even if we somehow manage to include a whole host of issues in the march, that will do absolutely nothing to solve the real problems we have with diversity and inclusion in science and it will dilute the power of the original message, which was to support scientific research and accept scientific evidence in public policy. I’m disappointed to see things turn out this way. It looks like we’ll never really tire of shooting ourselves in the foot.

  • This is the greatest danger to the Resistance Movement–that it would get bogged down in internecine warfare and fall apart. Keep your eyes on the prize, agree that things are less than perfect and don’t shoot yourself in the foot with side issues while agreeing that these issues must be addressed as things move along. If everyone goes off in a huff, then nothing gets resolved and we’re still stuck with the problem.

  • Wake up focus people! I thought this was to be about validating the science of climate change and saving the planet from our destructive forces. Just for once couldn’t we put aside all our other controversies and get on with the task of dealing with runaway climate change. Let’s not fall victim to what usually undermines movements striving for radical change. Good old in fighting!

  • Since it was an anti-Trump rally disguised as promoting science, nobody should be surprised that its politically-correct left-wing organizers would end up fighting each other.

    But this was funny reading.

  • For God’s sake, can’t we just stick to protecting science? Trying to stop global warming? A march that protested lack of diversity in science now would just be scientists attacking each other. Only Trump would benefit from that.

  • The real problem of the science march isn’t diversity. The real problem is hierarchy. It’s mind-boggling to me that the central organizing committee thinks that there can be a single cohesive message to the march. It’s mind-boggling that anybody can think that. The worst part is that because of this naive ideal they are silencing people. I have a friend who recently quit his organizing efforts for the Boston branch, because, first of, the committee is unresponsive and second they have banned any criticism aimed at the fiscal partnerships formed with private institutions. Steven Pinker’s comment is very revealing on this account: there is a whole slew of privileged scientists who will not welcome real left-wing criticism of the institutions of science. The march is replicating the very problem that instigated it, simply because people can’t snap out of this hierarchical mindset. Infighting is exactly what we need, we need to challenge each other, but as soon as people bring politics into things, they get silenced, they get ostracized for getting political. If you’re talking policy, you’re talking politics. That includes diversity issues, too.

    • Sounds like the base problem is disagreement over what exactly is “the very problem that instigated” the march. There are so many things about this administration & congress that deserve to be protested, and the organizers can’t agree on what to focus on, it’s that simple. Advocating for facts and science and rationality as a basis for policy decisions is a different issue from protesting racial/gender/other inequities in the science profession. They are both worthy causes, but almost certainly, each is harmed by mixing the two into a single march!

  • I’m ashamed of this disarray and discord. The idea was simple, march on Washington to tell Trump science is important. Instead of buying in to this one objective, or not, everyone (if this report is correct) is attempting to hijack the event to ride their own hobbyhorse. I’d have thought we were above/better than this. I feel sorry for the original organizers who’ve seen their laser focused plan splayed across a rainbow landscape.

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