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Why scientists need to go to the barricades against Trump – and for the humanities – Nicola Gaston

Posted in Reflections On Science on January 31st, 2017.

University of Auckland’s Associate Professor Nicola Gaston writes on The Spinoff about why scientists need to stand against anti-science agendas and for the humanities.

An excerpt (read in full):

Very few of the Trump regime’s attacks on science have not been previously signalled – I spoke about one example, the proposal to prevent scientists from giving evidence to the US EPA on the basis that as experts, they have a conflict of interest, at the NZ Association of Scientists conference two years ago. None of this is actually all that surprising, though that doesn’t make it less awful.

But a couple of days ago, I ran the idea of a Science March past a fellow scientist, and the response that came back surprised me: “We should do something … but maybe not a march … because there aren’t enough of us.” This has taken me a while to process.

A march is not a parade. You don’t march for yourself; you ask others to do it for you. This is what solidarity requires. The whole fucking point of the Niemöller quote is that he was not a socialist: not by his own lights, for all that his sense of solidarity went on to land him in both Sachsenhausen and Dachau, after he retracted his initial support of Hitler.

If there has been some opposition to the idea of a scientists’ march, then this is why. The idea that science is inherently apolitical, as expressed by the organisers of the march, is problematic.

The biggest problem is that this leaves the impression that scientists would never march for anyone else. So perhaps it is rational that a scientist would not expect others to march for us – but it is possible to be both rational, and wrong.

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