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The People’s Front of Judea

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Today’s example of why the left can’t have nice things.

Around the same time the central march in Washington, DC started coming together, people all over the country started planning their own local events, so-called satellite marches. As of now, more than 600 are scheduled all over the world, including in Memphis, Tennessee.

An activist named Nour Hantouli, part of the Memphis Feminist Collective, got involved early—along with a dozen people who had long worked in Memphis on movements like Black Lives Matter. Memphis has a storied history in political activism; it’s the place where Ida B. Wells documented and protested lynching in the US. Local activists wanted to teach the organizing scientists about their work’s logistics and philosophy.

In late March, one of the activists, Sydney Bryant, did an interview with The Scientist. “There have been scientists from different areas in Memphis that really want to help, but they don’t know anything about activism,” she said. “So we are trying to teach them . . . in a way that will benefit us both.”

It didn’t go over well. Several scientists wrote in to The Scientist expressing their indignation. “It is unfortunate,” one wrote, “that the interviewee is not someone who actually represents the scientific community of Memphis or the spirit with which the March for Science Memphis was originally conceived.” At the same time, the organizers were having internal difficulties with the leadership of their group, with the scientists wanting to assume all leadership positions, Hantouli says.

The tension in Memphis parallels debates in the larger scientific community over the March for Science, and the relationship between science and politics. After many revisions of its mission statement, the national March for Science now explicitly describes itself as a political movement—and more than that, that it’s officially about diversity in science. But some scientists in Memphis, along with many others nationwide, want to keep the movement’s focus on improving public understanding of science and underlining the importance of funding for research. They wanted to avoid associations with a political movement—and even more emphatically, partisan politics.

On one side are scientists who value their work for its purity, its separation from politics—illusory though that may seem under an administration that seeks to downsize the EPA, cut the NIH budget, and deny climate change. On the other side are scientists who’ve felt the impact of the field’s politics for years. People of color, women, the disabled, immigrants, gay people—they’re all clamoring for scientists to confront science’s biases and improve instead of celebrating its successes on the Washington Mall.

In Memphis, things fell apart. On Saturday, the city will host two official events: a march organized primarily by activists and a rally led primarily by scientists.

But hey, maybe this is actually science!

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  • N__B

    On one side are scientists who value their work for its purity, its separation from politics

    Uh huh. Because politics has no effect on what topics are researched, what topics are funded, how results are presented…

    • J. Otto Pohl

      A good lab trys to isolate and control for those variables. ;-)

    • Origami Isopod

      A lot of those scientists, and other marchers, are wingnuts or brogressives who have been contemptuous of “SJWs” in science and atheist circles for literally years. Their calls for focusing on “pure” science are highly suspect. They’re perfectly fine with bullshit “science” like evolutionary psychology or (for the wingnuts/lolbertarians) laissez-faire economics, and some of them are climate-change denialists to boot.

      • Warren Terra

        Oh, FFS. Do you actually know any of these people you deride?

        There has been a not-insignificant amount of hair-wringing in the lead-up to the Science March, about politicization, but that’s because a lot of scientists are terrified at how anti-science the Republicans have become, encouraged by their base and by the know-nothing carnival barkers that whip it up, and fear that if “science gets politicized” the result will be even more animus from the Right. Supporting research with federal money has long been a bipartisan endeavor in this country (if imperfectly, unevenly, unequally, and laden with pork), and many scientists dream of repairing and restoring that dynamic, rather than completing its dissolution. I don’t think they’re right – or, at least, I think they were wrong not to support the protest, and I don’t see how their desired outcome can happen – but they’re not idiots, nor are they the sort of nitwit macho types you describe.

        • Judas Peckerwood

          but they’re not idiots, nor are they the sort of nitwit macho types you describe.

          Look, we’re all dealing with anecdotal evidence here, so your mileage may vary. All I can tell you is that the pack of dude-bro scientists that I had the misfortune to run into at a bar the night before the march — here in oh-so-liberal Portland — were all that and worse. Sexist, racist, corporate-shilling, war-mongering, macho-posturing fuckwits.

          • Ronan

            okay, but we’re not dealing in equal anecdotage; warren is a scientist by profession, you met a couple of scientists in a bar.

            • Snuff curry

              warren is a scientist by profession

              Congratulations, how wonderful for him, perhaps he can stop playing silly buggers, then, and stop pretending that what OI describes is a fiction when it’s demonstrably not. This has been going on in American science for more than a decade now. No True Scientist is no longer plausible and parroting it is beyond irresponsible.

              • Snuff curry

                The notion that science is not already partially populated by people who spout right-wing beliefs while pretending to keep their field Pure from Politics is offensively fucking stupid to the point of appearing malicious.

              • Ronan

                I was responding to Judas’s trading of anecdotes, rather than the Warren Origami convo.
                My understanding though is that most scientists are considerably more liberal than the average in the population (which obviously leaves space for libertarians etc, but most are still liberal)

          • Warren Terra

            You managed to find macho idiot yuppies in a bar? Do tell!

            What makes them scientists, though? Let alone emblematic of any culture in science?

            • Judas Peckerwood

              They were/are Ph.Ds, mostly in Chemistry, a couple of whom teach in local colleges. And I should clarify that they were planning on marching, though as a dick-swinging exercise rather than as any kind of protest against the anti-science regime.

          • LastUniversalCommonAncestor

            Somehow, the degree of “anecdotalness” between “stuff I have read about the discussions going on among scientists as to how useful or risky would be to engage in a political march for US science in the current environment” and “stuff I have heard from some drunk scientists in a bar the other day” seems different to me. BTW, I am a scientist, and I marched.

            • rm

              But are you a sponge or a jelly?

        • Origami Isopod

          Oh, FFS. Do you actually know any of these people you deride?

          Um. Yes.

          • libarbarian

            Cool story, Bro

            • Judas Peckerwood

              How douche-ily dismissive of you, based on zero evidence whatsoever. Quite the scientific method you’re rocking there.

          • Juicy_Joel

            #NOTALLSCIENTISTS

            • Judas Peckerwood

              And no True Scotsmen, either!

            • libarbarian

              Cool hashtag, Bro.

  • nkh

    Yes. This one story is entirely representative of the protest as a whole. I didn’t meet a single person at the march I attended who had any illusions about political involvement in scientific research, research agendas and funding. And it was pretty clear from the marchers and speakers how aware a lot of field is about problems with diversity.

    • guthrie

      That’s good to hear. I’ve seen a lot of historians of science on twitter* pointing out silly statements by scientists/ people associated with the science marches in some way, and how the statements are silly because of their disregard of actual history of science.
      So that many people do understand this is a good thing.

      *My degree is in chemistry but there aren’t many jobs in that field any more, and my hobby is history of science.

    • cthulhu

      I will say for the LA March, this debate did occur among the planners prior to the event and they ended up siding with diversity and semi-politicization. I would say that 45% of posts on the FB page were apolitical, 45% were at least partly political and another 10% were anti-science or anti-left trolls.

      As for the March in LA itself, the signs were more than 50% anti-current Admin or general anti-conservative and most of the rest just apolitical pro-science. As far as I could tell, 1 of every few hundred or so signs seemed to be specifically arguing against making science political. I have no reason to doubt that they were scientists and that this was the message that they felt was most important. In other words, the “purists” were definitely a rarity at the March in LA.

      Apparently the approximately 50k-strong March also drew a couple dozen Trump supporters who congregated across from the termination point. I didn’t even notice them.

  • PunditusMaximus

    American science has a very serious white supremacy and Patriarchy problem. The folks going on and on about “purity” and “freedom from politics” were almost always white dudes, and when one started looking, one often found that they had . . . histories.

    It’s not an accident that this was a meme Michael Shermer pushed.

    It’s just conservatives being conservative. Conservatives lie.

    • Warren Terra

      American science has a very serious problem with under-representation of minorities; also with under-representation of women, especially as you look higher in the career ladder / power structure, even in Biology where women are a majority of the undergrads.

      That is not the same as saying there’s a “white supremacy and Patriarchy problem”. To say that is to assert something between malice and willful blindness, that just isn’t my experience. People debate these issues, and there are some attempts to remedy them. And you wildly mischaracterize the people expressing concerns about politicization with your sly insertion of the word “purity” in that context.

      • PunditusMaximus

        I view it as a combination of malice and willful blindness, yes. I had thought that in a post-Ferguson world, we white folks were willing to finally believe that it takes a village to beat down a female poc child.

      • CD

        You need to consider the possibility that there is power in operation — an active system of privilege and not just a sad lack of colored folk. Your prissy “very serious problem with under-representation” suggests that all that’s needed are a few more outreach programs. Nor is “People debate these issues, and there are some attempts to remedy them” remotely persuasive! Extended hand-wringing and ineffective initiatives are an integral part of the problem, the protective carapace of white privilege.

        Your “To say that is to assert something between malice and willful blindness” is precisely the move people always pull when accused of racist practice — the pained insistence that their hearts are pure, there is not a racist bone in their bodies etc. etc. Institutional racism works by reprehending open bigotry and fostering a certain well-meaning liberalism while avoiding any step that would reduce the actual power of white people as a class.

        • Origami Isopod

          Your “To say that is to assert something between malice and willful blindness” is precisely the move people always pull when accused of racist practice — the pained insistence that their hearts are pure, there is not a racist bone in their bodies etc. etc.

          Indeed. Patriarchy and white supremacy suffuse every aspect of life in the U.S. Why is science somehow immune? And the high dudgeon that meets this observation reminds me of all the huffing about “vile slurs” whenever it’s pointed out that Saint Bernie has flaws.

        • rm

          We in the humanities mostly acknowledge that racism and sexism are both structural and cultural in a deep, subconscious way, such that good intentions and lack of conscious bias are not enough.

          That acknowledgement hasn’t solved the problem, either, but I think maybe it’s one of the necessary steps.

          For one thing, we don’t have to discriminate in hiring professors, because the systemic biases of the K-12 and college pipeline have already denied opportunity to enough POC and women that we remain un-diverse.

          • Warren Terra

            I would emphasize the last part. People I know in science are aware of the under-representation but somewhat at a loss for how to address it. When members of underrepresented minorities get involved in science, they tend to be mentored extensively and strongly encouraged – but the truth is, the under-representation starts long before that. Black and Latino applicants to major graduate programs are just incredibly rare today. Some of this is because the students in those categories with qualifications are tempted into other, more lucrative postgraduate education; a lot of it is because of the effects of being “disadvantaged” – you see very few people in science from Appalachia, or for that matter very few who aren’t from educated households, excepting some immigrant communities for which they’re the first generation with access to higher education.

            In any case, it’s truly annoying if unsurprising to see all these commenters look at a community of people who are thoughtful for a living, and assume all of them are smugly entitled blithering idiots.

            • veleda_k

              No one is assuming all scientists are smugly entitled blithering idiots. But being “thoughtful for a living” or being being very smart in one area in no way prevents someone from being ignorant or downright stupid in another context. I was a research assistant for a microbiology research project. The people heading the project were very good microbiologists. They were rock stupid about running a research project. The number totally avoidable problems we ran into that never would have ever happened if the project heads had bothered to think for two seconds about logical cause and effect was mind boggling.

              And I can’t believe I need to spell this out on this blog, but being educated or having high intelligence doesn’t prevent someone from being a bigot.

              • Origami Isopod

                And I can’t believe I need to spell this out on this blog, but being educated or having high intelligence doesn’t prevent someone from being a bigot.

                Seriously. There’s some major #NotAllScientists, plus a fair amount of classism, going on there.

            • PunditusMaximus

              Scientists are, as a rule, smugly entitled blithering idiots.

              Otherwise things would be better.

        • libarbarian

          Cool platitudes, Bro.

      • veleda_k

        Do we really need to start detailing the institutionalized racism and misogyny that has been embedded in scientific research and application throughout history?

      • Chetsky

        That is not the same as saying there’s a … Patriarchy problem”

        Warren, I’d ask you to reconsider this. ISTR when the (douchebro) Larry Summers speech happened, a number of people pointed at a study that’d been done by a very senior female scientist at MIT (I forget the name, but she was very, very senior), documenting in detail the various barriers to women’s careers in science.

        Anecdotally, I’ll say this:

        (a) I remember a female prof telling us about her interviews. She got asked repeatedly if she planned on getting married or having kids. This is illegal, and yet, it happened. And no, she didn’t report it, b/c she wanted a career in the damn field.

        (b) when every unattached male (>>80%) in the grad department asks out the 2-3 females in an entering class, that isn’t a conspiracy. It’s just the way things work, right?

        Look: I get that nobody does it as part of a Cunning Plan ™. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem of Patriarchy.

        [Oh, and of course, we find out periodically about some Highly Placed Poobah Scientist basically treating his grad students as a harem. Always male poobah. Never female poobah. Gosh I wonder why that is.]

        • Warren Terra

          You’re referring to Nancy Hopkins. Another prominent voice on the issue of Women In Science is Ben Barnes.

          The issues with women in science are real, but are very different: women are underrepresented at the higher tiers and in some fields overrepresented at the lowest; this is unlike disadvantaged minorities, who are effectively just not represented (I don’t know if those groups show a similar drop off).

          There are problems with getting to parity for Women In Science, but – partly because of efforts like Hopkins’s study – I think people have a better idea of how to monitor and intercede in this issue than with underrepresented minorities.

      • Juicy_Joel

        Maybe its not on purpose and its just that white cis-dudes are just better than everyone else have you thought about that? huh? huh?

  • veleda_k

    I really don’t see how anyone could pretend that the March for Science, organized in direct response to the Trump administration’s assault on science and facts, wasn’t political.

    • Linnaeus

      Science is, among other things, a social activity and thus is never separate from the social context in which it is situated.

      • N__B

        Shhh…don’t tell scientists that. Some don’t know and it seems to upset that bunch.

    • human

      People have weird definitions of the word “political” — especially white people. If you insert “dirtynastybadviolentconfrontational” in place of the word “political” then their claims that such and such of a thing isn’t — or isn’t supposed to be — “political” will start to make more sense.

      • NewishLawyer

        Alsotoo, IIRC scientists until relatively recently largely swung for the Republican Party and it wasn’t until the 1990s or later that the GOP went fundie and anti-Science enough for this to change.

        A lot of scientists probably want to be seen and see themselves as neutral arbitrators of facts.

        Plus scientists, like all other humans, are prone to cognitive dissonance. Lots of them can seemingly become doctors (and very good doctors) while still being batshit crazy when it comes to denying evolution. I’ve heard anecdotally that a lot of Young Earth Creationists are also Electrical Engineers.

        • jmw

          Documented here:
          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Salem_Hypothesis

          Although there doesn’t seem to be any research into it so maybe conjecture would be a better name.

        • Chetsky

          Teh funny. As a BSEE (PhD CS), lemme call BS on “engineers are scientists”. Engineering (at least EE/CS) undergrad is about memorizing facts and rules, and demonstrating ability to apply those facts and rules in test situations. Nothing more. There’s no pretense of trying to teach critical reasoning about observations that don’t fit pre-established theories. Honestly, the same is true for CS grad programs.

          So it makes perfect sense that most CS folks (and perhaps engineers) are predisposed to creationism. After all, they’re not taught to understand Nature as she is found, but rather how to build what they imagine (and their imaginations are purposely kept limited).

          • Origami Isopod

            I don’t know if I’d say “most.” But those are professions that do not force people to question their assumptions, so of course they draw wingnuts and cranks.

            • weirdnoise

              I’d agree that engineering as an academic discipline is among the least likely to encourage self-questioning and social concern, but rather than a “draw” I think it’s more accurate to say that it allows wingnuts and cranks to exist comfortably and unchallenged. However I don’t think this has much to do with engineering, per se.

        • gccolby

          Lots of [scientists] can seemingly become doctors (and very good doctors) while still being batshit crazy when it comes to denying evolution. I’ve heard anecdotally that a lot of Young Earth Creationists are also Electrical Engineers.

          I can’t emphasize strongly enough that medical doctors and engineers are not scientists. The training is totally different. That’s not a criticism, engineers and doctors both do things I can’t imagine doing. But what they do is absolutely not the same as science.

          As far as the historical political affiliation of scientists as a group, I don’t know. My experience is confined to biologists, and the last decade or so. In that experience, we’re a liberal group, but plenty of scientists have stupid political views.

          A lot of scientists probably want to be seen and see themselves as neutral arbitrators of facts.

          Maybe? Most scientists, at least the ones with ambition, want to be doing or be seen to be doing Important Work in their field. Something my advisor said to me that really stuck with me (paraphrased): “We don’t just want to publish results, we want to make a conceptual impact on our field.” Scientists that I know certainly want to be right, but this high-minded dedicated to neutrality is foreign to me. Of course I came in at a time when science training had come to recognize and emphasize that scientists are humans.

          I have to say, as someone who works professionally in the field: I would not throw around generalizations and assumptions about “what scientists are like,” or “what scientists want,” the way some people in these comments are comfortable doing. It’s really getting my goat, a bit.

    • PunditusMaximus

      Conservatives can pretend anything.

  • human

    My friend (who presents as white) brought a black lives matter sign to the science march in Minneapolis. She got glares, confused looks, complaints, parents “explaining” to their kids why her sign was stupid, and someone told her “bitch go home.”

    • Warren Terra

      I’m sorry that happened.

      A friend of mine was told by one person that her sign naming and shaming Trump administration officials was likely to be ineffective because it was negative, (as opposed to the other side of the same sign, which had a positive pro-science message). I think that, more broadly, there is room to discuss what sorts of messages are really desirable (positive versus negative, focused on science versus more diversely protesting), but nothing can excuse the parents disparaging the message in its own right, let alone the asshole who verbally assaulted your friend.

      • Snuff curry

        Why are you white knighting white supremacy throughout this thread?

        • Warren Terra

          I would ask you to explain your position, except I think you and a bunch of other people in this thread are just purity-trolling assholes.

          • veleda_k

            I would suggest that you are getting too defensive toward you field, and are making some pretty classic errors. For instance, insisting that since you and your colleagues don’t mean to be racist, your field can’t be steeped in white supremacy. I would have thought that you’d been reading this blog long enough to know that’s not how racism works.

            Scientists are just as capable of selfishness, shortsightedness, and stereotyping as anyone else. And all of that is as likely to come out in their behavior as anyone else.

            • Warren Terra

              It really isn’t the case that the people I know blithely don’t mean to be racist, but are – the people I know are intensely aware that the current situation is racist. On the other hand, the people I know aren’t in a situation to do much of anything to fix the problem, because the problem is that poor and minority kids just aren’t entering into the sciences. That’s a broader social problem, and a serious one, but it’s not one active scientists are well placed to address within their laboratories, their departments, or their professional societies.

              This is quite different from problems relating to parity for women in science: women are entering into science, and drop out disproportionately, and are often treated badly in greater or lesser ways. Efforts are being made to remedy that, and more will be made.

              • veleda_k

                Okay, but we’re talking about a lot more than just the number of women and minorities in PhD programs. And we’re talking about a lot more than you and the people you know. The students in my senior colloquium were great, but that doesn’t mean my field doesn’t have a problem with racism.

            • gccolby

              Scientists are just as capable of selfishness, shortsightedness, and stereotyping as anyone else. And all of that is as likely to come out in their behavior as anyone else.

              I haven’t seen Warren say otherwise. Nor would I.

              I’m really perplexed that there’s this felt need to explain to scientists that we’re actually humans like anyone else. By and large, we are WELL aware of this fact. There are absolutely zillions of scientists out there who are clueless on race and privilege, sure. As in every other field. What’s amazing to me is the number of people who seem to have very strong opinions about how scientists conceptualize themselves, and so are prepared to dive in and explain to us that we are fallible humans after all, not objective arbiters of the universe. It’s… weird. Like, have you considered the possibility that scientists don’t typically conceive of themselves this way?

              • veleda_k

                I’m responding to Warren’s assertion that we can’t say science has problems with racism or sexism, because he doesn’t think people are being malicious. If he had said, “Yes, science is steeped in white supremacy and patriarchy, like all academic disciplines,” the conversation would have gone in a different direction. Instead he’s been doing his best to distance science from these things. And I’m trying to make it clear that describing scientists as “people who are thoughtful for a living” does not make them any less likely to have these problems.

                • Warren Terra

                  Punditus Maximus basically called scientists Nazis.

                  Maybe I should just not have responded – PM seems to be a troll, or at best a half-bright extremist – but having that as the opening gambit rather shaped my responses.

                • veleda_k

                  I get that. PM’s an idiot, and you can count on him to lower the level of discussion. I haven’t been good at ignoring him myself, even though I should.

          • PunditusMaximus

            Heh, “purity troll”.

            • Warren Terra

              Oh, please, try to argue that isn’t an apt description for at least half your comments, to any post at LGM.

              • veleda_k

                Yes, but I’ve never seen any indication that Snuff Curry is a purity troll. Nor is Origami Isopod.

    • NewishLawyer

      This has long been a tension in liberal and left circles though. How do disciplined and single-issue do we keep our protests and marches and how much do we just embrace non-hierarchy and let everyone bring up their personal issues, real or pet?

      The right-wing, for better or for worse, seems much better at keeping focused on the issue at hand. An anti-tax event remains and anti-tax event, an anti-abortion event remains anti-abortion, etc.

      Left protests tend to end as free for alls with everyone coming out including people whose pet issues are far from the issue at hand in the views of the casual viewer and many in the movement itself. This isn’t to say that the issues are not important but you can’t accomplish much if you have to talk about every issue at every time at every event. There is something valuable (if emotionally frustrating) but keeping a March for $15 event as a March for $15 event and a March for Science as a March for Science. You also don’t exist alienating people as left groups seem to do fairly frequently by expanding from their core issue in ways that alienate potential allies.

      Also there is probably a lot more ideological variety at left protests. I remember the protests against the RNC in 2004. You had everyone from mainstream center-left Democrats like me to the “Anarchist Puppet Show Collective” or what not. The distance between me and anarchists is probably just as great as the distance between me and a Republican. Perhaps greater in some areas.

      • PunditusMaximus

        “bitch go home” is tension?

        • NewishLawyer

          Okay that is downright hostility. My point on the nature of left protests still stands.

          • PunditusMaximus

            The March for Science really wasn’t a left protest exactly.

            • Pseudonym

              It was a protest against the right as it currently stands, so it’s left by default, like the anti-Iraq-War protests were even if they included right-isolationists or libertarians.

              • PunditusMaximus

                If there is a “centrist” position, other than white supremacy, in the US, it’s that we should probably try to stay rich doing the things that got us rich in the first place.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        I think that the point is that Black Lives Matters and March For Science are not at all separate issues. In fact, thinking about them as separate issues is harmful.

        ETA: See the piece linked in Gwen’s comment below for some excellent thoughts on this.

        • Murc

          I think that the point is that Black Lives Matters and March For Science are not at all separate issues. In fact, thinking about them as separate issues is harmful.

          Don’t the organizers get to make that decision?

          I’m a big believer that you should try to remora on to other peoples issues unless invited in. (Whether them deciding to not invite you in is a stupid or even downright malicious move is another matter.) If someone is organizing a march, event, or rally around Issue X, show up for Issue X. Don’t show up trying to make it about Issue Y, and for damn sure don’t try and get in front of a camera and hijack it to be about Issue Y.

          Especially if Issue Y is something you can’t gather your own numbers for. This is how the Black Bloc operates; they know they don’t have the numbers for “let’s get in a fight with the cops and cause a riot” so they wait for someone else to get people into the streets and then try and make that happen, essentially acting as political parasites.

          • Ronan

            “Don’t the organizers get to make that decision?

            I’m a big believer that you should try to remora on to other peoples issues unless invited in. (Whether them deciding to not invite you in is a stupid or even downright malicious move is another matter.) If someone is organizing a march, event, or rally around Issue X, show up for Issue X. Don’t show up trying to make it about Issue Y, and for damn sure don’t try and get in front of a camera and hijack it to be about Issue Y.”

            I agree. And in other contexts I think this point would be uncontroversial.

          • Lost Left Coaster

            For an issue this important, I not believe that the actions of the organizers should be above debate.

            • Origami Isopod

              This.

              I also had no problem with BLM signs at the Women’s March. Some of the organizers called those signs “divisive.” They were wrong.

              • Arla

                Yeah, I think what it comes down to is whether or not there’s any reasonable nexus with the issue being protested.

                With Black Lives Matter, the nexus with the science march is pretty obvious, in a lot of ways. All it takes is a brief glance at the headlines to see the return of so-called scientific racism to prominence. (Why do people continue to invite Charles Murray…anywhere?)

                There’s also the fact that a lot of scientific innovations owe a lot to things like racist experimentation. (J. Marion Sims comes to mind.) A march for science has to be a march for science with *zero* tolerance for that sort of thing.

                Of course people are welcome to focus on other relevant issues–I imagine a lot of people were specifically marching against climate denial, with signs to match, which is cool–but for something as broad as a “March for Science,” casting a wide activist net is probably a good thing.

                • Arla

                  Ah, I see you made pretty much the same point in a lower thread. Sorry for the repetition.

          • los
          • los

            If someone is organizing a march, event, or rally around Issue X, show up for Issue X. Don’t show up trying to make it about Issue Y, and for damn sure don’t try and get in front of a camera and hijack it to be about Issue Y.
            A march in support of Milo is a march in support of “pederasty”.

            • los

              “CPAC hates free speech!”

        • NewishLawyer

          That could be true but there is also a very frustrating but stone-cold practical way to view these issues and that is when every liberal to left protest becomes a free-for all on every issue for every group, things get muddled and confused and end up making us look bad. Or you deal with a longer, slower, and more frustrating process by getting everyone on board with every fine point of intersectionality.

          Or perhaps you let the March for Science be about the March for Science and the March for 15 be about the March for 15 and BLM be about BLM and then work getting politicians elected who will deal with all the issues even if it means you did not get to make your intersectionality point.

          But sometimes I swear the left would rather make their point than getting any policies that will improve the situation because that feels less morally righteous.

          • Lost Left Coaster

            But sometimes I swear the left would rather make their point than getting any policies that will improve the situation because that feels less morally righteous.

            That is a nasty shot that shows a complete lack of interest in at least trying to understand why activists have critiqued how the March for Science was organized and its messaging.

            See the piece linked in Gwen’s comment below. Then maybe you can at least discuss this issue without dismissing people as acting out of their own self-righteousness.

            • Origami Isopod

              Then maybe you can at least discuss this issue without dismissing people as acting out of their own self-righteousness.

              That’s his and his brother’s entire shtik here.

              • LeeEsq

                And this is why your strategies have been resounding successes.

              • PunditusMaximus

                I’m dying here.

                • weirdnoise

                  Proceed…

          • Snuff curry

            This is not even about intersectionality. Science has a demonstrable professional problem with race and the way science is handled in the US creates racist consequences. Suggesting this is a “pet” issue or a distraction or a free-for-all is a monumental error, and insinuating this is about puffing and vaunting self-righteous rather than a search for justice is really shitty of you.

            • Origami Isopod

              What else is new with him and Lee. They’re the true rational liberals, and everyone else is a wild-eyed radical who’s just virtue-signaling.

      • human

        “pet issues far from the issue at hand” really? You’ve heard of the Tuskeegee experiments? Seen or at least heard about the movie Hidden Figures? Maybe you might have seen mention somewhere of the fact that Flint still doesn’t have clean water?

        There is a measles outbreak in the Somali community in Minneapolis going on RIGHT NOW because of some misinformation that got spread about the MMR vaccine.

        Maybe rethink this comment and how it frames my friend holding a black lives matter sign as “alienating people” but the person saying “bitch go home” as a “potential ally”?

        Jeez.

      • Warren Terra

        I think the right-wing protests also bring out people raising diverse issues (if nothing else, the true nutters and conspiracy theorists, who aren’t exactly a tiny silent fringe these days). But the right-wing protests are often more centrally organized (with printed materials), and there’s just less debate and less attention paid to the exceptions.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Exactly. A lot of right-wing protests have a lot of AstroTurf behind them. But still I suspect that if you go to an anti-tax rally you’re going to hear a whole bunch about Benghazi, etc.

        • Origami Isopod

          Right-wingers are more authoritarian, so they’re more likely to obey the march organizers. That said, the media are invested in making right-wing marches look good and left-wing marches look bad, so the flat-earth types at the former will get played down, those at the latter playd up.

          • los

            Right-wingers are more authoritarian, so they’re more likely to obey the march organizers.

            “They’re promoting child molestation? But And we bring our guns? Kool! I’m in.”

    • jonp72

      I’m from Minneapolis, and I went to the science march at the state capitol in St. Paul. (To my knowledge, there was no march in Minneapolis proper, but I may have missed some smaller event.) It’s unconscionable what happened to your friend, but the march itself did pay attention to racial and social justice issues. The Science March was preceded by a Climate Justice march that prominently featured local high school kids of all races, religions, and hues at the head. The kids were also a major focus of the list of speakers, and you had boys and girls of all races talking about how they aspired to careers in science & how climate justice was an intersectional issue that affected everybody. Ironically, I probably saw more nonwhite people behind the podium than in front of it (although a lot of them were schoolkids who were having a great time climbing on the capitol steps). That could have its own problematic ramifications, in terms of whether there is a multiracial mass base for a pro-science movement, but it’s not like the organizers of the march weren’t sensitive to racial justice issues.

      • human

        Yeah, the other thing my friend mentioned was how overwhelmingly white the crowd was. Their critique was definitely directed at the marchers rather than the organizers. In fact, a marshal who noticed one of the people doing the harassing came over and intervened. So that was good.

        And yes, I did mean the St. Paul march, sorry about that. I live in Minneapolis too — didn’t mean to erase our brothers and sisters across the river ;)

      • Gareth

        Ironically, I probably saw more nonwhite people behind the podium than in front of it

        There was a Republican event like this years ago, and someone described it as like a Hootie and the Blowfish concert. One black guy on stage, none in the audience.

    • Tyro

      I’m sorry that happened, but at the same time, she was freeloading on someone else’s march. Also, where were the Free Mumia signs?

  • Gwen

    This story was shared by our local BLM chapter on FB:

    http://www.theroot.com/marginsci-the-march-for-science-as-a-microcosm-of-lib-1794463442

    TW: it not-unreasonably alleges that white people are engaging in subtle racism (won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?!?)

    • Lost Left Coaster

      That was definitely a thought-provoking piece.

      There’s a Steven Pinker tweet linked in the middle of the article there that is just painfully awful. His continued popularity among certain people is frustrating.

    • human

      I have doubts about the “subtle” part, but yeah.

    • Origami Isopod

      This Storify linked in that article is excellent. J. Marion Sims, “drapetomania,” Josef Mengele, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, Freud’s dismissal of incest victims, lobotomies for “promiscuous” women, Henrietta Lacks, the treatment of Rosalind Franklin by Watson & Crick, “refrigerator mothers” causing autism, physicians who still believe black people are less sensitive to pain… but, yeah, science is totes objective and apolitical.

      • N__B

        I had never heard of the “refrigerator mothers” theory. It’s nice to know that it’s still possible for my opinion of humanity to sink lower.

        • los

          “the liberal media won’t report about that time when tesla seduced an icebox.”

          • Judas Peckerwood

            And Edison subsequently claimed credit for inventing the dorm room fridge.

        • Vance Maverick

          If your mother had raised you properly, you would have had a sounder judgment of the depths of human nature.

          More seriously, wanting strong outside public, institutional, political support for science is in tension with resisting the workings of bad politics and institutional power within science. “Give us money to question what you want us to do with it” is a tough sell. I’m not sure how to resolve this, but in the meantime “why not both?”

      • Origami Isopod

        The #MarginSci hashtag is also worth a look.

      • Tyro

        You know, when the administration has engaged in a full-faced assault against scientific agencies and is cracking down on scientists to release their findings and filling scientific agencies with political officers, “WHAT ABOUT THE TUSKEGEE SYPHILIS EXPERIMENT???” isn’t really pertinent to the day.

        • Origami Isopod

          Nah, bro, it’s just not pertinent to you.

          • Tyro

            Go tell a voting rights activist, “what about the fact that democracy resulted in Japanese Internment????”

            Go tell someone campaigning against Brexit, “WHAT ABOUT THE SEPOY MUTINY???”

            And today we’re like, “Yeah, well, NIH is getting defunded and the DoE was handed over the Rick Perry, and climate science is treated as subversive, but the Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971 was an unethical use of human subjects in an experiment, and we have to center our discussions around that.”

            • Bruce B.

              It happens we’ve got voting right activists here, of various sorts, and they all seem really in the history of how any particular system can go wrong, so as to design in hopes of forestalling it. The past shapes the present; dealing with the past now inevitably means dealing with the present, and preparing (or refusing to prepare) for the future.

      • Gareth

        Literal Nazis, working in Nazi death camps, have conducted experiments and generated results that we rely on today. So there’s your example of science being objective and apolitical.

        • humanoid.panda

          The Nazis also practiced vegeterianism, Keynesian economics, and many other things we find relatively unremarkable..

          • PunditusMaximus

            Oh if only Keynesian economics were actually unremarkable.

          • Jhoosier

            The medical experiments that we rely on today were pretty horrific, and one of the reasons we have research ethics boards.

            I’d advise not reading this unless you really, really want to: http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/NaziMedEx.html

        • gccolby

          Literal Nazis, working in Nazi death camps, have conducted experiments and generated results that we rely on today. So there’s your example of science being objective and apolitical.

          Oh for fuck’s sake. This is a myth. Those people were murders and torturers, and the quality of the “data” they produced reflects that.

          The thing is, there are plenty of examples (as given above) where scientists, like the humans they are, have behaved reprehensibly. That’s not in dispute. The history of science is like the history of any other field of endeavor. We are after all an institution formed of people, and while good scientific practice is indeed apolitical and as objective as possible, scientists are humans with agendas and ambition and political views. This isn’t a controversial view in the field, the entire purpose of scientific practice is to try and reduce the human element in the production of data. And learning what makes for good scientific practice is an ongoing project.

          What is the purpose of this claim, anyway? Cause it sure seems like cheap point-scoring about what a bunch of racist assholes scientists are. Science absolutely has problems with diversity and both representation and treatment of women. And there are lots of people in the field who care a lot about these issues and are trying to solve them. There are also people who don’t care so much and are resistant. Again, kind of a lot like wider society. These problems are hard to fix, partly because of resistance within some institutions, and partly because the boundaries are much larger than the profession of science. I don’t know what else to say.

          • Gareth

            Your own link describes a literal Nazi, who worked in a Nazi death camp and generated results that we rely on today. My reply wasn’t sarcastic. If 19th century Catholic monks, Nazis, Communists, and AIDS and climate denialists who talk to glowing green raccoons can all make significant contributions to science, then it’s fair to call it apolitical.

      • LeeEsq

        During the time of the horrific Tuskegee experiment, white scientists in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe sterilized and performed other horrific experiments on hundreds or thousands other white people in the name of eugenics and science. Electro shock therapy and lobotomies had their golden age during this time. Swedish doctors and scientists continued with this form of behavior on white Swedish people until the 1970s. A more diverse scientific community isn’t going to do away with the craziness that affected and affects science.

  • A Monk in Tibet

    On one side are scientists who value their work for its purity, its separation from politics—

    I’m right there with you Brother!

    • los

      another forehanded slight against political scientists!

  • los
    • Origami Isopod

      This sign (courtesy of Shakezula) is one of my faves.

  • LeeEsq

    Newish gets it right on why many scientists are apprehensive about politicization of science. They are heavily invested in the idea that the findings of science should be accepted by all regardless of politics. A politicized science is one that could be ignored if your ideological.priors do not like what it says. Evolution and climate change are examples of the Right ignoring science because of their ideological priors. I don’t have an example from the Left but insistence on diversity might seem like this to scientists because they might see the racial make up of the scientific community as irrelevant becsuse science is science regardless of who discovers something. Trying to cast science in political terms is a deadly sin in this world view.

    • Warren Terra

      There are certainly people on the left who reject all research showing genetic influences on human capability and behavior. Their justification is that such information is subject to horrific misuse, and is frequently wildly misrepresented by bigots. They’re right about those problems! But some of them, for that reason, insist none of it is true, and they’re just wrong about that.

      • LeeEsq

        That’s a good example of the Left rejecting science because of their ideological priors.. Bryan Caplan of all people realizes these problems. He called IQ realists a scary bunch in a recent post.

        • PunditusMaximus

          This is because IQ “realists” are a scary bunch. If that’s the hill you’re willing to die on, you’ve got reasons for that.

        • LastUniversalCommonAncestor

          I think the strongest (as in: most convincing) objections to the reification of IQ scores and their racial differences, not to mention to the entire concept of “biological race”, has come from other scientists, so that is at best a wash in my opinion.
          I think the opposition to OGMs based on supposed health risks is probably a better example of leftish rejection of scientific evidence. But then again, it has been mostly scientists who have brought up data showing their environmental risks.

          • PunditusMaximus

            The health risks of GMOs are a function of the Precautionary Principle.

            The ecological risks of GMOs and proven almost total lack of benefit of GMOs are . . . dispositive.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Sure, there are such people, but they have next to zero influence over anything.

        But people like Steven Pinker, on the other hand, get to sell a lot of books.

      • pillsy

        Yes. Of course, I would be less sympathetic about their wrongness if “centrist” and “moderate” pundits didn’t keep trying to resurrect the worst part of racist pseudoscience in the name of taking that research seriously. I.e., part of the reason it’s scary is that evidently works on people with large platforms who really ought to know better.

    • pillsy

      They are heavily invested in the idea that the findings of science should be accepted by all regardless of politics.

      This fear is, IMO, absolutely legitimate. I do epi modeling of vaccine programs, and I live in terror of anti-vaxx pseudoscience becoming a partisan issue. If it does, it’ll fucking kill people.

      I don’t have an example from the Left but insistence on diversity might seem like this to scientists because they might see the racial make up of the scientific community as irrelevant becsuse science is science regardless of who discovers something.

      GMOs. Also, anti-vaxx bonkerism seems to be nonpartisan, but I’ve come across some leftist types who are seriously anti-vaxx. Even last week at our Indivisible group. That was fun, what with me being in on the conspiracy and all.

      The problem is that… insistence on diversity is not the same kind of political issue. I’m not saying it’s apolitical, but it’s political in the way, “Science should have more funding!” is political, or, say, “It’s important that we have IRBs review experiments with animal or human subjects.”

      • LeeEsq

        I could have found better examples of Leftists politicizing science than my original choice. GMOs and vaccination are good examples. Most scientists see GMOs as what humans were doing since we discovered agriculture, just a lot faster and direct this time. A few Leftists tend to see it more threateningly.

  • Dr. No, Ph.D.

    It is unfortunate,that the interviewee is not someone who actually represents the scientific community of Memphis or the spirit with which the March for Science Memphis was originally conceived.

  • los

    “Somebody shouted, ‘You guys stink!’ and then a small scuffle broke out between the People’s Front of Rotten Tomato Tossing and the Front for Rotten Egg Ejecting by the People.”

  • humanoid.panda

    I’m might be naive, but in the march I attended, Philadelphia, about 90% of the signs were political. The issue that I think that bothers activists is that the signs were indications of a liberal , not radical, sensitivity (Trump is terrible because he is stupid and corrupt, not because he represents white supremacy, climate change is real , but not climate change is rooted in capitalist mode of production etc). I can see why for radicals those signs are anodyne and even myopic. But we do have to keep in mind that liberals vastly outnumber radicals, and that 10000 not especially radical people marching is a good thing.

    Another two comments:
    1. In a minority majority city something like 90 percent of marchers were white and many of the rest Asian. This is sad and reflects our terrible reality.
    2. There was one dude marching with a Trump flag. I kinda wanted to ask why he was song , but was worried it will end up with me punching him in the face

    • LeeEsq

      The signs I saw on Facebook were political but also philosophical. Things like I’d rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned. That and a few kids holding future scientist signs. Everybody was White or Asian. So I think your right about why radicals were frustrated. The Asian presence brings up an interesting point though. Asian-American are a minority but when it comes to diversity in tech or science, they are not treated as one.

    • Tyro

      In a minority majority city something like 90 percent of marchers were white and many of the rest Asian. This is sad and reflects our terrible reality.

      Science is not a field that makes any allowances for the financially precarious. It’s a profession of the upper middle class, namely those who can afford to forgo many years of money-earning years in exchange for an only above-average earning level down the road. The best way to get more PoC in science is to get more PoCs into high paying fields like medicine, engineering, and finance so that their children can become scientists without financially endangering their own children.

    • Pseudonym

      Capitalism might be sufficient to produce climate change, and is obviously the main driver of it currently, but it’s hardly necessary. Socialist and communist countries are/were environmental disasters too. Can capitalism ever address climate change? I’m not sure. But I don’t know what political or economic system can.

      • LeeEsq

        Communist countries might have even been worse because there wasn’t any effective counter in most communist countries.

      • StillWithHer

        I am flabbergasted that this is something a human being actually typed.

        • PunditusMaximus

          It’s absolutely correct. Environmental constraints are utterly absent in either Enlightenment traditions or Marxism.

          • NeonTrotsky

            The struggle of man against nature is one of the key tensions of orthodox marxist theory but there are Marxian ecologists: See Murray Bookchin

          • Warren Terra

            Karl Marx died in 1883; the Enlightenment was over long, long before that. The basic idea of environmentalism – the idea that unrestrained human activity can have lasting impacts on the entire world – is pretty recent.

            The influence of pollution on peppered moth pigmentation was first published in 1896. The Dodo was driven to extinction in the 17th century, but I’m not sure when people started to think of large-animal extinctions as a problem. Heck, people wrote about “London Fog” in a romantic vein for decades (maybe longer!) when in fact it was a pervasive highly toxic miasma of human-generated pollution.

            I’m sure some revisionist Marxist or Enlightenment thinkers, writing in a time aware of Environmentalist, will have had a bunch to say on the subject.

          • Pseudonym

            There are plenty of theories about how capitalism could protect the environment too, including carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes that have seen some limited usage. Obviously these theories haven’t been effective enough to solve the problem in practice. I’m not a scientist, but I’ll play one on this thread: what’s the empirical evidence that other political or economic systems work, particularly with an issue like greenhouse gases and AGW that cuts across national and economic borders?

    • mikeSchilling

      climate change is rooted in capitalist mode of production

      Seriously? Industry in Communist countries doesn’t produce CO2?

      • gccolby

        I mean, I think it’s not well-supported, but the idea that climate change is due to capitalism is pretty anodyne in radical/Marxist circles. Likewise racism, sexism, etc. My point of view is that thinking racism exists because it’s a tool to prop up capitalism is ludicrous, but that might have something to do with why I’m not a radical leftist.

        • Pseudonym

          If someone is defining racism or sexism in such a way that they didn’t exist historically before the advent of capitalism, I think they’re stretching the meanings of those words beyond any usefulness outside of anti-capitalist polemics.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          If you’re a Marxist, you cannot allow anything to distract you from The Only War Which Is The Class War.

          Hence all other issues are presumed to be caused by The Enemy Which Is Capitalism. And once the Glorious Workers’ Revolution ends capitalism, then all other problems will magically disappear, because Marxist Societies Are Perfect in every way.

  • Tyro

    People of color, women, the disabled, immigrants, gay people—they’re all clamoring for scientists to confront science’s biases and improve instead of celebrating its successes on the Washington Mall.

    The funny thing is that the post-colonial theorists who claim to speak for all these marginalized groups that want scientist to “confront science’s biases” only claim to speak for the people in these groups. They, themselves and those who work in advocacy for them aren’t agitating against science.

    But this was stupid. Science is actually not that interesting and not much of a forum where you would have the opportunity to run roughshod over minorities and the marginalized even if you wanted to. There’s only so much a microbiologist has time to do between applying for grants and abusing his graduate students. Postdocs have even less of an opportunity.

    That said, these activists would have a lot in common with Republicans who want to undermine our scientific infrastructure and human capital.

    • Origami Isopod

      The funny thing is that the post-colonial theorists who claim to speak for all these marginalized groups that want scientist to “confront science’s biases” only claim to speak for the people in these groups. They, themselves and those who work in advocacy for them aren’t agitating against science.

      That’s funny, considering how many of them are in those marginalized groups. And they’re hardly “agitating against science,” given how many of them work in science.

      That said, these activists would have a lot in common with Republicans who want to undermine our scientific infrastructure and human capital.

      LOL.

      • Tyro

        That’s funny, considering how many of them are in those marginalized groups.

        PoCs, the disabled, immigrants, gays who don’t think that science has some kind of colonialist agenda against the marginalized far, far outnumber the small number of activists who claim otherwise.

        The problems they face in science are the problems they face in American culture in general: not being taken seriously as professionals, because of the socio-economic class assumptions, harassment of women by principal investigators, etc.

        “Why aren’t we marching against bias against women in science!?!?” is like asking why an anti-war protest isn’t centering their agenda around how women and immigrants are treated poorly in the military. I mean, true, but… not really what we are talking about today when the country is on the verge of going to war.

    • Pseudonym

      Science is actually not that interesting and not much of a forum where you would have the opportunity to run roughshod over minorities and the marginalized even if you wanted to. There’s only so much a microbiologist has time to do between applying for grants and abusing his graduate students.

      And those graduate students often happen to be much less white and male than the established scientists they work for.

      There’s arguably a link between science being seen as apolitical and as it being seen as something done by old white men in lab coats.

  • Tyro

    I guess what I’m even more offended about is that these activists trying to talk about confronting science’s biases and its colonialist history were pretty damn silent until scientists, for possibly one of the first times I can remember, got off their asses in large numbers to oppose the Trump administration. These full-time activists and critical-theorists only got agitated because a professional society of scientists, rather than them, were centering themselves in order to fight for their interests.

    The ability for PoCs, immigrants, the disabled, and gays to fight for their interests in science only exists when there is an established scientific infrastructure funded by the government to appeal to. Imagine if NIH didn’t exist because Reagan thought the private sector could handle all research. The possibility to fight for research into AIDS and HIV wouldn’t even have existed in the first place, because there would have been no institutions to fund scientists to do that research.

    • wjts

      If I told you people have, in fact, been talking vocally about racial and sexual bias in science for decades now would you be less offended? If so, I have good news.

      • Tyro

        Yes. Too bad you figured you had to hijack someone else’s cause to do it, though.

        There will be no basic science for you to be biased against at the rate the US is going.

        • Origami Isopod

          Google “D.N. Lee,” just for starters. And also, fuck you and your smug pretense to objectivity.

    • veleda_k

      They weren’t silent about it, you just weren’t listening.

      • Origami Isopod

        Seriously, THIS.

        Jesus H. Christ, spare me from rational, objective white men who think that nothing is happening until they fucking notice it.

        • PunditusMaximus

          It’s more than not just listening — it’s actively working to drown out.

          • Snuff curry

            THIS

    • Juicy_Joel

      The ability for PoCs, immigrants, the disabled, and gays to fight for their interests in science only exists when there is an established scientific infrastructure funded by the government to appeal to.

      Yeah! Shouldn’t they be more grateful to the white scientists who made it possible?

      • veleda_k

        Tyro, in his wisdom, has noted the key problem in this country: a lack of deference to straight, cis, white men by their inferiors (everyone else).

        But yeah. “You want us to stop abusing and discriminating against you? Well, you should be grateful we created a system to abuse and discriminate against you in!”

        • Tyro

          Tyro, in his wisdom, has noted the key problem in this country: a lack of deference to straight, cis, white men by their inferiors (everyone else).

          Wasn’t that why this whole fracas is so funny? There’s the belief that the REAL problem with the March for science is that scientists weren’t rallying to Free Mumia.

          As I said, this series of protests is the first time I’ve seen major protests not co-opted by professional activists. And now they’re complaining that an interest group is flexing their political muscle while not turning it into a “smash capitalism!” festival.

          • Pseudonym

            The “Free Mumia” crowd kept me away from the Iraq protests, which I regret now (I thought Mumia deserved a retrial but was hardly a hero). It doesn’t sound like that’s what’s happening at the more social-justice-focused march though: the speakers there are actual scientists. I can’t find any news about how it actually turned out.

            • veleda_k

              Tyro is just using “Free Mumia” as an empty shorthand to bash activists.

              • Pseudonym

                I understand it was synecdoche (and meant it in that way too (parentheticals notwithstanding (obviously))). Defining the boundaries of protests is a real issue though, unless you want the science march being discredited by protesters advocating for more “scientific” research into astrology or how vaccines cause autism. Should the march take a stance on GMOs?

    • pillsy

      These full-time activists and critical-theorists only got agitated because a professional society of scientists, rather than them, were centering themselves in order to fight for their interests.

      ô_ó

      • Tyro

        Nour Hatouli point blank said she was upset that scientists wanted to run the whole thing themselves and advocate for their issues instead of handing over the activism to her, a professional activist who pays her rent as a restaurant staff.

        The far left who’s attempted to take control of these marches aren’t Democrats and don’t vote for Democrats and are more concerned about the aesthetics of marches rather than policy change on the ground. The members of the science march and the women’s march are the ones who are going to vote and run for office and raise money. Nour Hatouli and her friends in Memphis won’t.

  • StillWithHer

    “Science march” reminds me of “Rally to Restore Sanity” in that it is mind-blowingly stupid.

    • Tyro

      “Sanity” has no political solution. Science relies on government to actually support it and accept its findings.

      What it seems to me is that activists like Nour Hantouli, who according to social media is a food server and tattoo-artist-in-training, is upset that professional scientists, rather than activist hobbyists, were organizing and running it.

      And this is one of the problems with political activism on the left: any time rank and file people want to stand up for a cause, you have a group of professional activists who demand that the people follow their lead. This is why anti-war marches get coopted by ANSWER and people trying to Free Mumia.

      But notably this DIDN’T happen with the Science March, outside of a few cranks, because suddenly the people whose life skills involve applying for march permits were out-organized by professionals whose lives revolve around managing bureaucracy.

  • Tyro

    I guess we should let this be a lesson: scientists, a reliable voting bloc in the Democratic party, cannot be relied to smash capitalism, undermine monogamy as a bourgeois lie, and decolonize our culture.

    And we had such high hopes.

    Never have I been so happy knowing that the Democratic party is run by center-left technocrats. Their economic policies might be short-sighted and full of half-measures, but their policies towards NIH and NSF aren’t cutting funding for not sufficiently making an effort to root out the colonialist and patriarchal roots of biochemistry.

    • Origami Isopod

      Your petulance that people in this thread aren’t buying what you’re selling is noted.

  • Lasker

    I’m disappointed that the genuine substantive disagreement between the groups is fodder for jokes.

    I’d also ask – did this disagreement really lessen the impact of the marches in any way? Would one unified march really get more attention? Frankly I doubt it – that isn’t how reporting on marches works.

    What the disagreement might actually negatively affect is future organizing across these groups – but if they were really going to work together, they would eventually have to bridge these divides anyway. And the point is, they are real divides, with real consequences.

    • Origami Isopod

      From what evidence I’ve seen, the marches were successful.

      TBH I think the complaints about “divisiveness” are not only morally obtuse but kind of pointless. Marches are there to raise awareness and also the morale of the marchers. It’s what happens afterward that matters. Also, I honestly do not think there are that many Americans who are going to say, “Well, you know, I used to care about science, but I saw some BLM signs in the march on the news so now I think all scientists should have their funding revoked.” People who care about science are going to fight for it to be funded regardless of their position on the march itself.

      • Lasker

        +1, violent agreement, etc.

  • mikeSchilling

    I can tell no one here is a STEM type, because there are no physics jokes.

    “The QM March will proceed at exactly three MPH.”
    “Where will it be”
    “No idea.”

    • Origami Isopod

      STEM is physics only?

      • Tyro

        “Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting.” – Ernest Rutherford

        • mikeSchilling

          My degree is in math, and I can’t even see you from way over here.

        • wjts

          Natural history is the only real science. Everything else is just dicking around with electrons or whatever.

        • Pseudonym

          Computer science is the only science worth studying. The singularity can research all the other subjects.

      • mikeSchilling

        It’s the most obvious source of jokes people are likely to get.

        • gccolby

          Q: What does the H in Jesus H. Christ stand for?
          A: Haploid.

          I’m a biologist and that’s the first thing that came to mind.

          It’s not all that great, to be honest.

      • veleda_k
        • N__B

          A bunch of people are discussing which of their professions is the oldest. The surgeon says “In the Garden of Eden, God removed one of Adam’s ribs to create Eve. This was surgery, so it’s the oldest profession.”

          The engineer says “On the first day of creation, God made the heavens and the earth from chaos. This is design and construction, so engineering is the oldest profession.”

          The lawyer says “Who do you think created the chaos?”

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