Updated with new information 17/04-2017
On April the 22nd we will be sending a representative to Washington DC to march for science. The point is to let the new government know that we will not stand for scientific censorship, and to bring public awareness to scientific issues.
Scientific Literacy Matters is very serious about equality and diversity. Anyone is welcome to join our cause!
Unfortunately, some rather peculiar views have been expressed by the organizers of the march.
According to Buzzfeed Bill Nye was slated to become a spokesperson for the science march. But after complaints they decided to drop him because of his race and gender.
(Update 2) After near complete silence from the March for science organizers on this particular issue (see further down) we were finally informed by The Planetary Society that Bill Nye will still be a serving as an honorary Co-Chair for the March, and The Planetary Society is an official partner.
According to the organizers, selecting a white male to speak at the march would send a message that enforces the stereotype that all scientists are white males.
Obviously anyone who has worked in science or academia knows that in most places this hasn’t been the case for some time.
Either way, excluding him from talking entirely because of that reason sends a message that we just can not agree with. Our member Phyvel sums this up nicely below:
“If this were a march for social justice, their action might well be accepted. It’s a march for science, and Nye is one of the biggest names, when it comes to scientific advocacy. Of course he isn’t the only person qualified to speak on the behalf of the STEM community, but excluding him from speaking, at all, based on gender and melanin, is divisive, and should be called out as such. Especially at a time, when those in charge of our country are already trying to cause a rift, based on the same.” -Phyvel Lavine, Volunteer for SLM
I have reached out several times to the organizers asking for a clarification, sincerely hoping it to be a simple misunderstanding. However, it would appear they are ignoring us, since they will respond to any inquiry except that one.
(Update 1) I have kept trying to get a clarification on this issue from the organizers. Unfortunately the only one who would even respond to this inquiry stated that she was not authorized to speak on behalf of the march. But the message was that if we don’t agree with them they wish to have no further contact with us. Which of course we wouldn’t even be sure is the case depending on what their explanation might be. But at this point I believe it’s safe to say we won’t be able to get a more clear story than this.
Now, we have to make it clear that those views do not necessarily represent our organisations views just because we are joining the march for science in DC. We will be marching for science!
Bill Nye and the Planetary society have not made an official statement about this. However they seem to share our opinion that this particular march should be about science.
“People are denying the facts of science in the world’s most influential economy,” Nye told BuzzFeed News. “We’re marching to remind everybody of how much science serves you, a person, as a citizen in our society.”
Bill Nye also told Buzzfeed “I was born a dorky white guy who became an engineer. I’m playing the hand I was dealt. We can’t—this march can’t solve every problem all at once.”
The awareness of equality and diversity is of course important, but the point of the march is to raise awareness about the importance of science.
It should be all-inclusive since these truly are issues that affect us all.
Scientific Literacy Matters will never discriminate based on biological factors that one cannot possibly have any control over. Everyone is welcome to volunteer or just to be a valued member in our cause.
“A mobilization for science is a good idea, but the organizers at MFS are identity-politic ideologues first. Maybe it should not surprise us that ideologues are the ones who took it upon themselves to organize a march.
Sadly, their emphasis on identity politics is incompatible with a scientific worldview. The MFS rhetoric will only convince congress and large numbers of the American public that the science manifestation is just a trojan horse for other issues.
While we all agree that scientific thinking is critical and needs a seat at the table, we have to issue a vote of No Confidence in the leadership of MFS. They can either step down, or the science-minded people will re-organize without them.” -Patrick Fish, Volunteer for SLM
Dear March For Science organizers: Not keeping people updated and ignoring inquiries on one particular subject is not a good thing. It allows disinformation to spread, and it would have been very easy to prevent with a simple press release.