I’m a big fan of science, but not always a big fan of scientists. The March for Science reminds us that the politicization of science is bad, bad, bad. But how science is used is always political: both addressing climate change and denying it are both political acts. In this sense, “depoliticizing” science is just lining it up with the politics of the day, i.e. neoliberalism, whether scientists realize it or not. Climate change must be addressed through the market, patents are the best way to finance drug research, studying STEM should be encouraged (and it is more important than the humanities), etc. etc. See Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Sam Harris, and your favorite Silicon Valley billionaire for more examples of this.
This sort of chauvinism (“the science says this and that means that we should do this“) was more apparent as the march got started — tellingly, it was originally named the Scientists’ March — as a response to the Trump administration’s attacks on scientific consensus. Since scientists supposedly have a privileged access to this knowledge and these truths, why doesn’t society listen to their science and their politics? (This, of course, ignores a history of science being used to justify monstrous things.)
From what I’ve seen, the march has shifted more toward the empty liberal politics that characterized much of the organizing around the Women’s March (and this transformation was quite contentious among the organizers of the March for Science). I won’t write off either march, but I’m hopeful there can be better strategy around future ones. One thing is for sure: politics — ahem, left politics — need to be front and center as well as accessible.
Image: “Defenders of Truth” via March for Science.