By Marshall Vanderburg, Director of Operations, Joining Vision and Action
When I first came across the March for Science, I made plans to participate. For most of my adult life, I’ve paid attention to matters of science. Here at Joining Vision and Action we’ve incorporated Implementation Science into our client work. Learning from science with the associated excitement of discovery has always been rewarding for me. I thought it was the same for everyone. My initial naivety has given way in more recent years to incredulousness at the abuse of science to gain political position or purposely undermine human endeavors.
I was an early adopter of Facebook, joining soon after my daughter told me it was only for college kids. Until this point, I had only used the internet for research and looking up items of interest—I had not participated in online social groups and forums. Creating a website to convey information or posting a video to YouTube was as cool as I got. With several years of using Facebook (my daughter now abandoning it) and with additional exposure to online platforms like Reddit, I’ve been awakened to the utter nonsense people hold dear regarding knowledge and the use of scientific principles.
What startled me was how people used logical fallacies and misused scientific methods to support such nonsensical claims as Blue Monday and human consciousness’ effect on reality and matter. More challenging to deal with, are seemingly sensible claims that are then proved different through scientific scrutiny—vaccinations causing autism, for example. The tools I find helpful in sorting through the challenges are learning commonly used logical fallacies and having this chart of scientific requirements and practices handy.
While using these tools and maintaining continued efforts to learn and stay up-to-date on matters of scientific inquiry helps me, it doesn’t assist everyone. People have very personal reasons for believing in matters proven different by scientific study. In many cases, this is understandable and respectable, though the growth in public ignorance and even disgust in science is concerning. Ignorance can so easily be propagated online and in public society—a process currently driven by political interests (the science be damned).
I fear for the future of our fragile democracy with a public divided on matters of science. This is what drove me to march for science on April 22nd. I wish the march could have occurred without facing our new president’s war on science. Clearly the president’s recent actions drove hundreds of thousands to march that day. I made my sign, joined my friends and other likeminded citizens, and spoke in one voice, that day, for science. There is hope.