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The Second March for Science a Smaller Affair

Many cities around the globe, including Washington, DC, saw shrunken crowd sizes, and numerous events turned into rallies rather than processions.

By Shawna Williams, Ashley Yeager, and Jim Daley | April 14, 2018

Raleigh March for Science 2018ASHLEY YEAGERUpdate (April 17): In a statement, the March for Science estimates the turnout for its 2018 march in Washington, DC, at nearly 10,000.

Although the weather was much more amenable to an outdoor event this year, the March for Science in Washington, DC, was mellower than last year. Far fewer came out to support science today (April 14) than last year’s estimated 100,000 attendees.

The turnout is “pretty good,” considering that it had to compete with the Cherry Blossom festival in the capitol, says Belicia Debose, a marcher from Hampton Roads, VA, who works at a children’s hospital. She participated out of concerns for climate change, national parks, and STEM education. “With the current administration I just wanted to be around like-minded people . . . and support the causes I align with.”

The flagship event in DC included speakers who emphasized the importance of including people of diverse backgrounds in the scientific enterprise, including people of color, immigrants, those with disabilities, and women. Other speakers focused on the need for evidence-based responses to societal problems such as the opioid crisis, gun violence, and lead-contaminated drinking water.

Although they are billed as non-partisan, the events are not devoid of politicseither on signs or in rhetoric. At the Rally for Science in Chicago, for instance, democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker worked the crowd. “It’s a shame that in 2018 we still have to have a march” for science, he tells The Scientist.

See “Scenes from the 2018 March for Science”

A march around the world

March for Science, Washington, DC, 2018SHAWNA WILLIAMS

Although the turnout for today’s marches was smaller than last year’s, the March for Science movement nevertheless has galvanized the scientific community to organize and speak up.

“There’s been nothing like it in the lifetime of any working scientist,” Rush Holt, the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told The Scientist earlier this week. “It is a remarkable outpouring of scientists to talk about the marvelous accomplishments of science, the amazing relevance of science, and a call for defending the conditions under which science can thrive.”

It seems absurd to come out for a march for science. It’s like a march for breathing.—Brian Malow,
science comedian

That outpouring reverberated around the globe. This year, events took place from Scandinavia to South America and everywhere in between.

In sunny Raleigh this morning, about 100 people turned out at the Halifax Mall across the street from the North Carolina General Assembly building (more than 500 marchers attended last year). After a children’s march, speakers took to the stage, including Brian Malow, a science comedian. “Art is not just for artists. Music is not just for musicians, and science is not just for scientists,” he told a cheering crowd. “Science is for everyone.”

That message shaped the theme of Raleigh’s march, which was: Science for everyone. Everyone for science. “It seems absurd to come out for a march for science. It’s like a march for breathing. . . . But we do,” Malow said.

See last year’s coverage, “March for Science: Dispatches from Washington, DC

In Chicago, this year’s march morphed into a much-downsized rally at the Field Museum of Natural History. The event moved indoors as chilly rains spit down upon the city. In the museum’s great hall, several thousand attendees spoke one-on-one with scientists from the museum, local universities, and science advocacy organizations, or wrote postcards to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. Noah Cruikshank, the Field Museum’s adult engagement manager, says that organizers wanted to make it easy for attendees to “take the next step” and engage government about supporting science. “So that’s where the postcard writing campaign came in. Last year we marched, this year we speak up,” he says.

A lasting impression

Rally for Science at the Field Museum in Chicago, 2018JIM DALEYThe march movement is more than two Saturdays in 2017 and 2018, according to Lucky Tran, a March for Science organizer and media relations officer at Columbia University. In the past year, for instance, the March for Science was involved in helping graduate students stage a walk-out to protest a proposed tax on tuition waivers, and it lobbied against proposed curriculum changes in New Mexico that would have removed climate change references from science classrooms.

Continued enthusiasm by science supporters to attend these events is a sign that the movement isn’t dying out. “Last year was historic,” Tran says, “and this is a sign of our persistence.”

Holt says he hasn’t yet seen the science community’s activism effect the sorts of changes people are marching for. “It’s hard to know whether the march is turning anything around with respect to the concerns that scientists have about scientific advisory councils or appointed science advisors or evidence-based policymaking,” he says. “But over time, I’m pretty sure that this newfound willingness to go public will produce benefits in those areas, in policymaking and legislation and environmental regulation and so forth.”

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Avatar of: SR Judd

SR Judd

Posts: 1

April 16, 2018

I attended last year's march and this year's event at the Field Museum. It was very nice of Field to let people inside on an already crowded Day, but the event itself left a lot to be desired. A poorly conceived post-card-writing event was the centerpiece. It is not clear to me how this event will benefit science and public policy.

Avatar of: Chemprojfoe

Chemprojfoe

Posts: 1

April 16, 2018

The Blacksburg, VA March was smaller than last year's but still a good rally for Science!

Avatar of: DrGeneNelson

DrGeneNelson

Posts: 2

April 16, 2018

I belong to an independent group, Californians for Green Nuclear Power, Inc. (CGNP) that sponsored a costly booth at the San Francisco Bay area March for Science. I and three others made long drives from the California central coast or from southern California to Oakland, CA.

CGNP is a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Intervenor advocating for the continued safe operation of Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) beyond 2025. DCPP provides huge environmental and economic benefits.  Attendance was very light compared to last year. In 2017, we had a booth in downtown San Francisco and quickly ran out of handouts. This year, I printed 500 copies of the handout that I wrote regarding CGNP's battle with the CPUC and the plant's owner. I  returned with about 490 handouts. All of our handouts included our group's web address, CGNP dot org.  

Avatar of: JMinCA

JMinCA

Posts: 10

April 16, 2018

In response to Dr. Nelson's comment above, last year's March coincided with Earth Day celebrations in many areas, which I think was a natural fit and helped to increase turnout.  I assume you can take those extra leaflets to the big Earth Day cdelebration in Santa Barbara, CA, for example. 

I do think that engagement by scientists in public policy in the last year has increased.  Otherwise, we may have seen cuts to funding, rather than the levels proposed in the current Federal budget.  Also, I think many have realized that it is extremely important to talk to local members of Congress.  In that way, I think that the postcards are an important first step for people who may never have thought of making their thoughts known.  Next time, they may take the time to write official statements when the call goes out for comments on proposed changes to Federal Policy.

I am glad those in DC had good weather, and that Chicago found a work around for the crappy weather.  In my case, the weather was so bad I didn't dare drive the one hour one way to the March in this area of Michigan.  I think the interest remains very high in promoting science, though.  Look at the call for the repeal of the Dickey ammendment in order to allow the study of gun violence.  Just one example.

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 516

April 16, 2018

...the events are not devoid of politics—either on signs or in rhetoric.

“It is a remarkable outpouring of scientists to talk about the marvelous accomplishments of science, the amazing relevance of science, and a call for defending the conditions under which science can thrive.” -- Rush Holt, the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

See for comparison: All in the (bigger) family (2015)

...at a special symposium of the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, researchers reported new parallels between these two very successful groups of animals and new insights about what it took for an ancient crustacean to give rise to insects.

Energy-dependent microRNA-mediated biophysically constrained viral latency was required. The facts about food energy-dependent pheromone-controlled biophysically constrained viral latency and microRNA-mediated sympatric speciation probably contributed most to the reduced turnout.

When George Church reported in this interview that cyanobacteria fix light, he left no more room for ridiculous claims about the emergence of energy or claims about mutation-driven evolution. Two months later, most theorists probably stayed home and attempted to rewrite their grant proposals. They've been forced by serious scientists to eliminate "evolution" and/or their automagical "evolutionary processes"  from the content/context.

See: At 15:10

"...the cyanobacteria turn out that they fix light ah as well or better than land plants..."

See for comparison, from the transcript:

The cyanobacteria fix [carbon via] light as well or better than land plants. Under ideal circumstances, they can be maybe seven to ten times more productive per photon.

Only biologically uninformed theorists and other pseudoscientists do not know that all carbon-based life is quantized energy dependent and/or that biophotonic energy as information comes from the sun. It is obvious that proton gradients link photons from quantized energy as information to the proton motive force, which is how the potential of hydrogen is linked to changes in the microRNA/messenger RNA balance that biophysically constrain viral latency.

Theorists have been left behind and anyone who participated in the 2018 March has revealed their overwhelming ignorance. Why didn't George Church warn them? Richard Feynman did:

See: Food energy  for Feynman's claim about human idiocy.

Alternatively, see: Energy as information and constrained endogenous RNA interference

See also: A 360 degrees view of circular RNAs: From biogenesis to functions

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 516

Replied to a comment from JMinCA made on April 16, 2018

April 16, 2018

The study of gun violence is a horrid example. The gun violence has already been linked to the failed transition from adolescence to adulthood via one food energy-dependent microRNA-mediated pheromone-controlled biophysically constrained amino acid substitution.

Oppositional COMT Val158Met effects on resting state functional connectivity in adolescents and adults

The fact that virus-driven theft of quantized energy links changes in the de novo creation of enzymes to all pathology attests to the fact that human idiocy causes gun violence.

Avatar of: JMinCA

JMinCA

Posts: 10

April 17, 2018

While I found the study linked by James Kohl (above) interesting,  I am not a behavioral neurobiologist.  So, I have a few questions and comments.  I believe that it is incorrect to refer to dopamine-driven behaviors as "idiocy"?  And, while it is interesting to me as a developmental neurobiologist that dopamine has different effects in the adolescent brain, as compared to the young adult, I would need to see further studies that show that these genetic variants produce behaviors are directly responsible for an increase in violent adolescent behavior.  

And that is the point.  Without the ability to study the cause(s) of gun violence, it is difficult to come up with the ability to propose evidence-based interventions to help mitigate the problem.

Avatar of: JMinCA

JMinCA

Posts: 10

April 17, 2018

 

 

"At the Rally for Science in Chicago, for instance, democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker worked the crowd. “It’s a shame that in 2018 we still have to have a march” for science, he tells The Scientist."

 

 

 

For those interested in the history of science, an interesting look back to the 1970's:

 

 

 

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/radical-1970s-group-relevant-science-for-the-people-politics

 

 

 

I remember seeing some of the issues of their magazine as an undergraduate in Ann Arbor.

 

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 516

Replied to a comment from JMinCA made on April 17, 2018

April 18, 2018

I believe that it is incorrect to refer to dopamine-driven behaviors as "idiocy"?

I believe that you deliberately misrepresented my claim because you, and others like you, refuse to address the significance of how the energy-dependent creation of microRNAs links fixation of amino acid substitutions, such as COMT Val158Met  from autophagy to protection from the degradation of messenger RNA that links mutations to all pathology.

See for instance: Codon identity regulates mRNA stability and translation efficiency during the maternal-to-zygotic transition 

The bias between codons or amino acids, and mRNA expression levels has been previously recognized across species and is thought to result from selection for efficient, accurate translation, and folding of highly expressed genes (Ikemura,1982; Akashi, 1994; Akashi & Gojobori, 2002; Drummond & Wilke, 2008; Kudla et al, 2009; Novoa & Ribas de Pouplana, 2012). The amino acid optimality code (Fig 6) provides an alternative perspective on sequence changes between paralogs in evolution and human disease.

The evidence-based interventions require a change in the diet that links the creation of microRNAs to healthy longevity instead of the virus-driven energy theft that is linked to gun violence.

Avatar of: DrGeneNelson

DrGeneNelson

Posts: 2

April 21, 2018

Some scientists such as myself have been activists for change for many decades. You may obtain a sample of my activism by conducting the Google search, "Gene Nelson" "Trends in Early Research Careers" - which as of 20 April 2018 points to two links. One points to an archived version of a 110-page legal filing that I authored that became Exhibit 40 in the 2006 government corruption case USA v Abramoff. My accepted filing is a Victim Impact Statement regarding the harms caused by corrupt Microsoft lobbyist (and felon) Jack A. Abramoff. This filing contains images of relevant disclosure documents regarding Abramoff and Microsoft  not available elsewhere. The second link is to a 2012 article by Jim Hutton, Ph.D. that criticizes the abuse of adjunct professors in American colleges and universities. My name appears ten times in the comments.

Another Google query, "Gene Nelson" "H-1B" shows over 400 results. The theme of the second search is how American colleges and universities routinely abuse immigration policies to restrain salaries and worsen working conditions for almost all of their American citizen employees.

A common theme regarding my activism as a scientist  fighting the corrupt H-1B Visa program and my advocacy for nuclear power generation is that I'm fighting myths that provide economic benefits to small numbers of people at the expense of the American middle clsss. I have personal experience with other myths that cause even more profound harms (including painful deaths)  to the American middle class.

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