Here is the latest criticism of the March for Science.
William Happer, a physicist from Princeton University who met with Mr. Trump before his inauguration and who has been cited as a potential science adviser to the administration (said) that scientists could risk losing some of their public support with a large-scale protest.
“It’s quite possible that this kind of public exercise could actually be bad for science — it’s like the toddler banging his spoon in the highchair,” he said. “It may not turn out to garner a lot of sympathy.”
Comparing a peaceful protest for science, by a group that is highly educated and slow to enter the political fray, to a baby’s temper tantrum is insulting. As a potential advisor to the administration, Happer has a vested interest in trying to dissuade scientists from protesting.
Between now and 22 April 2017, when the March for Science occurs, many more people will try to tell scientists all the ways that a peaceful protest could (as in maybe, as in might, as in hypothetically if some bizarre circumstances were to occur) make the situation for science worse than it is now.
I am no social scientist, nor historian. But it seems to me that this pattern has occurred in the past:
There is unfairness in the world. People, justifiably upset, organize against it. Some people plan public protests about that cause. Others warn that the public protests will hurt the cause, and instead advise people to “work within the system” for change. For instance, Randy Olson asked if a public protest for science was more or less effective than a petition.
But the naysayers never seem to be able to point to cases where movements were clearly halted because of protests (possible exception: violent protests), or cases where not having protests yielded demonstrable progress.
Petitions rarely make national news or become events that people remember years later. On the other hand, protests often become important cultural touchstones for the communities involved and go down in history.
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