The need for policy to be driven by evidence would seem to be unassailable. Yet, policy often responds more to passion than to science. While the past few months have seen an acceleration of post-truth policy-making, there’s actually been a long nationwide shift away from trust in science. Michael Specter’s Denialism is an excellent review of the issue. And, while liberals like to claim the higher ground on science-based policy, they are equally prone to alternative facts. The New York Times wrote an interesting article on GMOs in the context of science and partisan beliefs here. Science should be non-partisan.
Today, I took part in the March for Science, in Boston. There were marches going on in 500 cities around the world, in celebration of Earth Day. Yet, organizing the event has proven to be difficult. For one thing there was a big risk that the basic platform for the event – the need for evidence-based policy – would be diffused by many other causes that are clamoring for attention. That was a big problem at the Tax Day March, as I wrote about last week. And the desire to keep the event non-partisan – and to avoid turning science into a partisan “issue” – proved challenging for organizers.
But the event was a success, to my mind. Boston’s version was a celebration of science rather than a symbol of political resistance. It was a family-friendly affair, with many speakers focused on education and essay awards to students from the Greater Boston area. The tone was generally positive and reduced the politicization of science.
Plus, there were signs like this one.