Science and scientists are under attack. The new authoritarians, the Erdogans, Trumps, Putins, Le Pens and Orbans of this world, have nothing but hatred for independent thought. In the USA the funding of climate science and research hubs such as NASA is under threat, in Hungary the independent Central European University is threatened with closure.
Science is central to our desire to know reality and to the ethical requirement to face reality. And as such science always has a potentially subversive role in society - that’s why Christianity suppressed it 1600 years ago and why Trump and the ‘alt-right’ dismiss it today. Let’s not idealise science, it has its problems, its desire to understand has often mutated into a hubristic desire to master and as a result it has colluded in the subjugation of nature. But at its best, like the arts and humanities, science has the ability to ask the awkward questions and present the inconvenient truths that inflame the unaccountable and often invisible centres of power in our societies.
In the face of an alarming trend towards discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery the scientific community is at last speaking out in its own defence. Whether scientists like it or not their world is becoming politicized and unless they arm themselves soon their cherished neutrality will mean that they end up being neutered.
On Saturday April 22nd members of the scientific community are organizing a global March for Science with gatherings in most major cities. You can show your solidarity by joining them. In the UK there will be marches and gatherings in London, Bristol, Cardifff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Norwich. Click March for Science to find your nearest event.