March For Science
May 08, 2017
On April 22, 2017, people around the world marched and held rallies to stand up for science. It was awesome to see. The sun has never shined on so many nerds at one time. One of the core principles of the March for Science group is to protect the rights of every person to engage with, learn from, and help shape science, free from manipulation by special interests--or simply put, Champion Science for the Common Good.
When discussing complex subjects, such as climate change, scientific authors have a communication problem if they must convey their message to a layperson like myself. It often requires more trust than data.
Age of Stars
There was a starry-eyed time when I looked up to every scientist I knew--that being Carl Sagan and Mr. Wizard. But today, scientists and their research can be influenced or even threatened, because most areas of science are no longer driven or funded by a quest for knowledge, they are fueled by fame, power and/or profit. How can I tell who the unbiased scientists are?
As technology increases exponentially across many industries, corporations, governments and scientists will need to keep pace, or better yet, lead the way. That can mean taking more risks. For example, CRISPR/Cas9 technology has made editing the human genome possible. There’s just one hitch. Scientists do not fully understand how the human genome works.
Many scientists urge caution and debate, and a moratorium on editing human embryos. I may not know the difference between proteins and Pop Tarts®, but that seems logical and prudent to me. So, I was disappointed to read that scientists in China are jumping the gun with the first human CRISPR trials. How will that affect policy and research in other parts of the world?
The media could improve the respectability of science by only offering articles based on top peer-reviewed papers and presenting them objectively. But, in the era of sound bites and fake news, good reports are hard to find. The science caption that caught my eye this week was 'Out of his mind surgeon plans human head transplant, revival of frozen brain'. It’s an article about a fringe scientist at odds with most of the science community. Yet, his head-turning operation continues to win headlines.
Kiss Trust Goodbye
Scientists have lost credibility, because some of them have sold-out like a rock band in a soda commercial. The difference is, with science it is more difficult to tell what is art, and what is advertisement.
Let’s Get Together Any Way
Today’s science issues are as complex as the technology creating them. I should increase my basic science knowledge, to better recognize real science from fake science, and scientists could improve their image and communication skills. The March for Science is a path to meeting in the middle.
The March for Science gives me hope for a future when science is given the respect it deserves, by the people that profit from it the most, and the individuals that understand it the least.
The March is over, and the movement has begun. Find out more about the March for Science
March for Science image by Another Believer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Milky Way - Public Domain from Pixabay
Meeting from Pixabay
CRISPR/Cas9 by By National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from Bethesda, MD, USA (CRISPR-Cas9 Editing of the Genome) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Doctors operating by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jessica Echerri [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Scientist holding liquid - By Jiri Navratil (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
March for Science in Washington by Becker1999 from Grove City, OH (March for Science, Washington, DC) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons