March for Science

Published in the Research School of Physics Event Horizon
Vol43 Issue14 24–28 April 2017

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Below, Australian experts comment:

Mr Peter Ellerton is a Lecturer at the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry in Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Queensland

"We live in a world in which information flows freely, fast and - thanks to platforms such as Facebook - very smoothly formatted.

As a result, we are rapidly and forcefully subjected to an enormous variety of views almost immediately an issue enters public awareness. Our capacity to critically analyse data is therefore urgent and important.

But this analytical ability is a function of socially mediated and collaboratively developed skills - it is not something easily accessible to individuals without training.

Science, as a collective endeavour, provides us with one of the most resourced and rigorous means of assessing claims about the world.

It acts as a bulwark against personal prejudices, cognitive biases and political and religious ideologies that might otherwise act unopposed.

Science is not only rational, imaginative and productive, it is explanatory. It helps provides insight and foresight in a challenging and often indifferent world and therefore improves our lot more than any other collective enterprise in human history.

Those who best challenge science, and by doing so help it change its paradigms, are those trained in science. They are not those ignorant of its processes and methodologies.

Marching for science is a public good."

Peter is contactable on +61 407 625 798 or peter.ellerton@uq.edu.au.

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Professor Paul Young is Head of The University of Queensland School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and a March for Science Brisbane Organising Committee member

"The scientific community sees the danger of “alternative facts” and populism-driven policy taking precedence over scientific evidence.

The old adage that “facts speak for themselves” appears to be losing traction and so it is time we stand up and defend that basic truth.

Issues such as climate change and the value of vaccines in public health are examples of where facts and evidence are simply being ignored by some.

I’m a molecular virologist developing vaccines and anti-viral strategies against infections and am concerned at how much airtime has been given to views that go against available evidence.

The worldwide March for Science movement is a call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.

Science isn’t simply a collection of rules and facts, it is a process by which we acquire knowledge. So it is science and the knowledge that it provides that I’m marching for.

As much of our modern lives is underpinned by science, everyone in our community should be happy to stand up for that. This is not a march of scientists, it is a march for science."

Paul is contactable on +61 7 3365 4622 or p.young@uq.edu.au.

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Professor Les Field is the Secretary for Science Policy at the Australian Academy of Science

"The Australian Academy of Science strongly supports US scientists and research organisations who have established the March for Science to mobilise public and political support for research in a transitional and evolving policy environment.
 
Science in Australia is in a different situation and while it is good to show solidarity with our US colleagues, it’s unclear what the Australian marches will achieve.
 
The importance of building scientific literacy in society, so that as many people as possible understand and participate in public debate, particularly on technical and scientific issues, cannot be underestimated.
 
The Academy also strongly supports the importance of sound science to underpin good government policy and the critical place for clear, open, well-informed public debate."

Les is contactable (via Dan Wheelahan, Media Officer) on 0435 930 465 or dan.wheelahan@science.org.au. 

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