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The March for Science

Partisan Protests Put Public Trust in Scientists at Risk

Matthew Nisbet is associate professor of communication at Northeastern University and a Committee for Skeptical Inquiry scientific consultant. From 1997 and 1999, he was public relations director for CSI.

On April 22, thousands of scientists and their supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., and at more than 600 other locations across the world to participate in the March for Science. Pegged to Earth Day, protesters voiced their opposition to proposed federal cuts to funding for scientific research and the planned rollback of environmental rules and public health regulations. They raised alarm over the appointment of political officials dismissive of climate change and of President Donald J. Trump’s false claims about vaccines and global warming.

Previous Democratic administrations have made questionable decisions on science policy, but regardless of where you stand politically, the actions so far of the Trump administration should be deeply disturbing to anyone who cares about the future of the scientific enterprise, much less the planet. Yet it is unlikely that the March for Science will have much of an impact on federal policy over the next few years. Instead, in the long run, the March for Science may have only deepened partisan differences, while jeopardizing trust in the impartiality and credibility of scientists.

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