The Atlantic

What Exactly Are People Marching for When They March for Science?

The event has around 21 stated goals.
Source: Steven Senne / AP

The March for Science began unceremoniously on January 25, with vague ambitions, a hastily designed logo, and a Facebook page inspired by a throwaway Reddit comment. Six weeks later, and it has blossomed into a huge movement. It has attracted both support and controversy, and a deluge of opinion pieces about whether it should take place at all. At least one thing is clear: It is definitely happening. On April 22, coinciding with Earth Day, large crowds will take to the streets of Washington, D.C. and over 360 other cities. Across six continents, they will, as stated, march for science.

Which means what, exactly?

“Science” isn’t a monolithic entity. The term contains multitudes. There’s empiricism itself, and the primacy of evidence in making sense of the world. There’s the scientific method—a system for gathering evidence. There are the various fields and sub-fields in which that method is used. There are the people who deploy it—scientists obviously, but also teachers, journalists, doctors, and more. Given that plurality, I wondered, what exactly are people marching for when they’re marching for science?

I first tried to answer that question by looking at two sources—the March for Science’s website and its Facebook group—and collating every statement that could be reasonably interpreted as a goal. I found 21.

  1. Celebrate “passion for science.”
  2. Celebrate what science does for people and “the many ways that science serves our communities and our world.”
  3. Encourage the public

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