Reality Straight Up!

Thoughts & Observations of a Free Range Astrophysicist

March for Science

Why I March for Science

On Earth Day, April 22, 2017, people around the nation will March for Science. It seems strange to need to march in support of the idea that pronouncements from politicians cannot change the nature of reality, or that evidence matters when making decisions. But such are the peculiar times in which we live.


On April 22, I will be joining the March for Science in Washington, DC. I will be marching as a scientist and as a citizen.

On that day, I will not be marching for women. I will not be marching for minorities. I will not be marching for those facing mental illness. I will not be marching for immigrants. I will not be marching for children. I will not be marching for the elderly. I will not be marching for the LGBT community. I will not be marching for the poor. I will not be marching as a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative.

I care about all of those issues, some in very personal and passionate ways. I have worked and marched and will work and march for those causes another day.

But that is not what April 22 is about. April 22 is about science.

March for Science Climate

Climate change caused by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, presents an existential threat to our civilization. The hottest year on record was 2016. The second hottest year was 2015. The third hottest year was 2014. If you doubt any of that, it is because you have been knowingly lied to. As for Trump’s appointees and 2018 budget, our national response to global warming is to shut down the science and even blind our capabilities to measure what is happening. (Image: NASA)

April 22 is about global warming. Gases like carbon dioxide and methane serve as an atmospheric blanket around the planet, keeping heat in. It’s no harder to understand than wearing a coat on a cold day. The physics is straightforward and the data are compelling. This is an existential issue. Yet the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency has, for purely political reasons, turned his back on that reality.

April 22 is about vaccinations. According to the World Health Organization, vaccines save 2.5 million lives a year, and could save 1.5 million more. The evidence of their safety and efficacy is irrefutable. Claims of links between vaccinations and autism have been shown to be bogus and dishonest. Yet celebrities make their unsupported claims, as politicians pander to misinformed anti-vaccine fanatics for votes.

April 22 is about health care. Modern medicine has changed our lives for the better in more ways that we can count. The nation today faces fundamental issues ranging from antibiotic resistant pathogens to a host of public health problems to a crisis in our ability to meet the demand for heath care. The solutions for these will only be found in evidence-based medicine. Yet in President Trump’s proposed budget, funding for the National Institutes of Health is cut by $6 billion.

March for Science measels

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. That was before the anti-vaccine movement opened the door to its return, putting the population as a whole at risk. This despite a total lack of scientific evidence linking vaccinations to autism. Failure to vaccinate is also responsible for the rise of pertussis and other diseases.

April 22 is about education. Since the birth of the nation, science has become the driver behind our wealth and prosperity. Our future depends on the education of scientifically literate generations of students. Yet education funding and curriculum is treated as a political and ideological football, setting aside all appeal to evidence. The 2012 Texas Republican Platform, for example, specifically opposed critical thinking as a curriculum objective.

April 22 is about inspiration. I grew up during the space race, a time when science was cool. I am one of countless kids of that era who chose science as a career, wanting to be a part of that. But today, a growing lack of respect for and understanding of science is resulting in an ever-decreasing fraction of U.S. students going into science. That is a shame, if for no other reason than the fact that science is cool!

April 22 is about national security. I’m not talking about building more nuclear weapons. I’m talking about the science, technology and innovation upon which our economy and lifestyle depend. In 2011, 76% of patents from America’s top 10 patent-generating universities came from foreign-born inventors. So why are we making it harder and harder for immigrants to bring their talents to the U.S.?

April 22 is about building the foundation for our future. Every technological innovation begins in someone’s lab, and with someone’s curiosity. Some of those ideas pan out. Others don’t. There is no way to know which is which when you start. “Strategic science” is a lot like “strategic sex.” It amounts to saying, “only procreate when you know the offspring will change the world.” Things just don’t work like that. Yet in Trump’s proposed budget, funding for science is slashed across the board. 

March for Science funding

President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget request would slash funding for science across the board, specifically targeting some fields because their findings are politically inconvenient. (Source: Science Magazine)

April 22 is about rejecting pseudoscientific nonsense.  From “toxins,” to homeopathy, to intelligent design, to fad diets, to faith healing, to medical quackery, and on down a long list, pseudoscience is all the rage. At the same time, the victims of rejecting evidence and reason in favor of woo-woo pile up.

Add it all up, and April 22 is about turning the nation away from a self-destructive path of espousing “alternative facts,” while subjugating science to philosophical, religious and political ideologies. The March for Science on April 22 is about fighting against a rejection of science. The impacts of anti science are equal opportunity. They are harming and will harm White men, Black women, and immigrant children around the world. April 22 is about the future of humanity.

On April 21, march about what you will. On April 23, march about what you will. But on April 22, March for Science!

Why I March for Science  © Dr. Jeff Hester
Content may not be copied to other sites. All Rights Reserved.

Reality Straight Up!

  • Great Deceiverism 101  Explanation or Theory? Therein lies the rub.Posted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • One Step at a Time  The  not-so-mysterious origin of lifePosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • The Mind’s Siren Call  Being certain is a primrose pathPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Constrained Hallucinations  How the brain uses science to perceive the worldPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Entropy Redux  Why our universe isn’t boringPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Entropy’s Rainbow  The statistically likely path to complexityPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Cassandra Smiling  Science, politics and a march in the rainPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • EPA Rehash  A suddenly partisan NASA faces its futurePosted in Thoughts
  • The Hermeneutics of  Bunk  Alan Sokal and postmodernism’s black eyePosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • A Dunning-Kruger Universe  Everyone, it seems, has a “theory”Posted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Our Need to Know  We crave certainty, even when it is only an illusionPosted in CoachingThoughtsUnreasonable Faith
  • A Saguaro’s universe  Building a cactus starts with the Big BangPosted in For Your Consideration
  • Great Deceiverism 101
    Explanation or Theory? Therein lies the rub.

    If someone can’t tell you how they would know that they are wrong, they don’t have a clue whether they are right.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • One Step at a Time
    The not-so-mysterious origin of life

    Once seemingly incomprehensible, the origin of life no longer seems such a mystery. Most of what once appeared as roadblocks are turning out to be superhighways.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • The Mind’s Siren Call
    Being certain is a primrose path

    Being certain lights up our brains like a junkie’s next hit. Literally. Unfortunately, being certain and being right are two very, very different things.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • Constrained Hallucinations
    How the brain uses science to perceive the world

    The unique worlds we each consciously inhabit – the only worlds we will ever experience – are constrained hallucinations, products of hypothesis testing by our predictive brains.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • Entropy Redux
    Why our universe isn’t boring

    A month’s worth of sunlight could pay the entropy bill for a billion years of biological evolution. Entropy is evolution’s best friend.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • Entropy’s Rainbow
    The statistically likely path to complexity

    Entropy is often maligned as the enemy of order. In truth, without the inexorable march of entropy, the universe would be a very boring place.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • Cassandra Smiling
    Science, politics and a march in the rain

    On a cold day in April, 2017 scientists gathered in Washington DC and cities around the world for the March for Science. Their message was a single powerful idea. Truth is not a political expediency. Reality cannot be ignored. In the year that has followed the vital importance of that message has only grown.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • EPA Rehash
    A suddenly partisan NASA faces its future

    When I look at NASA’s new Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, it is his fellow Oklahoman Scott Pruitt’s EPA that jumps to mind. As politically uncomfortable science is pushed aside, NASA’s history of nonpartisanship appears headed for an abrupt end. Will a strongly partisan NASA have a target on its back?

    Read Article

  • The Hermeneutics of Bunk
    Alan Sokal and postmodernism’s black eye

    Some years ago, NYU physicist Alan Sokal wondered whether anti-science postmodernists could recognize politically-correct-sounding nonsense even if he rubbed their noses in it. The unwitting subjects of the Sokal Hoax jumped at the bait.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • A Dunning-Kruger Universe
    Everyone, it seems, has a “theory”

    Some people are sure they know more than the experts, but it can take a lot of knowledge to realize just how wrong an idea is.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

  • Our Need to Know
    We crave certainty, even when it is only an illusion

    The human brain craves the sensation of knowing like a drug addict craves the next fix. If real knowledge is uncomfortable or not at hand, we are quite content to just make something up, then convince ourselves it’s real. In a world where knowledge matters, that’s dangerous.

    Read Article

  • A Saguaro’s universe
    Building a cactus starts with the Big Bang

    The iconic saguaro cactus gives the desert an otherwordly beauty. That beauty does not exist in isolation. It embodies the fascinating and awe-inspiring processes that have shaped the universe, going all the way back to the Big Bang itself.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

Click on thumbnail to select post:

  • Great Deceiverism 101  Explanation or Theory? Therein lies the rub.Posted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • One Step at a Time  The  not-so-mysterious origin of lifePosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • The Mind’s Siren Call  Being certain is a primrose pathPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Constrained Hallucinations  How the brain uses science to perceive the worldPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Entropy Redux  Why our universe isn’t boringPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Entropy’s Rainbow  The statistically likely path to complexityPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Cassandra Smiling  Science, politics and a march in the rainPosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • EPA Rehash  A suddenly partisan NASA faces its futurePosted in Thoughts
  • The Hermeneutics of  Bunk  Alan Sokal and postmodernism’s black eyePosted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • A Dunning-Kruger Universe  Everyone, it seems, has a “theory”Posted in For Your ConsiderationUnreasonable Faith
  • Our Need to Know  We crave certainty, even when it is only an illusionPosted in CoachingThoughtsUnreasonable Faith
  • A Saguaro’s universe  Building a cactus starts with the Big BangPosted in For Your Consideration
  • If someone can’t tell you how they would know that they are wrong, they don’t have a clue whether they are right.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • Once seemingly incomprehensible, the origin of life no longer seems such a mystery. Most of what once appeared as roadblocks are turning out to be superhighways.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • Being certain lights up our brains like a junkie’s next hit. Literally. Unfortunately, being certain and being right are two very, very different things.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • The unique worlds we each consciously inhabit – the only worlds we will ever experience – are constrained hallucinations, products of hypothesis testing by our predictive brains.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • A month’s worth of sunlight could pay the entropy bill for a billion years of biological evolution. Entropy is evolution’s best friend.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • Entropy is often maligned as the enemy of order. In truth, without the inexorable march of entropy, the universe would be a very boring place.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • On a cold day in April, 2017 scientists gathered in Washington DC and cities around the world for the March for Science. Their message was a single powerful idea. Truth is not a political expediency. Reality cannot be ignored. In the year that has followed the vital importance of that message has only grown.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • When I look at NASA’s new Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, it is his fellow Oklahoman Scott Pruitt’s EPA that jumps to mind. As politically uncomfortable science is pushed aside, NASA’s history of nonpartisanship appears headed for an abrupt end. Will a strongly partisan NASA have a target on its back?

  • Some years ago, NYU physicist Alan Sokal wondered whether anti-science postmodernists could recognize politically-correct-sounding nonsense even if he rubbed their noses in it. The unwitting subjects of the Sokal Hoax jumped at the bait.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • Some people are sure they know more than the experts, but it can take a lot of knowledge to realize just how wrong an idea is.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • The human brain craves the sensation of knowing like a drug addict craves the next fix. If real knowledge is uncomfortable or not at hand, we are quite content to just make something up, then convince ourselves it’s real. In a world where knowledge matters, that’s dangerous.

  • The iconic saguaro cactus gives the desert an otherwordly beauty. That beauty does not exist in isolation. It embodies the fascinating and awe-inspiring processes that have shaped the universe, going all the way back to the Big Bang itself.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

Over his 30 year career as an internationally known astrophysicist, Dr. Jeff Hester was a key member of the team that repaired the Hubble Space Telescope. With one foot always on the frontiers of knowledge, he has been mentor, coach, team leader, award-winning teacher, administrator and speaker, to name a few of the hats he has worn. His Hubble image, the Pillars of Creation, was chosen by Time Magazine as among the 100 most influential photographs in history.
©Dr. Jeff Hester LLC, 5301 S. Superstition Mountain Dr., Suite 104 #171, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118