NEW YORK – Thousands of scientists marched in Manhattan on Saturday, chanting “Science is real, Trump is fake” while making their way from the Upper West side to Times Square.
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Many carried colorful homemade signs calling for a “policy based on facts.” Other popular slogans included “What do we want? A policy based on data! When do we want it? After peer review,” “we will not go back to the dark ages” and “I thought we resolved this with Galileo.” When the crowd passed Trump International Hotel, come demonstrators chanted “Shame” and booed.
Andrew Wallace, a science teacher from New York who marched with his infant daughter, told Haaretz that dealing with a disregard for scientific facts has become part of his job. “Forty-eight percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution,” he said, adding that in under U.S. President Donald Trump, similar beliefs are now held by government officials. “The current administration does not make enough decisions based on evidence and is a representation of what is already happening in the country,” Wallace said.
The downplaying of the threat of global warming, the attack on the Environmental Protection Agency and the plans to substantially cut research funding have U.S. researchers worried. As scientists protested in New York, hundreds of similar marches were held across the country.
Kevin Kleffman, an MD-PhD student at NYU, held a sign reading, “keep your tiny hands off our way too tiny grants.” He said the he and his colleagues already feel the promised slashing of funding for research. “I do melanoma research and my boss got a grant funded by NIH, that was cut by a third,” Kleffman said.
According to Kleffman, science had been politicized in the U.S. even before thousands of researchers decided to take to the streets. “If they complain of politicization, they should not have politicized science, as they did when they objected to stem cell research and rejected global warming.” he said.
Several protesters said that the march is an unprecedented event, because the scientific community has a reputation for shying away from political activism. Rosmel Hernandez, an assistant researcher at the virology department of Mount Sinai Hospital, protested for the first time. He said he worries that the administration is “overlooking the data collected by renowned scientists.”
“This is an awakening for the scientific community,” he said about the march. “People always say that there are not enough scientists in politics. To some extent, the march is a politicization of science, but it serves for the good of the public,” Hernandez said.