Australian news, and some related international items

Non scientists must join the March for Science

Why non-scientists need to join the March for Science, Brisbane Times,  Jocelyn Prasad, 20 Apr 17,  I’ll be among the many non-scientists participating in the inaugural March for Science, which is taking place worldwide on Saturday.

None of us is untouched by science. We owe much of our prosperity to scientific progress. And many of the greatest issues facing humanity require us to get behind evidence-based research…….

March for Science Australia aims to improve scientific literacy and promote open communication of science. We believe a well-informed society is more prosperous and successful. It is less likely to be led astray by the misinformation often propagated by social media. And it prevents the likes of the anti-vaccination movement from building an ideological stronghold.

In a time of political uncertainty where fake news has become part of everyday life, scientists participating in the march know they need to shed their lab coats and spend time explaining their work to non-scientists. They know that being able to explain research in simple terms doesn’t diminish its value. On the contrary, clear communication widens support for it.

All politicians must pay more heed to scientific evidence when formulating policy. This is not a climate change march but it’s impossible to ignore the blatant disregard by politicians of available, peer-reviewed research on environmental issues. A willingness to back new coal mines, thinly veiled disdain for renewable energy and abandonment of the Climate Council are just a few recent measures showing how the government has turned a blind eye to science.

And while we might think censorship of scientific information is not our problem, it’s worth remembering the Australian government last year asked the United Nations to remove references to the Great Barrier Reef from its report on climate change’s impact on global heritage sites.

We are also calling for stable investment in public research. It’s time for politicians to stop taking a myopic economic view, to look beyond the electoral cycle and to consider the country’s long-term wellbeing. Robust research that seeks to solve complex problems requires stable funding. But funding in the science sector can vary from year to year, often leaving worthwhile scientific pursuits to wither. We know the government’s coffers aren’t bottomless. It’s another reason for scientists to become better communicators – when they explain their work to taxpayers, they broaden support for publicly funded research.

Most of us aren’t professional scientists but we’ve all done science. Whether we’re teaching kids to catch a ball, figuring out how to improve this year’s tomatoes in our veggie patches or discovering new planets in our spare time, we’re embracing scientific principles.

And we need science that is pursued for the public good, uncompromised by commercial or political interests……Jocelyn Prasad is an organiser of the March for Science and University of Sydney media adviser. The Sydney march starts at midday on Saturday in Martin Place.


April 21, 2017 - Posted by | ACTION

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