Will there be another March for Science in Germany in 2018?
What is a “March for Science”?
An international movement taking place on April 22 in almost 400 cities (as of March 19, 2017) all over the world. We are marching for the value of science, facts, and scientific evidence in times where “alt-facts” (= lies) are attempting to take over. Science concerns all of us. That’s why not only scientists will March on April 22, but everyone who considers these issues to be important. Further information can be found in our mission statement on the starting page.
Are there only scientists in your movement?
No. Although there are many scientists among us, everyone is invited to join and get involved – because we the issue affects all of us.
So I may join even if I am not a scientist?
Yes, of course – and you are very welcome to do so! All those who consider scientific evidence to be a non-negotiable foundation of our society’s discourse are invited. As the marches are organized locally, we recommend you find a group that is close to where you live (here’s a list). If there is no group yet, contact us via this form, drop us an e-mail, or reach out via Twitter or Facebook.
Why should I march when I’m not a scientist?
Because you wouldn’t march for science only. Science provides the empirical facts that form the basis for informed decisions – both in private and in public. It is consequential when it doesn’t matter whether statements are based on solid research or freely invented. First, this questions the right of science to exist because when “perceived truths” are sufficient, no research is needed. Yet furthermore, the issue affects society as a whole. When decision-makers no longer decide based on data but on diffuse feelings, this is in contradiction with the interest of society. Eventually, our liberal-democratic order is at stake, which is based on debate and striving for consensus. However, this is not possible when well-founded knowledge and “alt-facts” are perceived as equivalent.
Why are you organizing this in Germany? Isn’t this an anti-Trump movement?
No. Trump is but a symptom of an international development where emotions are suppressing rational discussion. This development can be observed in Germany, too (and in many other countries). That is why we in Germany are affected too.
What does your logo stand for? Are you involved with the nuclear lobby?
The logo is adapted based on the original March for Science DC logo. Such logos are used by almost all marches around the world, and we consider it important to show that we are part of this worldwide movement. The atom model represents science as a whole. The core represents solid scientific evidence – everything revolves around it. We represent neither any lobby nor any political camp.
There is no march in my town on your list! What can I do?
Join a march nearby—chances are you’ll find one!
Isn’t the term science limited to the natural sciences only?
Strictly speaking, yes. However, in German, we have one term encompassing the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities: they are all Wissenschaften, striving for knowledge using different methods, depending on the subject under scrutiny. All disciplines are equally welcome.
Why is there a March for Science Germany and marches in different German cities?
Science March Germany is the coordinating institution. The marches themselves are organized by local teams, who are responsible for the concrete implementation. We are working on those things that all marches benefit from, like the crowdfunding campaign.
What about diversity?
We are all different. Science benefits from a multitude of perspectives. Discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or other characteristics has no place there..
Are you a commercial institution?
No. We are all volunteers. The money we receive (e.g., through donations) are used to cover the local marches’ expenses only.
You are well aware that scientific knowledge is always preliminary, aren’t you?
Yes – and this is a strength of science. It isn’t satisfied with the status quo, but tests findings for their reliability and generalizability. As a consequence, knowledge has to be revised when contradicting data, e.g., due to improved instrumentation, come up. It wasn’t always consensus that the earth rotates around the sum. And sometimes, data contradict each other, because we can only grasp certain aspects of a given phenomenon, but not the phenomenon as a whole. Different sources of information, different measures, different instruments may lead to different results; some results aren’t universal but apply to parts of the phenomenon only. Contradictions do not mean that “science doesn’t know exactly either.” Rather, they indicate that one has to look closer. The fact that we cannot attain truth and can only keep striving towards it is sometimes frustrating – but never boring.
Hasn’t science squandered its credibility?
The Science Barometer 2016 (in German), a representative survey, has shown that 38 % agree with the statement that people believe too much in science and too little in their own feelings, compared to 32% disfavoring this statement. It is true that the science system doesn’t always function in the ideal fashion we desire. Science is a human endeavour, and humans aren’t perfect. The context isn’t optimal either. Spectacular results sell better and get published more easily than solid studies without results (which is not true, by the way – at least they help other scientists not end up in the same dead-end). Fake data, increasing numbers of retractions, and the replication crisis are but a few catchphrases. But here as well, science corrects itself. The problem has gained awareness, and currently, several approaches to solve it are being explored. The data will show which of them are sustainable.
Isn’t everything fine here?
Yes – we are in a very privileged situation in Germany, and we hope it will stay that way for a long time. We have seen in different countries how fast this situation may change when populists take over. However, science is international, and when scientists in other countries are threatened, we are responsible for each other.
Which march will the initiators of the German March for Science join?
You will meet us in Bonn, City of the Sciences.