Environmental activists protest outside the Carrie Gosch Elementary School during a visit by U.S. EPA Adminstrator Scott Pruitt on April 19, 2017 in East Chicago, Indiana.

This Saturday, scientists and their supporters in San Francisco and cities across the country will hold a “March for Science” in response to the Trump administration’s policies on climate change and other issues. The unprecedented action has critics questioning whether scientists should play a role in politics, while supporters argue that scientists must take a strong stance in a time of intense polarization and “alternative facts.” In this hour of Forum, we discuss the upcoming march and hear from local scientists. Tell us what you think: should science and politics mix?

More Information:
Scientists Take to California Streets This Saturday (And Ask You to Join Them) (KQED Science)

Scientists Across the Nation Trade in Lab Coats for Protest Signs 21 April,2017Mina Kim

Guests:
Craig Miller, science editor, KQED
Ken Caldeira, climate scientist, Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University
Jerry Coyne, professor of ecology and evolution, University of Chicago
Kristen Ratan, co-founder and executive director, Collaborative Knowledge Foundation, lead organizer for the March for Science in San Francisco

  • Curious

    So sad, desperate and hypocritical.

    • geraldfnord

      Please elaborate: the programme, the protests that will be its subject, or the situation prompting the protests, or yet something else?

      • Kevin Skipper

        All of the above. Like a multilayer cake of shame.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Red Black White and pathetically tarnished.

    The proceeding segment shall contain no more than .16% scientific content.

    Dear ‘Scientists.’ A non-scientific but perfectly logical study shows that lab coats are also suitable for marching. Protesting without lab coats!?!? That’s like The Panthers protesting without afros! Like drag queens with no scotch tape! Like Kaiser Wilhelm with no- you get the point. Trade in those incriminatingly uncreative signs and do something drastic. I’m not saying make a device out of sodium, ammonium nitrate and water, but I’m not saying NOT to make a device out of sodium, ammonium nitrate and water.

    The preceeding communique was an editorial paid for in part by Weird Citizens For Pointless Boondoggles and is in no way a reflection of the views of Skipper News Service or any of our myriad sponsors.

    • chriswinter

      I think it’s a safe bet that anyone who would actually make a device out of those ingredients is no scientist — certainly not a chemist.

      • Kevin Skipper

        I’ll forward the information to concerned parties.
        I won’t argue IED recipes in this venue.

        • chriswinter

          I agree wholeheartedly about that.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Dear Forum: This is actually not Kevin writing this, but a friend of his who wishes to remain anonymous. As a white woman, it really isn’t my place to say but there’s something about the photo’s subject that looks less-than-scientific. I know there are scientists of every color but there happen to be only African-Americans visible in the picture? To me, it seems like it’s meant to trigger a parallel with Black Lives Matter and it’s polarized but ultimately pointless stance of- look, I’m rambling on and on, just like my buddy, Kevin, who I am not. Anyway, that’s my impression. Also, the color scheme on the placard is a bit weird but I think that’s been mentioned already.

    -Anonymous, in care of Skipper News Service. Responses will be duly forwarded.

    • amyj1276

      I didn’t realize that all scientists had to “look” a certain way or be a certain race. What a nonsensical comment.

      • Kevin Skipper

        (Answering for my friend) The comment referred to the appearance and general mood of the photo. I think we can all agree that while many different identities are included in science professions, a triggering photo that fails to illustrate the LACK of diversity in science in favor of presenting scientists in parallel to BLM protesters could be considered misleading.

        Honestly, I didn’t notice it but when my friend pointed it out, I gave it some thought. I’m not saying that it stands out to you. Some consume such messaging passively. I like to stop once in a while and ask, “What are we REALLY talking about here?”

        • amyj1276

          Still nonsensical. Scientists don’t have to “look” any certain way, especially for anyone. There are times I’m out in my sweats with my hear in a ponytail or looking relatively sloppy, and I’m sure that no one would look at me and think that I’m a PhD-level researcher. When you think about “what are we really talking about here” you might also want to think about “from what kinds of biases are my thoughts coming?”

          • Kevin Skipper

            More falsified outrage? If it’s nonsensical to you then I can safely assume that you are neither a person of color and/or see nothing disingenuous about the BLM campaign and it’s portrayal of MY people as helpless, non-thinking monkeys, susceptible to misleading half-stories from a media which at ALL other times, is the main producer and promoter of America’s legacy of hate and marginalization of Colored people.

            I don’t care how you a scientist should look. I’m talking about how they DO look (and don’t) and how THAT should be the main focus of such a march, NOT the fake suffering faced by the least diverse occupational demographic in the job market.

            Is it right for a completely segregated profession, often utilized by their benefactors to perpetuate these conditions, to suddenly want to dress itself up and plaster the face of a confused-looking black woman (standing by herself, interestingly) to trigger readers’ of viewers’ sympathy.

            It doesn’t bother you because your face, identity and community isn’t being falsely co-opted. Like the guest, Jerry Coyne, you can participate with no risk of losing face. A pre-manufactured and assumed validity that makes such protests and debates convenient and risk-free to people who’s privilege is invariably protected and promoted though such social functions and their accompanying media coverage.

            Like I said. I missed it at first. A good friend pointed it out and I thought she had a really good point to I asked her to include it in my comments.

            You might not like it but you must accept that it’s not really your place to say whether or not my or anyone else’s racial experiences are sensical or otherwise.

          • Kevin Skipper

            News Flash: a white woman is sweats and a ponytail is a pretty common stereotype for a Ph-D candidate, second only to the rumpled young Jewish kid in glasses.

            My thoughts might indeed come from a certain level of bias but I’d say that my biases are pretty well informed by both facts and context. Worth saying that the presentation of this science debate is also based on certain biases. The context proves that in this venue, science wishes to adopt a victim mentality that most Americans, liberal and conservative, equate with the victim status which media have used BLM to plaster onto Colored America as a whole.

    • Robert Thomas

      Sly Stone made this color scheme a memorable and powerful one with his great 1971 album There’s a Riot Goin’ On.

      “I wanted the flag to truly represent people of all colors. I wanted the color black because it is the absence of color. I wanted the color white because it is the combination of all colors. And I wanted the color red because it represents the one thing that all people have in common: blood. I wanted suns instead of stars because stars to me imply searching, like you search for your star. And there are already too many stars in this world. But the sun, that’s something that is always there, looking right at you. Betsy Ross did the best she could with what she had. I thought I could do better.”

      -Sly Stone
      WP; Miles Marshall Lewis, There’s a Riot Goin’ On (Bloomsbury Academic, 2006)

      Original cover:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There%27s_a_Riot_Goin%27_On#/media/File:Slyfam-riot1.jpg

  • EIDALM

    Only in the U S one in four Americans adults believes that the Sun goes around Earth, the awareness of the average American about math and basic science is real poor, but that is not a coincident as the war on science is orchestrated by the ruling elites, because it is much easier to rule an ignorant society and rob their assets and civil liberties…..What a shame.

  • EIDALM

    The war on science by the morons greedy ruling elites in the U S is extremely dangerous and very short sighted on many aspect, as it in the case of the denial of global warming and climate change alone with the explosion of the human population and the exponential dumping of billions of CO2 and methane gases every day, our planet Earth is dying, and without an immediate action to reverse this, live on Earth as we know today, will cease to exist within one Century…….Now it must be clear to all of us why the Fermi paradox that summarized in few words to say TECHNICAL CIVILIZATION NEAR ALWAYS DESTROY ITSELF, and that makes total sense specially with the dump and ignorant morons greedy ruling elites, we are about to lose our beautiful home, the Planer Earth.

  • chriswinter

    Forum: “The unprecedented action has critics questioning whether scientists should play a role in politics…”

    That raises the complementary question of whether politicians should play a role in science. But since certain politicians are determined to play such a role, it seems to me that turnabout is fair play.

    More to the point, I’m sure that all the guests on this episode of Forum are American citizens — as are most of the people who will march tomorrow. Therefore they have as much right as any citizen to speak out about any issue which will affect the future of this country. And few issues have as much potential to affect America’s future as the distortions of science that are now being perpetrated.

  • Student

    “Should science and politics mix?” is not a helpful way to view where we are right now.
    “Should science inform our political debates and decisions?” might be clearer.

    • Student

      Listening now. “One unified message,” the march is not. This will likely prove problematic, I think.

  • geraldfnord

    The States’ most popular television show for the past few years seemed, in the tens of minutes I could stand to watch it, entirely devoted to mocking scientists.

  • amyj1276

    I’m a social scientist and proud to be marching tomorrow in SF with my husband and 2-year-old. If people think this is a partisan issue, it’s only because the GOP seems to have become the stereotypical anti-science party. This is evidenced by everything from abstinence-only education to entertaining anti-vaccination propaganda to cutting funding to the EPA, NIH, the ARPA-E, and the Office of Science. Science is not partisan. Evidence-based policies should not be partisan. If the GOP starts to make any attempt to actually utilize science and evidence in their decision making, perhaps the issue wouldn’t seem to partisan.

    I’m looking forward to being there on Saturday with my “Make American Vaccinate Again” sign!

    • William – SF

      The Republican Party of no has no interest in being the party of know.

      • Brian

        Is it really a party thing? Islamists have the same antagonistic view of science and they usually vote for Dems.

        • amyj1276

          What incredibly ignorant and uneducated comments. How sad.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Brian has obviously suffered some trauma as a white American Male-Bodies scapegoat for an ungrateful world. In their own eyes, they’re the new endangered species. I saw his photo on the World Wildlife Fund website. The logo is no longer a giant panda but a medium-sized hipster.

          • William – SF

            Not logo of ‘medium hipster’, but Bill O’Reilly.
            What ‘spectrum’ should we name this?

          • Brian

            You’re an independent but you can’t think for yourself? How sad.

          • Kevin Skipper

            ‘Brian’, my I call you ‘Paul’?

          • William – SF

            …and Terry? Uh, duh.

          • William – SF

            My checked-boxed political party selection carries no meaning, to me – it is someone else’s requirement of me. Assuming that those that check independent as their political identification by no means implies that they are thinkers, any more than those that check any other box. What is it that you think I’m not thinking for myself about?

          • Kevin Skipper

            You mean the rape culture band of the low frequency end of the range? Turns out that’s actually part of the mainstream list of privileges available and necessary to Whitey. It supports the idea that beyond a trial in the fickle court of public opinion, men with power can take whatever ‘liberty’ which gives them ‘happiness.’ In their eyes, the women and others that they exploit should consider themselves lucky to share their bodies or their space with someone who exemplifies supremacy. At the same time, anyone who questions or attempts to ‘abridge’ these ‘rights’ is a reverse-racist, non-patriotic terrorist.
            Schizophrenics, they are.

          • William – SF

            So call it “Privileged White Men of Power willing to Exploit Others for their own Prurient Predatory Predilections” spectrum? I don’t want them among us spectrum hipsters.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Spectrum Hipster: A redundant term for a social redundancy. Just like intelligence, depression, athleticism and libido are genetically linked, the ability to control and communicate mental and emotional functionality are, as well.

            Hipsters of color, like other crossover sensations, run the risk of excessively sympathetic adoption of these condition. They sneeze and we’re in bed with the flu. When the master’s son spaces out, we can’t all join NASA.

          • William – SF

            Hold tight to your spectrum specializations least we all become simply identified as …human.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Some say otherwise. We started off human. Power of choice has allowed us to take that in a few different directions.

          • William – SF

            Hopefully more than just Republican and Democratic…

        • Kevin Skipper

          They invented much of what Westerners know as science at the same time that certain others were just getting around to discovering fire but NOT soap, hygiene or sanitation.
          While the English were tossing their bedpans onto the sidewalk, the Moors had running water and functioning sewers (some cities, to this day, still have their original, pre-medieval networks of pipes and tunnels).

          What Islam has an issue with tends to be the West and Christianity’s history of dogged opposition to anything and everything REMOTELY scientific!!!! The Dark Ages were only dark for Western Europe, not the Muslim world. The Renaissance? For who? People of color had been ‘born’ and active in art and science for literal MILLENNIA before the Medici’s bestowed their merciful investments on a previously wretched people.

          Don’t like it? Don’t blame me. I’m just giving you the facts. Argue with your history.

          • Brian

            Incorrect. Europeans did the work before Islam was invented and after it was driven out.
            Science was never the product of a bunch of dumb invaders who burnt books, cut off heads and enslaved teenage girls in harems.
            Watch the TV series Connections to get a clue.

          • Kevin Skipper

            If it had already been invented then why was the silk road to vital to Europe’s development? One would think that these superior people would have invented their own soaps and medicines without having to depend on “Maggi(c)” or the ‘Medici(nes) imported from the lands to the east and south.

            Wait. What’s this? A clue. “Watch the TV series Connections to get a clue.” I’ll let that stand as exhibit ‘L.’ Yet another piece of evidence to support my earlier assertion that you are educated solely by the BBC and History Channel. One day, you’ll learn enough to know that you should be embarrassed.

      • Brian

        Is it really a party thing? Islamists have the same antagonistic view of science and they usually vote for Dems.
        Indeed most cults view free inquiry as a threat.

        Iraqi astronomer goes on TV to explain why Earth is flat, because the Koran says it is.
        http://boingboing.net/2008/03/27/iraqi-astronomer-goe.html

        Crazy stuff the Koran says

        • William – SF

          While you’re at it, don’t forget Christians gone …bonkers:
          https://creationmuseum.org/dinosaurs-dragons/live-with-humans/

          Paul, Terry, Brian, please take some time to talk with real Muslims.

          • Brian

            I have.
            Muslims who are working toward become scientists understand that as science explains more and more, there is less and less room for religion to explain anything.
            The problem is, most Muslims aren’t working toward becoming scientists.
            Islam discourages free inquiry. Always has. Like any cult it wants to control what people think and do.
            Unlike relatively tame cults like Scientology, in Muslim majority countries heavy conformity is expected.

          • William – SF

            Let me introduce you to Evangelicals, and Catholics, and other god fearing religions. Your remarks would have more merit if it applied to all of those that put their beliefs before facts. Isolating some Muslims for making a broader point is not scientific, it’s selective, and reads biased towards members of a particular religion.

            I strongly recommend getting to know those you chose to malign.

          • Brian

            Those are not cults.
            Cults have specific characteristics.

            1. Criticism is not allowed.
            2. If you leave you get punished.

            Scientology and Islam both have these characteristics.
            Evangelicals, and Catholics do not.

            You’re just dazzled by Muslims’ status as a minority in the US. Go to a Muslim majority country and speak your mind, and you’ll be in jail or dead– because of Islam.

          • William – SF

            My comments stand. Try expressing a counter opinion in a sixth grade religion class in a parochial school to Sister Mary. Get a divorce and you’re out of the Church, unless the Church annuls the marriage – which is a specific form of reality deniability.

            …again, please introduce yourself to a Muslim and express your concerns/fears.

          • Brian

            Again, they don’t hunt down ex-Catholics and atheists.
            Catholics don’t throw gays off of rooftops.
            Islam started as a violent religion and will always be violent.

    • Brian

      So long as the vaccines aren’t contaminated or cause autism, that’s a good idea.
      Science is wonderful.
      Corporate scientists not so much.

      Baxter shipped vaccines with live avian flu:
      https://www.opednews.com/populum/page.php?f=Still-Think-They-re-Not-Tr-by-Mr-M-090305-202.html

      Baxter’s swine flu vaccine killed ferrets:
      https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/11/18/18629109.php

  • Kevin Skipper

    Jerry Coyne, it’s official. You’re in denial. Pure and simple. If you’re not familiar with the myriad ways in which the government and academics have colluded to support their racist and discriminatory policies with supposed nods to pseudoscientific data for support, chances are, your a pawn in the same thing today.

    I hear Chicago has a pretty interesting record on race and segregation. Would you say that the ecology and evolution departments at Chicago reflect the diversity of the city? Any scientific or historical reasons worth discussing?

    What’s the sense in fighting over who was being discriminated against in the 60’s. US history and its standing laws said it loud and clear. Of course, there were others who suffered besides Colored folks but it was well understood that we, as the enduring subjects of America’s most vicious bigotry, stood to lead the struggle. There was plenty of squabbling during the Civil Rights movement. Malcolm and Martin were considered two very different sides to a very big coin. Today, when new ‘interest groups’ pop up out of nowhere, the factionalism only increases.

    • Noelle

      “I’ve been an activist all my life” he claims. 😉

      • Kevin Skipper

        During the 60’s, he could go march at the South African consulate and tell his folks that he was making a difference. Obviously, he was avoiding the Pan-Africanists’ corner of the floor but that’s another comment.

        It stands out to me that he remembers that time as being ‘free of infighting and squabbling about things like inclusion.’ Funny, seeing as the subject of the march was ‘Apartheid,’ a set of controversial and racially exclusionary social policies that, for a century, had been upheld by the specious ‘findings’ and holdings of Britain and Western Europe’s scientific communities.

        Pseudoscientists are not notified of their modified status. Most of them operate on the hypothesis that their work is done in strict integrity and is immune from ulterior agendas or deliberate misinterpretation. I don’t envy that condition.

  • Science is inherently political because science is human, and humans are inherently political. The right to politically speak, of scientists and those who believe in scientific inquiry and policy based on such inquiry, is unquestionable. Certainly, science’s critics have no compunction about attacking or distorting science, or even preventing its happening.

    On the other hand, to be honest, within science — because it is political — there are orthodoxies and those who challenge these orthodoxies. These too deserves discussion.

    However, when confronting solid political opposition on this as on any topic, solidarity in the moment is probably the most important consideration as the basis for demonstrating support of e science. You have to win the battle to in order to seek a wider win in the overall war.

    • rickflick

      Science itself is not political. Society is political and science exists in society.

  • Debby Lu

    Thanks so much for the program…my friends and family overseas are incredulous that Americans have to march to support the scientific process and basic science research. There’s sense among them–many of whom are in science-based and educational professions–that the US has ceded its leadership role in science and innovation and that China’s now poised to become the forward-looking, research-based leader. The space race in the ’60s…the science race now (here’s hoping we don’t fall short).

    • Collective ignorance produces selective political rewards.

      • Kevin Skipper

        See Bob, whole you were taking random pop-shots and gorging yourself on falsified outrage, I was upvoting your only coherent comment. Re-read it aloud to yourself, in the mirror.
        Now shut the h*ll up.

      • Brian

        And it’s important that politically controlled scientists and corporate scientists don’t drive that ignorance.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Politics is a science.
    Supposed scientists should be aware that the art of not making a protest look idiotic is also a science.
    Something tells me that the protesters will be reluctant to apply the scientific method to their own.
    What will the Black Bloc do? Dress out of season to call attention to the realities of climate change?

    • BS. And highly racist.

      • Kevin Skipper

        Racist? Really? You do understand that the Black Bloc is named after the pigment, not the racial designation, right?

    • Brian

      Politics was never a science.
      Throwing words together as you do to see what sticks however, that’s a science.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Scientists and Journalists and ‘Intellectuals: If you feel attacked by America, perhaps it’s because your handlers and benefactors have used you to attack us!

    • More nonsensical sloganeering. Kevin, give it a rest. We’re Americans too.

      • Kevin Skipper

        Can’t find another adjective, eh?
        Most drones, by definition, find dissent and critical thinking non-sensical.
        Apologizing for science conversations ‘becoming contentious.’
        You ask no questions and offer no solutions.
        You call comments about populist protests and the Black Bloc ‘racist.’
        Sounds like you’re the stereotypical Bay Area Blind Liberal. Doesn’t really care about anything, just feels entitled to suppress anything or anyone that doesn’t fit into his carefully manicured and heavily-gated school of thought
        Real, real original, Bob.

      • Brian

        Real scientists don’t lie because a party or a corporation says to lie.
        Yet scientific lying seems to be rampant.

        • Kevin Skipper

          They don’t lie as scientists. They produce desired and interpretable results as employees. None of us is above that yet scientists belong to a cult that mistakenly leads them to believe that to be true.

          • Brian

            No, cults discourage free inquiry and criticism, and penalize those who leave.

            Science encourages free inquiry and criticism, and doesn’t penalize apostates.

            Islam however is a cult.

            It strongly discourages free inquiry and criticism, and severely penalizes those who leave (with murder).

          • Kevin Skipper

            Perhaps we’re using different definitions of ‘cult.’

            I’m not talking about cults of personality.

            Islam is the most widespread religion in the world. Of the three major ones, it’s the only one that actually discourages racism in its central tenents. (Christianity equates itself with whiteness, Judaism borrows its name from the classical racial definition of Hebrew, of which todays JewISH happen to be the opposite).

            If I didn’t know better, I’d think that you’re mad at Islam, not for yourself, but for Whitey. He’s your founding father and he tells you that it’s not fair for Muslims to be so well protected from Western Supremacy while you and your toil under its intransience and haste to assign identity. In your eyes, there’s nothing wrong with corporate-sponsored socio-religious disinformation as until recently, it has served you, Whitey, and nobody else.

            I’m sure you’re mad and really, it’s too bad. You made you own chicken coop, now roost in it. Don’t like it? Don’t eat eggs and drumsticks. More for us colored folks.

            Pass the biscuits, please.

  • Jon Latimer

    The notion that science isn’t political, or should NOT be political, advocated by Mr Coyne ignores both the long history of science itself (which has never been performed, advocated, or funded in a vacuum), as well as the ethical obligation of scientists to express their own opinions
    which are often informed by their practice. Science may not be able to make purely ethical claims, but the values of scientists themselves can and should serve as a moral standard in hard times, where reason and the pursuit of truth are taking a backseat to interests of profit, power and oppression.

  • Sorry that this conversation has turned so contentious. When the thrust of the march (because of circumstances beyond its control) should be solidarity and a clear purpose, all this chatter about propriety seems out of place and frankly, quite a downer. We need to set our sights higher. Like academics arguing endlessly about departmental policy, because the stakes are so low, internal squabbling is really now not needed.

  • Robert Thomas

    Silence equals death.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Great hour Ms Kim. Not often that so many differing stances can exist and be heard in the same conversation. Refreshing to know that scientists and other big brains are just as confused and crazy as the rest of us.

    • William – SF

      Speak for yourself …oh, right, you did that … for me, I’m far more confused and crazier than them!

  • Curious

    Obviously, the protestors will be out there condemning anyone who does not embrace the scientific truth that life begins at conception.

    • rickflick

      I sincerely doubt it. Science is neutral. It’s culture that decides when a life begins. Many scientifically literate people allow for a flexible time limit for abortion. But not all. Science only tells us the characteristics of conception and development. Society must decide when. This is not the issue of the March. The March is just about letting science operate as a source of information for society to make political decisions about.

      • Curious

        Scientific consensus is that life begins at conception. There is no debate about that.

  • Skid M

    I wanted to contribute this inre some of Dr. Coyne’s critique of an intersectional approach to the March for Science (from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Multitude, p.211):
    “The multitude in movement is a kind of narration that produces new subjectivities and new languages. Certainly other political movements, those of the 1960s and 1970s, in particular, succeeded in constructing such a polyphonic narration, but it often seems that all that is left of them today is the monologic history of them told by the ruling powers, the police, and the judges.”

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Mina Kim

Mina Kim is KQED News’ evening anchor and the Friday host of Forum. She reports on a wide range of issues affecting the Bay Area and interviews newsmakers, local leaders and innovators.

Mina started her career in public radio at KQED as an intern with Pacific Time. When the station began expanding its local news coverage in 2010, she became a general assignment reporter, then health reporter for The California Report. Mina’s award-winning stories have included on-the-scene reporting of the 2014 Napa earthquake and a series on gun violence in Oakland.

Her work has been recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.

Mina grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Oak Park, CA. She lives in Napa.

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