Marchers Cherry-Pick Their Science

David Benkof Contributor
Font Size:

Tens of thousands of smug liberals participated in more than 600 worldwide “Marches for Science” Saturday, attacking conservatives and the Trump Administration for being “anti-science.” But it’s easy for left-of-center Americans to paint themselves as pro-science when they ignore their own irrational beliefs and define “science” as holding stances they have anyway on issues like spending and regulation.

The most egregious example of anti-science behavior by marchers is the promotion of recycling, an activity that research has debunked (except aluminum) as unhelpful and even harmful to the environment. Only 5 percent of America’s waste comes from household garbage, but that didn’t diminish the activism of the “science defenders” over the weekend.

Leaders of the Reno March for Science encouraged marchers to recycle the papers with their chants, which ironically will reduce demand for paper, thus causing fewer trees to be planted and exacerbating global warming. Recycling was a big focus of Houston and Illinois Marches, too, and one March-supporting blogger attacked religious opponents of climate change while encouraging recycling, which has become its own kind of religion little different from the one that denies evolution – though perhaps more harmful.

Democrats have also chosen the anti-science side regarding genetically modified food. Liberal Democrats in Vermont pioneered labeling requirements for such products, even though there’s as much a consensus such food is safe as there is that humans are causing harmful climate change.

Liberals are more likely to advocate the snake-oil practice of homeopathy, which drains money from our health-care system by wasting it on, well, water. Liberals have stymied our nation’s ability to solve much of its energy problem with nuclear power. And liberals are more likely to support animal rights, which literally takes scientific tools out of researchers’ hands by undercutting life-saving animal experimentation.

Sometimes liberals take a stand on an issue, then cherry-pick data that reinforces it. Realizing the political benefits of homosexuality being innate, they have pointed to tentative and biased natural science research while eschewing the near-unanimity in social science, whose overwhelming evidence (collected and analyzed mostly by LGBT researchers) shows that nobody is born gay.

A closer look shows that for lots of the marchers the event wasn’t about science after all, but just an chance to bash conservatives outdoors. They found some interesting ways to make their pet causes “about science”:

  • A speaker at a March in Pasadena said immigration is a science issue because so many important American scientists (including Einstein) were born overseas.
  • Marchers in several California cities suggested additional funds for science should come from military expenditures, or as one sign put it, “Fewer Invasions, More Equations.” So now science has a foreign policy?
  • A UC-Berkeley rally supported graduate research assistants trying to unionize. I guess if you squint that’s a scientific issue, but so is the university’s right not to have its precious research funds diverted to the United Auto Workers and their strong-arm tactics and unreasonable demands.

The event’s lack of focus arose early, focusing on the role of racial inequality, with many demanding social justice on the agenda. Here’s one widely shared Tweet:

Science march DC: colonization, racism, immigration, native rights, sexism, ableism, queer-, trans-, intersex-phobia, & econ justice are scientific issues

That barely coherent manifesto was followed by a black power salute and a rainbow flag. And one wonders why conservatives are not impressed with such marches.

Look, if everything is a scientific issue, then nothing is a scientific issue. Indeed, many of the supposed “scientific” questions raised by the March are actually political disputes.

For example, marchers objected to funding cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency. But one can fully support the scientific method and accept the results of environmental research but still believe over-regulation hurts the economy (and thus the population) more than most ecological dangers. Similarly, one could support vigorous environmental regulation – but at the state rather than federal level. How is that anti-science?

And of course Republican budgets are going to appear “anti-science.” Unlike Democrats, we want to restrain spending. Is a Republican who supports scientific research but believes government expenditures are out of control required to make an exception for science? Why not for every project important to her? Our aversion to spending thus allowed liberal marchers to paint us as fighting science – instead of just opposing their political worldview.

Science is not, and should not be, a partisan issue. Pretending only one party believes in science, and that all of its pet issues are scientific, is not going to help the flourishing of the American experiment.

David Benkof is a columnist for the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) and Muckrack.com/DavidBenkof, or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.