Scientists might have reputations for being introverts, but if there’s anything they don’t like, it’s being told to keep secrets, but that’s what’s happened at several government agencies this week since President Donald Trump took office. Employees at several government departments, specifically ones involving science and the environment, were told to stop communicating with the public, and now thousands of scientists are reportedly planning to march on Washington to protest for science, facts, and education.
According to The Washington Post, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and even the National Park Service were all issued “communications freezes” or gag orders on employees, barring them from publicly sharing information or talking to journalists. (For a few hours yesterday, the official Twitter account of the Badlands National Park defiantly posted several statistics about climate change, but those tweets are gone now.)
The news sparked a significant public outcry, and now scientists are planning a March for Science, inspired in large part by the Women’s March on Washington last Saturday. The March for Science Facebook group already has more than 150,000 members.
The march is still in the planning phase, but organizers hope it will involve several “sister marches” in different cities, the way the Women’s March did. Should we all get lab coats? If we don’t already have them, I mean. I feel like we should all get lab coats. I’ll be in line right behind Mommyish’s Science Mom. (That will always be my favorite column.)
The march is not going to be limited to scientists, either. It will reportedly be open to anybody who “believes in empirical science.” It shouldn’t be weird to believe in empirical data, but apparently that’s an increasingly rare phenomenon. Maybe that’s what happens when we don’t teach kids enough about science when they’re small: They grow up to think climate change is a hoax perpetuated by China on the U.S., and that vaccines cause autism, and that two plus two equals five.