We have launched an ad hoc emergency
initiative from – and reaching out to – scientists in various fields,
science educators, science writers, etc. Coming from a diversity of
perspectives, we are extremely concerned about the current attack on
science, including on its very foundation in scientific method and
thinking. Our goal is to mobilize scientists and issue this public
call, "Defend Science," whose purpose is nothing less than to bring
society wide attention to the real issues and the real stakes.
We launched the Defend Science website in
the summer of 2005 and at that time started to circulate the Defend
Science Statement broadly.
What happens to money
contributed to Defend Science?
We have an all-volunteer core (we have no paid staff at this point),
and we actively reach out to and try to involve many more. All money we
raise goes directly to the projects of Defend Science. We are not
ourselves a 501(c)(3) organization (a non-profit corporation) - but we
are able to accept tax-deductible donations because we are fiscally
sponsored by a non-profit organization, The Institute for the Study of
Natural & Cultural Resources.
What kind of organization
is Defend Science?
From our start as a kind of network based largely on the website, we
have moved toward a more developed organization. We formed an advisory
board in the spring of 2007. We have gotten extremely helpful advice
from many people (many scientists, but also many other friends of
science). Our thinking and plans are a result of much discussion and
What are the current plans
and projects of Defend Science?
While we have held several forums, and other smaller projects, our main
focus at this time is getting the Defend Science Statement out into
society in every way we can, and we are aiming to utilize paid
newspaper ads as a key way to do this.
As we have gone out into the world with the Defend Science Statement
and discussed its content with many people, we have come to understand
more deeply that many, many scientists are agonizing over the attacks
on science, what this means and how to respond to them. There are many
important questions involved in this - including many big questions in
no way unique to scientists. We feel that one basic point is clear -
while many can, and should, speak against the attacks on science and
scientific thinking, it makes a critical difference that scientists
themselves are heard, and powerfully.
Some have raised that being a scientist means focusing intensely on
hard and complex problems, and see this as a barrier to acting on even
deeply felt desires to speak out and act in relation to what is going
on with science today. We see the form of a published, signed statement
as one way in which scientists and other friends of science can reach
many more people with the crucial message contained in the Defend
Science Statement - and particularly the broader population which in
many cases has little contact with scientists. And the Statement also
provides an avenue for those who are able and willing to do more. They
can contribute financially, help spread the statement to their friends
and colleagues, and also help in other ways.
is our vision and
larger plans beyond ads in major news media?
Our longer-term thinking revolves around what it will take to defeat
the concerted and determined attack on science and scientific thinking
which is gone into in the Defend Science Statement. We see that there
has to be a kind of political battle over this, which includes many
elements - education, promotion of understanding of science and the
scientific method, battling over a whole range of policy questions (and
all this is linked to what goes on politically and culturally in
society overall). One way of looking at this whole front of the attacks
on science is that we are engaged in a political battle over how people
think. And right now, it is urgent to challenge and oppose the attacks
on science centered in the Bush administration. One analogy we have
talked about is the role of Huxley - "Darwin’s bulldog". After Darwin
published his theory of evolution, Huxley had to enter into a real
fight among scientists to win them over to the theory of evolution. We
feel there is a need for such "bulldogs" now - to wage the fight to
defend scientific thinking and method in society broadly.
How can we defeat the
attacks on science?
We think that an important part of what is needed, and the particular
role of Defend Science in the context of many different kinds of
efforts by many people, is building a kind of "movement from two sides"
in defense of science - from scientists on the one side, and from the
broader public on the other. We think that Defend Science should see
its contributions in this context. And we expect to work with other
organizations at part of this. Our current plans for running the
Statement in major news media serves this "movement from two sides".
Ultimately, defeating the attacks on science is bound up with larger
political changes in society.
Why reach out to the
broader public? What can we accomplish?
One member of Defend Science wrote: "last spring I traveled to Anaheim,
CA for the National Science Teachers' Association convention. This was
occurring right on the heels of the Dover, PA decision against ID. We
and Defend Science got a very warm welcome from hundreds of the high
school teachers there and many have signed the statement - but along
with that we often got an earful along the lines of: ‘...it's about
time you academics came down out of your ivory tower and helped us!
We're out here in the localities catching hell from ID and other more
crude forms of creationists. Many of us are being intimidated into not
teaching evolution. For every victory like Dover there are scores of
school boards, state boards, etc getting bombarded...’"
Running the Defend Science Statement in major news media will enable
scientists to speak broadly to the population - to speak to those who
are the targets of these attempts to deny science education, to deny
access to scientific knowledge and scientific thinking. Running the ad
in major news media will greatly help people like the teachers we
talked to in
Anaheim - it will show them that they are not isolated, that the
scientific community supports them, and will encourage and strengthen
their own efforts, and, we hope, it will encourage many to become part
of a kind of movement to Defend Science. And there are other
readers who are perhaps less clear or knowledgeable about the
importance of science, but who do recognize science as a crucial part
of modern life. We think that these people are going to be jolted by
the Statement, in a good way. It will sound an alarm and raise some big
questions about what is going on, and why, and what this means. It will
spark thinking about all kinds of questions - and without this kind of
broad outreach and ferment, we cannot win the battle to defend science.
How does Defend Science
plan to build off of the initial ad?
Concretely, off of the initial ad (and related work we do including
media to make the ad more broadly known) we expect many people will be
contacting Defend Science. Some will make financial contributions.
Others will want to know "how to join" and what they can do. And some
will raise disagreements with the ad and want to engage in debates.
We are now strengthening Defend Science as an organization so that we
can respond to this - we want to help to build up a "movement in
defense of science". While we anticipate that there will be an
important role for the Defend Science Statement for some time to come,
we also want to be able to link some people up with other important
efforts. We also hope to build through this a network which will both
keep us informed of different things going on in different parts of the
country, and which will suggest ways that people can act - creative use
of the Defend Science statement, letters to the editor, helping to
support teachers under fire for teaching evolution, joining in
different national campaigns to help defend science.
We ask you to read this "Defend Science"
statement closely, sign, circulate and help
in our effort to publish this statement in major, mass distribution
newspapers and in journals here in the U.S, as well as around the world.
You can email us at:
Our mailing address is:
2124 Kittridge St. #182
Berkeley CA 94704
, Professor of
Zoology, University of Hawaii Kevin
, Professor, Department of
Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley and president National Center for
Stephen Palumbi, Professor of Biological
Sciences, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University
Theodore A. Postol, Prof. of Science,
Technology, and National Security Policy, MIT
David Seaborg, evolutionary biologist, World
Andrew Sessler, Former President of the
American Physical Society, member of the National Academy of Sciences
You can sign the Statement on this
website. Just click here to add your name to
the growing list.
Join in the battle to defend
Scientists and Members of the Scientific Community:
• Sign and Circulate This Statement.
• Help Raise Funds to Have it Printed in Newspapers Across the Country,
• Get This Statement Adopted by Scientific, Educational and Other
Associations and Institutions.
Members of the General Public:
• Reprint and Circulate This
Statement, Help Spread the Word, Contribute Your Ideas About How to
Wage This Crucial Battle & Join With People in the Scientific
Community and Others to Wage This Battle.
• Help raise funds to print the Statement in as many newspapers and
journals as possible, in the U.S. and internationally.