Demonstration in support of facts and science

Published Apr 20, 2017

Do you want to help counter the spread of fake news and resistance to facts? On Saturday, 22 April, people will gather in Stockholm and in other cities around the world to hold the March for Science, a celebration of science.

Altogether, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to show their support for the scientific community in more than 500 cities. The movement began in Washington, USA, as a reaction to the fake news and alternative facts that are gaining ground in public debate.

“During the past five years, we have noticed that feelings and opinions are increasingly being granted the same validity as scientific facts. This is a worrying trend that threatens to undermine serious discussion about how we want to shape the future of society,” says Elisabeth Ekener, a scientist in environmental strategic analysis at KTH and one of the organisers of the march in Stockholm.

The March for Science is not only for scientists and researchers. Science is a cornerstone in developing our world and therefore affects all of us, states Elisabeth Ekener.

“We want to highlight the importance of research. Many people are probably not aware of how much of everyone's daily life is based on various scientific achievements.”

Democratic discussion

She also points to the role of science in the development of an open society in which there is a place for both source criticism and acceptance of different ways of thinking. Throughout history, scientific advances have been questioned when they have challenged the prevailing knowledge. Discussions about science form an important part of the democratic discourse, emphasizes Elisabeth Ekener:

 “The denial of facts risks killing such discussions – and leaving no space for conducting fact-based reasoning. We need a common language based on a belief in science, otherwise the foundation for dialogue will be wrecked.”

Elisabeth Ekener also hopes that the demonstration will help bridge the gap between the general public and the world of science. She herself had a number of preconceptions when she came to KTH after a long career in the business world.

“I now have a completely different picture regarding how academia works compared to my previous understanding. Scientists are just like most other people. I think we need to play down the image of research as being something impenetrably difficult and incomprehensible.”

Wide-ranging support

The demonstration in Stockholm is being supported by around 60 organisations, including research sponsors, institutions, NGOs, the scientific community and several educational institutions, including KTH.

“It is a given that KTH is supporting this. The institute's role is crucial for science and knowledge, which form a cornerstone of democratic society,” says President Sigbritt Karlsson.

The initiative to hold a march in Stockholm was taken by Rob Watt and Eva Krutmeijer from Forskom, a research communication network. The coordination has been handled by the organisation Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Science & General Public). In Sweden, demonstrations are also planned in Gothenburg, Uppsala, Umeå and Luleå.

Elisabeth Ekener is looking forward to receiving wide-ranging support on Saturday.

“We want to show that a sustainable society is based on having a scientific approach, rather than using superstition or a system in which special interests are given the opportunity to push through decisions. We are of the opinion that scientific progress is a fundamental platform for developing a society that includes everyone.”

Text: Christer Gummeson

The demonstration in Stockholm will take place on 22 April, starting at 11:30 am at Mariatorget. The march, covering a distance of two kilometres, is expected to arrive at Medborgarplatsen at 1:30 pm. Speeches will then be made there until 3 pm, by people such as the Minister for Science and Research, the county governor and scientists including Sverker Sörlin, Elisabeth Ekener and Christina Moberg from KTH, as well as artists and representatives of other parts of society. More information is available at www.marchforscience.se/

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