On March 22nd 2017, people from all walks of life marched in cities around the world in support of the scientific enterprise. They marched in opposition to the climate change denialists who perversely claim science to be on their side. They marched in opposition to governments giving license to homeopathy, anti-vaccinators and the other merchants of woo woo who serve to compromise public health. They marched in opposition to the rich lobbyists for coal and oil getting the close ear of governments. They marched in opposition to the pullback in public funding on medical research, climate change and alternative energy technologies. People around the world are saying they have had enough of the ignorant and the rich power brokers holding to ransom our public good.
In the march here in Melbourne, more than 3,0000 concerned citizens congregated initially on the steps of the State Library in Swanston Street to hear the distinguished speakers Peter Doherty, Professor Barry Jones (and previous Minister for Science in the Hawke government), Doctor Penny Whetton and others speak on the need for eternal vigilance against vested interests distorting the public conversation on truth. Here, the Humanist Society of Victoria held a prominent position at the top of the steps, with our banner in full view of the growing crowd.
We then proceeded to march down Swanston Street, turning left into Bourke Street on our way to our destination, Parliament House in Spring Street. With the benefit of our Secretary’s (Stephen Stuart) strategic decision to move early to get in front of the procession, we managed to win a prime position just behind the main March for Science banner. Check out page 3 of the Sunday Age to see how our banner dominated the visuals of the Melbourne march. On SBS World News that night, the HSV banner was also plainly visible in their news story of the event.
On arriving at Parliament House, we once again took a dominant position at the top of the steps, immediately adjacent to the speakers. Here, the crowd heard powerful speeches from Professor Terry Speed and Doctor Sherry Mayo on the dangers posed when public funds get diverted in pseudo-scientific nonsense.
Speaking after the event, our current President and former science teacher, Rosslyn Ives, reiterated that “Humanists hold science in high regard because it is the best method humans have devised to gain reliable knowledge. Its open ended and collaborative processes enable change and revision as new information becomes available.”
Also present at the march were many from our sister organizations, including members of the Rationalist Society of Australia, the Australian Skeptics and the Progressive Atheists. We thank our banner holders, Rosslyn Ives, Stephen Stuart, Rudy Anders and Leslie Allan, and everyone else who helped make a potent statement on the day. Leslie Allan shared his thoughts on why it was so important to participate: “I marched today because politicians and lobbyists are setting a dangerous precedent in promoting the idea that the scientific view is just one view among many; as if credible beliefs can be chosen at whim, like choosing what necktie to wear.”
The march helped to get our message across to politicians and opinion makers that scientists and the thinking public have had enough of the increasingly cancerous undermining of the scientific consensus wrought from rigorous and independent research over many, many decades. We were very pleased to see the large crowds in many cities around the world speaking with one voice on this vital issue of public policy.