The March for Science is suffering from an identity crisis. Shortly after the election, activists said the incoming Trump administration would shut down science programs and destroy centuries of climate change data. Others accused the new Congress and the president of being anti-science, which is like calling someone anti-gravity.

As the furor grew online and fake news about the administration’s ‘evil’ intentions whipped across Twitter and Facebook, Scientists announced plans to have an event similar to the women’s march.

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Excitement quickly grew and the March for Science got its own #ScienceMarch hashtag with over 300 cities hosting simultaneous events on April 22.

Instead of speaking as one voice, the march quickly fragmented into just another D.C. protest as social justice warriors with other hard-left agendas pushed to have identity politics included, much to the chagrin of actual scientists. From gender equality to race inequities, the non-partisan event was turning into a poorly organized free-for-all dogged by in-house bickering, disputes, and disparate messages.

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Identity politics run amok

Scientists from every field started to quit or not attend, with many stating the march’s leaders were to blame for the lack of a clear message. Some wanted it to focus only on science's importance and leave identity politics out of it, while others said the march should address women’s equality, immigration, racial diversity, gender identity, and inclusiveness.

An official diversity policy was created and has been revised at least four times since the march was announced in late January. The organizers said the policy was simply a reflection of feedback, which quickly fomented a backlash to the feedback. That prompted an anti-harassment policy to be posted on their website.

Social media nightmare

The event’s social media impact has also been a disaster.

Tweets were scrutinized and in one case participants accused the organizers of being insensitive to women in engineering for calling them ladies and females. Others noted their input on fixing the march’s so-called “equity missteps” have fallen on deaf ears. Scientists who offered to help have been ignored. After disagreeing on how to respond to the numerous complaints, leadership members simply quit.

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Worse, a Reddit poll in the official March for Science forum showed respondents wouldn’t participate if the event included “social justice” issues. When the official site’s diversity page was inadvertently taken down, prominent Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker tweeted he was glad to see this distraction removed.

Pinker also tweeted the event was an example of anti-science because of its blatant “hard-left rhetoric.” One organizer who has since left told the online news outlet STAT he doesn’t believe anything can be done to fix so many problems.

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To date, there still isn’t a list of speakers for the D.C. march. Many believe the list will either reflect the organizers' own intentions or the real issues faced by the scientific community.

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