March for Science in Munich: Don’t Mess with Science!

The WFSJ’s board member, Wolfgang Goede, participated in the March for Science in Munich, Germany on Saturday, April 22nd and shares in this blog article his impressions and observations.


With the motto “We want to know!” 3000 citizens of Munich took to the streets on Saturday, April 22nd to demand scientific freedom against infringements of autocratic governments in the United States but also in Europe. The March for Science unfolded in 20 German cities, with 11.000 participants in Berlin alone. And despite the chilly weather, the atmosphere in Munich was very relaxed and international, underlining one clear message: Don’t mess with science!

UNRULY SCIENCE

Martin Stratmann, the President of the Max Planck Society, reminded demonstrators, about half of them scientists, of Germany’s fatal history and how science had become a vehicle of the Nazi ideology. That’s why it needs special protection, because “science can sometimes be quite inconvenient, especially for the authorities, and may reveal insights, which are not easy to accept”, Mr. Stratmann emphasized. Freedom of opinion, press, and science remain the pillars of any democratic society. With reference to Hungary and the shutdown of Budapest’s CEU university, Mr. Stratmann observed a lamentable erosion of scientific freedom which needs to be dealt with.

NO DEALS!

“You can’t make deals with nature!”, warned Klaus Mainzer from the Technical University Munich (TUM). If we go beyond critical margins, “the Titanic crashes into the iceberg,” he said and pointed into the direction of Washington DC, and the climate change deniers. “The use of 20th-century technologies could put the future of the planet at risk,” Mainzer expressed. Since Galilei mankind has known that science is based on facts, not religious beliefs.

VACCINATIONS!

Virologist Ulrike Protzer also had a message for the White House. President Trump has become a victim of fake news if he believes that vaccinations result in autism. The scientific fact is that vaccinations save 2,5 million lives each year, that 18 million people owe their lives to vaccination against measles and that the developing world could save 150 billion US dollars if they implemented comprehensive vaccination programs.

DIALOGUE NOW

Helmuth Trischler, the curator at the German Museum/Deutsches Museum, spotted deficits within the scientific system. It needs to leave their ivory towers, mingle with the public and engage in dialogue, explain science better, become much more transparent and accountable: “The public has a right to learn what happens with their tax money,” Trischler argued. For this purpose, the scientific community must partner much more with the media.


A roundup of the best slogans in the Munich March: Make Science Great Again! Alternative Facts: 1+1=3? Freedom is the firstborn of Science (Thomas Jefferson). The oceans are rising – and ao are We. Without science no beer. Science not silence. If you don’t believe in science throw away your cell phone. Democrats believe: Science is real, No human is illegal.


Also read the Washington Post’s article: Why people are marching for science: ‘There is no Planet B’ {Link}