Slogans and the Melbourne March for Science

Prefer ‘Not Much’ to ‘No’

I finished my last blog on the Melbourne March for Science (below) quoting the placard “The good thing about science is that it is true – whether you believe it or not”. Feedback on this was immediate. A friend emailed objecting to the “science is true” part.  Tongue in cheek, he came up with a slightly longer slogan “When hypotheses are supported by multiple independent scientific research perspectives they need to be influential in decision making, whether you believe the hypotheses or not.” Not the three words that would appeal to a recent ex-PM!

He then went on to give examples of the slogans he liked including “Don’t like science? Give us back your phone, microwave and freezer, you philistine” and noted that a “Philistine [is] a person who is lacking in, or hostile, or smugly indifferent to, cultural values, intellectual pursuits, aesthetic …” Others he liked included a variation on the old demonstration chant “What do we want? Evidence based policies. When do we want it? After peer review” and “Without science, we’re running blind.”

Then there were some medical science messages: “Got polio? Me neither! Thanks science!” and something like “If you’ve lived past 47, its science you should be thanking.” The latter reminded me of the deaths of two of my great great grandmothers who died of typhoid fever in the same year on the Daylesford gold diggings – a water borne disease prevented by sewerage and sanitary disposal systems.

It is interesting that though the science on water borne diseases (in this case Cholera) was discovered in 1849 by Dr John Snow due to concerted opposition to his idea the remedy took a long time to be adopted – London was not systematically sewered until about the 1880s#. There appear to be interesting parallels with this and the opposition to climate science today which I may examine at a later date. Climate change in all its complexities is certainly a matter of public health.

Finally my friend selected “There is no planet B” – a quite rational assumption and one that is in fairly common usage with regards both climate change and other environmental matters. It has been used as a theme in the Bairnsdale U3A Environmental Sustainability classes run by Alistair Mailer for some time. But this is all from a human perspective. Without any action on global warming the planet will survive but humanity and many other related species and life forms may not.

# there were other problems with London’s chaotic sanitary disposal systems including the smell and at times escaping methane catching fire. The shit of London then eventually ended up in the river Thames.