Facts and science are essential for the democratic process. Without respect for evidence and the scientific method, decisions lean towards demagogues with dogmatic interests. The minute our leaders rely on rhetoric, emotional tricks, religious or nationalistic dogma to get their way, democracy dies. What sort of democracy would we have without respect for science?
The last European Parliament ignored science, silenced dialogue, went on industry witch-hunts and ignored facts and evidence creating a darkness where extremists and zealots prospered. I fear the upcoming European elections will be even darker, putting these anti-science forces in the driving seat.
I wrote the Science Charter as a way to try to put science, research and innovation back into the political discourse, rather than leaving the narrative to demagogues and activist zealots. While my expectations are low, I was not prepared myself to just sit back and let the fear-mongers completely control the agenda for the next five years. There are good, reasonable candidates standing for election and they should not be lost through the noise from the extremes.
Online campaigns (whether they are elections, marches or attempts to rebel against the state) are usually managed by a few people in a room with a laptop. Many of these groups try to present themselves as the “voice of the people” but they tend to only speak for a small network of operatives skilled in amplifying well-crafted messages. You don’t need facts or funding when you can read algorithms. The silent passive majority often stand idly by as the extremists on the left and the right make the decisions that ultimately hurt them.
A Science Campaign
In the age of social media, election campaigns are shorter and more immediate. In the week before the election (next week), expect a flurry of campaigns on Facebook and twitter, expect some scare story about some suspected immigrant crime, expect some demonstration “led” by children on the need to rebel against the extinction of humanity. Expect the usual Project Fear nonsense.
Why not expect a number of discussions on social media around respecting evidence and supporting scientific development? Why not make each candidate answer their views on the Science Charter?
I shared this before that Plato once said: ‘One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.’
It is really quite simple to support a more scientifically-literate European Parliament and only requires a few steps:
- Share this message with your friends, lab-teams, colleagues in your university, NGO or company.
- Find the social media pages for the European Parliament candidates in your region. See the lists below or draw from the main one.
- Copy the image or link to your language of the Science Charter (if it does not exist in your language, why not offer to translate it?).
- Ask the candidate in a very polite manner if they would consider signing on to the Charter. They will likely say “Yes!” so ask them if they agree with a scientific position you are working on or concerned with.
- At this point you may be engaging with others on the social media page. Be respectful knowing there are many potential voters watching the exchange.
- Likewise, there might be debates where questions can be tweeted or put onscreen. Send the Science Charter and direct your question accordingly.
- Always remember to hashtag #ScienceCharter so others can find the debate.
There … now you are an activist! Congratulations.
The Science Charter
The Science Charter was published last month and it is available in the following languages: Czech Danish English French German Italian Polish Portuguese Slovenian Spanish
Candidate lists: Austria Czech Republic Denmark France Germany Italy Poland Portugal Slovenia Spain Full list of candidates
Follow the Science Charter twitter page.
About this campaign.
The idea of a Science Charter started when the Risk-Monger (David Zaruk) had seen too many political attacks on science and technology go unanswered in the European Parliament. He has seen researchers, farmers and companies lose important innovative tools because of narrow opportunists and ignorant naturopath MEPs.
David is a professor in Brussels and does not work for, or represent, any industry or NGO. The ten translations were voluntarily and freely done by followers of his blogsite. Interestingly, he has never personally met any of the translators nor asked them for this work.
The Science Charter is not branded and is freely accessible to anyone who wishes to use it. The only benefits that will come from this campaign are for European citizens, consumers and taxpayers.
3 Comments Add yours
I think the Science Charter should be expanded to other elections: in his area of power, a mayor advocating pseudoscience might do much damages for his city (for exemple, forcing the canteens to buy expansive organic food, thereby making meals more expansive for the pupils and the city workers), a legislator might push for bills embodying it (see here and the PS luminaries who filled a, probably unconstitutional for vagueness, bill against ‘ecocide’ punishing it with 20 years in prison) and, in some countries, president.
Internal primaries might be even more interested by it: if politicians knew they would lose the support of their fellow party members then they might calm down on the subject; likewise, most of the Green MP elected in France on 2012 were so because the PS basically handed them constituencies to run in the presidential majority.
Agreed – I was debating on making the Charter event neutral but the situation in the EP elections seemed so grim (since worsening), I felt it needed to be focused. Several Americans mentioned they would like to use it for the American primary elections. The Charter is not branded and is free to use by anyone.