By Julia Belluz - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 0 Comments
When Science-ish heard about the “Death of Evidence” protest in Ottawa today, her first instinct was to jump on a plane and join the good fight. After all, Science-ish has spent the last year carefully documenting a number of incursions and abuses on science by governments—federal, provincial, and otherwise.
Over the phone, the University of Ottawa conference organizers told Science-ish that they are disturbed by what they believe is the government’s disdain for evidence. They also provided an impressive media backgrounder, obviously prepared by science nerds with a zest for evidence and footnoting. The alleged crimes included the scrapping of the mandatory long-form census, cutting the federal funding for Canada’s Ozone Network, closing the Experimental Lakes Area, as well as the elimination of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy and the position of National Science Advisor.
Such examples demonstrated “an erosion of the capacity of the federal government to actually collect evidence, and the capacity of civil society to bring evidence forward into public debate,” conference co-organizer Dr. Scott Findlay, said. This protest about the federal government’s anti-science stance seemed right on point.
But before creating nerdy “citation needed” placards and running to the Hill, Science-ish decided to take a breath and call scientists across the country to better understand what was happening. Did they really feel this government is systematically working against them, or was there a more nuanced story to be told?