Three months ago, a member of the social-network website Reddit saw the headline for this Jan. 20 Vice article: “All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website.” That did not sit well with Reddit user Beaverteeth92, who commented, “There needs to be a Scientists' March on Washington.”
Jonathan Berman, a University of Texas Health Science Center postdoctoral fellow, spotted the comment and created a Facebook page, The Washington Post reported in January. As the Facebook page grew — it now has more than 530,000 likes — the March for Science was born. Marches will take place on Saturday in Washington and hundreds of other cities.
Beaverteeth92 recently answered The Washington Post's questions about their role in the March for Science but declined to give an identity beyond a screen name. (Reddit users are often protective of their real-life identities, and a ban on publishing personal information is one of the site's most cherished rules.)
Q: Are you a scientist?
A: I am not a scientist, but I work in the private sector as a data scientist. I am absolutely a science supporter.
Q: It’s got to be a little strange to see that your comment on Reddit was the source of something that will involve thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of people. Did you think anyone would take it as a serious proposal?
A: The funny thing is: It was a throwaway line! It was something I had been thinking about for a bit, and with Trump's [proposed Environmental Protection Agency] cuts, I thought I'd mention a potential March for Science just as an idea. I imagined a bunch of scientists walking on Washington to support the idea of science as a guiding force for truth.
Q: When did you realize that the March for Science was going to be a real thing?
A: When I saw the Facebook page, I thought it had potential. When I saw the Facebook pages in multiple cities, I knew it was actually going to happen. When I saw that Bill Nye joined as an honorary co-chair, I knew it was going to happen and be “yuge.”
Q: The March for Science has stressed that science is political but it is nonpartisan. Your comment, though, was a reaction to the current administration. When you envisioned a March for Science, did you see it as a direct response to President Trump?
A: Let's make it clear: I thought of this march entirely because of Trump, and my original comment was a direct response to Trump's actions. While some liberals have been pushing for anti-science policies, like opposition to nuclear energy and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), Barack Obama was not in favor of such policies, and we rarely saw support for them among politicians.
Donald Trump has appointed a man who wants to destroy the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as head of the EPA. He met with Bobby Kennedy Jr. [a vaccine skeptic] about possibly setting up a commission to investigate the nonexistent vaccine/autism connection. His Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, reversed a lead ammunition ban that protected our wildlife. Trump's role in this march is as the biggest and most visible enemy of science in the world. Trying to dissociate the March from Trump alienates liberals who are anti-Trump and does nothing to appeal to conservatives who are pro-Trump.
Q: And are you planning on going to the March for Science in Washington or one of the satellite city marches?
A: I'll be at one in my current city.