It’s been a rough week for the scientific community, with President Donald Trump all but declaring war on evidence-based scholarship. Science is supposed to be nonpartisan, yet the White House has in a matter of days muzzled the National Parks Service, frozen grants at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, purged references to climate change from federal websites, and tapped a virulent anti-vaxxer to head an investigation into vaccine safety. Scientists have responded to this barrage of “alternate facts” and “fake news” with an upcoming march on Washington, D.C., and hundreds are even mulling a run for public office. #ThanksDonald!
That’s where 314 Action comes in. Named after the first three digits of pi, the political action committee is the scientist equivalent of Emily’s List, which encourages pro-choice Democratic women to take on the corridors of power, or Veterans Campaign, which does the same for former members of the military.
“314 Action is concerned that STEM education in the United States is falling further and further behind the rest of the world, that our political leaders continue to deny scientific facts, and that Congress fails to fully fund scientific research so we can solve pressing environmental issues like climate change and social problems like gun violence,” reads the nonprofit’s website.
In the past two weeks, 314 Action has seen more than 400 people express interest in an online information session it’ll be holding for STEM workers who are considering running for office for the first time.
If even a fraction of those people eventually get elected, it’ll be the intellectual shot in the arm Congress so desperately needs. Only 10 percent of lawmakers have any kind of post-high school STEM knowledge, according to a 2011 survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“A lot of scientists traditionally feel that science is above politics but we’re seeing that politics is not above getting involved in science,” 314 Action founder Shaughnessy Naughton told the Atlantic. “We’re losing, and the only way to stop that is to get more people with scientific backgrounds at the table.”
Via the Atlantic