Facts Not Fear: March for Science Atlanta

Facts, evidence, critical thinking and science — they aren’t only for scientists. They are important for all of us. They help us become informed and empowered consumers, parents, voters, patients, and active participants in a democracy. We deserve to make our decisions based on facts not fear.

As a parent, I want facts not fear. I want to know that the information I use to help me make parenting decisions is based on evidence and facts. I want to know that my fears are not being manipulated.

Right now, there are outbreaks of mumps in Texas and measles in Minnesota. We don’t fear these diseases anymore because of the success of vaccines. Instead, parents fear the tiny risk of side effects of vaccines, both real and imagined, more than we fear these diseases. These fears are manipulated by the anti-vaccine movement. Parents and our kids deserve accurate information and to not be manipulated by fear.

It’s not to say that fear isn’t sometimes justified. Parents in Flint, Michigan have reason to fear. Parents of children down the road at the children’s hospital have reason to fear. But scared parents deserve evidence and facts. Not lies, not pseudoscience, not alternative facts. They deserve not to have their fears exploited.

As consumers, we deserve facts not fear. We deserve not to be misled by dubious claims on products. Consumers are empowered when they have accurate information. We are not empowered by fact-light marketing campaigns that manipulate our fears and emotions.

Sometimes the biggest harm is that you spend a bit extra on a bottle of “polarized” water with claims of magical powers.

Or maybe you pay extra for walnuts with a GMO-free label even though there are no GMO walnuts, and you’ve been led to believe that GMO-free somehow makes things healthier or more environmentally friendly.

Or maybe you are one of the people who eats less produce despite strong evidence that eating lots of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of all sorts of ailments. All because of unfounded claims of massive pesticide contamination in produce.

Sometimes, especially when you are consumer in the health care system, this can be very dangerous and tragic. Recently a woman went to a naturopath for treatment for non-life threatening eczema. She was treated with IV curcumin, the chemical that makes curry yellow. This untested, unregulated treatment killed her. Her pain and her fears and her desire for relief were manipulated.

This is an extreme example, but it serves as a cautionary tale. All medical interventions have risks that must be carefully weighed against the benefits. Patients deserve accurate, evidence- and science-based information about the risks and benefits to help guide their decisions.

We, as consumers, deserve to have our regulatory agencies well-funded and free from interference to make evidence based decisions to keep us safe.

We need them to use the best available science to make sure that companies aren’t lying to us, that medical interventions are safe and effective, that pesticide use is regulated and limited as much as possible, that the food we eat is safe. They can only do this if they are adequately funded and are free from partisan interference.

As voters, we deserve politicians who base their decisions on accurate information. I want my representatives and politicians to be held accountable to facts and evidence. A world where those in power can make up whatever “facts” they want is terrifying. This is a world is one in which politicians can completely ignore the will of the voters. This is a world where politicians can make up lies to justify their policies. Look no further than climate change denial to see this already happening.

I march with you today for science. I march with you because personal choices, public opinion and public policies must be informed by the broad weight of scientific evidence the converges on a scientific consensus.

As parents, as consumers, as patients, as voters — we deserve facts, not fear.