Why Science Matters to Me
A SIPA student explains why she cares so much about science. She wants you to join her on April 14th, 2018, for the March for Science.
Anyone who is familiar with the history of science knows that science isn’t perfect. The same science that gives us vaccines and technology also exploits humans; scientific racism in 1600s informed Nazism, the Tuskegee experiment exploited the African American community for almost a century, and hydraulic fracking contaminates drinking water, violating the rights of indigenous people.
Of course, one can argue that there needs to be a distinction between knowledge and the application of that knowledge. Science is defined, after all, to be an objective and systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. The inherent knowledge given to us by science is amoral.
But science does not live in a moral vacuum. Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics whose discovery led to the development of atomic bombs, voiced regret himself: “Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would have never lifted a finger." Science impacts people’s lives one way or another. And for me, science is a form of self-expression and self-validation.
The first time I ever kissed a girl was in the summer before my senior year of college. My friend wanted to get to know this guy, but his ex-girlfriend was also hanging out with us in the club. We came up with a plan for me to distract her while my friend danced with him. None of us expected it, but my “distraction” ended up with me making out with his ex-girlfriend. We were all surprised, and I blamed it on the alcohol.
By the time I moved to New York, I knew I was attracted to non-men as much as I was to men. I remember setting up my Coffee Meets Bagel account with a friend and checking both “men” and “women”. When my friend pointed out that I had both categories checked, I responded, “oops!” and unchecked “women” in front of her.
For a while, I remained silent on LGBTQ+ right issues. Although public opinion of gay men and lesbian women has changed from not favorable to majority favorable, as a woman who has only been in romantic relationships with men, I felt that I wasn’t “queer enough” to take part in the conversation. Is bisexuality real? Is my attraction to both men and women real? I also worried if I would be accepted by the LGBTQ+ community. Biphobia exists in the LGBTQ+ community too - some dismiss bisexuals as indecisive, greedy, promiscuous, and confused. We are told that one day we will choose a “side”. If I keep my sexuality to myself and a few others, no one will really be affected by it. If I publicize my sexuality, I have to risk being ostracized by the society and the LGBTQ+ community. The odds of feeling alienated by both parties seemed too high.
But I know in my heart that that science is a tool to dismantle the discrimination and inequality in our society. I feel validated by researches that highlights the prevalence of depression among bisexual people and discusses the health consequences of discrimination and stigma. I feel reassured by evolutionary biology theorists on the sexual behavior in vertebrates who argue that bisexuality is an integral part of all organisms, including all single cells and simple multicellular organisms that evolve into specialized cells for reproduction. With every experiment, every statistically significant analysis, and every peer reviewed research paper, I feel empowered to advocate for myself and others.
Many educators, researchers, and activists use science as a way to rise up against the society that tries to deny the rights of people of color, LGBTQ+ populations, indigenous populations, people with disability, and others. Evidence-based policies support our very existence and empower us to challenge the current oppressive structure that we live in. Through science, we find ways to fight for our rights.
This is why I will march for science on April 14th, because science is the key to building a more just future. Without science, and without those who challenge the morality and ethics of science, we risk a better tomorrow for humankind. So in the words of Bill Nye the Science Guy, “Science Rules”; I will be there to rally for science and the common good.