The March for Science is scheduled to take place on Saturday across 500 cities throughout the United States. But despite public interest and the support of 220 official science organizations, the massive event is being criticized by scientists who argue that engaging in an inherently political movement will hurt the credibility of a group that’s already criticized for promoting a “liberal agenda.” But Bill Nye, who will help lead Washington, D.C.’s March for Science as an honorary co-chair, has one response for the critics.
“Science is political,” Nye told Inverse. “To think that science is not political is incorrect.”
Even the Founding Fathers intended for science to be associated with politics, Nye explained at a Paley Center for Media event for his upcoming Netflix show Bill Nye Saves the World. He cites Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution as evidence, which states that the powers of Congress should be used to promote “the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”
“It doesn’t say the setting aside and the ignoring of science,” says Nye. “It’s the progress of science.”
The difference between engaging in politics and choosing a partisan side is what’s important here, he said. Nye, who leads the Planetary Society as C.E.O., has previously stressed that while the organization will be joining the March it is still a nonpartisan organization of over 50,000 members.
“Political is not the same as partisan,” says Nye. “It’s not taking sides, it’s using science to help inform policy and write laws that will increase the safety and health of all citizens everywhere. We want science to inform politics.”
During the public panel portion of the Paley event, a young female scientist asked Nye for advice on how to push back on threats to cut funding cuts to science. Nye’s response was simply: “Are you planning to march?”
Amid applause from the crowd, Nye emphasized that the “amazing quality of life we have” was a result of technologies derived from science. This realization, he said, “was obvious to the guys who wrote the constitution” and must be fought for again.
“You cannot compete on the global stage unless you are innovating,” Nye argued. “And innovation comes from basic research. By cutting basic research you’re actually shooting yourself in the proverbial foot — which is undesirable, by the way.”