“Defend Science” was initiated in 2005 in response to a massive wave of attacks on science unleashed during President George W. Bush’s administration. These attacks occurred on many fronts and included at their core attacks on the very foundation of science - scientific method and thinking.
What follows is the original Defend Science Statement of 2005, signed by nearly 3000 scientists. We are no longer accepting new signatures but we encourage people to join our mailing list. Still, the need to defend science continues more than ever. And in this context, this statement remains an important point of reference.
Join the Defend Science email
read the article "2013 - The Need To Defend Science - Now More Than Ever"...
Download a printable PDF version of the
statement or statement
some prominent signatories or please continue reading below.
IN THE UNITED STATES
TODAY SCIENCE, AS SCIENCE, IS UNDER ATTACK AS NEVER BEFORE.
The signs of this are everywhere. The attacks are coming at an
accelerating pace, and include frequent interventions by powerful
forces, in and out of the Bush Administration, who seem all too willing
to deny scientific truths, disrupt scientific investigations, block
scientific progress, undermine scientific education, and sacrifice the
very integrity of the scientific process itself -- all in the pursuit
of implementing their particular political agenda. And today this
dominant political agenda is profoundly allied and intertwined with an
extremist (and extremely anti-science) ideological agenda put forward
by powerful fundamentalist religious forces commonly known as the
Religious Right. These fundamentalists now have extensive influence and
representatives in major institutions of the U.S. government, including
Congress and the White House. This itself goes a long way towards
explaining why science itself is under such unprecedented attack.
It is commonplace under the current Administration for the government
to deny funding, censor scientific reports, or in other ways undermine
scientific research which might turn up facts which they don't want to
hear; to manipulate, distort, or outright suppress scientific findings
they find objectionable; to attempt to reshape government scientific
panels to obtain policy recommendations on issues ranging from health
to the environment, based less on actual scientific findings than on
the requirements of the Administration's agenda.
The situation is so serious that more than 6,000 scientists have
already signed the "Restoring Scientific Integrity" statement of the
Union of Concerned Scientists, which denounces the Bush Administration
for "abuse of science"; and Scientific American published an editorial
under the title: "Bush-League Lysenkoism: The White House Seeks to Bend
Science To Its Will."
* Particular Christian fundamentalist "moral codes" are increasingly
imposing restrictions on what kinds of questions can be investigated by
scientists and what kinds of answers scientists can come up with.
HIV-prevention studies have come under attack for even attempting to
study prevalent sexual practices. Funds have been cut and researchers
have faced intimidation and harassment from fundamentalists inside and
outside of government who insist that scientific study of HIV/AIDS
begin and end with the demand for "abstinence-only" programs -
regardless of the human and social cost. Research into human sexuality
in general has been suppressed and faulty studies and outright
disinformation about the effectiveness of condoms and other birth
control methods have been promoted and disseminated by the
Administration. The Department of Health and Human Services is known to
have deleted from its web site scientific health information which
conflicted with the Administration's "abstinence-only" approach to sex
education...THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
* Entire new fields of scientific inquiry, like stem-cell research,
with potential for path-breaking medical breakthroughs, are denied
federal funds because of fundamentalist religious objections...THIS IS
* Scientists whose findings conflict with corporate interests or
policies of the Bush Administration face threats of retaliation or
denial of funding. There have been "gag orders" forbidding government
scientists from talking publicly about important scientific questions
and, at times, even mentioning terms like "global warming." In studies
by government scientists on global warming and its potentially
devastating consequences for the planet and humanity, titles of reports
have been changed and whole sections deleted by high political
officials. There are repeated efforts by government officials to
over-rule scientists on such things as which plant and animal species
to include on the "Endangered Species" list, which natural habitats are
in critical need of preservation, how to set air and water quality
standards, and so on...THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
* In a practice many have denounced as "Scientific McCarthyism,"
scientists who are candidates for scientific advisory boards and panels
have been asked how they voted or whether they support particular
policies of the Administration, and some have been denied appointments
because of their political views...THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
* Official government-run bookstores at the Grand Canyon have carried
books promoting as fact the literalist Biblical notion that the Grand
Canyon was formed only a few thousand years ago by "Noah's Flood," in
direct contradiction to the overwhelming geological evidence and
scientific consensus that the Grand Canyon contains rocks that are
billions of years old and that the Canyon itself was carved out by a
river, over a very long period of time, millions of years ago...THIS IS
And that is not all: Here we are in the 21st century, and the head of
the government himself, George W. Bush, refuses to acknowledge that
evolution is a scientific fact! THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
The President claims: "On the issue of evolution, the verdict is still
out on how God created the earth," and then sits smugly by while
Creationists carry out an assault against evolution in classrooms,
museums, libraries, government bookstores, and even IMAX movies and
No, Mr. President, the verdict is NOT out on evolution. EVOLUTION IS A
FACT -- IT IS ONE OF THE MOST WELL-ESTABLISHED AND WELL-DOCUMENTED
FACTS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE. TO DENY AND ATTACK EVOLUTION IS TO
DENY AND ATTACK ONE OF THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL FACTS ABOUT ALL OF NATURE
AND REALITY AND ONE OF THE MOST CRUCIAL FOUNDATION STONES OF ALL OF
Evolution is not a matter of "controversy" in the scientific community:
It is recognized as a fact by the overwhelming majority of scientists
in the U.S. and throughout the world. Evolution is just as
well-established as the fact that the earth goes around the sun -- a
scientifically-demonstrated truth which, several centuries ago and for
some time, was also opposed and even viciously suppressed because of a
religious inquisition, resulting in great harm to science and to
humanity. We cannot, and will not, allow the same kind of thing to
happen with the scientific fact of evolution.
Therefore, we, the undersigned scientists and members of the scientific
community, are issuing this urgent call to everyone in society to take
up the challenge to DEFEND SCIENCE.
To be clear: Many who continue to hold religious beliefs can and should
rally to this call to DEFEND SCIENCE. This is not about science trying
to destroy religion. It is about defending science from a specific
right-wing political agenda which, coupled with a fundamentalist,
Biblical-literalist religious ideology, is setting out to implement a
program that will fundamentally pervert and undermine science and the
scientific process itself.
Individual scientists may be atheists or agnostics, or may hold various
religious beliefs; and their politics range over the full spectrum of
political views. But one thing the overwhelming majority of scientists
have in common is their understanding that, when conducting scientific
investigation and applying the scientific method, it is essential to
use as a starting point previously accumulated scientific knowledge --
the storehouse of well-established scientific evidence about reality
which has previously been arrived at through concrete and systematic
scientific observation and experiment and has been subjected to
rigorous scientific review and testing. This is what we scientists
stand on as our foundation when we set out to further investigate
reality and make new discoveries. This is how science has been done and
how it has advanced for hundreds of years now, and this has allowed
science to benefit humanity in countless ways.
Genuine science never proceeds from, or uses as its starting point, any
set of subjective "beliefs," "opinions" or "faith-based edicts" handed
down by religious or secular authorities and proclaimed to be beyond
human questioning, testing and investigation. To bring into the
scientific process assumptions, religious or otherwise, which were not
arrived at by scientific methods, and which by definition cannot be
tested by scientific methods, would destroy science as science.
In conclusion: We must refuse to accept a situation where scientific
inquiry is blocked or its findings ruled out of order unless they
conform to the goals of the government, to corporate interests and to
the ideology of religious fundamentalists; where dogma enforced by
governmental and religious authority takes the place of science; where
the scientific approach of seeking natural explanations for natural
phenomena is suppressed. We must insist on an atmosphere where
scientists are allowed to seek the truth, even when the truth conflicts
with the views and policies of those in power, and where the scientific
spirit is fostered, where science education and the popularization of
the scientific method are valued, where people are encouraged to pursue
an understanding of how and why things are the way they are; where all
that has been learned by humanity so far, all that has repeatedly been
tested and found to be true, serves as the starting point for further
investigation of reality.
IT IS UP TO US. IT IS TIME TO TAKE A CLEAR AND DECISIVE STAND IN
DEFENSE OF SCIENCE. THIS IS OF CRUCIAL AND URGENT IMPORTANCE NOT ONLY
FOR SCIENTISTS BUT FOR PEOPLE THROUGHOUT SOCIETY, FOR HUMANITY AS A
WHOLE AND FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Scientists and Members of the Scientific Community:
Sign and Circulate This Statement. Help Raise Funds to Have it Printed
in Newspapers Across the Country, and Internationally. Get This
Statement Adopted by Scientific, Educational and Other Associations and
Institutions. Urge Others to Become Involved.
Members of the General Public: Reprint and Circulate This Statement,
Help Spread the Word, Contribute Your Ideas About How to Wage This
Crucial Battle & Join With People in the Scientific Community and
Others to Wage This Battle.
Read Defend Science Statement
You can sign the Statement on this
website. Just click here to add your name to
the growing list.
Join in the battle to defend
Scientists and Members of the Scientific Community:
• Sign and Circulate This Statement.
• Help Raise Funds to Have it Printed in Newspapers Across the Country,
• Get This Statement Adopted by Scientific, Educational and Other
Associations and Institutions.
Members of the General Public:
• Reprint and Circulate This
Statement, Help Spread the Word, Contribute Your Ideas About How to
Wage This Crucial Battle & Join With People in the Scientific
Community and Others to Wage This Battle.
• Help raise funds to print the Statement in as many newspapers and
journals as possible, in the U.S. and internationally.