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Science Defenders

Researchers have been worried about how science's loss of prestige for some time, but Rush Holt, the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, tells Stat News that it's reached a "crescendo."

While Holt notes that these concerns precede the Trump Administration, he says that statements from officials about "alternative facts" have only increased researchers' concerns. He tells Stat News that AAAS has reached out to the new administration and cabinet heads to underscore the importance of science in policymaking, but got a lukewarm response.

"It's not that we're concerned that we don't get no respect, it's that that we have a problem in our society that most people think that science is irrelevant to all of their major concerns," he adds. "They think it's neat, they think it's pretty, but they don't come to Washington saying, I guess we better get up to speed on science and technology because of next month's crisis."

Holt further argues that science should be defended. In addition, in an editorial that appeared in Science last week, he wrote that "[t]aking action is the best course when science is threatened or when science can illuminate public issues. Scientists should not fool themselves with the misconception that politics is dirty compared to the scientific enterprise, and they should therefore avoid the fight."

"Nor should scientists think that by standing back and letting the facts speak for themselves, they allow reason to prevail and proponents of flawed policies to wilt," he added.

He tells Stat News that he is working with his members to make the planned March for Science in April a success.