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Days before the march, Berman wrote Seeker by email to say march organizers “stand in solidarity with historically underrepresented scientists,” and that “inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) are integral to our mission and to our overall goals and principles.”
But as the date got closer, some critics maintained that the march’s stance on diversity had always been window dressing at best.
On April 16, Jacquelyn Gill, an ecologist at the University of Maine, blasted the group’s leadership, tweeting that she’d quit the organizing committee due to a “to a toxic, dysfunctional environment and hostility to diversity and inclusion.”
Others, like Shermer, publicly argued that those pushing for a social justice focus were muddying the message.
On March 22, Shermer tweeted: “Science is universal, international, inclusive, nonpartisan, a-political, a-gender, a-race, & a-ideological. Don't inject identity politics.”
While 5,000 people liked his post, an avalanche of twitter-hate also ensued, as users reminded him of history’s gravest abuses of scientific practices, from eugenics to nuclear weapons. One critic on twitter lambasted his comment as “wrongness distilled to a gloopy elixir of wrongosity.”
In an interview, Shermer said he planned to avoid wading into the political debate during his public comments from the stage during the March for Science event in Los Angeles.
“It’s my intention to skip all the political stuff and just say, ‘science is cool,’” he said.