Right Now Is A Make Or Break Moment For Reason And Truth In This Country

Right now is a make or break moment for reason and truth in this country. History may view this time as the start of a watershed moment when the fruits of the Age of Enlightenment were fully realized; or when they were snuffed out from the face of the Earth for generations to come. We now stand on the precipice of deep canyon, below is an anti-intellectual wasteland devoid of skeptical curiosity and critical thought. Diving into that canyon, however, remains preventable. The time to stand up for logic and science and reason and rational thinking is now.

A little much? Perhaps.

After all, it is not as if only a small minority of Americans were disheartened when they heard the patent falsehoods uttered by the White House Press Secretary described as 'alternative facts.' Quite the opposite is true: a healthy segment of the population (hopefully a majority) have been rightly outspoken in ridiculing such absurdity. In fact, this period in history might long be regarded as a time when the free press and social media alike were wielded as a force for good; as a means of combating disinformation and anti-intellectualism.

But the fact that it only took one election cycle to swap out one President who was generally very supportive of science and reason for one who is not only openly hostile to science and research, but brazenly willing to make claims that are simply at odds with reality (see 'voter fraud'), is no doubt cause for concern. It is a concern that should not be taken lightly, if we are to be vigilant stewards of a society that values scientific inquiry, critical thought, and reason.

It would be almost hilarious the number of fronts on which this new administration is a threat--healthcare, women's rights, LGBT rights, immigration, refugee migration, criminal justice, education, civil liberties, the environment, science, the United States Constitution, democracy, and basic decency, to name a few--if such threats weren't very real.

Fortunately, many of us are taking action.

The Women's March on Washington (and the numerous sister marches around the country and the globe) was an awe-inspiring display of collective fortitude and a will for justice. They set the bar very high. As you may already know, a Science March on D.C. is currently being planned (at the time this is being written). While the Women's March will be a tough act to follow, the Science March on D.C. is a key first step in standing up for science and empirical rationalism more generally.

Although the importance of having both a populace and a government (including the President) that value evidence and [actual] facts may seem obvious (as it is to you in all likelihood, if you are reading this), there is still a sizable segment of our population who fail to grasp this importance. These large demonstrations play an important role in bringing attention to a matter that many people are not personally invested in; people needed to bring about real change.

To be sure, there is just as much cause for optimism for science and reason in this country as there is cause for concern. But it would be a mistake to take for granted the arc of history that has thus far trended towards a society that increasingly values science, evidence, and reason from one year to the next. While taking necessary actions to stand up for truth and logic, we must remain ever vigilant still.