Scientists For Sanity: Mr. WhySharksMatter Goes to Washington

Longtime readers have probably noticed an increase in political-themed posts from me over the last few months. I pointed out that despite satellite photos and computer analysis, Glenn Beck just made up the size of the crowd at his rally. I discussed the bizarre “Save the Light Bulb” movement whose members are actively against energy efficiency. I complained about how one Senator engaged in political grandstanding at the expense of sharks and other species in need of legal protection. Most recently, I wrote about the Tea Party and their anti-global warming, anti-evolution, anti-stem cell agenda.

There are two reasons for the change in content. One is the upcoming midterm elections and my belief that scientists have a stake in the outcome. As a scientist, I feel that the anti-science views of the Tea Party should inspire us to vote. As a political moderate (admittedly left-leaning), I am alarmed by the rise of extremists on both sides, and I wish I could do something about it. If you follow me on twitter, you already know the second reason for the increase in political posts. This weekend, I will be attending the Rally to Restore Sanity.

For those of you unfamiliar with this event, the Rally to Restore Sanity is a major event in Washington, DC.  It is hosted by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, and is a rally for people like me who don’t like the political extremism we’ve seen in this country lately.

Watch Jon Stewart announce the Rally:

“We live in troubled times,” Stewart announced, “with real people facing real problems, problems that have real if imperfect solutions that I believe 70 to 80 percent of our population could agree to try and could ultimately live with. Unfortunately, the conversation and process is controlled by the other 15 to 20 percent.”

Jon suggested a series of signs appropriate for the rally, including “I disagree with you but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler”, “9/11 was an outside job”, and “I’m Not Afraid of Muslims, Tea Partiers, Socialists, Immigrants, Gun Owners or Gays, But I am Kind of Scared of Spiders.”

Here is the sign I’ll be holding:

In case you can’t read it, my sign features a Tea Party protester claiming that “Global warming is a socialist scam”, along with the words “Actually, scientists are pretty sure that global warming is really happening”. It also features the Mauna Loa CO2 graph, the Mann hockey stick temperature graph, and the words “Scientists for Sanity”.

Charlie will be joining me, and he’ll have a Scientists for Sanity sign of his own.

I hope to see some of you there, but if you can’t make it, you can follow the action live on Comedy Central from 12-3, and it will be live-tweeted with the hashtag #Rally4Sanity.



  1. Joe · October 29, 2010

    Have fun at the rally. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about the value of events like this when you return. My perception of both the sanity rally and the glen beck rally is that the do little except make the people who attend them feel good about themselves. People like to validate their positions with social proof; they like the feeling that they’re not the only person in the world who ‘gets it’.

    Of course, I also find myself persuaded by logical arguments that voting doesn’t make any sense:

    Someone should calculate the carbon footprint of the rally, just for kicks.

  2. Whysharksmatter · October 30, 2010

    Well, I’m primarily going because I’m a big fan of Stewart and Colbert, the event should be hilarious, and I have friends in DC that I havent seen for a while.

    I don’t expect this event to change the world, but it does (temporarily) drive the media narrative away from stories about how much more fired up the far right voters are about the midterms. Getting people excited about voting just may make the difference in one or more close races.

  3. Kathy · September 26, 2011

    Growing ever more frustrated with the anti-science GOP candidate positions, I’ve been wondering if there is a Scientists for Sanity movement going on anywhere and found your post from last year. Anything since then? I’m a PhD student, too. We scientists need to make a hell of a lot of noise, very soon, or we’re going get one of these bozos for President. Dark Ages II is just one election away.

    • WhySharksMatter · September 26, 2011

      This wasn’t a movement so much as a snappy title for a blog post… sorry Kathy. Union of Concerned Scientists is probably your best bet.

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