ASA Issues Statement on March for Science

With growing attention on the March for Science April 22 among its membership, the American Statistical Association (ASA) takes the opportunity in the following statement to emphasize the values and principles that are critical to furthering scientific inquiry:

“The American Statistical Association (ASA) endorses the stated purposes of the April 22 March for Science as a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. The ASA is a non-partisan, apolitical organization. Our purpose is promoting the practice and profession of statistics. As such, we support our members’ advocacy for statistics and science in general. We encourage our members to show their support for the stated purposes of the March for Science in whatever ways they choose, whether it’s taking part in the March or in some other way.”

As expressed in its mission statement, the March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science, along with the enacting of evidence-based policies in the public interest—focus areas that have long been important to the ASA. From meetings with members of Congress and administration officials to educating legislative staff to participating in broad-based coalitions with diverse stakeholders, the ASA has advocated for a strong federal investment in science. In collaborating on the statistics literacy in the media project—STATS—engaging scientific and mainstream media, and training statisticians in effective public communication strategies, the ASA recognizes the need and benefit of an informed, statistically literate society. Through its advocacy for the federal statistical agencies and, for example, the Commission for Evidence-Based Policymaking, the ASA has consistently called for policies based on independent, unbiased, and scientifically sound data.

The ASA Board of Directors recognizes some may perceive this statement as partisan. The ASA strives to follow the principle that the application of science to policy be done in a nonpartisan manner. As an organization representing statisticians and data scientists from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds, and experiences, the ASA promotes the overall advancement of science while maintaining an objective, nonpartisan stance.

“I think of the April 22 March for Science as a ‘March for the Public Awareness of the Benefits of Science,’” said 2016 ASA President Jessica Utts. “As noted in my JSM presidential address, it’s a natural human tendency for people to understand and favor anecdotes over scientific evidence. As statisticians, we are in a position to increase public awareness of the value of science in general and statistics in particular. Whether it’s through joining the march or other means, taking action to support the stated purposes of the March for Science as ‘a celebration of our passion for science’ seems to be in perfect alignment with the ASA’s stated purpose of ‘promoting the practice and profession of statistics.’”

“I believe it is important for the ASA to promote the value and critical role of science in our society,” added ASA Vice President Rob Santos. “Supporting the principles and stated purpose of March for Science does just that. It demonstrates our commitment to the scientific community. Personally, I plan to join my fellow scientists on April 22. Science is not and will never be perfect, but it is essential for society to thrive.”

“Science deserves to be appreciated and celebrated for the role it plays in our daily lives and the insight it yields for the future,” stated ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein. “Just as science flourishes from the diverse contributions of scientists, researchers, and students, the ASA grows stronger by acknowledging varied and even conflicting viewpoints from its members. We encourage the constructive and respectful engagement among our membership on topics relevant to our community.”

ASA elected leadership welcomes feedback on the ASA’s endorsement of the stated purposes of the March for Science. Send any comments via email to ASA Science Policy Director Steve Pierson.