In a "joint statement", the scientific-mathematical societies welcome all efforts to promote the dissemination of scientific findings. They appreciate the initiative and aim of "Plan S" to realise the framework for the transition to Open Access. From the point of view of the societies, however, a careful, unhurried discussion about the consequences and the advantages and disadvantages of Plan S is urgently needed.
On 14 April 2018, the second March for Science will bring thousands of people – not only scientists – out onto the streets of many German cities to demonstrate for science.
Under the slogan “Science Bridges Cultures“, the five scientific-mathematical societies – the Association of Geosciences DVGeo, the German Mathematical Society DMV, the German Physical Society DPG, the German Chemical Society GDCh and the German Life Science Association VBIO – are calling on their more than 130,000 members to join the March for Science 2018.
Together, the five scientific societies want to send the clear message that exact and meticulous sciences are essential for modern society and that scientific facts and insights may not be distorted to serve populist ends. Freedom of research and teaching as well as freedom of opinion must be upheld. Scientific facts may neither be denied, relativized, nor presented as equivalent to “alternative facts”. When scientific findings, such as man-made climate change, are being played down and initiatives to combat global warming are discontinued or cut back, the lives of millions of people are threatened in the medium term.
Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, President of the German Physical Society, stresses, “Physics is a prime example of an empirical science that always uses experiments in order to confirm, modify, or disprove and discard a theory. To be able to classify theories in this way, we need a scientific discourse that is led freely and with rational arguments.” “Scientific facts constitute the essential basis for political and social debates,” adds Professor Bernd Müller-Röber, President of the German Life Science Association. “We reject any attempts to replace evidence-based statements with ‘alternative’ facts.”
Science is international and thrives on cross-border cooperation.
This means that free exchange between scientists of all nationalities must not be restricted. “The VBIO criticizes any attempts to restrict the freedom of research and teaching and to obstruct free exchange between scientists across national borders,” says VBIO-President Müller-Röber. Professor Martin Meschede, President of the Association of Geosciences, emphasizes, “Geoscience is first and foremost a science that knows no borders. Geoscientific facts do not stop at national boundaries. Free and independent exchange of scientific insight is indispensable for any geoscientist.”
A strong signal for science
The five major mathematical-scientific societies want to send a clear signal that scientific facts are not negotiable as a foundation for societal discourse. DMV President Professor Michael Röckner says, “The German Mathematical Society is taking a strong stand against the falsification of scientific truth. We advocate a border-free exchange of scientific ideas. All involved must be able to conduct research and travel freely.” When research findings and scientific insights are presented as just one opinion amongst many, they lose their significance, and science will ultimately forfeit the very basis of its existence. Scientific truth must always remain the major benchmark - also, and especially, when it is unpleasant. Dr Matthias Urmann, President of the German Chemical Association, draws attention to the chemists’ self-obligation: “The code of conduct that is part of our statutes obliges every member to stand up for freedom, tolerance, and truthfulness in science. As we create, apply, and share chemical knowledge, we are committed to the truth. We are therefore unable to condone scientific insight being denied or replaced by ‘alternative facts’.”
As a visible symbol of many scientists’ commitment to these values, the five scientific-mathematical societies have designed a badge bearing the slogan “Science bridges cultures”. The societies are calling on their more than 130,000-strong membership to join the forthcoming March for Science, which will be held on 14 April 2018 and feature rallies across the country.
For more information on joint activities by the five societies, visit www.wissenschaft-verbindet.de.