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story.lead_photo.caption Haleigh Eubanks, a Ph.D. candidate in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Science Program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, speaks at Saturday’s March for Science rally outside the state Capitol in Little Rock. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

Johnny Sain spent his childhood listening to the song of the whippoorwill, learning the difference between harmless and venomous snakes and examining "critters" that his grandfather caught for him and kept in a jar.

He didn't have a college degree or a white coat. Just his curiosity.

"I was an observer," Sain said. "Of course, I had no credentials. But I was, by the most basic definition, a scientist."

Sain, a conservationist and interim executive director of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, joined many actual scientists at the Arkansas Capitol on Saturday afternoon as part of a global rally to promote science and reason. Outdoorsmen, engineers and medical researchers were among more than 1,000 people who participated in Little Rock.

Many were protesting the policies of President Donald Trump, who has called global warming a hoax and proposed cutting the budgets of the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent and the National Institutes of Health by 18 percent. The president has proposed cuts to most federal agencies, even eliminating some, to offset an increase in defense spending and to promote private enterprise in the public sector.

Dozens of rally attendees carried signs that were critical of the Trump administration. One said "Make America Think Again," a play on Trump's campaign slogan. Another sign called for "evidence, not alternative facts."

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Nora Simmons of Conway was among those who said Trump's policies on science and the environment were concerning.

"We believe in science, and without science everything around us doesn't exist," she said. "It's important that our government understands that we don't want science funding cut and we want our environment protected."

Rally participants chanted "science not silence" as they marched west on Capitol Avenue in Little Rock.

Researchers from UAMS Medical Center and Arkansas State University at Jonesboro were among those who spoke to attendees Saturday.

The Arkansas Sierra Club, a chapter of a national conservation group, organized the march.

"Yes, science matters," said Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas Sierra Club. "But I'm not seeing that it matters enough to our elected officials and our decision makers. I'm seeing our elected leaders actively ignoring science and governing by anecdote instead of using facts and data. I've seen our elected officials actively deny that our human activities are causing the climate to warm, even though virtually every climate scientist on earth says that's what happening."

For Simmons, the march was more than political. It was personal.

She said her son was born with omphalocele, a birth defect in which a child's liver, intestines or other organs develop outside the abdominal wall.

It's a rare condition that's often fatal. But he survived.

"Without medical science," Simmons said, "he would not be alive."

Metro on 04/23/2017

Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun
People mingle Saturday after the March for Science rally on the front steps of the state Capitol in Little Rock.

Print Headline: Rally at Capitol promotes science


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Archived Comments

    April 24, 2017 at 12:23 a.m.

    Point, proven.

  • arkateacher54
    April 24, 2017 at 3:05 a.m.

    It is easy to blame teachers unions for a failing education system and thus for a decline in scientific knowledge and achievement. Let me point out that Arkansas, a state I dearly love, has virtually no teachers unions, (and NEA is considerably less influential here than it is in other states), and is consistently ranked at the bottom in educational achievement. Must be some other reason for that - duh. Like most problems, there is no one simple cause, but many complex ones. Young people today lack motivation - we have trained them to expect their needs to be met without effort on their part. The wolf is not at the door. But the wolf is out there, circling, waiting. We are preparing for disaster, and it is coming.

  • PopMom
    April 24, 2017 at 6:31 a.m.


    The public schools in Little Rock have declined. In other communities, the schools and students are better. Certain schools across the country are producing top notch students. One academy in Fayetteville is fabulous. Pulaski Academy is much better today than it was 40 years ago. I was one of the top students in the state 40 years ago, and I could not compete with the top kids today. The top graduates of today are far ahead in English, Math, and Science than I was at 18. The problem we are having as a nation is that the average and below average students are not receiving the education that they need to compete in a higher tech world. Too many Republicans want to cut funding for education, and yes, some teachers unions do care more about protecting jobs than making sure that children have the best teachers.

  • RamblinRazorWreck
    April 24, 2017 at 8:13 a.m.

    This is all well and good. We certainly need more scientists, doctors and research professional. But there seems to be some inconsistencies in this clamoring for more respect. If science wants to remain as respected as it should be: 1. Scientists need to do everything they can to prevent politicians from being their spokespeople, unless they want to end up with the same approval ratings as the politicians. 2. Scientists need to go on record with objections when media folks and politicians (from both sides) highjack their data and interpretations with nonsensical slogans like "it is settled science" (when it is clearly NOT settled), and when those outside of their area of expertise draw forced and unrealistic conclusions and use them to make policy. A few have spoken up and objected. But the sad truth is, the ones that do resist the "settled science" mantra are being marginalized and criticized for not being in lockstep with the political agenda. (see Curry, Judith)

  • mozarky2
    April 24, 2017 at 9:51 a.m.

    On the day after Earth Day's "March for Science," it seems appropriate to point to a column by University of Michigan History Professor Juan Cole in The Nation, a far-far-left publication considered a credible and authoritative go-to-source by the liberal intelligentsia. On April 18, Cole, echoing statements made during their final years by Barack Obama and his administration's officials with establishment press acquiescence, nonsensically claimed that Syria's biggest problem during the past decade has been ... carbon dioxide. Hardly. According to Cole, CO2 is "a far more deadly gas" than what was used in "the gas attack in Syria".

    Settled science, apparently. Also settled science is the fact that ARMNAR is getting stupider by the day...

  • 3WorldState1
    April 24, 2017 at 10:35 a.m.

    "Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said Monday that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011.

    The drought was the worst in the country in modern times, and in a study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists laid the blame for it on a century-long trend toward warmer and drier conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than on natural climate variability.

    The researchers said this trend matched computer simulations of how the region responds to increases in greenhouse-gas emissions, and appeared to be due to two factors: a weakening of winds that bring moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean and hotter temperatures that cause more evaporation"

    So there's that...

    The bottom line. We need to start using are head more and our gut (belief) less.
    Now, who's getting stupider?

  • LR1955
    April 24, 2017 at 10:55 a.m.

    ARMNAR says... April 23, 2017 at 6:59 p.m.
    GOP: Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock.
    Democrats: The vast preponderance of the world's scientific community.
    Not a difficult choice for a sane person to make.
    Sorry, libertas. You side with Pussygrabber McTinyhands.
    I side with smart people.
    I win.
    I showed this to one of my scientific friends last night, a liberal Democrat w/ an MD in Psychiatry. He said you're a crazy idiot ARMNAR!

  • RBear
    April 24, 2017 at 11:40 a.m.

    mozarky, really? A day focused on improvement of science and research and you follow some alt-right blogs to this history professor's claim? The only reason anyone here is even writing about it is because you read it on alt-right sites like Breitbart and News Busters and decided to pollute the comments with it as if it really means something. As I've said before, let other people do the commentary because you struggle to stay relevant.

  • RBear
    April 24, 2017 at 11:59 a.m.

    RamblinRazorWreck, your statement is almost funny to read, trying to backtrack on the information provided. You act like scientists are being "used" by politicians when in fact they are the ones using several. I do agree this is not "settled," but nothing of this magnitude is ever truly settled. It's too complex a problem to settle in a simple sound bite which is usually all anyone is capable of digesting.
    The facts are that the vast majority of scientists have agreed that global warming has been accelerated as a result of human factors. Those facts have driven a change in how we produce and consume energy. The facts are that greenhouse gases do cause an increase in climate temperature and based on simple physics has shown we will be seeing catastrophes unseen in our nation's history, albeit a brief history.
    The simple point is that these changes are inevitable, but the rate of change is not. That's the factor that most can't seem to comprehend, including yourself. Your generation will see minor changes, even though rising insurance rates and economic conditions will make them seem more than minor. But the generations to come will see even greater changes that could affect food supply, population redistribution, and defense postures.
    DoD understands this and has mapped out war game scenarios that acknowledge this. The problem is that your average American can't wrap his/her head around the problem. In other words, we are creating even more of the problem because we love to deny the truth when it doesn't suit our narrative. So be it. But don't come in here acting like a victim of being misunderstood on something as evidentiary as this.

  • Packman
    April 24, 2017 at 12:14 p.m.

    Since libs are finally willing to embrace science, does this mean we will no longer have to inundated with their demands to accept gender "re-assignment" and abortion on demand as anything less than killing a separate and distinct human being? The science of DNA is settled with regard to gender and conception. Glad to see libs finally embracing science. Bruce Jenner will always be a male. It's not just a woman's body. The science is in fact settled.