Science for the People

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Science for the People is a left-wing organization that emerged from the antiwar culture of the United States in the 1970s. There have been various attempts to revive the group in different forms, including one effort in 2002 and another that has emerged since 2014.

The original group was composed of professors, students, workers, and other concerned citizens who sought to end potential oppression brought on by pseudoscience, or by what it considered the misuse of science. Science for the People generated much controversy in the 1970s for the radical tactics of some of its members. Herb Fox, one of its founding members, wrote:

I was a founder in 1969-70 of Science for the People. It originated in the coming together of the then one-year-old Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action (SESPA) and a group of Harvard and MIT students who had been invited to participate in a session of the AAAS annual meeting. SESPA itself was formed in the aftermath of a struggle in the American Physical Society led by Charlie Schwartz and Martin Perl and others to get the APS to take a stand against the Vietnam war. SftP's disruptive tactics at the AAAS meeting and at many scientific meetings thereafter increased its exposure and the participation of the younger and more militant among scientists and science students. The first issue of Science for the People (1970) was produced and edited by me with a comrade who is now my wife. Subsequent issues were produced by ever changing editorial collectives. Over its first few years differing views arose on what SftP should be. One group wanted Science for the People to assume a supportive role in the class struggle with special attention to the issues of science. Another group wanted to work towards 'A Science for the People.' Most wanted to be the voice of critical consciousness from within the scientific community exposing science against the people and the dangers of the misuse of science. The struggle was painful and disruptive and not carried on with great clarity. Eventually those who were more interested in third world and workers struggles etc. than in science itself left the organization. Over the ensuing years the organization became primarily identified with its magazine which became an outlet for critical discussion of the misuse of science. In the process it became identified with well-known critical academic scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin.[1]

Criticism of Sociobiology[edit]

Biologists within Science for the People were highly critical of Sociobiology both because of objectionable premises to the organization of the discipline and for the implications of using Sociobiology to support racism, capitalism, and imperialism.[2] E. O. Wilson, a biologist and entomology professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University wrote that "the political objections forcefully made by the Sociobiology Study Group of Science for the People in particular took me by surprise."[3]

2014-: Science for the People Revitalization[edit]

Since Fall 2014, an effort to revive and reorganize Science for the People emerged out of the 2014 conference.[2] Inspired by the original 1970s-1980s group, the new formation has dedicated itself to building a social movement around progressive and radical perspectives on science and society.[4]

Local Science for the People chapters have been formed at some universities and in metropolitan areas:[5]

  • MIT
  • University of Michigan
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Atlanta (Emory/Georgia Tech)
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e "Science for the People: The 1970s and Today". Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 18, 2006. Retrieved June 17, 2006. 
  4. ^ "Science for the People organization website". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  5. ^ "About SftP". Science for the People. 2016-07-06. Retrieved 2017-03-13. 
  6. ^ a b c Chakradhar, Shraddha. "Science, for the People". Harvard Medical School. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Beckwith, Jon (2002). Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science. Harvard University Press. p. 89. 

External links[edit]