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There has always been tension between scientists whose discoveries challenge widely held beliefs and the prevailing dogma. One has only to think of Galileo Galilei and his battles with the Roman Inquisition in the early 1600s through his championing of heliocentrism and Charles Darwin in the latter half of the 19th century with his advancement of evolutionary science, which is still controversial in some circles.

Galileo Galilei

Portrait by Giusto Sustermans

Justus Sustermans via Wikimedia Commons

Charles Darwin

Darwin, c. 1854 when he was working towards publication of On the Origin of Species

Henry Maull (1829–1914) and John Fox (1832–1907) (Maull & Fox) [2] derivative work: Beao via Wikimedia Commons

In recent years there has been a rise of anti-intellectualism and rejection of carefully researched science and technology by some in powerful positions, with the result that public health and the sustainability of the earth’s ecosystems are threatened (e.g., see the sampling of articles below).

Various organizations have arisen as scientists have become more active in promoting the value of scientific evidence in the development of public policy. In Canada this includes Evidence for Democracy and in the United States the March for Science.

For the sake of current and future generations it is critical that evidence-based decision-making inform all policies and legislation throughout our interdependent world, and democracies must play a leading role in ensuring that this happens.