Democrats in Congress have put forth a proposal to have February 12 recognized as “Darwin Day,” in honor of Charles Darwin, on his birthday. The article explains the history behind the proposed legislation.
l personally support this legislation, but maybe not for the expected reasons. Charles Darwin, being a name that is already recognized by the public, is a good representative for the basic research cause. But the day should not be about him. Darwin Day would represent an opportunity for the country to focus on the importance of basic science research, and see that the government recognizes its importance and supports it. Basic science frankly has a bad reputation with the general public, because its results are not immediately beneficial to the population. In time, however, it is only basic science discoveries that can be expanded upon and translated to forms that can directly help people. Darwin Day could be a great chance for the basic science community to get some positive publicity and explain this to the public. It’s something that is sorely lacking in the US media. Anti-science beliefs, such as the anti-vaccine movement and Creationism, get media coverage constantly, and seemingly without much effort, while the science community is struggling to be heard. This in turn makes it difficult for scientists to continue their work, because a lack of public support for research equates to a lack of funding for labs. So I support this piece of legislation, because I support science. Hopefully Rep. Holt and his colleagues are able to get it passed. In the longer run, I think it has the potential to make an enormous difference in the way basic science is viewed and treated in this country.