Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama and McCain on science

The Los Angeles Times noted:

Science Debate 2008 -- an effort spearheaded by half a dozen voters concerned about the state of American science -- posed 14 questions to the major parties' presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

The queries were culled from more than 3,400 suggestions offered by 38,000 contributors, including Nobel laureates, university presidents, government officials and professional organizations.

The answers are available at

Stem cells shows up in question 8, but you won't find patents anywhere:

Stem cell research advocates say it may successfully lead to treatments for many chronic diseases and injuries, saving lives, but opponents argue that using embryos as a source for stem cells destroys human life. What is your position on government regulation and funding of stem cell research?

Scientific integrity showed up in question 12:

Many government scientists report political interference in their job. Is it acceptable for elected officials to hold back or alter scientific reports if they conflict with their own views, and how will you balance scientific information with politics and personal beliefs in your decision-making?

Bob Park noted the platitudiness nature of the responses:

Unable to arrange a face-to-face debate between Obama and McCain on science issues, the dedicated team at Science Debate 2008 asked for written responses to 14 questions. The 35 pages of staff-written responses they got back served only to make it clear why a face-to-face debate was needed; it would have had a time limit. I would wager the candidates didn't even have time to read their responses. Maybe it should have been multiple-choice questions, or even true-false. We thank the organizers for seeing it through, but the answers didn't "restore science and innovation to America's political dialogue" as we all had hoped.


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