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Sheril Kirshenbaum and Chris Mooney have been promising something for a week, teasing us with tantalizing hints about something big. We were told to read Chris’ article Dr.President, and then this morning another article, Science and the Candidates by Lawrence Krauss.

Finally, today a little before 2pm EST, we got the idea what it was going to be and at 2, they posted their Call for a Presidential Science Debate on their blog, as well as invited everyone to the brand new Facebook group of the same title.

They have started an initiative to organize a debate for the U.S Presidential candidates on the topics of science, medicine, environment and technology. They got the support of a large number of top scientists, as well as journalists, science writers and elected officials, not to mention the ever-growing list of bloggers from all parts of the political spectrum.

While many of the policy topics that have been covered in speeches and other debates touch on science here and there, I am only aware of my Exclusive Interview with Senator John Edwards on Science-Related Topics as the only science-focused dialogue with any of the current candidates of either party. Yet, that was early in the process, at the time when they were just starting to come out with specific policy proposals. We can ask for much more specifics at this time in the cycle.

Some of the most pressing issues of the day are strongly dependent on the understanding of the underlying scientific findings, most importantly Global Warming. One’s stand on other issues, e.g., stem cells or evolution, is a pretty good indication of the person’s understanding of the world and how science studies it.

Of course, many details still have to ironed out. When would the debate be? Iowa caucus is in three weeks and the candidates’ schedules are packed to the minute. Perhaps later in the primaries (although there is a danger that it can all be over by early February in one or both parties)? Or during the general election? Would all candidates be asked in two debates (one Dem one Rep), or just the two final nominees? Then there is the question of Where? Which venue, or perhaps entirely online? Who would choose the questions? Who would ask them?

Just the response by the candidates to this invitation is an indicator of their seriousness about the job they are vying for.

Then, there is the question of how do we make sure it does not turn into a science pop-quiz? After all, the candidates are not scientists and need not know the details of stem cell research or to explain the hockey stick, as much as it would be nice if they could.

What we primarily want is to gauge their relationship with reality – will they govern using the best available information about the way the world really works, or will they govern by gut-sense and spiritual inspiration, or will they govern by immediate economic considerations only?

So, I think the questions should revolve around three general themes, while the specific topics (global warming, evolution, energy, space program, etc.) could be used as test-cases and examples of their thinking, their ways of demonstrating that their policy-making procedure will include correct science in a correct way:

Funding – what are the priorities, how much money is dedicated to research, who pays, who receives, who decides? Basic vs. applied science; science vs. technology.

Information – freedom of information, copyright, open source, open access, who owns and controls the information? How do they define “sound science”? What is the role of universities? What is taught in public schools?

Authority – what is scientific authority, who has it, who decides? How does governing rely on scientific authority? What considerations can be allowed to dilute the policy based on empirical information about the way the world works? Role of the WH science advisor, congressional Office of Technology Assessment, National Academy of Science?

For other people’s thoughts on this proposal, check out the early-bird bloggers, those who posted immediately after the 2pm announcement – and later check your Google or Technorati for additional responses:

Science Debate 08
Questions for the presidential candidates: where do you stand on science?
Let’s have a debate on science policy
Science Debate 2008
Science Debate 2008
Presidential Debates: The Future of Science in America
Call for a Science Debate
A Call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology
Science Debate!
Rattling the Presidential Science Debate Cage
Lets hear the candidates debate their solutions for global warming
Let’s Have a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology
Presidential Science Debate
The Great Science Debate
A call for a debate
A Great Idea: A Science and Technology Policy Debate
A Call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology
Presidential debates with an extra helping of science
A presidential science debate?
Science Debate 2008 — Do We Need It?
Let’s make a date for a debate
We Want a Presidential Science Debate
A Call for a Science Debate
ScienceDebate2008
It Is Time For A Presidential Debate On Science
We Want a Presidential Debate on Science!
Wait a Minute… Why Isn’t There a Sci/Tech Specific Debate for the Presidential Candidates?
Science Debate 2008
Sciencedebate 2008
Shouldn’t the presidential candidates have a debate on science?!
Sciencedebate 2008
Presidential debate focused on science & technology
Should there be a Presidential Debate about Science?
Let’s have a presidential science debate!
A presidential debate about science
Science Debate 08
Sciencedebate 2008
Science Debate 2008 – Just Say ‘Yes!’
A Science-Only Debate For the 2008 Presidential Candidates?
ScienceDebate2008
Looking ahead in political science
In This Evening’s Debate We Will Be Focusing on Science
You Want the Presidency? Let’s Talk Some Science.
Science Debate
Do Politicians Understand Science at All?
Dispatches from the Emerging Technoprogressive Mainstream
Calling for a science debate
Presidential Candidate’s Science, Technology, and Energy Positions
Call for a Presidential Science Debate
Better Smart than Dumb
Group calls for presidential science debate
A matter of debate
Science Debate 2008
Call for a Presidential Science Debate
The Unforgiving Nature of Objective Reality
Since we don’t have a science blog…
Let’s Have Them Debate Science Before They End It
Join the Debate
Uncommon Ground
Science debate 2008
Political Science
Science Debate 2008
Science Debate 2008
SCIENCE DEBATE
A Call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology
Presidential Science Debate?
Science Debate 2008
Sciencedebate 2008
Si los políticos debatieran sobre ciencia
Citizen Scientists
Political Issues and the Science Lobby
Krauss joins top scientists in call for special presidential debate
Debates Worth Having
Presidential Science Debate One More Time
Bali, Global Warming in the Midwest, a Science Debate and More
A good idea whose time has come
We Need A Presidential Debate On Science!
Science Debate 2008, and Krauss on Science and the Presidential Campaign
Undecided…
Znanost v ameriški predvolilni tekmi
Science debate 2008
Sciencedebate2008
A Call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology
Sciencedebate 2008
Presidential Science Debate?
Science Debate?
Let’s get the politicians talking about science
A science debate, not a science exam
Support the push for a Sci/Tech Presidential Debate in ’08
A solution to the stem cell restrictions
Science and the Presidential candidates
Think outside Schrodinger’s box
Support the push for a Sci/Tech Presidential Debate in ’08
Let the candidates debate science!
Science Debate 2008
Time for a Presidential Science Debate
Science Debate 2008
Science Debate: It’s about time!
EnviroHealth in Blogs: Calling all candidates!
Science Debate 2008: Shockwave in the Blogosphere
Krauss and Mooney in LA Times
Would it be better to drop ‘Science’ and use the c-word instead?
A REAL Debate
Best Science Rant
Make science part of the debate
Science is Life
Call for Presidential Science Debate
A Call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology Policy
Chapman and Kirshenbaum on HuffingtonPost
Make science part of the 2008 Presidential debate
Science Debate 2008
Debating Science and Technology
Presidential debating points: How about science and technology?
The Huffington Post
It Is Time For A Presidential Debate On Science – Part II
More on the Call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology Policy
Republicans talk climate change (maybe) – and a call for real science debate
Presidential Science Debate
Science Debate 2008
Science Debate 2008
ScienceDebate2008: What Is It?
Should the Presidential Candidates Have A Debate on Science & Technology?
Nobel Laureates and Bill Nye, the Science Guy Ask for Presidential Debate on Science
Science Debate 2008
Edwards Interview On Science
More Bora – Science Debate 2008
The Third Leg of the Triangle
Science Debate
Science Debate 2008
Idiocy all around
Let’s have a presidential debate on science
Science Debate is a Great Concept
Do We Need a Presidential Debate on Science?
Wissenschaft und die Prasidentschaftswahl in den USA
No, I really do think we need a science debate
I’m on the Fence Regarding Sciencedebate 2008
ScienceDebate2008–The Latest
Science Debate 2008
Republicans talk climate change (maybe) – and a call for real science debate
More on Science Debate 2008
Given my love of science
Science Debate 2008
More on the science debate
A Presidential Debate On Science?
Lets Talk Science
Sciencedebate 2008
ScienceDebate2008 — It’s about time
A refreshing idea
Scientists Push Presidential Candidates for Positions on Science
Commentary: A science-literate president, please
Sciencedebate 2008
More on the Science Debate
Nobel Winners Call for ‘Science Debate’, Candidates Spar Over Jesus-Lucifer Link
Let the states decide!
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #1: Scientific Advice to the President
Is Science Debatable?
ScienceDebate2008
Sciencedebate 2008
Scientists Push Presidential Candidates for Positions on Science
Friday Blog Roundup
Science Debate 2008
Support presidential debates and discussions on science issues
Sciencedebate 2008
[PRESIDENTIAL] SCIENCE DEBATE 2008: CAN WE TALK ABOUT ISSUES NOW?
Presidential Science Debate
Science Debate!
Open Science Thread
This is a waste of time and effort
Please Support A Presidential Candidate Science Debate 2008
A Sound Debate on Science …
Science Debate 2008. A great idea, but is it plausible?
Sciencedebate2008 – It’s time!
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #2: Science Funding
Flip-Floppers
Science Intrudes on Baptist vs. Morman GOP Race
Sciencedebate 2008
Milano-Torino andata e ritorno
Science Debate 2008!
December 14 News Items
Letter to Ben (and Everyone Else)
Science Debate 2008
Exploration, Discovery—Solutions
Science Debate
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #3: Global Warming
Science Debate 2008
ScienceDebate2008: In Search of a Science-literate Leader
Science and the presidential debates
Science Debate 2008
Science Debate 2008
War on Science
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #4: Who has Scientific Authority?
A Canadian lesson for Science Debate ’08: Integrity trumps science literacy
Waxing Political
Culling them out!
Shawn Lawrence Otto on the Science Debate
Time for a Science Debate
ScienceDebate2008: Twelfth Nobel Laureate, Second University President, First GOP Governor, and Jamie Thompson
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #5: Food

Comments

  1. #2 Reena
    January 5, 2008

    Its very interesting to know about science and politics.

  2. #3 Trinifar
    January 13, 2008

    trackback: http://trinifar.wordpress.com/2008/01/13/a-quessing-game/

    BTW great roundup — as usual!