Science matters. It’s hard to make good decisions in today’s world that aren’t somehow informed by sound science — especially if you’re the head of state of a country like the USA.
This means that it’s important to know where the people lined up to get the job of President of the United States stand on science. Those of us deciding how to vote could use this information, and even you folks who are subject to US foreign policy have a significant interest in knowing what you’ll be in for.
There ought to be a presidential debate focused on science and technology before the 2008 election. It’s not just the bloggers who think so, either. A bunch of serious scientists support the idea, too.
Here are some big things I want to know about where presidential candidates stand on science — the kinds of questions a science and technology debate might put on the table:
- Do you see high quality science education — from the primary grades through the university level — as a priority? If so, who are you looking to for advice about what exactly counts as a quality science education? If not, why not?
- What role do you think scientific findings should play in public policy debates?
- What role do you think the public should play in shaping scientific priorities (or in shaping the allocation of public monies to scientific research)?
- How should public interests and corporate interests be balanced in setting research priorities? How should public interests and corporate interests be balanced in oversight and regulation of scientific research?
- Given that much scientific research is supported with public monies, what kind of steps do you think should be taken to ensure that the public can access and/or benefit from the knowledge that comes out of this research?
- Should the federal government be committed to supporting basic research? Why or why not?
- Are you prepared to let government scientists present the facts as they see them, both to your administration and to the public?
- If sound scientific research were to demonstrate that one of your policy initiatives couldn’t work (or couldn’t work without tremendous cost in terms of money, health risk, negative environmental impact, etc.), what would you do?
If you have questions about science and technology that you think the presidential candidates should address, feel free to leave them in the comments.