Despite the fact that the presidential candidates will not accept the invitation extended by Science Debate 2008 for a nationally broadcast science forum in May there is ample evidence to suggest that they should: A new poll … a real poll .. indicates that 85% of US Adults agree that there should be a debate.

The poll results can be found here.

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Here is a summary of the poll:

WASHINGTON–May 12, 2008– A new poll shows that 85% of U.S. adults agree that the presidential candidates should participate in a debate on how science can be used to tackle America’s major challenges. The poll found no difference between Democrats and Republicans on this question. A majority (84%) also agree that scientific innovations are improving our standard of living.

The poll, commissioned by Research!America and ScienceDebate2008.com and conducted by Harris Interactive¬ģ, shows that 56% strongly agree and 29% somewhat agree that the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss key problems facing the United States, such as health care, climate change and energy, and how science can help tackle them.

“This topic has been virtually ignored by the candidates, but this poll shows that Americans of all walks know how important science and technology are to our health and way of life,” said Shawn Lawrence Otto, CEO of Science Debate 2008. “We’ve heard a lot about lapel pins and preachers. But tackling the big science challenges is critical to our children’s future – to the future of the country and the future of the planet. Americans want to know that candidates take these issues seriously, and the candidates have a responsibility to let voters know what they think.”

A majority of U.S. adults say that past scientific research has contributed “a great deal” or “a lot” to their quality of life today (67%) and that today’s research will continue to do so in the future (72%). When asked in what areas of their life scientific research plays the biggest role, top responses were health care (44%) and communication (20%).

“Americans see the need to invest in science now and want to hear from presidential candidates where science would stand in their administration,” said the Honorable John Edward Porter, former Congressman and chair of Research!America. “Our federal health research and science agencies have had five years of reduced spending power or modest increases. It’s time that candidates for the White House step up to say how they will address this faltering investment in our future.” Research!America and more than 30 partners have created Your Candidates–Your Health, a voter education initiative to present presidential and congressional candidates’ views on health and research at www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.

Among the most serious long-term issues facing the country, 76% rate health care the most serious, followed by alternative energy sources (69%), education (67%) and national security (61%). Issues also considered serious by a majority of U.S. adults include global economic competition (55%), poverty (53%) and climate change (53%).

“This is not a niche debate,” said Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel and one of the supporters of the Science Debate initiative. “Without the best education system and aggressive investments in basic research and development we will become a second rate economic power. We expect the candidates for president to take this very seriously.”
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Comments

  1. #1 Esteleth
    May 12, 2008

    This may seem like a silly question, but, why won’t the candidates agree to this? Have any of them given a reason why? Seeing how this idea has overwhelming support, you’d think the candidates would be all over this. Yet they aren’t, and I do not understand why.

  2. #2 Zach Miller
    May 12, 2008

    I’ll tell you why they won’t do it: Politics. The second Obama says he believes in global warming, or that ID shouldn’t be taught in our schools, or Hillary says that she likes stem cell research, they will lose HUGE numbers of voters. Granted, these are the people who shouldn’t necessarily BE voting, but there it is. Science polarizes people, the candidates realize that, and I don’t think they want to risk losing any people.

  3. #3 jim
    May 12, 2008

    I agree with Zach. In addition, I think they are probably very ignorant about science. (both parties) It is a fair debate. The debate could be structured so each candidate could have a science adviser – or more than one, but limited to some maximum. After all I don’t expect them to be versed in technical scientific details, but they should know who to go to and who represents their politiacl point of view.

  4. #4 (((BIlly)))
    May 12, 2008

    Keep in mind that about half of the people who want a debate about science by the Presedential candidates are looking for a candidate to affirm their narrow-minded theocentric beliefs in creationism and a young earth.

  5. #5 mark
    May 13, 2008

    Yesterday I heard on the radio John McCain saying how he thought global warming was a seriously important issue and action must been taken very soon. However, he’s trying to avoid completely estranging his base by suggesting that the free-market can come up with solutions.

    I don’t expect the candidates to speak on scientific issues as scientists, but what they have to say about those issues can be quite revealing. Like how Hillary Clinton said she would just ignore all those economists who say a “gasoline-tax holiday” would not be helpful; if I hear a candidate say “evolution is only a theory” I know that candidate does not have or does not listen to a science adviser. If they don’t wish to debate science issues, I think it is for 2 reasons: they prefer to pander to scientifically illiterate voters and they are unsure of the science (because of not having advisers already on the job) and are afraid of sounding like fools.