The Science Debate Project, co-founded by my friend Shawn Otto of Minnesota, has been trying to get candidates for the office of President to engage in a public debate about science. There has been resistance to that idea, but at least, Obama and Romney were willing to answer a set of questions related to science and science policy. The questions with the President’s and Romney’s answers are HERE. A press release regarding the project is here.

Romney wants to improve education by allowing parents to send their kids to charter and private schools, and he wants to fund that. He is not sure that Anthropogenic Climate Change is real or important, though he admits that the planet may actually be getting warmer. He wants to enhance innovation by reducing taxes for the rich and demanding more of lower paid workers. Obama’s position on the various issues is more well thought out, more likely to work, and more succinctly worded.

I am very disappointed that no one thought to ask the chair what it thought, but maybe later in the election season that can happen.

For all those who think, if there are any of you left, that the two main political parties in the US are the same, read this and report back.

Comments

  1. #1 MadScientist
    September 4, 2012

    Holy shit. Public funding going to private schools? And all along I’ve been telling the Australians that they should stop giving public money to private schools; if a private school can’t sustain itself as a business it should shut down.

  2. #2 sailor
    September 4, 2012

    I am little conflicted about charter schools. On average they are worse than public schools, and public schools need support. But the really good ones are way better than public school, especially for poor minorities and these schools can teach us things about education.
    That said, no public money should go to a religious institution.
    Obama said:
    “Since I took office, the U.S. is importing an average of 3 million fewer barrels of oil every day, and our dependence on foreign oil is at a 20-year low.”
    I think this is mainly due to natural gas being exploited and so special effort from his administration, though i like what he is doing for green energy

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    September 4, 2012

    I wonder how the small numer of “better” charter schools compares to magnet schools.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    September 4, 2012

    Oh, and I just realized today (though I sort of already knew this) that many public schools have their teachers do hall monitor duty. Overqualified, reasonably well paid and otherwise very busy teachers. A simple improvement in education, and a shovel ready project, would be to fund auxiliary staff for public schools, so paras, hall monitors, and special ed teachers (who are all going to get mad at me now for calling them auxiliary) could be added to the payroll of public schools across the country.

  5. #5 Ian Kemmish
    September 5, 2012

    “Obama’s position on the various issues is more well thought out, more likely to work, and more succinctly worded.”

    Not a sentence one would ever expect to see a self-proclaimed “sceptic” write without quite considerable qualification. If your goal is to portray Democrats in a favourable light, I’d say you’ve failed hideously – at least to a nasty pinko foreigner deviated prevert like me.

    I followed the link to the questions and answers, but I’m afraid I fell off my chair laughing at the Thomas Jefferson quotation. I can’t quite decide whether it shows extreme naïvety or extreme cynicism on his part!…

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2012

    Ian,thanks for your comment. Which office did you successfully run for again, I can’t remember?

  7. #7 sailor
    September 5, 2012

    That is the first I have ever heard of Magnet schools.
    The results I am talking about are some charter schools getting college acceptance at a much higher rate than public. They do have a problem though, the schools are very supportive and catch the pupils if they start to fall, but the kids come from poor homes where the parents are not necessarily tat supportive of college eduction, not do thy have the wherewithal to pay for it. As a result they have a much higher drop out rate in college than other students.

  8. #8 George Mueller
    PA
    September 5, 2012

    Both candidates responded mainly with generalizations, although Romney did have some specifics.

    One serious problem related to energy that neither addresses- it is stupid beyond belief to turn food into ethanol. This dumb policy is killing people already by raising food prices, in the name of “sustainable energy”. Similar problems affect all the so-called sustainable energy efforts. They are only sustainable with huge subsidies. I thank you all for subsidizing my solar panels. It turned it from a personal idiosyncrasy(I hate uncontrolled electric bills) to an investment paying nearly 8% and has zeroed out our electric bills.

    On another eco note, if you pick up a bald eagle feather you commit a felony. Native Americans have gone to jail for this repairing traditional headdresses. But, windmill energy is killing thousands of birds, including over 1000/yr of bald and golden eagles. The fine for a feather is something like $10,000 each. Apply that to wind energy and it would be out of business tomorrow.

    We’ve seen how President Obama’s sustainable energy and green initatives have turned out. We can’t afford any more.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2012

    George, almost everything you say is either incorrect or misstated somehow. For those just tuning in, this is the standard anti-green libertarian argument, which is funny to watch because suddenly right winger have become bird-huggers.

    Everyone is, of course, concerned about the bird-wind turbine problem, of course, but the science is way behind (so it is very hard to state clear facts). On the other hand, there is some promising research.

  10. #10 travc
    September 5, 2012

    The wind-turbine bird-kill problem certainly exists, but the numbers people throw around are insanely misleading. One of the first big wind-farms (relatively small turbines) was built directly in the choke point of a migratory route. I forget exactly where this is… but google should give massive amounts of details.

    Larger turbines not sited in the middle of migratory flyways have pretty low bird-kill rates. A cat is far far worse than a wind-turbine you’re concerned about birds meeting untimely deaths.

  11. #11 Rick Pikul
    September 6, 2012

    The way I always describe that 30 year old California wind farm is: They used small diameter/high RPM turbines, mounted on latticework towers and placed it in a bird sanctuary.

    This one wind farm accounts for the majority of bird deaths from wind turbines.

  12. #12 ron
    September 6, 2012

    Both candidates want to pick winners and losers, use force to take money and redistribute it to the favored projects / corporations. Too many resources using scientists for military projects.

    The nation is bankrupt, friends. Promising additional spending is pandering.
    The govt is in the way of innovation because they create mal-investment. Neither of these guys will change that.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    September 6, 2012

    Rick: And I believe the number of golden eagles killed there is in the dozens, not thousands. Tragic, and maybe fixable.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    September 6, 2012

    tavc: Yes, cats take way more birds on average. I wonder if somehow these two problems can be combined to cancel each other out ….