The Intersection

For months, everyone has been asking us–on and off the blogosphere–when will there be an invitation for ScienceDebate 2008? Well, that day has come. See here for the press release (featuring Intel chairman Craig Barrett, who just joined the initiative), and here for the actual invite.

The latter is quite long, so here are the essentials you need to know. ScienceDebate2008 is now co-sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academies, and the Council on Competitiveness. We were looking at venues, and finally settled on an offer from the Philadelphia-based Franklin Institute–named, of course, after one of this country’s first and greatest scientists. We can’t think of a more appropriate venue.

Our proposed date is April 18, 2008, which is just before the Pennyslvania primary. So any candidate who agrees to come to the event will stand the chance of improving his or her showing in this critical state.

The candidates we’ve invited are (in alphabetical order): Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, and Barack Obama.

So now what? Well, we’ve got to make this happen. We owe it to the thousands who have signed up in support of this initiative. We’ve got to make the candidates agree to debate.

That’s why we’re now calling you to action… readers, bloggers, scientists, and concerned citizens. What can you do? Well, consider the following:

1. Contact the campaigns, and tell them to attend ScienceDebate2008! A list of contact information for the campaigns can be found here (see right margin).

2. Write letters to the editor of your local newspapers, raising further awareness about this initiative. Some handy letter writing tips can be found here.

3. Tell a friend about ScienceDebate2008 (handy link here). We need to spread the word as much as possible at this critical time. We’re at 13,000 supporters right now; we want to get to 15,000 supporters by the end of the week and 20,000 supporters by the end of the month. We need your help to make that happen.

The bottom line is this, folks: We’re soooooooooo close to making the impossible happen. Indeed, it is staggering how far we have come in just two months.

Now, though, we need your help to get us across the finish line. So please, please, contact your friends, and contact the campaigns, and become part of the incredible momentum that’s building for the first official presidential science debate.

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Comments

  1. #1 Abel Pharmboy
    February 11, 2008

    Fabulous news! Continuing thanks for your hard work on this. We’ll get on it.

  2. #2 Gene Goldring
    February 11, 2008

    This is great! Is it possible to extend an invitation to Steven Harper?

  3. #3 Fred Bortz
    February 11, 2008

    I’m blogging about it.

    Click my name.

    P.S. to Gene: Canadians should have their own science debate. If the worst global warming scenarios come to pass, they’ll start sounding like U.S. immigration demagogues when it comes to an influx across their southern border :)

  4. #4 Wes Rolley
    February 11, 2008

    I still continue to support the idea, as I did at OpEd News, but I am beginning to have doubts unless we really ramp up the pressure through the campaigns at all levels.

    This week, the MSM was reporting the Clinton campaign wanted to have 6 debates with the intention of making sure she won in Ohio and Texas and the assumption that she would continue to do better in debates that Obama. However, the Obama campaign had only agreed to do 2, and I believe that they are scheduled.

    As you mentioned, the last primary for the Democrats (unless they relent on Michigan and Florida) is April 22 in Pennsylvania and it looks like their race will continue at least that long. Holding this debate in Philadelphia is a good move for that reason alone.

    We need not only to put pressure on the candidates to do this, but also to put pressure on the mainstream media to care about it. If the NY Times and Washington Post, along with the Philadelphia Enquirer were to start questioning the campaigns about why they were ducking out, if Chris Matthews made it an issue on Hardball, etc. we might begin to see movement.

    If this fails, then we are all somewhat responsible.

  5. #5 SLC
    February 11, 2008

    We apparently are finally starting to attract some attention in at least a part of the mainstream media. Attached is a link to an article in Business Week.

    http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/feb2008/db2008028_503873.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_businessweek+exclusives

    This is a start but publicity on the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, CBS News, CNN, etc. would put greater pressure on the candidates to agree.

  6. #6 tim
    February 11, 2008

    what about Ron Paul?

  7. #7 Ken
    February 11, 2008

    it sure would be nice if we can have Dr. Paul in this debate. He adds flavor to all of them. He is still a candidate and should be invited to participate as well.

    In case you are wondering, the rumors are not true. He never did drop out. He’s still in.

  8. #8 www.actionforspace.com
    February 11, 2008

    With enough people signing the debate petition, we can give science a boost at the beginning of the next presidents campaign.

    The link to the contact information for the campaigns is off. The correct link is http://www.actionforspace.com

    Make a difference! Speak your mind!

  9. #9 Shawn
    February 11, 2008

    You forgot to invite Ron Paul!

  10. #10 Fab
    February 11, 2008

    You didn’t invite the Democratic candidate Mike Gravel or the Republican candidate Ron Paul.

    This Science Debate sounds like it can just be clumped together in the mess of pointless talking. You really think you are going to hear issues from these people? They’re just trying to figure out what the best thing to say is.

  11. #11 Roger
    February 11, 2008

    no Ron Paul?

  12. #12 Chris C. Mooney
    February 11, 2008

    Folks, this is all explained in the invite:

    “The following invitation was sent to the viable candidates for president as of February 7, 2008. “Viable candidates” is defined as candidates who have a mathematical chance of becoming president, and who show a minimum 15% support level in the most recent national poll averages as published by RealClearPolitics.com. If at the time of the debate an invited candidate has withdrawn or is no longer viable by the above definition, they will not participate. If a new viable candidate emerges before the debate, he or she will be invited. The invitation was therefore sent to the following candidates (in alphabetical order): Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, and Barack Obama.”

  13. #13 Adam M
    February 11, 2008

    Your explanation sucks.

    Ron received over 20% of the vote in Washington.

  14. #14 Robert Vann
    February 11, 2008

    While it is understandable that you are attempting to minimize the chaos that could go on in a broad spectrum science debate, it is lamentable that you choose to overlook the roles that both the media and the political process itself (specifically delegate conventions) play in determining our next President of the United States. While the media has played a significant role in supporting certain candidates as viable and in shaping public opinion thusly, delegate conventions have a huge opportunity to propel candidates such as Congressman Ron Paul forward. Let us not forget that even Abraham Lincoln at one point went to a national convention with fewer than 10% of the delegates, only to be elected President a short time later.

    For what it is worth, Congressman Paul is a doctor (medical science) with wide-ranging support in the technology and science sectors. Given that he has stated for the record his intentions to remain in the Presidential race through the National GOP Convention, it seems disrespectful to not include his unique perspectives on the issues that will shape American policies and national scientific inquiry for at least a generation.

    Through increased diversity of opinion — no matter the result of the election — all Americans win.

  15. #15 DarkSyde
    February 11, 2008

    I can understand the disappointment if someone’s fave candidate did not clear the stated hurdles. But the hurdles are clearly defined and politically neutral. Plus they sound reasonable. That’s about as fair as it can be imo.

  16. #16 Rich
    February 11, 2008

    What about Ron Paul? He does really well in this demographic, and is doing quite well, especially considering the lack of media attention he is receiving…

  17. #17 Mark
    February 11, 2008

    I can’t believe you are still using polls to define viability when we have actual Primary and Caucus results. Dr. Paul does have a mathematical chance of winning, and he has gotten above 20% in some primaries and caucuses, he has a number of 2nd place wins as well.

    the debate won’t be much of a debate without Ron Paul… just a couple Yes men, fighting over who has the worst record and scandals.

    Disappointing, very disappointing.

  18. #18 Tony
    February 11, 2008

    As a former research scientist, and now current medical doctor, I find your reason for not including Congressman Ron Paul laughable as well as full of contempt.

  19. #19 Mark
    February 11, 2008

    btw, I bet you could sign up TONS of support if you got an invite shot out to the Congressman (Ron Paul that is). His grassroots network would be a huge boost to your ground troops ;-)

    Never the less, if you think he’s not “viable” then I’m sure there are a many people interested in your debate who won’t support it because it is not “viable” due to it’s lack of Ron Paul.

    I’d be glad to get the ball rolling in my neck of the woods as soon as there’s a confirmed invitation to Dr. Paul ;-)

  20. #20 Shane Gaddy
    February 11, 2008

    Include Ron Paul in the debate. He deserves a chance to speak! I don’t understand the censorship of the media. Ron Paul ’08!

  21. #21 Rob J
    February 11, 2008

    The goal of Science is the search for truth. Truth in science can not be applied with ignorance of facts or the exclusion of data.

    With out truth in science you only have belief not facts.

    I’m seeing a scientific group of people excluding data and ignoring outcome. Speaks highly of your abilities in your work.

    Include Dr. Paul. The only true science candidate.

  22. #22 Erin
    February 11, 2008

    Wow, no Ron Paul. He is the only candidate that by the end of the day you will know where he stands. The rest will just blather on about whatever is popular to get your vote. Be nice to have a straight talking voice in the crowd who would bring up issues that the other candidates will ignore.
    Also be nice to have the only candidate who does not believe in regulating the scientific sector of the market.

  23. #23 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    February 11, 2008

    By law we have to set an objective measurable standard. We didn’t write the law and we don’t do the polling, and we selected realclearpolitics because it’s not just one poll – we rely on an average of many polls, so it’s unbiased. If Ron Paul and other candidates gain past our threshold, they’ll very gladly be invited. But it’s up to them to earn the support.

  24. #24 RPM
    February 11, 2008

    You should invite Ron Paul just so he and Huckabee can compete to see who is the most ignorant regarding evolution. Ron Paul is a typical anti-science republican candidate. Just because he’s a fiscal conservative does not mean he differs from the other republicans on other issues.

    And Huckabee only has a chance if miracles trump math.

  25. #25 Dr. No
    February 11, 2008

    Lame excuses Sheril and Chris.

    Put this in perspective… you’re talking about adding ONE person to the debate. Big freakin’ deal.

    This glaring oversight only hurts your credibility.

  26. #26 V
    February 11, 2008

    Ron Paul is a doctor who has more understanding than any of the other candidates. You can exclude the man and his campaign but you cannot stop his message, because behind the Dr. is not a politcal machine but rather an Idea, and Ideas are bullet proof.

  27. #27 Agora
    February 11, 2008

    1st rule of science is a search for a truth, but where is the truth in your SCIENCE Debate? I can’t see it! Where is Ron Paul? You want to identify yourself with yet another propaganda tool? Not a honorable title to bear.
    I hope you’ll find the courage and admit that Earth is moving.
    Greetings from Croatia!

  28. #28 Valeria Román
    February 11, 2008

    Dear Christ,
    I am a science journalist for Clarin Newspaper, Argentina.
    I would like to talk with you by e-mail.
    Thanks,
    Valeria

  29. #29 Steve
    February 11, 2008

    “btw, I bet you could sign up TONS of support if you got an invite shot out to the Congressman (Ron Paul that is).”

    I don’t think they want the support of a bunch of internet spammers.

    “Put this in perspective… you’re talking about adding ONE person to the debate. Big freakin’ deal.”

    Put this in perspective.. If they add one person that doesn’t meet the criteria they would have to add everyone.

    “You can exclude the man and his campaign but you cannot stop his message, because behind the Dr. is not a politcal machine but rather an Idea, and Ideas are bullet proof.”

    Does this even mean anything?

    “I don’t understand the censorship of the media. Ron Paul ’08!”

    Yeah a couple of bloggers trying to draw attention to science are the evil censoring media.

  30. #30 MarkUK
    February 11, 2008

    I say vote for the candidate who will provide free tissues to the Ron Paul supporters. Guys, he’s not going to win the presidency. You can like him, but he ain’t moving into the oval office. Anybody home?

  31. #31 Rachel
    February 11, 2008

    DR. Ron Paul actually studied science, at Duke University Medical School. Sure, his poll numbers may suck, but you actually have a science professional running for President. Maybe you could make an exception, you know, in the interest of science.

    Besides, since when was polling all that scientific?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If9EWDB_zK4

  32. #32 David Bruggeman
    February 11, 2008

    Why one event for all the candidates? Separate events for the candidates from each party would provide more opportunity for discussion (assuming the candidates take it).

  33. #33 Homer Thompson
    February 11, 2008

    ScienceDebate leaves out the doctor. Weird.

  34. #34 Tuatara
    February 11, 2008

    Someone please give three good reasons why Ron Paul is not a total joke. Is it true that he would eliminate the IRS if he became president? No IRS = no funding for basic science = no base for our technologically driven economy = no common sense.

  35. #35 Valerie
    February 11, 2008

    What is the point of a debate between the presidential candidates if you are not including ALL the candidates? Any reasons you might give for exclusion, still amount to exclusion. There is no clear front runner as of yet and absolutely no way to know how delegates will vote once they place their 1st, 2nd or 3rd vote. And that’s not even considering the unbound delegates. It seems to me, exclusion based on no factual evidence is not very scientific, therefore I would NOT want to promote a ScienceDebate 2008 being sponsored by people who apparently don’t understand scientific methods, let along politics.

  36. #36 erin
    February 11, 2008

    Tuatara – the federal government should not be funding science or anything for that matter. Free markets should be. As soon as you let them fund it then you are giving them the power to say what is can and con not be done in the scientific realm. Do you want that? Should the fed have that much power over what you research and develop?
    That was reason #1

    #2 – The income tax was supposed to be temporary and almost all of it is used to fund the overseas presence which costs 1 trillion dollars a year.

    #3 If we got rid of the income tax today the government would still be bringing in the same amount of money it had 10 years ago…THIS IS A FACT. The government does not make even half its money from income tax.

    #4 Why should someones money who does not even believe in certain science go towards funding it? I certainly believe in funding it and I can do that without the governments help as was done before federal income tax.

  37. #37 John
    February 11, 2008

    Sorry, I’ve had my share of issues like this. I can’t support this one without a Ron Paul invite. Just another extension of Fox news I’m afraid.

  38. #38 Clayton
    February 11, 2008

    Dr. Paul is a doctor. It might be good to have someone on the stage who knows a thing or two about science in a science debate.

    If you were to ask each of the clowns you invited what the scientific method was, they would not even have a clue.

    How about you invite the only scientist to the science debate?

    Seems pretty pointless otherwise.

  39. #39 Clayton
    February 11, 2008

    “Someone please give three good reasons why Ron Paul is not a total joke. Is it true that he would eliminate the IRS if he became president? No IRS = no funding for basic science = no base for our technologically driven economy = no common sense.”

    I am sorry but that is the dumbest thing I have heard in my entire life. Oh my god. Seriously. I can refute it with one self evident question with an empirical answer.

    Yes or no: Does the government fund Intel’s R&D?

  40. #40 JRQ
    February 11, 2008

    What does Intel’s R&D have to do with basic science?

    Industry could fund basic science whenever and however much it wished…by and large, it just doesn’t.

    All basic science necessarily begins with lack of knowledge, uncertainty of application, and the extreme risk of having one’s agenda proven wrong or untenable. Any company that funds basic research must absorb all the risk of short-term loss, trial and error, dead-ends, red-herrings, and, ultimately, the possibility that research will generate results incompatible with the company’s financial interest.

    And you don’t GET any technology without an extensive body of already-established basic research. ALL our technology is dependent on once having plowed through the uncertainty and taken the losses associated with risks of basic research. The reason we have government-funded science is so we have a mechanism by which enough basic research gets done at all in the face of those losses to push the development of useful applications forward.

  41. #41 Howard
    February 11, 2008

    I thought a true scientist comes to question without an answer. Obviously, Dr. Paul would be an unacceptable “answer”, therefore he’s being excluded. With government-financed “science”, there must be a government-acceptable result. The only government-acceptable result is: More government. However, The People no longer find that to be an acceptable, or even viable, answer. Freedom is the Answer!

  42. #42 Clayton
    February 11, 2008

    JRQ, your post is filled with so many fallacies I don’t even know where to start.

    Even talking about your “basic science”, most of that is not funded federally (nor should it be). Most “basic science” is done by professors and would-be PhDs working in their spare time to make a name for themselves.

    Let me ask you this one logical question. Where is the motive to produce results when science is funded by the government? Let’s go through the possible outcomes:
    1. An answer is not found – more funding is needed to try again.
    2. An answer is found – the scientist is out of a job and/or does not profit from their discovery.

    And who decides what questions need to be answered? At least with private funding, there is a Darwinian process to decide which research is funded and which is not.

    Let’s be serious here. If discovering what chemical reaction is happening at the core of Jupiter might be of any relevance to us on Earth, the private sector will fund it. Either to cure cancer or to sell us end of the world supplies.

  43. #43 Davis
    February 11, 2008

    Where is the motive to produce results when science is funded by the government? Let’s go through the possible outcomes…

    I’m going to hazard a guess that you’ve not actually been through a science PhD program. Professors and PhD students are not “working in their spare time”; their research is a required part of the job. Many of those PhD students have their salaries and tuition paid for thanks to federal funding for research; they probably couldn’t afford to be there without that support. Your cartoon version of research (and its outcomes) is not even remotely accurate.

    And who decides what questions need to be answered? At least with private funding, there is a Darwinian process to decide which research is funded and which is not.

    The community of scientists, and the individuals who make up that community. They tend to have a feeling for what questions are deep and interesting, or someone just gets really curious about a particular problem. I’ll take that over “we’ll research whatever will make us a profit” any day.

    And here’s a question for you — how do we know in advance which lines of research are going to have useful results down the road? Private industry never would have funded, say, quantum physics research back when it was young — it wasn’t immediately clear it was even correct, let alone useful. But now it’s given us lasers, computers, MRI, etc.

  44. #44 Davis
    February 11, 2008

    Dr. Paul is a doctor. It might be good to have someone on the stage who knows a thing or two about science in a science debate.

    And I hate to burst your bubble, but doctors aren’t scientists.

  45. #45 Phil
    February 11, 2008

    Your explanation as to why Ron Paul was not invited is a joke. What are you afraid of – he only speaks the truth?
    Ron Paul – Hope for America

  46. #46 mcmillan
    February 11, 2008

    I’ll admit I’d have liked to see Paul be included in the debate as well, he would have brought a different perspective that would be missing from the other candidates even though I’d probably disagree with just about all his positions about science policy. But the people that are calling him a scientist have a major misunderstanding about what a scientist is. Paul may have had some scientific training, but most medical doctors are far from being scientists.

    Clayton:
    It seems like you’re the one that doesn’t seem to know much about how basic science is done now. Where did you get the idea that most science is done by professors and grad students in free time. Basic research is the primary focus of people in science at most universities. As for your comment that most basic research isn’t funded by federal government, how is that just about everyone I know is funded primarily through the NIH, NSF or DARPA; all federal agencies.

    Let me ask you this one logical question. Where is the motive to produce results when science is funded by the government? Let’s go through the possible outcomes:
    1. An answer is not found – more funding is needed to try again.
    2. An answer is found – the scientist is out of a job and/or does not profit from their discovery.

    This shows a profound lack of understanding about science. It sounds like you think we just work on one simple project until we answer a question and then just give up. Usually the results of one stage of research lead to hypotheses about where to research next. Plus it is possible for a scientist that makes a major discovery to profit fromt the results. Most universities have organizations to help scientists patent results that could be profitable, which benefits both the individual researcher and the university.

    You ask who is deciding what to research, and say that the private sector has an advantage by forcing competition. Hmm, maybe research grants should be funded by having scientists judge competing proposals to show potential for success. I wonder why agencies like the NIH and NSF don’t do that. Oh wait, that’s exactly how federal grants are awarded.

  47. #47 Craig
    February 11, 2008

    You should invite Ron Paul to join the debate, otherwise you are just limiting the freedom of ideas.

  48. #48 Matthew
    February 11, 2008

    As long as people want to invite Ron Paul, why not invite Mike Gravel as well? Then all six of the remaining candidates would be in. Or leave it at the four who are most likely to win. But if people want Paul in the debate, why not Gravel?

  49. #49 JRQ
    February 11, 2008

    Clayton, not only do you fail to actually point out any fallacies I may have made, your response isn’t even self-consistent.

    If most basic research is being done by folks trying to “make a name for themselves”, then it would seem you’ve already identified the source of motivation for producing results, and one that is working just fine already for publically funded basic research. And your second alternative is so nonsensical, it isn’t something anyone with actual experience doing science would assert…we don’t just hang it up when we discover new things; we move on to the next question.

    Large-scale basic research programs simply do not happen without research money, and they most certainly are not sustainable on scientist’s “free time”.

    But the overall point you are missing is the most simple one: No one knows very well ahead of time which avenues of basic research are going to be most relevant, or how soon, or to what degree. The whole purpose of basic research is to acquire that knowledge. The private sector is poorly suited for a consistent handling of the risk associated with wading into this uncertainty….at least not to an extent that would support the magnitude of basic research necessary to keep up our current pace of technological development.

  50. #50 Suz Fisher
    February 11, 2008

    The irony of it all…the mainstream media excludes Ron Paul from their coverage to a large extent, thus the public doesn’t know much about him, and thus he doesn’t get as many votes in primaries or as many elegates as he would likely get had the media actually been fair and balanced in their coverage of candidates. So now he’s not considered a “viable” candidate and therefore further excluded from another public debate.

    You should note however, that Ron Paul has a lot more delegates than the mainstream media is reporting and potentially many more that the official RP campaign is aware of. For instance, in the state of Maine it’s been widely reported that Mitt Romney got ALL of Maine’s 18 delegates but this is an outright lie by the AP who couldn’t be bothered to mention that Maine’s delegates are unbinding. We already know that we very likely have about 35% or more of Maine’s delegates who are Ron Paul supporters. Not viable? Hardly! Maine is just the tip of the iceberg…

    So your data on the candidates’ viability is faulty to begin with. Ron Paul should be included.

  51. #51 Erin
    February 11, 2008

    This is all proof right here why Paul needs into the debate:
    Look at all the debate we are having right here in his name? He brings interesting points to the table that no other candidate will touch upon because they are afraid to lose votes.
    Paul has made it very clear he does not buy votes with promises because he has never promised anything to anyone besides getting government out of our lives and he does not even promise that can happen overnight.

  52. #52 Caledonian
    February 11, 2008

    Let’s not forget the most important reasons to invite Gravel and Paul:

    Their willingness to make arguments no one else will gives us a way to keep the “viable” candidates honest.

  53. #53 Eric Hutchison
    February 11, 2008

    Ron Paul is not invited because he is a Republican. No he’s not technically a scientist but come on, are you trying to tell me doctors have fewer ties to the scientific community than lawyers?

    Ron Paul is more qualified to debate science than any of the other candidates. This is an obvious public relations strategy on behalf of scienceblogs.com

    Besides he’s probably not a bit sponsor draw. That is what this is really about, isn’t it? I’ve never heard of this website and I do my fair share of “scientific research” on the web. Now all the sudden a science debate is important.

    You know what happens when you mix science and government? Challengers and Columbias.

    It is my understanding the first entity to enjoy technological benefits from scientific discovery is the US Military and/or NASA. That is something all scientists should be proud of. Hmm, has science solved any simple problems lately? Poverty? No. Famine? No. The human condition overall? No. But we sure better have enough laser guided missiles to kill impoverished people. We are planning colonies on other celestial objects as we speak. We can’t solve our problems here, what makes us think we can solve them anywhere else? Oh, I forgot only the selected profiled elite will be living there. They will be fine.

    Please don’t invite Ron Paul to your meaningless science debate. THE REVOLUTION DOESN’T NEED YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  54. #54 Eric Hutchison
    February 11, 2008

    Oh I failed to mention that you can’t even get the candidates to commit. From the top of this page:

    The candidates we’ve invited are (in alphabetical order): Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, and Barack Obama.

    So now what? Well, we’ve got to make this happen. We owe it to the thousands who have signed up in support of this initiative. We’ve got to make the candidates agree to debate.

    That’s why we’re now calling you to action… readers, bloggers, scientists, and concerned citizens. What can you do? Well, consider the following:

    1. Contact the campaigns, and tell them to attend ScienceDebate2008!

    I might not have posted this if it wasn’t #1 on the list.

    I guess we shouldn’t worry about Dr. Paul not being invited. It’s not like there isn’t something better he could be doing with his time. Like debating the real issues affecting us. It’s a shame nobody is stepping up to the plate forming hypotheses on how to govern a country. Surely the notoriety is worth its weight in gold.

    I hope this bad publicity finds you on the wrong side of a revolution.

  55. #55 metzgerm
    February 11, 2008

    Does anyone else see the irony in having the vast majority of the comments talking about how no one talks about Ron Paul?

    Also, while I think Paul serves as a fun counterpoint in debates, the idea that more and better scientific research would be done by removing all federal funding from science honestly has me baffled. I don’t think anyone would argue that the current NIH/NSF/DARPA strategy is absolutely perfect in funding decisions, but do you really think Pharma or oil companies will pay for research on ecology? evolutionary biology? basic molecular and cellular biology? astronomy? anthropology? etc…

    Science is funded in societies because basic research is needed before anyone can come up with the ideas for commercially fundable applied research in medicine, energy and other fields, and because knowledge and understanding about our world are important to our civilization in ways that cannot be readily quantified in a business prospectus. I think the value of Ron Paul is that we are forced to put our unspoken basic ideas into words and try to clarify them when we are faced with someone who questions our assumptions.

  56. #56 Peter
    February 11, 2008

    Hey, Ron Paul fans, I think you’re right that the doctor should be invited, but please don’t let that distract us from the fact that this country needs a Science Debate in 2008.

    This is a great step forward, Chris and Sheril. You guys are amazing to have put this together, to have won the support of AAS, and to make it official with these invitations. That’s a big commitment for science, and we love you for it.

    This could be the most exciting thing that happens all year.
    I will urge my candidates to participate. I hope we all will.

  57. #57 Jesubub
    February 12, 2008

    Ron Paul is a medical doctor who knows more about science than all the candidates COMBINED! I guess Chris can’t sell his book The Republican War on Science if there’s a Republican in the debate who isn’t fighting a war against science. If you argue that he’s not doing well enough in the primaries, ironically, you’re answering the question as to why — media hampering his exposure. Way to go, hacks!

  58. #58 Joe Allen
    February 12, 2008

    You guys are effing brilliant. Invite all the candidates to a science debate except the scientist.

  59. #59 JRQ
    February 12, 2008

    Yeah, here’s a little taste of Ron Paul’s “superior” science knowledge:

    “I think it’s a theory–theory of evolution–and I don’t accept it.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JyvkjSKMLw

  60. #60 Jesubub
    February 12, 2008

    Oh, it’s all becoming clearer now — Chris graduated from Yale.

  61. #61 Curtis
    February 12, 2008

    THANK YOU JRQ for that link. The guy is a wingnut. Albeit a fun wingnut, but make no mistake, he is not a mainstream voice for science. He’s a frickin’ bumpkin. Let him go to Bumpkin Debate 2008.

  62. #62 Chris
    February 12, 2008

    “he is not a mainstream voice for science. He’s a frickin’ bumpkin. Let him go to Bumpkin Debate 2008″

    does that work for Huckabee, too? All he is a religous nutjob.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXajXz4DF1w

  63. #63 Caledonian
    February 12, 2008

    ALL of the candidates are wingnuts. Some are just more ‘normal’ than others.

    I do wonder what debating about science you think will take place when we can’t even get the candidates to discuss their policy intentions.

  64. #64 ponderingfool
    February 12, 2008

    Why this date? Are there plans for science debate during the general election as well? What is the debate format going to be? All four debating at once? Or will it be broken up? Democrats debating one another? Republicans debating one another? The races these candidates will be in at the time will be for the nominations of their respective parties so in a four-way the dynamics would be interesting to say the least.

  65. #65 Joe
    February 12, 2008

    It seems to me all of you “scientists” need to look into a science called the Free Market Economy. You bad-mouth it and claim that the Federal Government is the sole reason this country progresses but you’ve never actually taken a moment to look into an alternative because we’ve been living within this crappy government-run system all of our lives (excepting those over the age of 95).
    Allow me to point some of you to an organization you all have heard of, the X Prize Foundation (http://www.xprize.org/). Does no one find it interesting that in less than 10 years, a private organization made it into space in a reusable spaceship, arguably of a better design than NASA’s?
    Regardless of your position on the necessity of government-funded (by money stolen from my paycheck) science programs, Ron Paul has stated he won’t cut any domestic programs. We can reduce the size of our military and still eliminate the IRS and replace it with nothing. Perhaps you need to rethink your opinions and vote based on the two most important issues to all of us: Foreign Policy and the Economy.

  66. #66 Fred Bortz
    February 12, 2008

    If the Ron Paul supporters would spend more time engaging with the organizers of the debate and less time spouting off on blogs (mine included, click my name), attacking “scientists” as if we have a unified political opinion and using adjectives like arrogant and ignorant, we would all be better off.

    If they don’t like the rules of the debate, let them picket outside the Franklin Institute when it is going on, armed with brochures summarizing the Paul position on science and technology policy. That kind of attention would help their cause.

    This ranting on blogs gives me good reason to dismiss them as whiners who would rather disrupt the debate than allow its important issues to be aired.

  67. #67 John
    February 12, 2008

    What a shambles of a debate this will be.

    You invite one man who almost came last in his class to a Science debate? You invite another man who is a Baptist minister with a degree in communication. Rounding out the lot are two attorneys.

    What exactly are these 4 experts going to add to our knowledge base about science?

    One would think scientists would have invited the one presidential candidate with an academic background in science namely Ron Paul.

  68. #68 Jerry
    February 12, 2008

    Ron Paul’s numbers in the polls are phenomenal when you consider the insignificant amount of unbiased exposure he’s received. It’s arguable that only 10% or less of Americans have had a fair opportunity to hear Ron Paul’s positions. Given that, his polling percentages are simply amazing. It appears that at as many as 1 in 2 people who have heard his message have become supporters.

    The vast majority of his support comes from about 15 minutes of debate time (cable networks only). Most of that time was spent dealing with questions that were either distractions like “electability” or blatant attacks. One question and answer was even edited out of the rebroadcast of a Fox debate because Dr. Paul turned Carl Cameron’s insulting question into a show of strength.

    Had Paul received half of the media time lavished on other candidates he would be leading this race. By omitting him from this debate you are further promoting the bias that is destroying The People’s voice in this country.

    Please reconsider.

  69. #69 Gigi
    February 12, 2008

    This is Science Debate 2008 and Dr.Ron Paul M.D. is not invited? He’s my primary choice out of all the candidates. I would really like to see more of him. If he’s not invited, I find no reason to even watch it, let alone support it. My family and friends feel the same way. So I suggest if you want our support, you should reconsider the invites.

  70. #70 csb
    February 12, 2008

    Why was Ron Paul not invited?

  71. #71 Jersey
    February 12, 2008

    Eesh.

    Ron Paul: the New Lyndon LaRouche?

  72. #72 Mayberry
    February 12, 2008

    Actually the standard you are using is subjective. Polls are not accurate at all.

    What is accurate are measurable facts. For example:

    1) Only allow candidates that have Phd or MD from accredited scientific institutions. Let’s see whom would that include? Oh – only Dr. Ron Paul!

    or

    2) Since actual monetary donations are an absolutely accurate way of determining success then we should limit the debate to only those that had at least say $19,000,000 (thats Nineteen Million Dolars) in donations last quarter as certified by the FEC. Would that be objective enough?

    So lets not demean your audience any longer by attempting to say you are using objective standards, when the standrds you are using are simply designed to exclude the only individualist candidate on the list and only include all the collectivist candidates, SINCE YOU EXPECT MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT SINCE YOU SOLD OUT YOUR SOUL AS SCIENTISTS.

    Come clean, you deceptive collectivists posing as the arbiters of objectivity. Do the right thing just once in your lives.

  73. #73 David Marjanovi?
    February 12, 2008

    The goal of Science is the search for truth.

    Newsflash: that’s wrong. Science cannot prove, only disprove; if we find the truth, we cannot prove that what we have found is indeed the truth — how would we do that, by comparing it to the truth which we don’t have?

    Science is the search for what is not true. It works by elimination.

    As long as you can answer the question “if I were wrong, how would I know?”, you are doing science.

    —————-

    Paul worshippers, please remember that the good man is a cre_ti_nist. “The only true science candidate”? My ass. If he reaches the threshold, he should be invited, just so that everyone can once more laugh at him (so poor, poor Huckabee doesn’t get singled out).

    I’ll simply repeat:

    You should invite Ron Paul just so he and Huckabee can compete to see who is the most ignorant regarding evolution. Ron Paul is a typical anti-science republican candidate. Just because he’s a fiscal conservative does not mean he differs from the other republicans on other issues.

    And Huckabee only has a chance if miracles trump math.

    —————–

    Hmm, has science solved any simple problems lately?

    Think again.

    Why are you still alive?

    Let’s be serious here. If discovering what chemical reaction is happening at the core of Jupiter might be of any relevance to us on Earth, the private sector will fund it.

    Yeah, afterwards. After the reaction has been discovered, and after it has been discovered that it has any profit-making potential.

  74. #74 Thomas Jefferson
    February 12, 2008

    Where’s RON PAUL?

    Where’s RON PAUL?

    Where’s RON PAUL?

    Where’s RON PAUL?

    Where’s RON PAUL?

    Where’s RON PAUL?

    Where’s RON PAUL?

    Where’s RON PAUL?

    Here’s the Corporate World holding Scientific GRANTS HOSTAGE so rigging the invites! Wake UP PEOPLE and SMELL THE CORPORATE (MSM) and POLITICAL CORRUPTION!!!

  75. #75 steppen wolf
    February 12, 2008

    I am sorry to have to break the news to some of you but…being a medical doctor does not mean one is a scientist. Most medical doctors do not go through a proper Ph.D. and postdoctoral work. There are some doctors who are also scientists, but the majority of them aren’t. Would you say a dentist is a scientist? I think not.

    Moreover, it looks like Ron Paul supporters have no idea of what the income tax is there for. First, income taxes were created to fund armies. Mind you, they still do. So my first question to you is…how are the USA going to fund all their military expeditions, and their bloated military budget, without having access to income tax? You do not fund an army by simple donations or thanks to the “free market”. That is just not reality.

    In addition, income tax goes on to fund things and activities that only the collective power of such collection allows us to fund, as well as activities that are considered too risky, or with not enough short-term returns, to be funded by the “free market”.

    A couple of very good examples are public health care (if you think it does not work, I can almost bet that you have never traveled outside of the US), and of course, basic science research – which pretty much does not get funded by your fabled “free market”.

    Oh, and I think I am forgetting putting asphalt on your roads, building bridges, and most matters of public infrastructure…

    But you are so oblivious to reality, that I am probably just wasting my breath here.

  76. #76 steppen wolf
    February 12, 2008

    Here’s the Corporate World holding Scientific GRANTS HOSTAGE so rigging the invites! Wake UP PEOPLE and SMELL THE CORPORATE (MSM) and POLITICAL CORRUPTION!!!

    Interesting. I thought Ron Paul wanted to get rid of income tax, and let the free market (ie. the various corporate forces) take care of it all?

    YOU EXPECT MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT SINCE YOU SOLD OUT YOUR SOUL AS SCIENTISTS.

    You are assuming some of us actually have a soul. Given the tone of your speech, I should be grateful even for the unwarranted assumption. Is that how Ron Paul and his supporters are going to “support” science? Bringing back our “souls”, and deamining us?

    Ah and, by the way: is Ron Paul going to allow you to write in all caps all the time without being reprimended? I am just curious.

  77. #77 Joe
    February 12, 2008

    Scientist: A person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.
    -Seems to me that medical doctors know quite a bit about that. Are you folks operating on a more specific definition that handily includes you “scientists”?
    Steppen Wolf, nothing like blanket-denying the argument, but in your comment, you’re proving Paul’s point. “How are the USA going to fund all their military expeditions, and their bloated military budget, without having access to income tax?” Here’s a grand idea – stop the military expeditions and cut the bloated military budget. Weird, isn’t it. If you think the income tax pays for all of public healthcare, scientific exploration, roads, bridges, public infrastructure, etc, you need to re-look at the budget.
    And don’t you dare call me oblivious to reality, but as you say I’m probably just wasting my breath talking at you.

  78. #78 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    February 12, 2008

    Chris and Sheril, I almost feel sorry for you at getting swarmed here by the Ron Paul demagoguery.

    Stick to your guns and only invite him if he meets the threshhold you set. I, myself, am excited about the Debate having a date. The last time I had talked to Shawn Otto, he thought that it might have to be one of the debates set for October. Having it sooner will give those who are still undecided on the “real” candidates a chance to decide before committing.

    To all of you Paul fans who think that having an MD makes one a scientist I have two words: Michael Egnor.

  79. #79 Caledonian
    February 12, 2008

    The poster known as D makes an excellent point:

    If you wanted the Republican candidates to show up at a science debate you sponsored, writing a book called “The Republican War on Science” probably wasn’t the best way to build your credibility.

    Do let us know who responds, though. What happens if you throw a debate and no one comes?

  80. #80 Pizza God
    February 12, 2008

    I guess it does not really matter who invite. The candidates you invited probably will not show up anyways.

    BTW, You stated ‘viable candidates’ According to the media, Huckabee is no longer a viable candidate. They have decided that McCain is the winner.

  81. #81 Patricia
    February 14, 2008

    If I wanted to listen to logic and truth, I would listen to Ron Paul and Mike Gravel.
    It is so annoying that the media disregards them.

  82. #82 Dark Tent
    February 15, 2008

    Chris mooney says:

    “The following invitation was sent to the viable candidates for president as of February 7, 2008. “Viable candidates” is defined as candidates who have a mathematical chance of becoming president, and who show a minimum 15% support level in the most recent national poll averages as published by RealClearPolitics.com.”

    A mathematical chance of becoming president?

    Hmm, according to my elementary statistics book, that includes “any non-zero probability” — not “a minimum of 15% support.”

    But then again, we wouldn’t want to include anyone in the debate who actually knows anything about science, would we?

    That might (ie, almost certainly would) simply embarrass the candidates who actually poll high enough to qualify for the science debate (polling above 15%)

    It’s just a guess, but I would be willing to bet that a candidate’s chance of becoming President (according to national polls that you are using for the cutoff for the invite) is inversely proportional to their knowledge of science.

    So, in effect, your method selects for the scientifically ignorant/illiterate.

    A debate of scientific illiterates is no debate at all, though it may be entertaining (in a pathetic sort of way) to watch the candidates flounder when asked simple questions about atoms and the like.

  83. #83 Dark Tent
    February 15, 2008

    By the way. I am not opposed to a science debate. In principle, I think it is a very good idea, but like everything else, the devil is in the details.

    I think it would make much more sense to have each Presidential candidate designate his/her choice for Science Adviser to the President (the position currently held by Marburger) and invite those people to the debate.

    Presumably, these people would ALL be scientists and actually know what they were talking about — and be able to summarize their respective candidates positions regarding important scientific issues.

    And please don’t restrict it to a 15% cutoff because, who knows, a candidate may see a better person for science adviser at the debate than the one they originally chose !

    Leadership is supposed to be largely about choosing competent people to make and carry out policy.

    So, in a way, how much candidates themselves know about science is not really the most relevant issue.

  84. #84 Dark Tent
    February 15, 2008

    There is a one further advantage in having the candidates “designate science advisers to debate” rather than debating themselves.

    It makes it MUCH more likely that you will actually have a debate.

    Think about it.

    If you were a candidate and did not know anything about science, which would you rather do?:

    a) go to a debate and risk looking/sounding like an idiot? (at least to those in the audience who actually know something about science)
    or
    b) send someone to a debate to represent you who you knew would not make you look like an idiot (indeed, who would most likely make you look like you have thoughtfully considered the issues)?

  85. #85 Rachel
    February 23, 2008

    I’d love to see Ron Paul in this debate! I can’t bear politics without at least one refreshing voice. He will add tremendously to it!

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