The Intersection

61 Nobel Laureates

Yesterday 61 Nobel Laureates* released a letter endorsing Barack Obama for President:

An Open Letter to the American People

This year’s presidential election is among the most significant in our nation’s history. The country urgently needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change, security, and economic competitiveness.

We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him.

During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country’s scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support. The government’s scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk. We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.

We have watched Senator Obama’s approach to these issues with admiration. We especially applaud his emphasis during the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation’s competitiveness. In particular, we support the measures he plans to take – through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research – to meet the nation’s and the world’s most urgent needs.

Senator Obama understands that Presidential leadership and federal investments in science and technology are crucial elements in successful governance of the world’s leading country. We hope you will join us as we work together to ensure his election in November.


Click here to read the original with signers

The views expressed in this letter represent those of the signers acting as individual citizens. They do not necessarily represent the views of the institutions with which they are affiliated. The Medicine award is for “Physiology or Medicine.”

* Note this is the is the greatest number of Nobel Laureates to ever endorse a candidate for office.


  1. #1 Laurie Mann
    September 26, 2008

    Sadly, this story will get lost in one of the other Republican-caused catastrophies – that mess on Wall Street due to lack of oversight.

  2. #2 Linda
    September 26, 2008

    I whole-heartedly agree. I also think that the events of the last few weeks, and especially the last few days, demonstrates the absolute need for someone of Senator Obama’s caliber.

  3. #3 Bruce
    September 26, 2008

    Have we a corresponding list from the Ecoonmic laureates?

    Are any laureates left to endorse McCain?

  4. #4 Karen
    September 26, 2008

    Be rationale here, there are an equal number of economists who blame decisions made by those of the Democratic party. As long as blame of one party versus another continues, this country will suffer. The simplistic “the other guy is always wrong” approach is poor thinking.
    The problems and solutions require far more complex thinking.

    The issues cited in the Laureate’s letter (“new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research”) are all also included in McCain’s plans.

  5. #5 Brian D
    September 26, 2008

    Karen, this might interest you. Not quite what Bruce asks for, but it’s the closest I know of.

    Chris and Sheril, as noted on VoteForScience, this also coincides with Obama’s science plan (PDF) update. I think it’s clear who the science candidate is.

  6. #6 Bruce
    September 26, 2008

    for your sentence to have gravitas, the phrase “there are an equal number of economists” implies that you think that any economist is equivalent to a Physics/Chemistry Nobel Laureate, which implies that any economist has more gravitas than any chemist/physicist, because there are far more economists than chemistry/physics laureates.

    I’ve heard that if you laid all the economists end-to-end, they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion; they sure reached conflicting conclusions over the past few years.

    Still, I’d be curious to see your list of 61 economists, so I could check out whether they predicted any of this, and how they apportion blame among the 2 parties.

    Of course, the real problem is with us profligate homebuyers, not the parties.

  7. #7 Earthling6
    October 16, 2008

    I think it’s funny that so many scientists discount the science of business and economics. After all, so many of us scientists earn our pay off the backs of others actually doing the business. Nevertheless, Brian D provided an answer I was going to ask. It was not THE answer I was looking for, but Scott Adams provided some interesting poll data. Surveying a group which was dominated by Democrats and Independents, he found most economists favor Obama on most economic issues.

    # Topic Obama McCain Other
    3 International trade 26% 51% 23%
    10 Reducing the deficit 37% 29% 33%
    13 Reducing waste 16% 38% 46%
    in government
    8 Social Security 40% 24% 35%
    12 Increasing taxes 79% 14% 7%
    on wealthy

    I admit, 12 is strange. Is that saying economists believe Obama WILL increase taxes on “wealthy” or that he will do a better job with the issue of the ever increasing tax burden paid by the wealthy? Given Obama’s desire to increase taxes on all but 95% of taxpayers, I’d guess the former. However, Constitutionally, congress may tax on income, not wealth. So at best, these results cannot be taken seriously.

    I exclude “Mortgage/housing crisis” not because it doesn’t fit my thesis, but because there is no precedent for informed people to draw a conclusion on, and hopefully no antecedent.

    I can understand academic-sector scientists not wanting to vote for McCain. What I cannot understand is these same scientists supporting Obama, a fledgling inexperienced senator with no practical real-world experience. Is it because he is a Democrat and will likely toe the democratic platform?

    Disclosure: I will not vote this upcoming election. After the financial market “crisis”, I decided McCain was certainly worthy of the terms “erratic” and “Maverick” and certainly not worthy of my vote, and long ago, I concluded Obama is far too inexperienced and self-serving to make an effective President.

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