The Intersection

i-8120acdc7d05f784b0b47f6ba13a197b-Issues in S&T.pngThe latest publication of Issues In Science And Technology features an article I co-authored with ScienceDebate CEO Shawn Lawrence Otto. We discuss building the ScienceDebate2008 initiative, lessons from the election, and what’s needed to create an environment where the public’s understanding and appreciation of science policy will make scientists critical in the political process. Here’s an excerpt from Science on the Campaign Trail:

Probing further, the Science Debate team learned that science was seen as a niche topic by the campaigns, and a presidential debate dedicated to science policy issues such as climate change, innovation, research, health care, energy, ocean health, stem cells, and the like was viewed as requiring extensive preparation and posing high risk for a limited return.

Science Debate 2008 wanted to test this assumption, so it partnered with Research!America and hired Harris to conduct a national poll. The results were astounding: Fully 85% of U.S. adults said the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss key policy problems facing the United States, such as health care, climate change, and energy, and how science can help tackle them. There was virtually no difference across party lines. Contrary to the candidates’ assumptions, science is of broad concern to the public.

I’ll let readers know when our full piece becomes available online. Also note the Issues cover image above is that of the previous issue.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Belyea
    December 30, 2008

    The results were astounding: Fully 85% of U.S. adults said the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss key policy problems facing the United States, such as health care, climate change, and energy, and how science can help tackle them. There was virtually no difference across party lines. Contrary to the candidates’ assumptions, science is of broad concern to the public.

    If this brief paragraph is an accurate summary, then I suggest that the conclusion that “science is of broad concern to the public” is unjustified. It sounds to me as though you want to lump a bunch of things as “science” and that many of hte public just don’t see it that way.

    You can call it a classification issue or a framing issue or whatever, but I doubt that a very high % of the public would classify health care or climate change or energy as “science issues.” And indeed, by so classifying them, you capture only a part of the issue and miss the equally important public policy concerns and problems.

  2. #2 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    December 30, 2008

    If this brief paragraph is an accurate summary, then I suggest that the conclusion that “science is of broad concern to the public” is unjustified.

    Scott, there is a lot more to the piece that justifies what you’re concerned about. Hopefully, I’ll be able to link the full article soon.

  3. #3 Chris C. Mooney
    December 30, 2008

    I hope everyone will read the article, as I have–it’s really excellent. ScienceDebate2008 was the biggest science-society/science-politics experiment in this country in quite some time, I would argue. We must, simply must, learn the right lessons from it, and build upon it.

  4. #4 Philip H.
    December 30, 2008

    Scott has hit on the central issue that concerns many of us. Science can provide both good predictions, and a suite of answers to the issues he highlights. But they are not “science issues” in as much as science as an enterprise does not actually execute the policies that are needed to address these issues.

    Where Scott gets it wrong, however, is that there is no association between science and, for instance, climate change. It is true that the general public does not SEE an association, but that lack of connection is something that can be addressed. It could have been addressed quite handily at Science Debate.

  5. #5 David Bruggeman
    January 1, 2009

    I have a hard time seeing how any candidate debate would educate people on the issues. It can educate people on what the candidates think on the issues, and what they want to do about them. But it’s a bit of a leap to assume that people would learn more about that issue as a result.

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