The Loom

It’s Come To This?

Matthew Chapman, writer and producer, writes an op-ed calling for presidential candidates to have a debate on scientific issues. It’s an entirely reasonable piece, but if you stop to think about it, its publication raises two disturbing questions–

1. Why should anyone have to plead for science to be a topic of discussion among presidential candidates?

2. Why did I find this piece on the Washington Post web site filed under a tab called “On Faith”–a section dedicated to religion?

On Faith: Guest Voices: Call for a Presidential Debate on Science


  1. #1 Gabe
    October 29, 2007

    Why do you have the need to upset me so early in the morning. 🙁

  2. #2 Ed
    October 29, 2007

    On a related note, I found a link to my blog on a forum, which was preceded by the caveat: “Not for the evolution-sensitive”. It is depressing that in some parts of the world (wide web), evolution is such as taboo subject that it demands its own “not-safe-for-work” warning.

  3. #3 Jonathan Badger
    October 29, 2007

    1) Because not everyone (even on the left) sees science as a major political issue, even though they should,

    2) It’s in the faith section because Chapman wrote the article as a “guest voice” on a column there. While you can argue that it’s disturbing that Chapman was willing to do that, it’s worth remembering that by filling the space there, there was one less typical “faith” article printed.

  4. #4 Matt
    October 29, 2007

    Well I just found my new favorite blog!

  5. #5 JohnX
    October 29, 2007

    1. Almost all presidential candidates are lawyers or others whose whole life is devoted to business, governing others and being a lawyer. They have no clue as to what scientists are doing. Ask any one of them “What do you thing of LHC?” You might get a response such as, “I enjoy light hearted comedy.” They will never discuss something about which they know nothing. And none of these gentlemen and the lady know piddly about evolution or a hadron. Sad, but true.

    2. It’s the Washington Post, probably the editor thinks this plea to science was a religious item.

  6. #6 SG
    October 29, 2007

    It’s a great idea, but I’m worried that winning the “science debate” might be a Pyrrhic victory for the candidate. If I learned anything from the heartbreak of 2000, it was that intelligence could be (and was) used against a presidential candidate. Silly for me to think we’d want the “best and brightest” running our country…

    By the way, the comments section on the original post is depressing indeed.

  7. #7 John Logsdon
    October 29, 2007

    It would be great to get a sense of what the candidates know (or don’t know) about science. Also informative would be to know their thoughts and actions regarding science funding. Although this posting should not be considered an endorsement of a particular candidate, I recently had the brief opportunity to chat with Joe Biden about funding and he did seem to “get it”.

  8. #8 Deepak
    October 30, 2007

    At best, a sad state of affairs. At worst, scary. In a perfect world science wouldn’t be a political issue, just a natural part of life

  9. #9 DDeden
    October 30, 2007

    Carl, with your interest in evolving body parts and seashore evolution, I blogged speculatively today on how teeth became armor and then how armor became “teeth”, an odd case of reverse evolution in the water, at my blog, THE-ARC.

    (no comment on politix…)

  10. #10 Joseph Urban
    October 30, 2007

    There’s so much one could comment on this, I could… .

    Briefly, there has now been of recent years an upsurge in the efforts to twist science of all sorts to the venal and diabolically destructive, moronic machinations of the pimp daddies of our political theaters. This is but a symptom of the rot here…, it seems to me.

    Here’s another latest tidbit. Go to today’s CounterPunch at

    > A CounterPunch Special Investigation
    > Pilfered Scholarship Devastates General Petraeus’s
    > Counterinsurgency Manual
    > * Core Chapter a Morass of “Borrowed” Quotes
    > * University of Chicago Press Badly Compromised
    > * Counterinsurgency Anthropologist Montgomery
    > McFate’s Role Under Attack
    > Editors’ note: This expose of the stolen scholarship
    > in the Army’s new manual on counterinsurgency to
    > which General David Petraeus has attached his name
    > also runs in our current newsletter sent by US mail
    > or as a pdf to our newsletter subscribers. Normally
    > material in our newsletter does not run on the
    > CounterPunch website. In the belief that David
    > Price’s story merits the widest and swiftest
    > circulation, not only as regards the “borrowings”
    > from unacknowledged sources but also the
    > prostitution of anthropology in evil military
    > enterprises we re making an exception in this case.
    > AC / JSC

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