As the 2008 elections swing into full gear, Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA) today launched a new resource–the Science, Health And Related Policies (SHARP) Network–which allows you to track how various elected officials and candidates stack up on a variety of science and health policy issues. SEA was formed a couple of months before the 2006 election in order to support science-friendly candidates, advocate for the proper use of science in formulating government policy, and to oppose political interference in science. SEA made quite a splash then, but its newest endeavor looks to be particularly useful. Here’s what SEA has to say about it:
Scientists and Engineers for America has just launched the Science Health And Related Policies (SHARP) Network. The SHARP Network is a wiki-based system that will allow the public to track the positions their elected officials have taken on critical science and health issues. There are already over 500 web pages in the Network including one for every Senator, Congressman, and Presidential candidate. We have also launched pages with information on key science and health issues and for Senate and House committees. We will soon launch pages for candidates for office as well. Not sure what your congressman has said or done about global warming? Look it up on their SHARP page. If it’s not there, then you can help by adding it.
Those “over 500 web pages” are already closer to 600, I’m told, but since this is a wiki-based system, anyone can contribute (instructions here), and the site could grow quite a bit. Currently, there are pages for members of the House and Senate as well as presidential candidates. Here are the sites for the Democrats: Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton. And, here are those for the generally less science-friendly Republicans: John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and–if your stomach is feeling particularly strong today–fervent creationist Mike Huckabee. Each page gives a summary of the candidate’s stances and actions on the issues as well as excerpts from debates and links to speeches.
Here you can see expert politician Mitt Romney equivocate with the best of them on evolution:
In an interview in May 2007 with The New York Times, Romney said “I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe. And I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.” When asked if that belief meant intelligent design, he responded, “I’m not exactly sure what is meant by intelligent design. But I believe God is intelligent and I believe he designed the creation. And I believe he used the process of evolution to create the human body.”
And on embryonic stem cell research:
Romney does not support the use of cloned embryos for research, but believes it is ethical to use embryos taken from fertility clinics to extract stem cells. He supports the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research while supporting federal funding for research for extracting stem cells through other processes such as altered nuclear transfer and direct reprogramming. In June 2007, Governor Romney wrote a piece for The National Review Online that highlighted his ideas on stem cell research.
At the time he ran for governor of Massachusetts, however, Romney did support embryonic stem cell research. At a bioethics forum in June 2002, he said, “I am in favor of stem cell research. I will work and fight for stem cell research,” he said, adding, “I’d be happy to talk to [President Bush] about this, though I don’t know if I could budge him an inch.”
Beyond the glamour of the presidential race, there are hundreds of pages on members of the House and Senate. I can check out the page on my former Congressman Chet Edwards, for example, and see that he lives up to his reputation as a friend of science. So, if you want to find out how one of your elected officials stands on some of the more important issues facing the US, check out the site. And, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to contribute yourself.