Presidential debates with an extra helping of science

Just a P.S.--if ignorance like Mike Huckabee's comments on HIV/AIDS drives you nuts, check out what Chris and Sheril (among others) have put together, calling for real debate on science and technology issues by the presidential candidates:

Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we, the undersigned, call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Medicine and Health, and Science and Technology Policy.

Doesn't matter what your party affiliation or candidate of choice is--if you agree these topics are important, check out the ScienceDebate 2008 website.


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Such a debate would have to be carefully organized so that the questions are general enough to elicit the sort of knowledge available to a layman. Lets remember that none of the candidates from either party have any scientific background and really can't be expected to be in a position to answer specific questions requiring anything more then might be expected from a semi-knowledgeable layman. I think of far greater interest would be to ask the candidates whether they have advisers on their campaign staffs from the scientific community and, if so, what their qualifications are. The problem with the current schmuck in the White House isn't so much that he is ignorant on scientific questions but that he is uninterested in listening to those who have the expertise in relevant areas.

I loved it when all the Republican candidates were challenged to state definitively whether they believed in evolution. It was a fluke, though. I can't imagine they'll let that sort of thing happen again on scientific issues because there is no upside to binary categorization for them.

I think that maybe what we could do is have the science advisers to the candidates have a debate, with a science to layman interpreter covering it and explaining it afterwards!
Dave Briggs :~)