ScienceDebate2008: What Is It?

tags: , , , , , , ,


I have spoken with quite a few people from CraigsList and other places regarding the logistics and goals for ScienceDebate2008, and have found that there are plenty of misperceptions as to what scientists wish to accomplish. In short; ScienceDebate2008 is not a "science pop-quiz" that demands that the presidential candidates regurgitate a bunch of scientific theories and formulae on television.

Instead, ScienceDebate2008 is focused on clarifying how each presidential candidate plans to deal with scientific and technological research, and how they plan to integrate their personal philosophies into a workable public policy, and how they plan to direct and support (or interfere with) scientific and technological progress in this country.

Even though America's strength has always resulted from her optimism, intellectual freedom and entrepreneurial spirit, this proposed debate is crucial because optimism, intellectual freedom and an entrepreneurial spirit do not exist in a vacuum; they must be supported by public policies and funding. Historically, America has been (and still can be) a leader in discovering cures for diseases, inventing new technologies, and producing the best-trained scientists and engineers in the world, but now this country is at a cross-roads; this cross-roads is defined by such things as the Terri Schiavo controversy, the Katrina debacle, the stem cell research debate, and even the ongoing controversy over whether to teach evolution in K-12 science classrooms.

However, another benefit from such a debate is learning whether a particular candidate is capable of thinking scientifically. Basically, scientific thinking is crucial in every area of policymaking because it is based on one's willingness to reject erroneous conclusions (or policies) when the available evidence demands it, and scientific thinking demands consideration of all data when making decisions -- not just those data that agree with previously-held opinions. Thus, a president who is capable of assessing scientific issues by weighing competing positions and evaluating the evidence supporting them should also be expected to use this same method of reasoning in other policy arenas.

Would you like to register your support for ScienceDebate2008? You can also suggest questions that you'd like to ask the candidates at that site (this is my list of questions). After doing that, be sure to follow up by asking your candidate to become a part of this, and send an email to the head of your party, either Howard Dean (Democrat) or Mike Duncan (Republican), and tell them you like this idea.

Categories

More like this

Sheril Kirshenbaum and Chris Mooney have been promising something for a week, teasing us with tantalizing hints about something big. We were told to read Chris' article Dr.President, and then this morning another article, Science and the Candidates by Lawrence Krauss. Finally, today a little…
tags: science, public policy, politics, federal funding, research, reality-based government, 2008 American presidential elections, ScienceDebate2008 I was disappointed, but not really surprised, when three Republican presidential candidates -- Mike Huckabee, Tom Tancredo and Sam Brownback (who has…
Through the initiatives of citizens - and voters - who take a keen interest in science and technology and governmental policies directed toward these, a proposal for a presidential candidates' debate on issues of science and technology is now on the table. The background for this initiative may…
If you haven't heard, fellow ScienceBloggers Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum of The Intersection have launched a movement called Sciencedebate 2008, in which they demand that the presidential candidates have a debate entirely on science and science-related issues. They've received the backing…