Presidential debates are largely meaningless. Simpleminded questions posed by simpleminded moderators who actively prevent candidates from answering in any sort of nuanced manner (were they able). In short, a microcosm of American political discourse in which snark and soundbite dominate substance every time.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could hear candidates answer questions on issues that we as scientists - and concerned public - care about? Wouldn’t it be great if we could have candidates devote an extended debate to such issues, a debate in which the environment, medicine & health, and science & technology policy would be discussed in a meaningful manner? Wouldn’t it be even better if such a debate was hosted by scientists rather than media hacks?
A grass-roots movement, Sciencedebate 2008, is attempting to make such a debate a reality. With backing from such notable biologists as David Baltimore, Niles Eldredge, Simon Levin, and Stuart Pimm (and many others across all fields) the movement is calling for just such a public debate:
A Call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology
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.
You too can join this movement and add your voice. I did.
Sounds great, but when Republicans openly deny evolution and embrace theology as science, where can this sort of debate really take us? As if that's not sad enough, I believe a lot of politicians support creationism because too many voters in this country want to hear it. The U.S., as a whole, is still uncomfortable voting for someone who doesn't hold the same religious ideologies they do, and it will be a cold day in hell (pun intended!) before this country elects an open atheist. So all I really see coming from something like this is more "evolution is only a theory" and "my faith in God is what makes me strong" rhetoric/hyperbole that many candidates have become far too familiar with.
I have been on over a dozen blogs today and there is a real groundswell advocating this!
Dave Briggs :~)