Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Presidential Candidates and Science

Nature magazine is one of the preeminent science journals in the known galaxy. With U.S. elections looming this November, Nature was naturally (what else) interested in what the two major presidential candidates think about science.

They pursued this question the old-fashioned way -- they asked the candidates:
Barack Obama accepted Nature's invitation to answer 18 science-related questions in writing; John McCain's campaign declined. Obama's answers to many of the questions are printed here... Wherever possible, Nature has noted what McCain has said at other times on these topics.
Sounds like a clear win for Obama in the lip service war, at least.

Why would a lowly radiologist care about this? I mean, we're not considered Real Doctors™. To make it worse, physicians are not even Real Scientists™. However, despite this double whammy, I persist in doing and caring about science. Candidates' attitudes about science will be a major factor in deciding my vote for any office, and I'd love to see a huge voter turnout of other scientists and medical researchers on November 4th.

What if somehow, against all odds, I suddenly found myself in January 2009 as Science Advisor to the next U.S. President? What should I tell him in support of science? It would be hard to improve on Phil Plait's advice:
Stop standing on its throat.

The current administration has spun, folded, and mutilated science and scientific research since practically day one, letting ideology trump reality. If the next president does nothing but let science do its thing unfettered, then the situation will be dramatically improved.
(via Bad Astronomy)

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