17 January 2008

Why a presidential debate on science is a good idea

This is a day early, as I usually try to limit link posts to Fridays, but I advise you to go check out Science Debate 2008, a petition calling for presidential candidates to discuss their positions on science and tech policy, medical innovation, and the environment. What's good about this is that it's not merely an attempt to get candidates to reveal their own positions on stem cells, global warming, evolution and other prickly subjects -- interesting questions but not necessarily relevant to policy matters. But candidates' views about federal support of stem cell or cleantech research? Very relevant. (Many bloggers seem to be missing this distinction when they poke fun at the idea of politicians debating 'science'.)

Russell's Blog has a funny script for how a true presidential science debate might go. A science-policy debate would probably be somewhat less exciting, but maybe a good way to make sure candidates are at least minimally conversant with these issues -- which ultimately have a huge impact on human quality of life -- as they now have to be with health care mandates, oil policy, and so on.