Tag Archives: sciencedebate

Science Questions for the Candidates

ScienceDebate.org is an organization that, for years now, has been pushing to get the candidates running for President of the United States to engage in a debate over science policy, just as they debate foreign policy, or economic policy, etc.

And, ScienceDebate.org has had some success. Some of the candidates, at the primary level, have engaged in such a debate, and at the national level, some of the candidates have contributed written answers to citizen-generated questions about science policy.

And now, they’ve done it again.

The four main candidates (two actual main candidates and two “third party” candidates) were provided with several science policy related questions. Three of the candidates have provided answers.

The entire project is to be found HERE. There are 20 questions.

I’m still going through them. If you have comments on any, please post them, I’d love to hear what you think.

Personally, I think Trump’s answer on climate change was probably written by Bjorn Lomborg. Or, cribbed form something he wrote.

(I suppose someone should be running these answers through a plagiarism checker???)

Gary Johnson apparently has nothing to say about science policy. That makes sense. He’s a Libertarian, and Libertarians don’t believe in science policy.

Jill Stein gave an interesting answer on Vaccines.

Trump wants to stop the inflow of opioids into the United States. He may not have understood the question.

The word “wall” does not appear among the answers, though Immigration is asked about.

Interesting answers on space as well.

Go look. Report back!

And, if you’ve not seen this, enjoy:

What Americans Really Want: Science, Candidates, Debates

It is debate season for the US presidential race. As usual, science is being viewed as a debating point very differently by the two parties, at least so far. The Democratic candidates, yet to actually debate, are currently engaged in dealing policy statements about important scientific issues such as climate change. In previous election cycles, science was brought into Republican primary debates to see which candidate could make the most anti-science statements. This year it is a bit different, with climate science in particular, and one’s ability to say something intelligent-sounding about it, being a factor, though still to a very small degree.

You are probably aware of ScienceDebate.org, which has been trying to get science on the table as a standard debating topic worthy of its own entire debate among the candidates. ScienceDebate.org has commissioned a poll asking American voters what they think about science and the candidates. You can read the poll results here.

I created some graphs that re-display the poll’s results in a slightly different, and simpler, way than the original poll.

First is a set of questions about science-based challenges, the importance of science, the relationship between science and policy, and the role of journalists in advancing this conversation. I simplified the results of five distinct statements to indicate simple agreement (strong or not) vs. disagreement, across political affiliation. The result is simple. A large majority of people across all political affiliations agree with al of the statements. Variation across the statements, or across the political parties, is unimpressive. Americans, across the board, are on board with science, with policy makers dealing with science, and want journalists to address this.


The second graphic simplified the results across two questions about the importance of members of Congress understanding science and the importance of a science debate. Again, the vast majority of Americans, according to this scientific poll, agree on the importance of these things.


For more details and finer breakdowns of these results, do visit the original poll.

Obama v. Romney on Science: The most important thing you can read this election season

The Science Debate Project, co-founded by my friend Shawn Otto of Minnesota, has been trying to get candidates for the office of President to engage in a public debate about science. There has been resistance to that idea, but at least, Obama and Romney were willing to answer a set of questions related to science and science policy. The questions with the President’s and Romney’s answers are HERE. A press release regarding the project is here.

Romney wants to improve education by allowing parents to send their kids to charter and private schools, and he wants to fund that. He is not sure that Anthropogenic Climate Change is real or important, though he admits that the planet may actually be getting warmer. He wants to enhance innovation by reducing taxes for the rich and demanding more of lower paid workers. Obama’s position on the various issues is more well thought out, more likely to work, and more succinctly worded.

I am very disappointed that no one thought to ask the chair what it thought, but maybe later in the election season that can happen.

For all those who think, if there are any of you left, that the two main political parties in the US are the same, read this and report back.