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A Call For Science Policy Debate Among Presidential Candidates

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the because-it-would-be-hilarious dept.

Politics 375

Marissa Fessenden writes about a campaign to get Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to address important scientific issues in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. ScienceDebate.org and Scientific American have posed a set of questions to the candidates, as well as congressional leaders, and they're rallying support for those questions to be answered before the election. The responses will be published and graded for citizens to see. The questions include topics such as biosecurity, climate change, the safety of food and water supplies, vaccination, and environmentally sustainable energy. This comes at a time when the basic scientific literacy of elected officials is under heavy scrutiny.

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Why? (2, Insightful)

jasper160 (2642717) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079565)

Why? One can't talk or think without the teleprompter and other will quote the Old Testament.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079597)

Why? One can't talk or think without the teleprompter and other will quote the Old Testament.

Which is why it becomes important to determine(admittedly by way of various imperfect proxy measures) what their chosen science minions will do for them...

While it might be an interesting change of pace to elect a scientist rather than a lawyer or executive, that seems unlikely. However, even the personally-dimmest are going to end up making choices about the sort of 'expertise' they choose to cultivate around themselves, and we'll likely see a few differences in that advisory group.

Science?!? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079745)

Which is why it becomes important to determine(admittedly by way of various imperfect proxy measures) what their chosen science minions will do for them...

What's with all that sciency guff?

I want a candidate with character, morals, one who represents my beliefs on abortion and on the deficit and whether or not we should reduce spending or increase taxes. Because the other side is too stupid and ignorant to represent this country and steer it in the right direction! The other side has the wrong values and they are just going to drive this country into the toilet!!

We don't need no science debate! That's just for eggheads! Why the Chinese leadership is made up almost entirely of scientists and engineers and look at them!

-John and Jane Q. Public.

Re:Science?!? (1, Insightful)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080327)

What's with all that sciency guff?

I want a candidate with character, morals, one who represents my beliefs on abortion and on the deficit and whether or not we should reduce spending or increase taxes.

To be honest that's probably the kind of thinking you should be engaing in.

Good scientists make terrible leaders, as they either tend to believe themselves to be experts in everything despite only knowing much about the migration habits of snow geese, or being so balanced and equivocal (ie scientific) about every issue that they will never be able to make a decision.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079835)

While it might be an interesting change of pace to elect a scientist rather than a lawyer or executive, that seems unlikely.

You may be surprised how many politicians, lawyers, and executives have a BSc or better under their belt. For example the Iron Lady was a chemist trained at Oxford, her scientific training probably helped her to become one of the first world leaders to call for action on AGW in the 80's...OTOH...the Iron Lady did have other ideas in other areas, more than a few of those policies can be used to demonstrate that technocrats have shitty policy ideas just like everyone else.

In 2008 if was 28 out of 435. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079931)

28 out of 435 [curiouscatblog.net] And most are MDs or engineers - one PhD in Mathematics.

And there are probably less after the Tea Baggers got done in '10.

Re:Why? (2)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080013)

Europe is different. In Europe they put people like Gauss on their money, and elect people like Thatcher and Merkel (also a chemist) to positions of power.

Here in the US, we have different attitudes about what sorts of things constitute "qualifications".

Re:Why? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079943)

While it might be an interesting change of pace to elect a scientist rather than a lawyer or executive...

We need to elect a psychiatrist, so he can prescribe us some better meds.

Re:Why? (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080069)

While it might be an interesting change of pace to elect a scientist rather than a lawyer or executive...

You can say that again. Just think of the knowledge we could learn with proper experimentation. 1: Experimental control: do not launch a nuclear strike against large semi-communistic nuclear armed country. 2: Test Case: Do launch a nuclear strike against a large semi-communistic nuclear armed country.

Just think of how much fun the statisticians could have with a scientist as president!

;)

Actually, I think evidenced based policy with periodic refinement would be an excellent way to run a country. You need some humans in the mix to make sure you don't wind up with cold-calculating death-committees (well death-algorithms) - so the robotic/computer overlord model is out...

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079731)

Because Democrats can't think, that's obvious duh. And your a religious bigot. Democrat = Marxist, republican = socialist.

Re:Why? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079831)

The sad part is both of those apply to both candidates pretty much equally.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080267)

Even though I agree with 1/2 of this, someone bringing up "teleprompter" deserves all communications flushed down the memory hole.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080357)

Sorry, dipshit, but the teleprompter meme fails.

All politicians these days have teleprompters, so actually, what'll happen is that Mitt Romney will use his teleprompter to pretend to quote the Book of Mormon to do whatever the people he's trying to exploit today (or the ones who are paying him to do what he wants) want from him.

Obama? Yeah, pick up the false degradation all you want, but he'd at least have a chance of listening to a real argument, not just a check.

What about Ron Paul? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079577)

What about Ron Paul? He is not out yet. I have yet to see any evidence of him dropping out of the race.

Re:What about Ron Paul? (1)

jasper160 (2642717) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079589)

He would be the only one but the press and parties have shut him out.

Re:What about Ron Paul? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079603)

What about the Green Party, Communists and every other fringe candidate? They're all running for President, why shouldn't they all get a fair hearing?

American politics is not a two horse race, no matter how much the media tries to convince you that it is.

Re:What about Ron Paul? (1)

mcwop (31034) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079685)

Because they might expose the Democrats and Republicans for what they are: stupid, and corrupt. It is a two horse race, and the horses parties are very good at keeping it that way.

Re:What about Ron Paul? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079893)

The problem with most of the third party candidates is that they are too fringe, they are even further from moderation. I am actually a registered member of the Modern Whig Party (A moderate group).
But if you saw the New York Governors race a couple years ago. They had a big debate with all the candidates. The Green Party and the Rent is too damn high party made the Democrats look like the moderates in the debate. Then republican was a strong Tea Party Candidate, and the had a Libertarian party too.

If they agreed on a debate the Republican vs. Democrat, Cuomo would actually have a harder time, Because he could be placed as far left. But next to "Rent is too damn High" party. He looked like the only rational person in the room.

(I use to carpool and there was a house with a "Vote R" Sign., we use to joke, I wonder what the R is. Of course he want us to vote for "Rent is too Damn High")

Re:What about Ron Paul? (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079727)

Ron Paul has ZERO chance of becoming President, ever.

Re:What about Ron Paul? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080159)

What about Ron Paul? He is not out yet. I have yet to see any evidence of him dropping out of the race.

And I haven't seen any evidence of him entering it. He's not even going to be on the ballot in my state (Montana). No fliers in my mailbox, no grassroots efforts, no advertising, no speeches or stops. Everybody basically assumes that both our electoral votes are going to go to Romney or whoever is on the GOP ticket regardless of how people in the state actually vote... and they're right. I like to vote for whatever 3rd party candidate is on the ticket, if any show up, just as a show of support, but in terms of actually deciding who is going to be in the White House next January my vote is a moot ballot.

The problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079613)

This comes at a time when the basic scientific literacy of elected officials is under heavy scrutiny.

The problem is that the questions aren't about scientific "literacy". They're about policy (see article title). This is why the questions are the standard pap about global warming, research funding (into global warming, presumably), education ("more funding" is probably the answer they want to hear), energy (read: wind farms and other rentseeking green crap), water (mostly a state responsibility anyway), the usual fact-deprived bollocks about "ocean health", and "science in public policy", which means something like "how will you better persecute heretics who don't buy into the global warming fraud?".

And finally, "enforce vaccinations in the interest of public health" - ask Rick Perry how that one worked out.

Re:The problem (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079633)

The problem is that the questions aren't about scientific "literacy". They're about policy (see article title).

That hits the nail on the head. Years ago my daugher LOVED science. She couldn't read enough about various disciplines. But when her good grades started getting her invitations to things like Johns Hopkins seminars on, for example, biology-related careers she sat through hours of policy wonks describing how to get "grants". She saw the light and now works for herself.

Re:The problem (2, Interesting)

Thugthrasher (935401) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079871)

This comes at a time when the basic scientific literacy of elected officials is under heavy scrutiny.

The problem is that the questions aren't about scientific "literacy". They're about policy (see article title). This is why the questions are the standard pap about global warming, research funding (into global warming, presumably), education ("more funding" is probably the answer they want to hear), energy (read: wind farms and other rentseeking green crap), water (mostly a state responsibility anyway), the usual fact-deprived bollocks about "ocean health", and "science in public policy", which means something like "how will you better persecute heretics who don't buy into the global warming fraud?".

And finally, "enforce vaccinations in the interest of public health" - ask Rick Perry how that one worked out.

The only one of those that I think couldn't be answered in a way in which you would seem to like is #2, because #2 requires you to accept the fact that the Earth's climate is changing (note that it doesn't require you to accept that man has caused the climate to change or that the change is unprecedented....and it even provides an out because it asks for a specific position on policies that I assume you completely oppose and then a general question on how to tackle challenges that cross national boundaries).

I think we all know what the liberal answers to these questions are, in general terms, so I'll go through the super conservative answers (there are a couple that I don't know the most conservative response to, but I will note them...and I'm sure there is one, I just don't know which response is the 'liberal' one and which is the 'conservative' one, so I don't know what to put) :

#1: Conservative answer is less government interference in scientific innovation
#2: Assuming you can accept that the climate is going through some changes, the 'conservative' answer is to oppose those policies (and preferably think up better policies to deal with any issues that may be caused by a warmer climate, should temps continue rising)
#3: The true completely conservative answer would be that the government should either not invest in research or the government should only invest in research that, for whatever reason, cannot be handled by the private sector...and much of that should be done by the states
#4: Conservative answer: As much as can be handled by the states should be, but we need to look at our policies for coming into the country (to protect against pandemics) and may need to do an overhaul of our defense preparations for biological attacks (depending on how they stand at the moment)
#5: The true conservative answer to this is that our public schools are failing and the federal government should stay out of education as much as possible. States should have the option to offer vouchers for private schools, as well.
#6: We should look at the natural resources available in the US and make as much use out of those as we can to become independent of other countries when ti comes to energy, in the meanwhile, let the energy companies continue researching any alternative energy source they feel will be profitable and it will be implemented as soon as it can be.
#7: The only real role of the government here is to make sure that what is sold as food is safe and edible. If it passes those tests, then there is no reason companies should be required to label what is in them, but they will if the market demands.
#8: The federal government shouldn't be involved, this is a state matter
#9: The federal government should stay out of the internet.
#10: If the pollution negatively impacts someone, then the company should be held responsible and pay a penalty. Most companies will avoid harsh pollution if it will affect their bottom line. I don't know what the most conservative response to the foreign policy question is, as what is 'conservative' in foreign policy is a little hazy these days.
#11: Make sure that any scientific advisors are well educated and know their given fields. Accept input from experts when making a decision.
#12: Space exploration, etc. should be handled by private companies.
#13: Again, I don't know the conservative answer to this one.
#14: Make vaccinations available and MAYBE make the most vital vaccinations required to take advantage of public services (public schools, for example). If vaccination levels begin to drop enough that 'herd immunity' will become no longer viable, then in the interest of protecting the rights of the young and those who cannot receive vaccinations (because of allergies, etc.) then vaccinations will need to be required. (Note: Politically popular or not, that is the policy of a true conservative on this. Keep the government out of it unless it is negatively affecting the rights of other people more than enforcing a government policy would violate your rights)

Now, most of these responses are on a continuum and, depending on where someone lies on the spectrum of liberalconservative, the answer a particular person wants to hear will fall somewhere within the spectrum. But these are actual conservative answers to these questions.

Loaded questions? Sort of. (5, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079615)

Republicans will see the list of suggested topics ("biosecurity, climate change, the safety of food and water supplies, vaccination, and environmentally sustainable energy") as unfair and biased toward the Democrats' agenda. However, this says more about the Republican party's interest in science than it does about ScienceDebate.org's political bias.

Re:Loaded questions? Sort of. (2)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079957)

Absolutely. The first test will be how each candidate responds to the debate proposal itself. Will either or both accept and, if so, will it be with a ton of conditions and modifications to the question list?

Re:Loaded questions? Sort of. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079979)

Each of those topics is relevant to Republicans and they take an active interest in it. The disagreement is how each of these topics are addressed.

Pretty much the Left would argue for an absolutist policy based on the current popular science. So they would shut down all the coal fueled power plants, outlaw gasoline vehicles, have mandatory vaccinations, and who knows what oppressive crap they would come up with in the name of food and water safety.

Republicans would look at each issue and weigh the cost vs. benefits and do what makes sense while ensuring everyone's safety and prosperity.

  After all, what's best for the planet is if we all lived in grass huts and ate nuts and berries (strictly rationed so as to not impact the bears trying to fatten up for the winter). And since the Left would have outlawed water treatment plants due to the chemicals and land use impact, we'd all be drinking from streams.

Re:Loaded questions? Sort of. (3, Informative)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080093)

I don't know any non-kooks who want to completely ban fossil fuels. Most want either to say "no burning fossil fuel without a permit" and issue permits equal to a desired level of emissions, or implement a carbon tax tuned to reduce emissions to that level.

As for vaccinations: yes, they should be mandatory. No religious whackjob exceptions or crystal-clutching hippie exceptions. Go read about the polio epidemic and you'll understand why. Possibly there can be one exception: a parent puts up a bond for the cost of getting their kid tested for the presence of polio/measles/whatever every couple of months, and if the kid tests positive at any time then parent goes to jail for assault against both the kid and whoever the kid may have infected.

Again, nobody on the Left wants to outlaw water treatment plants, either, given that they're rather fond of building the things in the first place.

Re:Loaded questions? Sort of. (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079987)

Of course they would choose topics that are points of contention between the parties. If Republicans see that as bias, maybe they're not as confident about their positions as they pretend to be.

Re:Loaded questions? Sort of. (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080027)

They are important questions, but they aren't related to science. This bias strengthens the anti-science attitude. Science should focus on the pursuit of knowledge not on daily politics.

Re:Loaded questions? Sort of. (1)

fa2k (881632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080131)

I agree with you that there is no obvious agenda (as an outsider), but there is something missing from the questions. They ask about some specific problems that may be solved by science, but there is not much about basic research. As in maths, physics, chemistry and biology, for the sake of expanding the horizon of human understanding, with no specific goal in mind, but with the possibility for amazing new technology to come out. (The closes they come is perhaps "Space")

Re:Loaded questions? Sort of. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080261)

Actually Republicans might latch onto this debate, because the biggest issue is now firmly in their favor. We are on track to hit our Kyoto protocol goal of reducing CO2 to 1990 levels, having hit 1992 levels this year. Environmentally sustainable energy is now a huge win for Republicans as it wasn't Priuses, EPA regulations, or cap and trade, but petroleum engineers and fracking that got us there. The government has been actively trying to stop fracking, regardless of the settled science that it is safe.

How much fun would Romney have pointing out all of Obama's failed green policies to stop climate change while then pointing to the dreaded fracking as the solution, which is not only the leading source of non-government jobs in the US, but what has rendered the climate change debate moot.

Not loaded - pointless (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080403)

Climate change is a stupid question to bring up, regardless on where you fall on the issue. America has already lowered carbon emissions a great deal, if you're that worried about it talk to the rest of the world.

"environmentally sustainable energy" is equal silly, since the answer is simply "nuclear power" and letting the market bring forth efficient solar options at its own pace (wind is not now, nor ever has been a good alternative energy source).

As to "safety of food and water supplies, vaccination" - what are they really going to say? "No I don't think food should be safe" or "no vaccines"? Only fringe groups think that way. Hell, if anything Republicans would be more prone to allowing food irradiation, so who is on the nutty side of THAT debate?

So why, when we have an opportunity to bring up science issues that matters are we wasting time with points that yes, are nothing more than Democrat talking points without real impact?

If they aren't going to ask real questions they should just be ignored until they do.

Seriously? (0)

sproketboy (608031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079643)

You mean to say that in America you elect presidents who have no stated policy on these critical questions? Well that explains it....

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079861)

Clearly you're incapable of differentiating between science and environmentalism masquerading as science - which happens to be SciAm's specialty.

Evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079657)

Evolution is one of the most hotly contested science issues in politics, but they didn't have the stones to ask about it. Were they afraid of something, or did they just not expect a decent answer out of it?

Re:Evolution? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079823)

Evolution is just a troll issue for anti-religious bigots.

What does that have to do with the office of the Presidency?

Re:Evolution? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079863)

It is an easy sanity check.

It really is that simple. It is not a troll, anymore than pointing out the earth is round.

Re:Evolution? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079951)

Sanity check / loyalty oath / code words for bigotry

Re:Evolution? (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080035)

Nope, just reality.

If you want to believe the Earth is flat go for it. Just don't expect not to be mocked. Same thing for thinking the universe is 6000 years old.

Not all issues have two sides. Like with the shape of the earth there just can be no argument. Just reality and crazies.

Re:Evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080101)

Those "crazies" are not like us. Everyone laugh at the people who are not like us. Mock them. We're the good people. They aren't. In fact, they're barely even people at all.

Re:Evolution? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080203)

I did not suggest people Mock them, I stated they should expect to be mocked.

No one is suggesting they are not people, only not fit to be elected.

People who cling to myths in the face of evidence are exhibiting magical thinking.

Re:Evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080487)

They have an inferior mentality. Like children, they need us to guide them. To show them the way. To rule them.

Re:Evolution? (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080491)

Really?

So, when does human life begin?

AFAICT, the entire left in America refuses to believe any science on that subject whatsoever and consistently makes up fantasy arguments to ease themselves of guilt associated with murdering living human beings. In particular, the lawyers on SCOTUS making up rules to define life based upon air.

Re:Evolution? (2)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080115)

A loyalty oath is something imposed from above; a sanity check is something imposed by the electorate. Nobody is proposing barring people who give whackjob answers from running for president; we're just hoping that voters won't vote for them. This is how elections are supposed to work.

Re:Evolution? (1)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080461)

These questions are about policy around science. What policy do you propose about evolution? Some regulation that we must kill genetically inferior citizens?

Debate about where control should exist. (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079667)

Here is what I would love to see.

I big grid with specific topics for the rows.
Then have the following columns titles. Federal, State, County, City, Family, Individual.

For each topic the candidate has to put where they think that control should exist.

Re:Debate about where control should exist. (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079799)

Is there a difference between family and individual?

Re:Debate about where control should exist. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079875)

For children yes, and Conservative Christians would also lump women in with that.

Re:Debate about where control should exist. (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080087)

How many families actually exist in the U.S. where the woman stays home barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen while the man works?

How many women (in the US) are actually denied jobs or education because they are women?

How many conservative, christian families (in the US) have women who bow to the every whim of their husband?

You are making up crap because you have been conditioned to beleive that concervative christians are evil and hate women. Open your eyes and actually look around at your friends and neighbors. You might be surprised. Yes, there are idiots, but they are a minority.

Re:Debate about where control should exist. (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080229)

I think you need to travel into the rural areas more often.

I have relatives that fit every single one of these questions. I agree they are a minority, but they exist and the Republicans cater to their every whim.

Re:Debate about where control should exist. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080401)

I live in the rural areas. I travel through rural areas quite a bit. We're not a stereotype. At this day and age, most rural women WORK for a living, because we flat out can't afford to be a family and own a home without two incomes. It's 2012 asshole - necessity dictates that dual income is needed to be able to survive.

Oh, and good job using anecdotal evidence, then saying that you know they are in the minority to prove your point.

How about this: All suburbanites drive too big of vehicles to compensate for tiny dicks, they all work in insurance, they're all cheating on their wives with Puerto Rican men, and they all snort coke on the weekends. I totally have an uncle that does that, but I know that he's in the minority, but IT'S STILL FUCKING TRUE ABOUT ALL OF YOU.

Re:Debate about where control should exist. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080467)

I was only ever talking about a minority.

I am not sure why you think I meant all rural folks are like that.

Specifically Rural Conservative Christians are the only set of folks I was talking about. I was not generalizing about anyone else. I never spoke about anyone else.

This small set of folks does this and they are catered to by the republican party.

Controlling your life in the name of [science] (3, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079673)

Group of people interested in [science] want a debate about extending government control over your life in the name of [science].

Replace [science] with religion, health, nutrition, education, morals, national security, the environment, commerce, or any other issue you want. It's all essentially the same. The answers should be the same too: "No, we'll make our own choices."

There's no need for any special debates for [science].

Re:Controlling your life in the name of [science] (4, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080071)

The attack by conservatives on science and reason has nothing to do with "control over your life". It's quite the opposite, in fact. Once you defeat the idea of rational governance, you're free to exercise power in a completely arbitrary way, in response to the needs of your corporate patrons or any whim at all. Total power is not constrained by the requirement of rational justification.

And before conservatives complain about government abridging their freedoms, they should reflect on the long list of groups (women, gays, non-christians, etc. etc.) that they deem undeserving of the same consideration.

Re:Controlling your life in the name of [science] (0)

JWW (79176) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080161)

Bullshit. A free market yields greater freedom and greater flexibility to the individual than government mandates do.

This problem is always framed to say "If the government doesn't regulate it then horrible stuff will happen."

Rational governance is great, but excuse me, where the fuck is the rational governance from either side lately?

A healthy free market is one of the strongest forces for science and innovation that can possibly exist. However, in our current corporate culture many many barriers to truly free competition and innovation have caused problems, but if you dig even a small bit into the issues that are corrupting our free markets, you'll see crappy government regulations and regulatory capture of the government regulators by the industries they regulate.

Re:Controlling your life in the name of [science] (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080301)

Once you defeat the idea of rational governance, you're free to exercise power in a completely arbitrary way, in response to the needs of your corporate patrons or any whim at all. Total power is not constrained by the requirement of rational justification.

Once you decide it's OK to exercise power over people based on some arbitrary rationale, you can shape the rationale to provide whatever powers fit your whims.

Rational justification does not constrain. Rational arguments can be made for or against any action or policy. And they're all amazingly persuasive after you've already decided what you want to do.

Lack of government power over people constrains the exercise of government power over people. When there are no enforcers, force is unavailable as an option.

And before conservatives complain about government abridging their freedoms, they should reflect on the long list of groups (women, gays, non-christians, etc. etc.) that they deem undeserving of the same consideration.

That's some interesting grievance politics you have there. Which people do you want power over? And what do you want to force them to do?

There is no attack on science or reason (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080505)

The attack by conservatives on science and reason

Bullshit. There are some crazy Republicans - but also equally crazy Democrats, against food irradiation, or nuclear power.

There's nothing conservative about an attack on science.

they should reflect on the long list of groups (women, gays, non-christians, etc. etc.) that they deem undeserving of the same consideration.

It's funny you should mention that since it is conservative groups that ended segregation, and supported suffragettes. Through history Democrats have long been the party to resist real progress, and very little has changed.

Re:Controlling your life in the name of [science] (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080237)

People making their own choices often make very bad choices, and the consequences of those choices affect others. Government control is a means of making those choices by (ideally) popular choice, so that if bad choices are made, it's because the majority of us wanted it that way.

Of course, the system is flawed in that politicians are now package deals, so a popular choice in one field means a you're stuck with an unpopular choice elsewhere. That's still no reason to abandon the system, but rather a reason to work to change it.

Re:Controlling your life in the name of [science] (2)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080385)

People making their own choices often make very bad choices, and the consequences of those choices affect others. Government control is a means of making those choices by (ideally) popular choice, so that if bad choices are made, it's because the majority of us wanted it that way.

Like when the two wolves and the lamb voted on what to eat for dinner. The lamb wanted to make a very bad choice. But another choice was made by the majority. They took what they wanted.

debate my balls (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079679)

fags

What good will that to for us? (0, Flamebait)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079683)

Science debates are for sophisticated and educated societies. All Romney would have to do to solidify his voting base is mention that the earth was created 6000 years ago, that humans aren't causing Global Warming, and that corn is healthy as a staple crop and answer to our oil needs.

And who would believe a Muslim illegal immigrant invader like Barack Hussein Osama (being sarcastic).

In a race with almost all scientists part of one party's ideology, and those rejecting science in favor of religion in the other party, I really don't see how a science debate will help either candidate.

Re:What good will that to for us? (2)

the computer guy nex (916959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079751)

Do people actually believe this garbage or are these just bad jokes?

The majority of scientists I know lean right. Only the bad scientists who will say anything for more 'free' government funding lean left.

Re:What good will that to for us? (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079867)

If we can't sling mud at people we disagree and call them religous, ignorant nutters who hate women and minorities or communist hippie nutters who want to destroy the America we have worked so hard for... Afterall, bucketizing people is what we do best. If one person who claims membership of a group does something bad, the entire group must be at fault.

Look no further than Penn State for a good example of how we lovingly lash out in defence of America and the Children and the Environment because the media told us to and it made good TV.

Re:What good will that to for us? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079999)

Penn State? They deserve whatever they get.
The football program and the university higherups covered up and protected a child molester, could it have been much worse?

You think even covering up child rape is something that should just be ignored?

Re:What good will that to for us? (1, Interesting)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079873)

We clearly know different scientists. The only ones I know that lean right are those working for the Discovery Institute, Big Oil/Big Pharma, or Koch Brothers. The ones living off publishing research in peer reviewed journals in the University systems or in labs tend to lean left.

Re:What good will that to for us? (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079895)

The majority of scientists you know are then idiots.

The republican party has fully embraced the far right christians. These are young earth crazies that are fine with destroying the earth as they believe the apocalypse is right around the corner. They have no interest in furthering knowledge beyond "God did it".

Re:What good will that to for us? (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080123)

I suspect it's partly regional, your flamebait comment aside. Having said that though, all the engineers and scientists I know either are independant or reluctant republican leaning even those from the New England area. But I work for a huge multinational company and any American engineer leans central-right. Perhaps it's corporate makeup, perhaps not.

Re:What good will that to for us? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080345)

And my anecdote cancels out yours.

I actually know 0 scientists and engineers whose political beliefs can be so easily labeled.

I think that is the central problem with american politics. We have only two possible choices and they actually only cater to a select few.

Re:What good will that to for us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079941)

You are a stupid man.

I'd ask this question: (4, Insightful)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079697)

How about implementing safer forms of nuclear power?

Such a technology does exist: the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), a prototype of which was tested in the 1960's and early 1970's at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with very promising results for power generation but was discontinued because it couldn't generate uranium-235 and plutonium-239 needed for nuclear weapons production.

There are numerous advantages to LFTR nuclear power plants, as I've mentioned in other posts in the recent past. And it uses thorium-232, which is quite abundant in nature, so finding it is not an issue. (Indeed, China wants this technology because they can't figure out what to do with all that thorium ore dug out as part of China's extensive rare Earth mining program.)

Wind and solar power may be nice, but large installations of wind turbines could pose a major hazard to birds and most large-scale solar power array installations take up huge swaths of land. Meanwhile, a modern LFTR using Brayton turbines to generate power takes up a very small amount of land just to generate 500 to 1,000 MW, which means very cheap construction costs.

Re:I'd ask this question: (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079935)

Bullshit. Office buildings kill far more birds than wind farms, you never hear anyone mentioning that. Solar can take up huge swaths of land, we have it empty. What are your plans for our deserts?

LFTR might do all of what you suggest, but no one knows that. First we need to build one in 2012 not 1970. Then we need to study it. I strongly support doing that, I do not support using bullshit against other forms of power.

For all we know there are major problems with LFTR that have not yet been found, lets be realistic about this. We should try it, but not pretend like it is some magic unicorn.

Re:I'd ask this question: (1)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080519)

There are far more office buildings than wind power generators. Deserts are as much a part of the environment as non-deserts; I only support solar installation on roofs.

The first question I want asked of any candidate (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079703)

The first question that needs to be asked in any science policy among presidental candidates is,

What is your stance on Miracles [youtube.com] as relates to the overall state of American science education?

Re:The first question I want asked of any candidat (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080001)

What is your stance on Miracles [youtube.com] as relates to the overall state of American science education?
Do you also expect the candidates to provide you with an adequate explanation of magnetism?

Re:The first question I want asked of any candidat (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080305)

I expect a more open-minded reply than "And I don't wanna talk to a scientist, Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed"

Why bother? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079709)

Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama are scientists. And, neither of them are going to be "in charge" of science policy. They are going to hire people to do that for them.

Why not get the people they would hire as science policy advisers to debate?

A science debate between Romney and Obama would be nothing more than a highlight of their personal beliefs about things like abortion, stem cell research, and so on, which we already know. Obama is pro-choice and Romney is pro-life. Obama is for stem cell research and Romney is against. Pretty predictable and straightforward stuff.

Neither would be able to speak to the nitty gritty that we care about.

A call for REASON (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079713)

There's no such thing as global warming... or kittens.

Do NOT let the candidates know the questions ahead of time - any parrot can rattle off speeches. It takes a real mind to answer real questions without filibustering the question into the ground, while seeming to sheeple that you did in fact answer the question.

Re:A call for REASON (3, Insightful)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079905)

But isn't it the mark of a good leader to be able to delegate? Some of the proposed questions do not have simple answers and I would prefer a leader willing to take the time and effort to get his subordinates to research the question and provide him with good data before formulating policy answers. Or do you prefer politicians to randomly spout out the first thing that comes to mind as policy?

Re:A call for REASON (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080493)

Actually, I do prefer they spout out the first thing that comes to mind - it lets you better know who you might be voting for.

What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41079763)

Geniuses like Todd Akin sits on Science Committee and the other VP candidate has aligned with Todd's views over 30 times over related issues.

Whatever Obama says can't be more stupid than what the opponents can cook up.

GOP's only hope in a discussion like that is that the audience would be even more stupid and would not notice all the gaffes made.

Why Bother. (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079789)

We are no longer electing a person we are electing an ideology.

1. Innovation and the Economy: Democrats, More money into funding NSF, and Public Universities. Republicans, let the private market innovate themselves, allow competition to improve be the driving factor.

2. Climate Change: Democrats, More money into less effective green energy in hopes that money will make it work better. Republicans Increase use in Nuclear and Natural Gas production and let the market decide what is best for them.

3. Research and the Future: Democrats,More money into funding NSF, and Public Universities. Republicans, let the private market innovate themselves, allow competition to improve be the driving factor.

4. Pandemics and Biosecurity: Democrats, Wait until something happens in the US then we will have an answer 15 minutes before the problem climaxes, From a federal funded scientist. Republicans, Wait until something happens in the US then we will have an answer 15 minutes before the problem climaxes, from a drug company scientist.

5. Education: Democrates, More money into schools, we will put some stupid metrics to show that it works. Republicans, vouchers for private schools, all competition of schools force them to improve.

6. Energy: Democrats, More money into less effective green energy in hopes that money will make it work better. Republicans Increase use in Nuclear and Natural Gas production and let the market decide what is best for them.

7. Food: Democrats, screw scientific results they are just from some corporate drone anyways, ban anything that sounds scary. Republicans let it all go out, and lets not try to measure it, until enough people are dying.

8. Fresh Water: Democrats, Find the most polluted areas spend a lot of money to clean it up (It cannot be used for drinking, or fishing. But there is a 50% reduction of pollution!!!), and show a nice big percentage number to show the improvement. Republicans, tell the population to buy water cleaning systems for their house.

9. The Internet: Democrats, Policies that will favor the internet companies that fund them More Open, but we tax it more. Republicans, Policies that will favor the internet companies that fund them, less open but no taxes.

10. Ocean Health: Democrats, heavy restrictions on all companies. Republicans, The Ocean is in in international waters... Not our concern.

11. Science in Public Policy: Both sides will give some BS answer and only cite science when it is for their benefit. Discredit the source when it isn't.

12. Space: Democrats, Wast of Time and Money. Republicans, a military strategy.

13. Critical Natural Resources: Democrats Put money in protecting or expanding and regulating the users. Republicans, Supply and Demmand will correct itself, once becomes to scarce price will rise high enough for alternative.

14. Vaccination and public health: Democrats, force it on everyone screw what their religion or belief is. Republicans let people decide for themselves, and allow the spread of misinformation too.

We are no longer getting candidates for leaders, we are getting ideology enforcers.
Democrats, Will spend want to spend more money to solve the problem, money will solve all problems.
Republicans, Will want private business to solve the problem, businesses can solve all problem.

What we need is a leader not an ideology. Who can look at these issues and say. If we change a process here we may be able to solve a problem without that much money. Or this area does have a good process but it needs some more money to reach critical mass. Analysis when there is policies are in conflict with each other and try to measure the trade offs.
But one of those guys would be those horrible moderates, or as we call them Flip Floppers. They do crazy things like listen to both sides, and use their own mind to come up with a solution. We don't want one of those people to rule our country. We want easy to digest sound bytes that follows a consistent ideology. Because a simple ideology will solve all our problems, the problem is always the other guy who will not allow us to implement our ideology.

Lazy (2)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080253)

Honestly Republicans just sound lazy.

Q1: Question?
Rep: Meh. Let the Markets figure it out.

Its like they can't be bothered to come up with anything, just let the "market" fix everything for everyone.

Re:Lazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080321)

Thank you for proving his point. You don't agree with it, so it's lazy. Or stupid. Or ignorant. Or something. But it always boils down to my ideology is better than yours. I'm with OP - why can't we have some moderate thought, some rational discourse? Why are we being polarized so heavily?

Tin-foil hat time. Mostly it's the press. They present everything the candidates do in light of HOW different it is from each other. They present it as YOU MUST CHOOSE RIGHT OR LEFT. Rational discourse is dead, the name of the game, as OP said, is easy to digest sound bites.

The people don't want to think. The people just want to relax. So, we listen to media, we follow their lead. I'm not sure they're going where I want to go.

A question of the better engine (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080465)

Q1: Question?
Rep: Meh. Let the Markets figure it out.

It's more like - eh - why can't markets provide that solution?

After all, it's why America was founded, so that people would have to freedom to address problems as they arose through private industry. Government is NOT supposed to be doing a lot of work, because that is the job of the people.

You seem to think of it as "lazy". Yet it's like the man who has 100 miles to travel - they are just sitting back in a car, pressing a gas pedal and letting a powerful engine carry them where the wish to go.

You would have them walk, and very likely never reach the destination.

Re:Why Bother. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080395)

Both sides people really are truly disgusting. It is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO obvious you are leaping through hoops and bending over backwards, as well as saying outright lies to maintain your special snowflake belief that you're better than parties.

Re:Why Bother. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080501)

5. Education: Democrates, More money into schools, we will put some stupid metrics to show that it works. Republicans, vouchers for private schools, all competition of schools force them to improve.

You must live in a different universe than me, the people I see most frenetically demanding testing and metrics are the Republicans/conservatives who dogmatically insist that WE MUST KNOW how our schools are performing.

They do support vouchers for private schools, but they also support the standardized testing industry with a very vehement attitude.

I'd argue some of the other ones, but that's the one that is most outside my observations. Republicans want the metrics far more than Democrats who just go along because of the stridency of the right-wing support.

Me, I spend time arguing that the metrics are stupid (we agree there), and a money siphon, but they just demand it still, with no recognition of the problems.

I will grant you, they don't want to prove anything is succeeding. They want to prove failure so they can pass their agenda.

What "science"? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079899)

We got AT&T on one side and Microsoft on the other. Obama and Romney hardly need to be mentioned. They will follow their marching orders these and other BigCorps.

Slashdot could do a lot more to provoke people to look for alternatives to these bozos instead of just giving them all this free press. We already know that whatever they claim as "policy" does not come from the candidates, but from their bosses. Whatever they say, especially the outrageous stuff, is just designed to distract us from noticing what they do. So please, stop shilling for them.

and the winner is (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#41079925)

Here is what it would look like [youtube.com]

John Jackson: "It's time someone had the courage to stand up and say: I'm against those things that everybody hates."

Jack Johnson: "Now, I respect my opponent. I think he's a good man. But quite frankly, I agree with everything he just said."

John Jackson: "I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far."

Jack Johnson: "And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough."

Oh, like the Nobel Prize winner has worked out wel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080091)

The science lobby at the universities desperately want one of their own in the WH because they desperately want the cash flows to continue. They also want to believe that cronyism that favors scientists is somehow better than good, old-fashioned crony government. But our latest leadership from the Department of Energy shows that scientists aren't any different. We've poured billions into fancy, university-blessed clean energy projects like Solyndra and what happened? They all went out of business.

I'm glad you asked -- my answers (0)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080107)

1. Innovation and the Economy. We need the private sector focused on ways for technology to help people, not kill them. The Internet revolution was born in the 1990's, when Clinton accelerated the "peace dividend" that Bush started, and technology companies and individuals who had previously worked in the defense industry found productive work to do. We need to do that again. We need to stop overseas interventionism, slash warfare spending, and let our technologists start the technology revolution, which could be robotics, and which the Asian countries have some leads over the U.S. already.

2. Climate Change. The gasoline tax is way too low. Automobiles carry a lot of unpaid negative externalities, and affect those -- 25%-33% -- who do not drive the most. This is the low-hanging fruit that also addresses concerns about the possible effects of greenhouse gases. We also need to encourage thorium reactors, which are safe and incapable of runaway reactions, to replace coal, which is poisoning our tuna sushi.

3. Research and the Future. Outside of defense research, this is out of the purview of the federal government.

4. Pandemics and Biosecurity. The U.S. needs to increase its civil defense and encourage individuals to be prepared. There was a smattering of this in the days after 9-11, "shelter in place" that has been forgotten in favor of ever more intrusive TSA strip searches. The U.S. should model its civil defense after Switzerland.

5. Education. Education is not in the purview of the federal government. The Department of Education should be eliminated -- this was in the GOP platform from 1980-1996 but dropped in 2000 when the Bush team rewrote the platform.

6. Energy. Direct the DOE to favor thorium reactors.

7. Food. Require GMO, anti-biotic, etc. labeling for food that crosses state lines.

8. Fresh Water. In recent years, the federal government has been conducting land grabs under the premise of fresh water but these actions have no effect on the water supply. This needs to be reversed. The term "fresh water" is misleading. All water is fresh, given enough energy. See thorium reactors. We also need to preserve our millenia-old aquifers, which are resources shared across state lines, by taxing their use.

9. The Internet. The government should play as little role as possible in the Internet. To bolster civil defense, spectrum should be allocated to enable WiFi mesh networks that can take over if large parts of the Internet go down or are taken over by rogue forces.

10. Ocean Health. Ocean health is a serious problem due to the lack of anyone or any entity having property ownership of the oceans (beyond the 200 mile boundary). The world's oceans should be auctioned off.

11. Science in Public Policy. The term "public policy" is disturbing from a Constitutional perspective, because there is very little in the purview of the federal government. But regarding the broader question of public involvement in government and the ability of the public to monitor the basis of government decisions, the greater threat is from rent-seeking than from misapplied or misunderstood science. The Library of Congress Thomas website has been a boon to those seeking to monitor the actions of government. The information from a website like opensecrets.org needs to be merged into Thomas so that the public can immediately and easily correlate rent seeking to proposed bills. The public can then be informed when they go to the polls. To close the loop, voting needs to be reformed by switching to paper ballots.

12. Space. Space is important to the federal government from a defense perspective because it is the ultimate "high ground". This aspect needs to be transferred from NASA to the Air Force. The civilian and military goals of NASA are at odds with each other, and this led in part to the deaths of two shuttle crews. The private sector can taken -- and has already started taking -- over the peaceful space missions.

13. Critical Natural Resources. The free market is superior to government at allocating scarce resources.

14. Vaccination and public health. Children get too many vaccinations. Hopefully with the dismantling of the Department of Education, unnecessary vaccinations will go down.

Don't know no science. (1)

methano (519830) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080117)

I don't think either of these guys know much about science. It would only be sad.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080153)

Neither of the candidates know anything about the science they would be debating. Rather, once a president is elected, his or her cabinet will deal with all of the details. There should be a greater democratic process in selecting cabinet members and perhaps we could hear their positions on science policy before they are appointed.

There are more than two candidates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080163)

How many realize there are more than two candidates? And I don't buy into the argument that only the top two matter. Just check out the 1912 election [wikipedia.org] .

Let me fix the headline for you (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080187)

A Call For Science Policy Debate Between Presidential Candidates... since you only mention two of them..

I guess we don't want fill peoples' heads with the idea they can vote for somebody else besides these two. It would only confuse them

Climate Change.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080251)

... is not a 'science' issue. It is a political issue, and, since most of the assertions are fraudulent, possibly a criminal issue. But there is no science in it...

Graded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41080329)

I was with them until the "graded" part. Upon what criteria would they be graded? There's more to a policy than statistics, or experimentally verifiable facts. A policy's impact on human rights and individual liberty need to be taken into account.

Cabinet members not candidates (4, Insightful)

trickstyhobbit (2713163) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080425)

The people who actually need to be scrutinized are the cabinet members. Since the candidate probably know less about science than I do, a debate between them would just be sad and ideological. Instead, there should be some public debate regarding potential cabinet members and at least some democratic accountability for them.

What's the point of a debate (2)

PJ6 (1151747) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080469)

when nobody I want to elect will get a chance to participate?

Graded? (2)

_Lint_ (30522) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080475)

I was with them until the "graded" part. Upon what criteria would they be graded? There's more to a policy than statistics, or experimentally verifiable facts. A policy's impact on human rights and individual liberty need to be taken into account.

Wait a minute... (2)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#41080547)

... basic scientific literacy of elected officials

I'm seriously trying to get my head around that one. Is this supposed to be a joke?

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