Most people that I know are absolutely disgusted by politicians. No matter what a person's political affiliation, if you're an intelligent person then you want decisions to be based on a firm understanding of the reality of the situation. There may be perfectly valid disagreements about how best to address the problems within this reality, of course, but ultimately no one wants decisions to be made on a faulty understanding of reality.
And how do we understand reality? Well, the most well-established and consistent method for understanding the working of reality is science.
Why is this so? Basically it is because science (and, so far as I know, only science) has built into it a systematic method to continually question its base assumptions, to really get at the fundamental truths about how reality functions. Sean Carroll put this eloquently in a recent YouTube video, when he describes skepticism:
Scientists are taught that we should be our own theories' harshest critics. Scientists spend all of their time trying to disprove their favorite ideas. This is a remarkable way of doing things that is a little bit counter-intuitive, but helps us resist the allure of wishful thinking.
Unfortunately, virtually no politicians approach things this way. Political thinking typically starts with a conviction and then proceeds to amass evidence that supports that conviction ... and disregards evidence that conflicts with their conviction.
However, when really considering the policies that we want implemented, people believe that scientific reality is a fairly good thing to consider. Some science enthusiasts believe that religion and religious people are inherently anti-scientific, but a recent poll indicates that this isn't really the case. Even people who self-identify as religious provide a strong indication that they want a scientific-based debate between presidential candidates.
In fact, a science debate came in third among presidential debate themes, right behind economy/taxes and foreign policy/national security, but well ahead of themes such as faith/values or the environment.
Do you believe that there should be a Science Debate as part of the 2012 presidential election, focusing on science-themed areas such as innovation, healthcare, and energy policy? Is this a realistic proposition, or will both parties run from such an enterprise? Offer your thoughts in the comments below.