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Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Presidential Candidates Respond to Science Debate

By September 16, 2012

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Energy for Future PresidentsLast week, both major presidential candidates responded to a series of questions put together by the non-profit Science Debate organization. I've used this as my starting point for a piece on Science Issues in the 2012 Presidential Election, which will evolve a bit as these issues continue being addressed by the candidates (if that happens).

For some excellent perspective on these issues and the responses, there's a YouTube video where Dr. Kiki Sanford discusses the results with Shawn Lawrence Otto, author of Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America and co-founder of Science Debate. It runs about 47 minutes, but the analysis is quite good and I think gives both candidates their due for the good responses.

My perspective, as someone who isn't a policy wonk or anything but does have a mild interest in watching this political back-and-forth, is that Romney is the one who really needs to win people over among the pro-science community. Obama has done a lot of outreach to support (or at least to give lip-service to supporting) science. This wasn't particularly hard in comparison to the previous administration's perceived position with science. Rightly or wrongly, Republicans are widely viewed as being more anti-science than Democrats ... often even by other Republicans! I actually think that Romney's responses were fairly good and he certainly seems to have a better handle on the science than many other Republican candidates have demonstrated.

Many of the science-based issues facing a president on the national and international level have to do with energy policy. Two excellent books that I'd like both candidates to become familiar with are Richard A. Muller's Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines and Maggie Koerth-Baker's Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us. (Reviews of these books will come shortly. Keep your eyes open!)

Comments

September 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm
(1) melior says:

“Rightly or wrongly…”

Hmm, if only there was some sort of methodology one could use to ascertain the truth value of a testable hypothesis like this…
Guess I’ll have to look for a science blog that could suggest one instead of performing contortions of presumed equanimity to avoid any possibility of alienating non-scientific readers.

September 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm
(2) jules says:

Quote: ” Obama has done a lot of outreach to support (or at least to give lip-service to supporting) science.”

that sounds about right. BHO is out campaigning (on ‘Letterman,’ no less) while our Libyan ambassador & Navy Seals were killed/tortured (they didn’t have any arms) Then Hillary apologized to murders while White House propagated misinformation. Incompetence? or lies?

i’m not a Dem or a Rep, just an observer, like my science teachers taught me.

Granted, Romney is not as “cool” as Obama, but Mitt knows how to run an economy more than “the mystery man.” America needs jobs.

p.s. Quote: “…. Romney’s responses were fairly good and he certainly seems to have a better handle on the science…”

September 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm
(3) jgjenson says:

This is Mitt Romney speaking at the Beverly Hills fundraiser, Sept. 22, 2012.

“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem.”

Obviously, Mitt Romney missed his calling and he should have been a scientist! He would make an excellent lab partner with George W Bush!

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