Obama Answers ScienceDebate 2008's 14 Scitech Policy Questions

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ScienceDebate 2008 is a group of scientists and other concerned citizens who tried to promote a formal debate on science and technology policy issues between presidential candidates during the primary season. Once the primaries ended, ScienceDebate hoped to persuade the two major party candidates to engage in such a public debate. They declined.

http://notionscapital.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/science-debate-synthesis.jpg

However, both Obama and McCain agreed to answer 14 questions formulated by ScienceDebate 2008. Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama has now done that. Some snippets from Obama's answers below:

(1) On innovation:

My administration will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade… Progress in science and technology must be backed with programs ensuring that U.S. businesses have strong incentives to convert advances quickly into new business opportunities and jobs. To do this, my administration will make the R&D tax credit permanent. 

(2) On climate change:

There can no longer be any doubt that human activities are influencing the global climate and we must react quickly and effectively. First, the U.S. must get off the sidelines and take long-overdue action here at home to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions. We must also take a leadership role in designing technologies that allow us to enjoy a growing, prosperous economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050… I will implement a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. I will start reducing emissions immediately by establishing strong annual reduction targets with an intermediate goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. A cap- and-trade program draws on the power of the marketplace to reduce emissions in a cost- effective and flexible way. I will require all pollution credits to be auctioned.

(8) On stem cells:

Stem cell research holds the promise of improving our lives in at least three ways—by substituting normal cells for damaged cells to treat diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, heart failure and other disorders; by providing scientists with safe and convenient models of disease for drug development; and by helping to understand fundamental aspects of normal development and cell dysfunction.

For these reasons, I strongly support expanding research on stem cells. I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations.

(12) On scientific integrity:

I will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best- available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees.

(140 On health:

It's wrong that America's health care system works better for insurance and drug companies than it does for average Americans, who face skyrocketing health care costs. My plan makes health care more secure and affordable by strengthening employer-based coverage, protecting patients' ability to choose their own doctors, and saving families $2,500 dollars by requiring insurance companies to cover prevention and limiting excessive insurance company charges. My plan covers everybody by requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, providing tax credits to small businesses and working families, and covering all uninsured children. 

Obama's full answers to all 14 questions are available at ScienceDebate 2008 here.  McCain has promised to answer all 14 questions in the future. 

I will be participating in a panel discussion at the University of Mississippi on September 18 on the topic: "U.S. Science Policy: What Should be on the President's Agenda?" My fellow panelists are bioethicist and editor of Science Progress Jonathan Moreno, and Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science.

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  1. Disappointing that they didn’t ask him about the moronic “title IX for science” push.

  2. Is there going to be anyone on the panel representing the “nothing” viewpoint?

  3. I imagine McCain’s answers will be submitted sometime in November…

  4. Obama on science: throw federal money at it.

  5. Huh, huh, check out the graphic on this thread . . . it looks like the scientist it trying to breed a Democratic donkey with a Republican elephant.

    As good an explanation as any of public policy today.

  6. McCain on science: My friends, science did not help much when I was a POW for FIVE AND A HALF YEARS.

  7. I suspect McCain’s answers may include mentions of Igor, brains, and electric storms.

  8. A new generation of nuclear electric technologies that address cost, safety, waste disposal, and proliferation risks.

    What does this mean?
    More studies and no acion is my interpretation. Do we start building fission plants NOW? Or do we wait until the NIMBYs, luddites and chicken littles are satisfied?
    Meanwhile new CO2 spewing coal plants are going on line and mountains in West Virginia are being leveled.

    As president, I will establish a robust and balanced civilian space program. Under my administration, NASA not only will inspire the world with both human and robotic space exploration…

    So the NASA manned space exploration boondoggle will continue. Other than satellite repair/upgrade missions there is no good reason for manned spaceflight.

  9. May I now re-up my desire for an Empirical Presidency?

  10. Obama on science: throw federal money at it.

    Which is a helluva lot better than

    GOP on science: Burn the WITCH!!!

  11. Burn the WITCH!!!

    To be fair, she did weigh more than a duck.

  12. “McCain has promised to answer all 14 questions in the future.”

    Before the election? Yeah, I’m sure he’ll get right on that.

  13. “I will implement a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.”

    Shouldn’t the words “central planning” be somewhere in there?

  14. throw federal money at it

    No, throw Elemenope at it. He’s not only omnipotent, he’s ubiquitous!

  15. LMNOP,

    In Old Europe, they execute witches by burning. This will not happen under a McCain administration. We will follow the example of Salem, which is in Massachusetts (technically a part of America), and *hang* the witches. Unless the pro-witchcraft ACLU with their “due process” lets these witches free to wreak havoc on our cities.

  16. McCain has promised to answer all 14 questions in the future.

    I bet he’ll favor increasing funding for flogiston research.

    Obama on science: throw federal money at it.

    Hey, I’m willing to let him throw all he wants if he’s willing to heed the results–as opposed to the GOP approach of “if it weighs the same as a duck, it must be made of wood; thus, there is no global warming and there were baby T-Rexes on Noah’s Ark.”

  17. A comparison of 15-year-olds in 30 wealthy nations found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 17th, while average U.S. math scores ranked 24th. What role do you think the federal government should play in preparing K-12 students for the science and technology driven 21st Century?

    Not a word about how an overpriced underperforming public education system staffed primarily by Democratic party supporters, presently unable to teach basic literacy in many school systems, is going to meet the challenge of teaching kids algebra, geometry, calculus, physics, biology etc.

    Throw money at it is my guess. Systemic problems with the public school system is the elephant in the living room that the change candidate is unable to see or unwilling to address.

  18. To be fair, she did weigh more than a duck.

    Who are you, who is so wise in the ways of science?

  19. I bet he’ll favor increasing funding for flogiston research.

    joe’s law.

    😉

  20. Burn the WITCH!!!

    To be fair, she did weigh more than a duck.

    You are ignoring the most important question.
    Did she float?

  21. Obama will burn twice the witches as McCain?

    Now that Ebenezer Obama has admitted his concern for the children is so limited he only wants to double basic research, McCain needs promise to triple it. That Obama isn’t very smart. ‘should o seen that one coming.

  22. Who are you, who is so wise in the ways of science?

    I am from the future, but only knowledgeable in the ways of your past.

  23. Did she float?

    The duck or that filthy witch who soured the cow’s milk and made crops fail?

  24. Joe’s law?

  25. I am from the future, but only knowledgeable in the ways of your past.

    Did you get the prompt wrong or have you just not seen Holy Grail in a while?

  26. So, does his answer to 12 mean no more ethanol, or is he going to revise his answer “I will, however, still fellate the ethanol industry despite what ‘science’ says.”

  27. The duck or that filthy witch who soured the cow’s milk and made crops fail?

    As you can see here, the terms are not mutually exclusive.

  28. Did you get the prompt wrong

    I was going for a Buck Rogers in reverse vibe, but you had to go and fuck it up. Sigh.

  29. Ethan,

    joez Law of the teh Internetz:

    When insulting someone’s intelligence in an online dispute, you will make a spelling error which makes you look like an idiot.

    E.g., “Get a brain, morans!”

  30. Ethan –
    joe’s law states that when denigrating someone else’s intelligence you will inevitably make an error (grammer and spelling usually) in your own post.

    C’est la vie.

  31. I was going for a Buck Rogers in reverse vibe, but you had to go and fuck it up. Sigh.

    Me fuck it up?!? What’s the comedy connection between “I am Arthur, King of the Britons” and Buck Rogers? Twiki looks like a miniature knight?

  32. I tried to point out to them just how moronic these questions are without luck; someone from their group responded and, while I forget what they said exactly it didn’t give me hope that they understand how things have to be done.

    The way to ask questions is based on things the candidates have already said and done: ‘you said this, but this other thing is true’, or ‘you support this, but what do you intend to do about this side-effect’, etc.

    See an example here.

  33. A joes law update…

    It can be voted on for inclusion at the ruleofthumb website (took me a while to get registered as a contributor, my email self-destructed and I forgot about it…)

  34. Me fuck it up?!? What’s the comedy connection between “I am Arthur, King of the Britons” and Buck Rogers? Twiki looks like a miniature knight?

    Is this the point where you call me a misogynist?

  35. Misogynist!

  36. very small rocks?

  37. I deserve that. I did use the “[consonant]itch” word.

    But you played the Monty Python card, and you aren’t British or a contributor to PBS!

  38. I just called joez Law on someone on Daily Kos for the first time.

    His diary was titled “McCain: It’s the Judgement, Stupid!”

  39. joe’s law states that when denigrating someone else’s intelligence you will inevitably make an error (grammer and spelling usually) in your own post.

    Right you are! Although I swear I’ve seen it “flogiston”. Minor point: I wasn’t denigrating McCain’s intelligence, but his age. “Frenology” would have worked just as well. 🙂

    It’s a law that’s tough to test, since people typing quickly often make lots of mistakes both in spelling and “grammer,” whether or not the point of the post is to denigrate someone. In fact, I would suggest that there is such a strong presence of errors and denigration in all online forums that the “law” may be just an illusion–or is that “allusion”?

  40. Donkey and Elephant DNA just won’t splice.

  41. But you played the Monty Python card, and you aren’t British or a contributor to PBS!

    No, I played the Holy Grail card. It’s different.

  42. A nit: wasn’t the proof that she was a witch because she weighed the SAME as a duck?

  43. Obama’s answers all suck. McCain’s will suck too if he actually answers them.

    #12 is a joke.

  44. Ethan,

    It’s a law that’s tough to test, since people typing quickly often make lots of mistakes both in spelling and “grammer,” whether or not the point of the post is to denigrate someone.

    It’s not the testing sort of law, but rather the weight of repeated observation sort.

    And typos are a major part. The law is about people being so eager to call one another stupid, they dash off posts without editting.

  45. In fact, I would suggest that there is such a strong presence of errors and denigration in all online forums that the “law” may be just an illusion–or is that “allusion”?

    Absolutely, but because of this very ubiquity you mention, it is only when you are insulting someone’s intelligence that a spelling error will make you look like an idiot.

  46. they dash off posts without editting

    I get it now.

  47. I never knew the ducking stool was used for women who were scolds before use in the witch trials.

    Daydream material for the next the wife mentions the dishwasher being full.

  48. I get it now.

    Oh, screw you. Damn spellchecker on my Firefox refuses to work.

  49. You should be more like me and never edit your psots.

  50. You should be more like me and never edit your psots.

    He’s working towards that goal.

  51. Why didn’t they ask him how old Planet Earth is? What about the stork? Geez, some science questions!

  52. McCain will hunt the witches. like in Renaissance Europe, the witches will still perform research in secret. New and wonderful magic will leak out into the public and everyone will be happy, all the while booing the witches who’ve made their lives less miserable.

    Obama will throw monies at the witches. The public will get angry because their monies have been taken for the witches’ esoteric research. like in Renaissance Europe, the witches will still perform research in secret. New and wonderful magic will leak out into the public and everyone will be happy, all the while booing the witches who’ve made their lives less miserable. I’ll be pissed off though since I can’t buy the cool new magics since Obama took all my monies and gave it to the witches.

  53. “…and saving families $2,500 dollars by requiring insurance companies to cover prevention and limiting excessive insurance company charges.”

    I guess he believes in the type of science that allows you to pull figures out of your ass with absolutely nothing to back those figures up. Where, other than off the top of his head, is he getting this $2500 savings?

    “My plan covers everybody by requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions”

    Hi, my name is Barack Obama and I want to destroy the insurance industry and a huge chunk of the economy along with it.

    “A cap- and-trade program draws on the power of the marketplace to reduce emissions in a cost- effective and flexible way.”

    Does he actually believe this bullshit, or does he say it because he thinks it sounds good?

  54. Funny shit -sorry I missed it till now but Sarah Palin is the winner!

  55. Absolutely, but because of this very ubiquity you mention, it is only when you are insulting someone’s intelligence that a spelling error will make you look like an idiot.

    Phew! Good thing I was making a joke about McCain’s age, not his intelligence.

    Would a misapplication of Joe’s Law be itself an example of Joe’s Law?

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