Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Science Debate 2008

Post provided by Neuroscience Graduate Program student, Stephen Magill:

Please spread the word about Science Debate 2008. This is a movement calling for the presidential candidates to have a debate addressing issues of scientific importance including, The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy. The petition has been signed by more than 13,000 people and is supported by numerous Universities, Nobel Laureates, the National Academy of Science, the Institute of Medicine and the AAAS, among others.

To learn more about it, visit: Science Debate 2008
Click "Get Involved" to add your name to the list of signers.


Anonymous said...

Listen, I love science and all, and wish science mattered to most people, but it doesn't. In fact the majority of Americans are idiots when it comes to science. "Oh, but that's the point of this debate" you might say. No it's not. The point of presidential debates is to allow people a chance to see where they stand on issues and decide who to vote for. Considering that more people in this country believe in angels than evolution (I'm not making that up!), such a debate would help the canidate we are against. I'm not the only scientist against this debate. Check this article out:

Anonymous said...

Uh, candidate not canidate, and the link would be:


Anonymous said...

The fact that the editorial board of a journal based in the UK is opposed to this debate is hardly a reason to dissuade people from supporting it.

Is it ideal? No. Want to get grants funded above the 2% line again? Better drum up public support for our work.

Anonymous said...

That has to be the stupidist criticism I've ever seen. Well, the journal is based in the UK, so what do they know! Umm, actually the article was written by David Goldston who was appointed to run the House Committee on Science in January, 2001. And his point is, if you read the article, http://www.nature.com/news/

that increasing public support does not necessarily mean increased funding.

"And more attention doesn't always translate into more money. The National Science Foundation (NSF) budget has fared relatively well over the years even though the agency is not particularly well known. The NSF's headaches have come when it has been in the political spotlight, as politicians raised questions about the legitimacy of specific grants. In contrast to the NSF, NASA is a household word, but its budget is a political football, and public attitudes toward the agency are mercurial and ambivalent. The debate proposal presumes that to know science agencies is to love them, but that is not borne out by history. In any event, the best indicator of how science will fare under a president is what the candidate says not about science, but rather about domestic spending (see Nature 449, 962; 2007)."

Anonymous said...

What do you really think a science debate would accomplish? Do you think a lot of time would be devoted to the candidates talking about how NIH needs more money?? Or do you think there will be a lot of talk about teaching evolution in schools (in which case the MAJORITY of Americans disagree with us, and such a debate would possibly HURT our cause), global warming (both sides will claim to have science on their side, and the debate is more about international and national policy than science), and possibly stem cells. Do you really think two politicians twisting their very limited (or non-existant) knowledge of science to fit whatever they want to say is going to do anything to drum up public support of science!?!?!

Magill said...

Well said Anonymous! Reason with me for a minute though. Don't you think it is possible that the appalling state of scientific knowledge in the general public is due to the fact that scientists like Anonymous don't reach out, educate the public, and bring science to the forefront of their attention? While the NASA example is educational, I think keeping the public in the dark is the worst possible situation. Anything we can do to help bring the public up to speed on science, and bring science into the spotlight should be applauded. We don't want to keep people in the dark ages. Do I think a presidential debate will make a huge difference? No, but are any of us arrogant enough to think that the experiments you run on a daily basis are going to make a huge difference? Of course, there are the Jonas Salk and polio examples out there, but the reality is that 90% of scientists out there won't individually cause a major change in the lives of average citizens. However, the accumulated knowledge from the majority of scientists will build together to change (hopefully for the better) the lives of Americans. Just like we all have to work towards a scientific cause and contribute our individual small steps, I think it is important that we help support the small steps we can take to bring science into the public spotlight, such as a presidential debate. At the very least, it will force American’s to contemplate science, and may cause some to actually go look at what science says and educate themselves. We have to reach out, and take whatever small steps we can. Otherwise we’ll be left to the whims of leadership and the public that wants us to teach cosmology/mythology/cultural history in the science classroom, or a President that doesn’t think it necessary to have a scientific advisor at cabinet meetings! No, we need to come out and support all the small steps we can take to bring science to the public mind!