Science Debate 2008

I’ve been a big supporter of the idea of having all the candidates get together for a roundtable on science-related issues. I’m subscribed to the mailing list for Science Debate 2008, which has been trying to organize such a debate. The organizer recently pointed out that the candidates are attending the Compassion Forum, which is a debate on “moral issues”. I don’t know if there’s more going on behind the scenes regarding why the candidates would chose to attend one conference and not the other, but it just seems to me like the Democratic candidates, at least, would want to seize the advantage provided by the recent weakening of the religious right, and it also seems like attending a forum on moral issues might not be the best way to do that. Maybe they’re trying to catch some swing votes, but they certainly shouldn’t give out the impression that moral issues remain the most important issues for this election, because that’s exactly what led to their loss last two times. You know Obama and Clinton would both kill McCain in a science debate.

Here’s the email:

I am sorry to send two emails in such short succession, but I thought you should know that after declining our invitation to debate science in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton yesterday agreed to attend “The Compassion Forum,” a forum of “wide-ranging and probing discussions of policies related to moral issues.” CNN will serve as the exclusive broadcaster of the “presidential-candidate forum on faith, values and other current issues” at Messiah College near Harrisburg, Pa., April 13 at 8 p.m. You can read more here.

Perhaps among the moral issues discussed should be whether they have a moral obligation to more fully engage on science issues, since the future viability of the planet may hang in the balance, for starters. Is there a larger moral imperative? How about the future economic health of the United States and the prosperity of its families? Science & engineering have driven half our economic growth since WWII, yet but 2010 if trends hold 90% of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia. Then there are the moral questions surrounding the health of our families with stem cell research, genomics, health insurance policy, and medical research. There’s biodiversity loss and the health of the oceans and the morality of balancing destruction of species against human needs and expenses, there’s population and development and clean energy research, there’s food supply and GMO crops and educating children to compete in the new global economy and securing competitive jobs. Science issues are moral issues.

I would encourage you to write letters to the editor, emails to the campaigns, and blog postings pointing this out. And if you can, support our ongoing effort to turn this country around.

Shawn Lawrence Otto

4 thoughts on “Science Debate 2008

  1. The intersection of morals and science is in legislation. I don’t care what anyone believes, until they attempt to get legislation enacted on the basis of that belief. Decisions that affect a heterogeneous population of believers should be based on a consensus reality shared by everyone, and finding out what that is is as good a definition of science as any, isn’t it?

  2. Can US high school dropouts be geeky enough to launch web apps?

    There’s probably going to be less that do, surely, but [troll]let’s not confuse “launching a web app” with doing actual science.[/troll]

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