You don’t often hear candidates in an election discussing much in the way of real science. Sure, it comes up now and then (Al Gore inventied the internet, and John McCain invented the BlackBerry, apparently), but there’s precious little discussion about how the candidates would approach important scientific topics.
That is to say they won’t discuss it unless someone makes a big issue out of it like stem cells, which becomes a buzzword, then both sides have to tiptoe around it and nothing really happens.
So imagine my exuberance to find that not only is there an organization representing Americans concerned over the lack of proper scientific debate in the election, but that this group had approached the candidates with 14 relatively broad questions about their policies on scientific matters. And even better? Both candidates answered. Not just their camps, but the candidates themselves. Hot damn!
The answers are presented side by side, and they’re all incredibly wordy. The responses are interesting on both sides. Of note is that Obama is a lot more detailed in outlining how he intends to encourage technological solutions for homeland security purposes (like three times as detailed as McCain, which you’d think would be a hot-button issue for him), that McCain spent a lot more time covering his details in regards to space exploration, and that McCain used a talking point response to the stem cell question that we’ve heard a lot over the past four years or so, saying he’d criminalize certain types of research that as recently as May of 2007 he implied he was in favor of.
I should also point out, similarly astoundingly, that Obama’s team has given out a list of his five science advisors. Brief bios on them can be found here at Wired. I’m somewhat disappointed in the selection, as life science experts consist of four of the five, the fifth being an astrophysicist. While life sciences are important and should be represented, I feel a technology expert is necessary as well, focusing on communications and internetworking.
McCain’s campaign hasn’t answered requests that they announce their science advisors.