Monday, September 22, 2008

"Science Questions for Would-Be Presidents"

Scientific American provides a brief article in the October 2008 issue on the scientific positions of the two candidates. The editors, who provided the piece, emphasize that the candidates have as others before them, avoided providing details of their science and technology policies leaving it difficult to choose between them. After describing similar positions on energy, stem cells and space, the article states:
Obama, more than McCain, has taken positions on many other science issues. He has promised to double federal funding for basic research. Over what period? And does that figure include his promised energy investment? He has said he would appoint a chief technology officer to protect citizens’ electronic privacy, but could that person really overrule federal agencies with their own prerogatives? How precisely would Obama make good on his vow to reform the troubled copyright and patent system?
Comment: The editors apparently would prefer that the candidates would inform us about their policies. The candidates, I strongly suspect, want to provide only as much information as will maximize the number of votes that information captures for them, avoiding losing any more votes than necessary. Indeed, the situation is probably even more complex. Can they not be thinking about voters in Florida, with the space flight center, when they support manned space flight?

Both candidates are politicians and, in spite of their emphasis on change, each has voted the vast majority of the time with his party. That may tell you more about their likely science and technology approach than their formal statements.

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