Campaign Issues: No, Really

How do the candidates think about and plan to act on matters related to science and technology? Many people (especially scientists) want to know. Now we can. Yes we can.

The Story

In November, 2007, a small group of six citizens – two screenwriters, a physicist, a marine biologist, a philosopher and a science journalist – began working to restore science and innovation to America’s political dialogue.  They called themselves Science Debate 2008, and they called for a presidential debate on science.  The call tapped a wellspring of concern over the state of American science.

Within weeks, more than 38,000 scientists, engineers, and other concerned Americans signed on, including nearly every major American science organization, dozens of Nobel laureates, elected officials and business leaders, and the presidents of over 100 major American universities.  See who here.  Among other things, these signers submitted over 3,400 questions they want the candidates for President to answer about science and the future of America.

The Process

Beginning with these 3,400 questions, Science Debate 2008 worked with the leading organizations listed to craft the top 14 questions the candidates should answer.  These questions are broad enough to allow for wide variations in response, but they are specific enough to help guide the discussion toward many of the largest and most important unresolved challenges currently facing the United States.

Collected at the site for side by side comparison are the two candidates responses to questions about innovation, climate change, energy, education, national security, pandemics and biosecurity, genetics research, stem cells, ocean health, water, space, scientific integrity, research, and health.

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About fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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