Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Questioning the Candidates

Previously I posted on the science policies of the US presidential candidates and Senator Obama's announcement of his science advisors, and have an update here. The science journal Nature has released an election special issue, and in it I see first mention of Senator McCain's science advisors.
The most obvious difference between the teams is that Obama's team consists of actual scientists. Another distinguishing factor is that Obama accepted Nature’s invitation to answer 18 science-related questions in writing whereas McCain declined.

As an evilutionary biologist, I found Obama's statement on creationism to be particularly heartening, "I believe in evolution, and I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated. I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny."

I don't really know what McCain stands for. Nature reports, "McCain said last year, in a Republican primary debate: “I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also. In 2005, he told the Arizona Daily Star that he thought “all points of view” should be available to students studying the origins of humanity. But the next year a Colorado paper reported him saying that such viewpoints should not be taught in science class."

Nature's editors teams note, "The most worrying thing about a McCain presidency is not so
much a President McCain as a Vice-President Palin. Sarah Palin, Alaska’s governor and McCain’s running mate, opposes all research into human embryonic stem cells. She is a creationist. And until lately, at least, she has been a skeptic of human-created climate change — a disquieting thought."


  1. Thanks John for this further update/insight. At the very least, from a scientific point of view it would be a great concern if McCain gets in.

  2. I hadn't seen that part on his "science advisers" since I don't get the print edition and it just confirmed my fears. Really scary stuff for science.