Science and technology are vitally important to the future of this country and indeed the world. Voters should know the positions of the candidates on these vital issues. Science Debate 2008 is a grassroots initiative to encourage the presidential candidates to debate the most important questions in science. This initiative is supported by leading scientific and engineering organizations, universities, and many individuals including Nobel Prize winners. They have received over 3,400 questions from 38,000 individual signers, and they have distilled these down to the 14 most important questions, stated to encourage discussion and embellishment in a debate setting.
While I have not seen any sign that there will be a direct presidential debate on science, Barack Obama's campaign has submitted his answers to the 14 questions (McCain's campaign has indicated that he too will provide answers). Obama's answers are thoughtful and include specific policy proposals to deal with these issues. It is encouraging to see that unlike the Bush administration, Obama takes seriously the issues of global climate change, pandemics, stem cell research, energy, science education, scientific integrity, and yes, space (his answer to the space question is brief but consistent with the longer space policy document I referenced in an earlier post).
Looking beyond the media circus surrounding McCain's vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, I am more concerned that in addition to opposing government funding of sex education and wanting to deny the right to an abortion under nearly any circumstances, she openly supports the teaching of creationism in public schools. She is just scary. I was somewhat heartened to read this MSNBC Cosmic Log report on political prediction markets that don't seem to be too impressed with the convention hoopla (Dem or GOP) or with McCain's new "pit bull with lipstick." I hope they are right! Of course hope is not a strategy, so I'm also glad to learn that the Democratic drive to register voters in key states is going well. Maybe we will manage to avoid a Bush third term after all.