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Journal of No. 118


September 17th, 2008

Science Debate 2008 - Part the Last @ 08:50 am




11. Space

Obama offers standard platitudes, and would reestablish the Space Council. Conceivably, this could be a useful clearinghouse for public, military and private space exploration; however, the Bush41-era Council (and the earlier one started by Eisenhower) was of "limited utility".

McCain's lengthy answer starts down platitude road. Then we get this "Although the general view in the research community is that human exploration is not an efficient way to increase scientific discoveries given the expense and logistical limitations, the role of manned space flight goes well beyond the issue of scientific discovery and is reflection of national power and pride." That's an expensive ego-boost, there. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to kill manned spaceflight, but we need a better goal or reason than national pride. McCain wants to "Complete construction of the ISS National Laboratory", while eliminating "wasteful earmarks from diverting precious resources from critical scientific research." The ISS has not been much more than a waste of precious resources since its inception.

Verdict: McCain's answer is a lot more knowledgeable, and at least recognizes some of the problems (like how we're going to get to the ISS if we go ahead with plans to decommission the shuttle.) McCain wins.

12. Scientific Integrity

Obama "will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees." Clear and correct. How? Appointing ethical people with science backgrounds to management posts in a non-partisan fashion is good, and the Senator should know I'm available. "issuing an Executive Order establishing clear guidelines for the review and release of government publications, guaranteeing that results are released in a timely manner and not distorted by the ideological biases of political appointees. I will strengthen protection for “whistle blowers” who report abuses of these processes." Sounds good, too.

McCain's offering is less far-reaching, but similar.

Verdict: Obama wins.

13. Research

McCain: "I have supported increased funding at DOE, NSF, and NIH for years and will continue to do so. I will continue my commitment to ensure that the funding is properly managed and that the nation's research needs are adequately addressed." Good, but not specific on the prioritization of research.

Obama: "As president, I will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade." Good, but not specific on the prioritization of research.

Verdict: tie

14. Health

Obama starts with happy platitudes of past success, and veers into paying for healthcare. Research may provide better healthcare. Duh.

McCain starts with happy platitudes of past success, and then offers telemedicine as something that holds promise for the future.

Verdict: Though I favor Obama's plan for healthcare in general, McCain wins the actual question that was asked.

Summary
Now I doubt that science is anyone's #1 issue in the November election. But this exercise was more for my own benefit, just to see what I might expect down the road from either administration. The final tally was Obama 7, McCain 4, Tie 3. Many of the 'winning' answers were pretty close to ties, though.
 
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Journal of No. 118