Last week’s _Economist_ “featured”:http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11965279 “three”:http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11965352 “articles”:http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11959182 detailing how domestic politics has held America back in the space race. The punditocracy maintains that we may be headed into a Cold War 2, and the issue for those interested in science is whether or not the US will champion scientific research and science education as it did during the first cold war. The scientific debate in US politics has fallen victim to the culture wars. Over the past 15 years we have seen a decline of the scientific American. It has been predicted that by 2010, 90% of PhDs in the physical sciences and engineering will be Asians.
The current US election is a reflection of the lack of appreciation for science. Candidates have been using the latest communications technologies to generate cash, organize volunteers and get the vote out. However, no candidate wants to talk about the science enabling their campaigns — not to mention the science that will improve the economy, solve the energy crisis, and save the environment.
ScienceDebate 2008 “never happened”:http://www.livescience.com/culture/080826-bad-science-debate.html. It was cancelled. Meanwhile, both candidates took the time to pander to Pastor Rick at SaddleBack, a worrying — if continuing — trend of electoral politics in the US. The last eight years weren’t necessarily friendly to science and science education, but now we find that McCain’s runningmate Sarah Palin wants “creationism taught in schools”:http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/08/mccains-vp-want.html.
Is science too difficult a topic? To obscure to debate? Or is it taken for granted? Perhaps everyone knows that despite the electioneering, science will always be there to fall back on. Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be much more productive to discuss science upfront and develop solid policies rather than simply praying and failing, only to have to start all over again?
*(Sept 1) UPDATE:* “Obama just answered”:http://sharp.sefora.org/people/presidential-candidates/barack-obama-presidential-candidate/ the policy questionnaire from ScienceDebate 2008. More at “Slashdot”:http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/08/31/167244&from=rss. Mr Obama, if you are reading ComingAnarchy, may I suggest you drop your protectionist economic policies? Cheers – YH