Keeping with the 4th of July weekend theme, we welcome back Science Saturday with the politics of science. According to the Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA), a nonpartisan, educational organization whose mission is “to facilitate evidence-based decision making at all levels of government,” more than 70 percent of voters “place a significant amount of importance on public policy decisions that are based on science and technology to solve problems we face today, like global warming, energy, public education, and health care.”
To that end, SEA has joined with Science Debate 2008 and other major science organizations to ask the 2008 presidential candidates fourteen questions on science and technology issues. The fourteen questions relate to: innovation, climate change, energy, education, national security, pandemics and biosecurity, genetics research, stem cells, ocean health, water, space, scientific integrity, research, and health.
Over the last eight years, we’ve seen public policy corrupt fact-based inquiry for political purposes—from local school boards intervening in science classrooms to demand that “intelligent design” (a term courts have since found to be a skillfully spun version of creationism) be taught alongside evolution, to “marginalized or mischaracterized” studies on global warming from NASA’s press office, from willfully refusing to open an EPA email, sending one of the most important issues of our time into cyber limbo, to withholding information about condoms that would control the spread of AIDS in Africa. Who knows how much has been lost in this era of political appointees run amok?
SEA is also asking for accountability among congressional candidates. They’ve been given an easier task of addressing only seven questions, which is all the more reason to hold their feet to the fire. When you visit the site, you can send a message to your senator or representative and ask them to answer SEA’s questionnaire. You can also learn more about their past positions on a variety of science and technology issues.