Obama on Science

Science Debate 2008 submitted 14 questions to both presidential candidates covering a broad range of topics. Barack Obama's answers are here. John McCain has not yet answered.

It will be interesting to see how McCain answers the question about stem cell research. McCain was against it before he was for it, but "National Right to Life Committee Executive Director David O’Steen said anti-abortion rights activists think they can turn McCain to their way of thinking on stem cells." Let's hope McCain answers the questions so voters can divine his current position on this important question.

Also noteworthy is Obama's specific plan to end governmental interference with the evaluations and recommendations made by scientists. The Bush administration has been notorious for cooking or suppressing any science that is at odds with Republican policies. Is McCain willing to make that same commitment? And if he does, should we believe he would adhere to it?

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    How come? (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by cmugirl on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:50:29 PM EST
    He was so generic on the question regarding space?  He actually reversed his policy a couple of weeks ago in Florida on the Constellation project, and even his webiste was changed, so I'm surprised he didn't address it.

    Was S.3047, 110th Congress (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by steviez314 on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 05:13:51 PM EST
    Thank you for that. (none / 0) (#17)
    by Don in Seattle on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 11:19:45 PM EST
    Definitive answer, and quick, too!

    The 2008 Republican Platform (none / 0) (#1)
    by steviez314 on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:12:52 PM EST
    calls for a total ban on all embryonic stem cell research, whether publically or privately funded.

    I think in 2004 McCain was OK with privately funded, but probably not anymore.

    They're moving to the right of Bush on this too.

    Caution on party platforms (none / 0) (#10)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 05:49:38 PM EST
    They only an indicator, not a policy promise by the candidate.  The platform is worked out to make the activist party base feel like they've had their influence.

    I haven't paid as much attention to the GOP's over the years, but the Dems. have had titanic battles over platform planks that were then simply ignored by the candidate.  Wish I could come up with an example for you, but I can't off the top of my head.  Maybe somebody else on TL will remember some of them.


    Sure, platforms usually have 100 things (none / 0) (#11)
    by steviez314 on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 06:44:46 PM EST
    of which only 20 are maybe important.  But I wish sometimes that the candidates would have to say OUT LOUD whether they support those 20 things.

    Agree with you 100 percent (none / 0) (#12)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 06:47:09 PM EST
    on that.  But as BTD is right in saying, pols are pols and every last one of them is going to keep some wiggle room on a large percentage of those things.

    study war no more (none / 0) (#2)
    by AlSmith on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:17:43 PM EST

    "This year, I was encouraged to see the Department of Defense (DoD) requested a sharp increase in the basic research budget for breakthrough technologies. More is needed. My administration will put basic defense research on a path to double and will assure strong funding for investments in DoD's applied research programs. We will enhance the connections between defense researchers and their war-fighting counterparts."

    This message should not be construed to endorse or denigrate any particular political campaign.

    I work with scientifists (none / 0) (#3)
    by stefystef on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:35:56 PM EST
    and while they think they are above such question and scrutiny, trust me, they need to be regulated.

    Not regulated to suppress research, but to stop them from wasting money.  Believe me, I've watch scientists waste thousands of dollars of BS.  Don't be impressed by the PhD.  They are shallow like the rest of us.

    Give to those who are making real progress.

    Can you give some examples? (none / 0) (#13)
    by tartu on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 07:17:20 PM EST
    Can you give some examples of what you would consider waste in science?  How would you define making real progress in science?  

    Research is difficult and fraught with false avenues, but until you explore every avenue you can't guess which ones will result in "real progress".  A "No" is still an answer in science, and any answer is progress.  

    Just to add, PhDs are not the only ones doing science.


    Good answers. (none / 0) (#5)
    by eleanora on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:54:00 PM EST
    I particularly liked Senator Obama's strong support of NASA and the reviving of the National Aeronautics and Space Council. In the past, he'd talked about cutting NASA funding, sounds like he's fully behind the program now.

    The STEM education plan sounds wonderful, just what we need, but I hope they've fully thought the acronym through and maybe done some focus grouping.

    Great on Obama (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dr Molly on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:57:12 PM EST
    Don't forget, too, that McCain frequently goes around mocking the kind of biodiversity science that is federally funded, and making threats about taking away federal funding for that kind of research.

    Close to my heart, and one of the top reasons I'll vote to stop McCain.

    Republican Platform and Stem Cells (none / 0) (#9)
    by KVFinn on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 05:32:33 PM EST
    The 2008 Republican Platform calls for a ban on all embryonic stem-cell research, public or private.


    10 points (none / 0) (#14)
    by tartu on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 07:31:26 PM EST
    10 points for Obama campaign on honest comparison of embryonic v adult stem cells.

    STEM acronym is cute as it evokes stem cells in the mind of a reader, but they could have done better on E and M (engineering is covered in the technology and math is covered in science).

    Didn't (none / 0) (#15)
    by Bluesage on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 07:46:08 PM EST
    Obama also give us a commitment to filibuster any bill that gave telecoms immunity?  I agree with McCain on almost nothing but I don't have a lot of faith that Obama will do what he says he will do either.   I don't think I have ever been less enthused in a presidential election.

    Biohazard Research (none / 0) (#16)
    by befuddledvoter on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 07:54:28 PM EST
    Obama obviously has this from the Bush administration. I don't like it.  Biohazard defense is just the same as biological weaponry research.  Fraught with danger and is way out of control. I live in a neighborhood in which a real estate developer has bought up 6 city blocks with plans to erect BSL-3 labs.  BSL-3 is a high containment lab reserved for airborne pathogens, somewhat treatable, not curable and certainly not treatable for elderly population. This is way out of control and the fed gov is like a treasure trove of funding for this kind of research.  

    See the most recent scathing report of House Sub comittee:


    I think Obama needs to read up on this.
    I honestly do not trust scientists to regulate themselves.  Horrible mistake.  I was a science major as an undergraduate and did one year post-grad in the sciences. Also worked in labs for 5 years. Dangerous road we are on when we place BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs in the heart of major cities and rely on self-reporting of accidents.