As Sheril hinted earlier, there is now a formal call for a science debate by the presidential candidates.
A CALL FOR A PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we, the undersigned, call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Medicine and Health, and Science and Technology Policy.
I’ve expressed my opinion of such an effort before — I think it’s an excellent idea, but suspect that most of the candidates would refuse to submit to it. Not only is there the science test factor, in which we’re asking them to get evaluated on something most know nothing about, but the Republican slate in particular is full of astonishing idiots who hold beliefs contradicted by science. I just can’t believe they’ll step up on the podium for this one, unless they perhaps see an opportunity to hijack the discussion to promote their personal piety.
I still want it to happen: this is an opportunity to apply pressure to our candidates to have some minimal, basic science literacy. As I previously mentioned, though, those airheads with nice hairdos that populate the television media are even more dim than the candidates themselves, and must not be allowed anywhere near the event — I want wildlife biologists armed with tranquilizer guns at the doors, with orders to shoot Russert and Blitzer and anyone from Fox News on sight. How about if we put Natalie Angier, Carl Zimmer, John Horgan, Ira Flatow, John Tierney, and Cornelia Dean on a panel asking questions? How about if we ask Science and Nature to send representatives with questions? I would dearly love to see a debate on any subject where the candidates had to deal with issues of some substance.
So let’s all make a noise about this one, OK? Rattle the cages, and tell the candidates we want to hear opinions on topics that matter for the leader of a technological, 21st century society, rather than the usual tripe.