Important questions, I hope someone tries to answer them

Every four years, Shawn Otto and his ScienceDebate organization politely suggest that science, engineering, tech, health, and environmental issues deserve a presidential debate, and every four years they’re ignored — largely because our presidential candidates are never really competent to discuss science in any detail at all (can you imagine Trump trying to bluster his way through a discussion of science and education policy?). But one thing that does get a regular response is the list of 20 science policy questions. Now there are a lot of questions I’d like to see both campaigns address.

It’s a rather quixotic effort, but it’s important to keep the pressure on. Go sign the petition at


  1. brett says

    Trump is the reason why I’m not in favor of it this election. It would just be a fiasco to watch.

  2. Igneous Rick says

    The candidates should have some basic understanding of science-related issues and be able to speak about them intelligently and thoughtfully. However, I think it is more important that they surround themselves with experts and that they are willing to listen to and learn from them.

  3. robro says

    …can you imagine Trump trying to bluster his way through a discussion of science and education policy?

    Why, yes I can. He already has. He’s said that he’s very smart, and knows a lot about science because he talked with his uncle, who was a very smart engineer and physicist who taught at MIT, developed X-ray and radar technologies, and worked with Robert Van de Graaff. Because of his uncle, Trump therefore knows everything there is to know about science.

    Rather than a debate about science, which few politicians could carry, perhaps we could have a debate about science policy. That’s where politics and science intersect, and politicians do have things to say about science policy.

  4. greg hilliard says

    I don’t believe any question about global warming was asked by any moderator in the 2012 election. I would love to see that change in 2016. The short-fingered vulgarian would be particularly out of his depth.

  5. unclefrogy says

    the results of the processes indicated by many of those questions/subjects are and will remain vastly more important then this election and will likely not have significant effort used to alter the obvious negative aspects that are plainly evident.
    We will not be electing a benevolent dictator who can single-handedly alter the outcome to a more positive one. There is just no consensus as to any of the particulars of any of them. Even if the democratic party should gain control of the entire government the Senate, the House and the presidency only incremental change is even then likely.
    All of those subjects should be front and center in the public square and should be given the attention they deserve because of their importance. They are the make or brake questions concerning the advance or decline of human history and civilization.
    All I am hoping for is to survive as long as I can and contribute where I can what I can. My expectations are very low over all. We are walking on the edge and are just as likely to fall as not

    So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
    Hopin’ for the best
    Even think I’ll go to prayin’
    Every time I hear ’em sayin’
    That there’s no way to delay
    That trouble comin’ every day
    No way to delay
    That trouble comin’ every day
    Frank Zappa

    uncle frogy

  6. arresi says

    The list gets a regular response? From the candidates? Will the candidate responses be posted on the site?

  7. fernando says

    In 2017 the budget to the Armed Forces of the USA is 610.000.000.000$00.
    Maybe in the future one of your presidents can cut, lets say, 10% of the Armed Forces Budget, and give a boost to the budget of Education, Science and Environmental Protection of around$00?

  8. chrislawson says

    Igneous Rick@2: the candidates have to have some understanding of sci-tech issues or they can’t guarantee that their chosen experts aren’t feeding them a line. And I’m not sure why we should give political leaders a pass on science when we expect them, with the help of advisers, to understand key issues in other fields like defence, economics, law, etc., etc.

  9. Igneous Rick says

    chrislawson @ 9

    I thought that was basically what I said. When I said that good experts (and listening to them) was “more important” than the basic understanding, I didn’t mean that it can replace it. I expect a candidate to understand that increased carbon dioxide acidifies the oceans, which dissolves corals and the shells of many types of marine life. I don’t expect them to have a deep understanding of the carbonate system and I would certainly not fault a politician if the words “partial pressure” were not in their vocabulary. However, when it comes to the details of policy, they should have an expert that can do the oceanography and biogeochemistry required.

  10. lepidoptera says

    I signed the ScienceDebate petition! Hopefully, the major political party candidates will share their views on the topics this year.