The other day, I blogged about the Presidential Candidates’ stands on science. STEM is the foundation of this nation’s prowess, security, and success. Therefore sound science policies and developing other policies with sound science and advice is terribly important.
Too bad there won't be a 4th Presidential Debate that's all about Science and Education. But we've got the next best thing - ScienceDebate2008. It is an online forum where the candidates provided answers to 14 key Science questions. The goal is to raise public awareness of science, technology, and innovation and call attention to informed decision-making at higher political levels. You can read their answers and offer comments and offer new questions.
McCain doesn’t even mention a single science agency and all of his focus is on technology and entrepreneurship. Basic research happens at colleges adn universities and through scientific agencies like NSF, NASA, and NIMH. Business innovation of technology and discovery takes place AFTER graduate students and post-docs work out all of the kinks. I am disturbed by McCain’s limited comprehension STEM and its work culture. He completely disregards the role of academics in science research, and it makes him seem so out of touch. He complete focuses on tech-related industries (I guess because of the potential for entrepreneurship) and ignore the basic sciences such as life sciences and physical sciences. And I’m still sore about the comment about science research being a wasteful pork earmark.
Let me share something with you all. The ability to get federal research money for science is based on a very strict, very competitive peer-reviewed system. You have to write a detailed grant explaining why you want the money and the impact the research/results will have on the world. Science is about knowledge – gaining knowledge, clarifying information, and disseminating knowledge. Even great ideas that might possibly change the world get denied because of lack of impact. Getting research money is no easy task. Even for my graduate-level research monies I had to jump through several hoops. No one passes this money out. There is no special money set aside for pet science projects –of any kind. Everyone must compete and demonstrate professional ability before any money is granted.
Update: From Campaign News from AAAS Policy Alert Newsletter.
On Sept. 26 the Obama campaign released a revised plan for science, technology, and innovation and a letter signed by 61 Nobel Prize-winning scientists who have endorsed Obama. On Sept. 29 Senator McCain released a radio ad reinforcing his past record on stem cell research and calling an Obama ad claiming that he has "stood in the way" of stem cell research "misleading." And in a speech last week at the Clinton Global Initiative, McCain reiterated his commitment to addressing global warming.
I can’t wait for the VP Debate tomorrow.