December 18, 2007

Time for a Science Debate

ScienceDebate2008, a broad coalition of scientists and supporters of science, is calling for a Presidential Debate on science. I think this is an excellent idea and have posted the full press release below.

Top Scientists join in call for Presidential Debate
"We don't want to concede science to other nations," a group of Nobel Laureates says; broad coalition seeks a science and technology-themed Presidential debate in 2008

NEW YORK - Eleven Nobel laureates, two dozen other eminent scientists, and the leaders of many of America's pre-eminent scientific organizations and universities have joined a coalition of business leaders, writers, and elected officials of both major political parties in a call for a science-based presidential debate in 2008.

The group, which calls itself ScienceDebate2008, says such a debate is critical. "Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth, we view this as a critical part of our presidential selection process," the group said in a prepared announcement.

It just may be an idea whose time has come, says Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science magazine. "Climate change, the space station, and stem cells are just a few of the many scientific issues that have become central in national policy. It's about time we hear from the candidates on science issues."

"When you think about it, nearly every major challenge the next President will face has a science or technological component," said Lawrence M. Krauss, an astrophysicist at Case Western Reserve University and a member of the ScienceDebate2008 steering committee. "We owe it to the next generation to address these challenges responsibly."

The group's impressive signatory list is at

The debate location and venue have not yet been chosen. The group is in talks with several major organizations, said Matthew Chapman, a writer and spokesman for the group's steering committee, and he says at least one major presidential campaign has already indicated support for the idea. "The strangest thing about this debate is that it hasn't already happened. It is so clearly essential."

John Rennie, Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American, is also a member of the steering committee. "Matters of science and technology underpin every important issue affecting the future of the United States," said Rennie. "It's crucial for the nation's welfare that our next president be someone with an understanding of vital science, a willingness to listen to scientific counsel, and a capacity for solid, critical thinking. A debate would be the ideal opportunity for America and the candidates to explore our national priorities on these issues."

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