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Author Topic: Obama's Science advisors  (Read 1641 times)
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Turtle
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« on: September 21, 2008, 09:13:24 AM »

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/09/obama-campaign.html

One thing is clear, one of main reason why I'm voting for Obama over other candidates isn't based on party affiliation or a bunch of other ideals.

It's his stance on science so far.  Early on in the primaries each candidate had commented on the whole vaccines and autism scare.  Obama, with the help of his science advisors, was the only one that answered with the correct response based on the scientific evidence, and that was that through exhaustive study there was no link between vaccines (specifically the mercury in vaccines) and autism.

In other places he may have made an initially incorrect comment on a science topic, but his science team stepped in and set him straight.

As a skeptic, I've noticed that behind a lot of government policy problems is a lot of ignoring of, or just plain bad or corrupt, scientific evidence.

What are you thoughts on the scientific stances of the presidential candidates?
« Last Edit: September 21, 2008, 09:15:28 AM by Turtle » Logged
Canuck
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008, 09:40:10 AM »

Just as long as he doesn't claim that 'the fundamentals of science are sound.."
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Ironrod
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 04:24:01 PM »

Both campaigns answer 14 policy questions about science. Side by side for easy comparison. We did a thread on this over at OO.

The condensed version of my take: Obama's answers are more thoughtful and complete, and better informed. McCain's are more practical, with a strong emphasis on technology and applied science, and emphasis on his experience dealing with these questions. McCain addresses the orbital access gap, while Obama does not; relying on the Russians for manned spaceflight is going to emerge as a major problem in the next few years.

Based purely on this page, Obama's the stronger science candidate with deeper answers. However, just 6 months ago, before he was the nominee, he wanted to give most of NASA's budget to the Dept of Education -- typical Dem pandering to teachers unions. I do not trust his commitment.

If I were basing my vote purely on science policy -- and if my vote mattered -- I would probably tilt toward McCain. But I think both candidates answered these questions well, and McCain's anti-science vp scares me away from him entirely.
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Turtle
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2008, 11:19:56 PM »

Yeah, basing it on those answers it does look like McCain's science team is pretty good as well, but I don't like the idea of that fundamentalist nut Palin being one heartbeat away from the presidency, especially when that heartbeat has been going on for 72 years.

I think I'll have to look into Biden's science background if I'm going to criticize McCain on his VP choice.
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Eightball
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2008, 09:37:31 PM »

I like Obama's plans, and his team of science advisors is very, very impressive.

Harold Varmus alone is a brilliant choice.  I worked at the NIH when it was headed by Varmus, and hearing him give his talks...blown away. 

Not to mention that whole Nobel Prize thing for discovering the cellular oncogene thing (a huge, monumental leap in cancer research).
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Ironrod
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2008, 09:53:25 PM »

You can now vote, question by question, for which campaign's answers you like better.

http://sciencedebate2008.com/vote/

Obama gets an "A" and McCain gets an "F" on space policy, even though McCain's is clearly more detailed and better thought-out. I don't think people are voting on the merits of the arguments so much as following their political biases (which are very obviously liberal/Democrat) -- at least, based on the couple of questions that I checked. Too bad.
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joeyjazz
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« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2008, 12:36:40 AM »

While I enjoyed reading the answers from both sides and think both are very informative and well thought out... I can actually picture Obama personally doing the research and discussing things with the experts on his team and then coming to his own conclusions.  I'd be surprised if McCain even knew this thing existed and everything wasn't completely done without him giving it a cursory glance.  I could be wrong, and hope I am... maybe some questions on these issues will come up in the debates and we'll get to see what all they can talk about off the top of their heads.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2008, 04:46:49 AM »

Quote from: Ironrod on September 22, 2008, 09:53:25 PM

I don't think people are voting on the merits of the arguments so much as following their political biases (which are very obviously liberal/Democrat)

Quote from: joeyjazz on September 23, 2008, 12:36:40 AM

I can actually picture Obama personally doing the research and discussing things with the experts on his team and then coming to his own conclusions.  I'd be surprised if McCain even knew this thing existed

Comedy gold.  icon_wink
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joeyjazz
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2008, 01:33:46 PM »

That's bias based on hearing them actually answer questions in real interviews, not political bias (and if I did vote on the responses, I'd largely be in favor of the answers from both sides).  When McCain speaks his own mind, you don't get anything close to what the answers for the questions linked are, while Obama tends to pet a little too much thought into his answers and tends to ramble on and on.

Like I said, I hope I'm wrong since either one of them could end up being president in a couple months.  Hopefully the debates can put some of that to rest for me.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2008, 02:51:30 PM »

Quote from: joeyjazz on September 23, 2008, 01:33:46 PM


Like I said, I hope I'm wrong since either one of them could end up being president in a couple months.  Hopefully the debates can put some of that to rest for me.

I doubt that either candidate is personally involved in the nitty-gritty of science policy, except insofar as saying whatever gets them votes. I'm sure that those responses were prepared by staffers with an eye on the popularity meter, and the candidates signed off with unknown degrees of interest. We agree that both teams published good statements. McCain has a strong record of supporting technology initiatives; Obama doesn't have much of a record, period, so it's harder to know where he really stands.

With the ongoing financial meltdown dominating the news now, our next president is likely to be severely hamstrung by crisis management, so science policy details are probably moot. Their overall enthusiasm for science might be more relevant. McCain deserves an edge on that front...and then immediately loses it for his anti-science running mate. Thanks to Palin, Obama offers better odds for a pro-science White House. IMO, of course.

I wonder if any of this will come up at all in the debates, or if the economic crisis will drown out everything else.
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joeyjazz
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2008, 03:57:56 PM »

Quote from: Ironrod on September 23, 2008, 02:51:30 PM

or if the economic crisis will drown out everything else.

This.
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