Science and the candidates: in their Nature

Science and the candidates: in their Nature

Science and the candidates: in their Nature

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Sept. 25 2008 4:32 PM

Science and the candidates: in their Nature

Nature magazine is one of the leading scientific journals in the world. Naturally -- ha ha -- they wanted to know what the Presidential candidates thought about science. They asked Obama and McCain to answer 18 questions; different ones from the ScienceDebate2008 questions.

Obama's campaign answered the questions, McCain's declined. Interpret that as you will.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Among the questions they asked was this:

Do you believe that evolution by means of natural selection is a sufficient explanation for the variety and complexity of life on Earth? Should intelligent design, or some derivative thereof, be taught in science class in public schools?

Yowza. How did Obama answer the question?

Obama: I believe in evolution, and I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated. I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny.

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Bang! That's an excellent answer (the only point off is his use of the word believe; evolution is not a belief system, it is fact). There is no room for antiscientific nonsense in the science classroom.

To be helpful, Nature -- again, which did not receive any answers from the McCain campaign -- posted the opinion McCain expressed in the Republican debates in 2007:

"I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also." In 2005, he told the Arizona Daily Star that he thought "all points of view" should be available to students studying the origins of humanity. But the next year a Colorado paper reported him saying that such viewpoints should not be taught in science class.

I've heard him say different things at different times, so it's hard to know where he currently stands on this, but it's possible that latest bit at the end there is where he is now. If so, then good. There not two different viewpoints here. There is fact, and there is wrong. Evolution is the former, creationism camouflaged as ID is the latter.

The other answers are very interesting as well. Go read them, along with some that were not printed in the magazine but are online. Discuss.