Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy just posted a very nice summary of Obama’s responses to a set of science questions. I generally don’t do politics on this blog, but this is the first posting I’ve seen that offers a pretty nice comprehensive summary. Phil writes:

Both Senators Obama and McCain have made cursory statements about various aspects of science, but that’s not enough. Science is critical, absolutely critical, to the health of the US, so we need better and more in-depth answers. To get them, a group of six citizens created Science Debate 2008 to “… restore science and innovation to America’s political dialogue.”

They asked each candidate a series of science questions. As of this moment, Obama is the only one who has answered, though McCain says he will.

Obama’s answers to these questions are, to me, very heartening. He has been accused of giving no specifics when answering questions, but that is misleading at best (the noise machine is very good at making noise). In these answers he does indeed give many specifics, and to my eye is taking the right road to scientific progress and innovation in this country

Read Phil’s summary of Obama’s answers to the questions here.

I liked what one reader commented:

Wow! Can I vote for the person who actually composed Obama’s answers?

Here is what Obama said about science education in particular:

I recently introduced the “Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Act of 2008″ that would establish a STEM Education Committee within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies engaged in STEM education, consolidate the STEM education initiatives that exist within the Department of Education under the direction of an Office of STEM Education, and create a State Consortium for STEM Education. … I also recently sponsored an amendment, which became law, to the America Competes Act that established a competitive state grant program to support summer learning opportunities with curricula that emphasize mathematics and problem solving.

On a related note, there are several posts at Framing Science about Palin’s support of creationism: here and here plus a AAAS alert on Palin’s policies. See also a post that it’s a strategic mistake to dismiss the GOP as anti-science, with the example that one of McCain’s biggest contributors is also a science advocate.

UPDATE: Phil Plait just blogged about McCain’s Science Policy based on his answers to the Science Debate 2008 questions. Some items that struck me:

  • McCain sounds like he doesn’t realize that there is currently a science advisor (routinely ignored, but present nonetheless)
  • He admits that global warming exists (a good thing). However, the liberal media has pointed out that his track record of following through on environmental action isn’t good.
  • He supports building of more nuclear power plants (which Phil Plait agrees with), but then says that he wants to leave alternative energy to the free market, unregulated by governmental meddling. I’m with Dr. Plait on this — governmental regulation is a good thing in the energy biz, and alternatives do need subsidies. After all, how did nuclear and coal and such get to the point that they are at today? Heavy governmental meddling and subsidies. The free market does not cure all. Shame on you McCain. What a cop-out.
  • On science education, his answers are vague, and then he says that he supports privatization of schools. Well, at least he’s being consistent with his crummy answers on the environment in terms of a foolhardy belief in the good of capitalism and the free market. As Plait says:

Private corporations? What? That’s nuts! Again, I point to the way the market has behaved recently. I don’t think we should leave something as critical as educating our children in the hands of corporations. That’s insanity.

  • He does pretty well on space exploration and freedom of scientific research. As expected, he’s against stem cells on the basis of “moral values.”

I do suggest you read Phil’s original post here, very good read.

Sciencegeekgirl is, unfortunately, not sciencepolicygeekgirl. I welcome comments on the above!