The Bad Astronomer on Obama’s Science Policy

From DiscoverMagazine’s Bad Astronomy blog:

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.

I won’t detail all his answers, but I do want to point out some specific things he wrote.

Some really good answers on this list. Here’s what Obama has to say about Stem Cell research:

I strongly support expanding research on stem cells. I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations. As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight.

I am also aware that there have been suggestions that human stem cells of various types, derived from sources other than embryos, make the use of embryonic stem cells unnecessary. I don’t agree. While adult stem cells, such as those harvested from blood or bone marrow, are already used for treatment of some diseases, they do not have the versatility of embryonic stem cells and cannot replace them.


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