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More Directed Anger: Ask The Candidates Questions January 11, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in politics, science.

The night before my flight out to New Jersey I woke up at about 3am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I had an idea that wouldn’t let me get back to sleep: send the presidential candidates a list of questions and then post the answers, unedited. This was mostly motivated by a comment left in one of my posts.

AIP beat me to the idea. You can see their list of questions here. I have summarized them here:

  • What would you do to improve K-12 science and math education?
  • Would you teach evolution in public school classes?
  • Discuss the future of our nuclear arsenal
  • How would you pay for an increase in funding science
  • The future of energy policy – what should the mix be between conventional, new types (solar, etc.), nuclear – and what sorts of investments would you make?
  • What would you do to address global warming?

If I didn’t get the tenor of the questions right, that would be my paraphrasing mistake.

First, I’m glad they did this. It is great, and I hope they get good answers back!

But I don’t like some parts of the survey. The way the questions are setup seems to guide the answer. I’d rather give the candidates as much rope as possible so we can see how they would answer. Also, putting the evolution question on there — which is the “pro-life v pro-choice” question for scientists — doesn’t serve any obvious purpose. We already know the answer to that question because of the first republican debate.

I would have also like to have seen some more open ended questions – like “How do you see basic science research fitting into the economic future of the US?” (with examples, etc.).

Now — the answers are in already for most candidates (but not all). And they have a nice page setup – though it means clicking on lots of web pages; it would be nice if you could download them on a single page for each question.

I’m home babysitting my kid. I’ll try to read these over the next two days and summarize, but if someone beats me to it — let me know!

[UPDATE: I mistakenly credited this to the APS, not the AIP. Sorry!]



1. Paul Guinnessy - January 11, 2008

Physics Today and the politics blog are produced by the American Institute of Physics, not APS (although its a common mistake as all APS members do get the magazine). We’ve found in the past that open-ended questions do not get very good responses from the candidates (for example, in 2000, promises that the US would combat global warming without any description over what strategy would be used). We’ll consider whether we can develop a way to download all the question responses onto a single page. If anyone wants to submit a longer piece for inclusion on the politics site, i.e. not just comment on an individual candidate but a longer discourse on some aspect of science policy related to one or more of the questions, please feel free to submit such a piece to Physics Today (marked Campaign 2008 or Politics 08) and we’ll review and maybe post it to the site.

2. gordonwatts - January 11, 2008

Shoot — you are right. My mistake!!

When you say “submit” where (exectly) does one submit it?

3. Paul Guinnessy - January 19, 2008

You can submit responses using our contact us web form or to pt@aip.org.

4. Finally… Answers! « Life as a Physicist - September 16, 2008

[…] their answers are the same) – Obama. First, I have to say Obama’s answer is a lot better than last time I tried to look at this. It is as if Clinton’s advisors went to work for Obama – or Obama now had enough time to […]

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