How about a presidential candidate science debate?

Can’t say I’m too optimistic that this will actually take place, but any pressure on the presidential candidates can’t hurt: How About a Science Debate? : Political Wire.

ScienceDebate is ramping up efforts to host a live presidential debate on science policy in 2016. Their goal is to get candidates on the record on issues such as human health, climate change, space exploration and more.

Over 42K supporters — including lawmakers, Nobel laureates, over 100 university presidents, and many organizations — have signed the petition so far.

If you’d like to see it happen, it’s worth adding your name to the petition.

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11 Responses to How about a presidential candidate science debate?

  1. Ignostic Dave says:

    Sanders wants to debate Republicans in their own primaries.

    I think that would be hilarious.

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    • I agree. Which is why the Republicans will never agree to it. The positions their candidates are often forced to take in the primaries are so infantile, it would be fatal to have someone next to them pointing it out.

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  2. James Pailly says:

    I just signed the petition. I’m not sure what to expect from a debate like this, even if it happens. There are very, very few politicians on either side who seem to understand how science works.

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    • Excellent!

      I agree that few politicians understand science. I’m actually not sure it’s really necessary that they do. I think the problems come in when they ignore what scientists say about science, or what any experts say about the domain of their expertise.

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  3. Wyrd Smythe says:

    I’m in (#43,238)! But, like you, I’m skeptical it will happen. Politicians resist debating real issues and try to stack debates in their favor (or at least pull any teeth the debate might have). Except maybe Sanders who I think would be great — and wouldn’t Elizabeth Warren make a great VP? Is there any chance this country is ready, even hungry, for some authentic people? Ah, well, I can dream.

    On a lighter note, speaking of science, two lines I ran into yesterday that are too cute not to share:

    “Given enough time, atoms arrange themselves and start to wonder why they exist.”

    “The brain is the only thing that has ever named itself.”

    That second one is maybe arguable, but it’s still pretty cute. 😄

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    • Awesome!

      “Is there any chance this country is ready, even hungry, for some authentic people? ”
      The problem is that everyone wants someone authentic to their profile of positions. Except that no one person’s profile matches more than about 30% of other Americans, at best. So most authentic people’s views are unacceptable to the lion share of the country. It’s why presidential candidates who are least objectionable to the largest numbers of people tend to be successful, even though only a few people on their side are actually enthusiastic about them.

      I agree; those quotes are cute, although I’m not sure about either of them. (If you think about it, taking each literally, they actually contradict each other.)

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      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        “The problem is that everyone wants someone authentic to their profile of positions.”

        Well, sure, but we can’t even get that far. At this point I’d settle for politicians with genuine values and view who stuck to them or evolved them as they learned new things.

        Perhaps I’m incredibly naive, but I’d like to believe that people would get behind an authentic politician with fundamentally humanist progressive views. We may, for better or worse, see that play out with Bernie Sanders.

        “I agree; those quotes are cute, although I’m not sure about either of them.”

        In what sense?

        “(If you think about it, taking each literally, they actually contradict each other.)”

        How so? The former doesn’t really make any statement about how atoms ponder their existence.

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        • On Bernie Sanders, I’d just note that for everyone who is enthusiastic about him, there is someone on the far side of the political spectrum enthusiastic about, say, Rick Santorum. Their attitude toward Sanders is probably similar to ours toward Santorum.

          On the quotes, the first basically says that the evolution of intelligence is inevitable. Given how long it took sapient intelligence to develop on Earth and its brief existence in geological time, I don’t think that’s been demonstrated. But if it is right, then there are almost certainly intelligences in the universe that function without what we would call brains. If so, then the second statement would be contradicted. If brains are in fact the only self reflecting intelligences, then it’s hard to see how the first statement remains true.

          Of course, you could insist that only brains are the inevitable intelligence, which seems less plausible to me than the original first statement. Or you could take a broad definition of “brain” to include any mechanism that could conceivably produce a mind. If you make either of those moves, then the statements can be reconciled.

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          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            “…Rick Santorum…”

            I don’t know enough about him to evaluate his authenticity. If he truly is walking his talk, I admire that. Rand Paul might be a better example. From what I can tell, he seems fairly authentic. He seemed to genuinely be against extending the Patriot Act and stood up to a lot of negativity from his own side over it.

            “Given how long it took sapient intelligence to develop on Earth and its brief existence in geological time, I don’t think that’s been demonstrated.”

            It’s demonstrated right here! You may be reading too much into the sentence. Taken at face value, it’s absolutely correct.

            “But if it is right, then there are almost certainly intelligences in the universe that function without what we would call brains.”

            We refer to a CPU as the computer’s brain, so brain covers plenty of territory. There is a literal interpretation — the animal brain — and also a general interpretation as “the seat of thought” (hence our application of it to computers).

            “Or you could take a broad definition of “brain” to include any mechanism that could conceivably produce a mind.”

            Exactly. Maybe it wasn’t clear that those are separate statements not intended to connect with each other. (They were from a list of ‘Sentences that make you go Whoa!’)

            The first says (only) that, given enough time, atoms arrange themselves such that they ponder their own existence. That has happened, so the sentence is true.

            The second says (only) that the brain is the only thing to ever name itself. I think there may be, or have been, some societies where children remain nameless until they pick a name for themselves, which is why I mentioned it might be arguable. In the sense of naming classes of things, I can’t think of any exceptions, though.

            Interpreted at face value, I see no contradiction there.

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          • “Taken at face value, it’s absolutely correct.”
            At face value, I find it ambiguous. To me, it could mean atoms did arrange and start to wonder at their existence, or that they can, or that they inevitably will. The first two seem trivially true. The last I find to be a hasty conclusion.

            That said, arguing about quotes isn’t high on my enthusiasm list, so given I can find a workable interpretation of it, for the sake of harmony, I accept such interpretation. 🙂

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          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            A good example of the importance of context! As a philosophical or cosmological statement, taken as a prescription, the atoms sentence is entirely questionable. As a cute “bumper sticker” taken as a description, the sentence is, as you say, “trivially” correct.

            Like

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