Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Two Science-y Updates

Update the first, concerning the willingness of the two major party presidential campaigns to engage the Science Debate: the McSame campaign has deigned to answer the questions, so both sets of answers can now be seen side-by-side.

It should go without saying (truly it should) that I am completely objective in assessing the quality of these answers, and what stands out for me in McCain's answers are the dramatic commitments to funding. He wants to spend federal money on all kinds of science-related initiatives, and while I support that, I question whether these commitments can easily coexist with his simultaneous commitments to cut spending, reduce taxes, and balance the budget. Which is to say, these commitments plainly do not hang together, but exemplify the well-worn pattern wherein self-styled "fiscal conservatives" campaign as though simple math doesn't apply to their budgetary promises. Simple math does apply, and the numbers just don't add up. Given this, and given the serial lying of the McCain-Palin campaign, it's impossible to take any of McCain's science answers seriously.

Update the second, concerning the "teach the controversy" kerfuffle involving Michael Reiss: Reiss has now resigned from his position in response to criticisms from fellows of the Royal Society and other scientists. Richard Dawkins has written a solid commentary on these developments; I think I can faintly hear the sound of Matt Nisbet's keyboard typing out another demand that Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers shut up and go away for the sake of science's public relations. Stay tuned.

On the merits, I am not sure Reiss needed to go, but if his sincere view of the matter is close to that attributed to him by his harshest critics -- in which case he does see a formal, recognized place for creationist noise in science classrooms -- then he has done the right and honorable thing to resign the post.

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