Sometimes credentials are insufficient

“On Tuesday, the candidates submitted answers to the 14 “most important science policy questions facing the United States.” The Q-and-A session was organized by Science Debate, a grassroots, nonpartisan, do-gooder group that has been trying since 2008 to get the presidential candidates to engage in a live debate about science and science policy. Subjecting politicians to a science debate might sound like a cruel pop quiz, but it isn’t meant to be.”

The current administration has culled the halls of academia for prestigious scientists as advisers and department heads. It appears to be “the most scientifically accomplished administration since the time of the founding fathers.” Laura Helmuth, though, thinks that Romney Out-Debates Obama on matters of science policy. There is a comparison and contrast to be noted.

“If you scroll through them [answers to the 14 questions] quickly, one thing is immediately apparent: Mitt Romney’s team took this very seriously. His answers are longer, they have subtitles, they have bullet points. It’s not just great presentation: The Romney text is substantive, specific, and detailed. Obama’s answers to some of the same questions are single paragraphs that are vague, repetitive (two in a row start with “Since taking office”), and poorly written.”

There is a qualifier. The problem with the qualifier is that Helmuth toes the PC line on global warming so she takes issue with Romney noting that there is a lack of consensus on the issue. Her view is that “there’s no true debate on the extent of the human contribution (if it weren’t for the human contribution, the climate would likely be cooling) and the question of severity of risk isn’t between “a smidge of risk” and “something we should probably pay attention to.” It’s between “really bad” and “difficult to imagine just how really bad.”” i.e. an ideological extreme that is, in itself meat for the compare and contrast grist mill. One can see the reporter bias on other PC issues such as ‘clean water’ and environmental issues.

“It’s clear from Romney’s answers that his top priorities are reducing government and promoting business, and that science is fine as long as it doesn’t interfere with those ends. But what is impressive and kind of surprising about the science debate is how much thought and effort the Romney campaign put into responding to these questions. “

You would think that this conclusion would cause on the step back a bit from absolute certainty on the PC line but that seldom seems to be the case. When it comes to ideology, a rush to judgement is rather common as is the rationalization of opposition such as in the implications about Republicans in general putting ends above reality. If you see carefully thought out and supported views on issues, the tendency should probably be to delve into the substance rather than to dismiss outright.

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