Science Debate 2008 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 20 | p. 6 | Letters
Issue Date: May 19, 2008

Science Debate 2008

Department: Letters

It is infinitely disappointing that both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama participated in a "Compassion Forum" at Messiah College in Pennsylvania on April 13 instead of the proposed Science Debate 2008 that was scheduled to be held at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on April 18 (C&EN, April 21, page 3).

Science policy decision-making is typically based on the recommendations of scientific experts who advise government leaders. In a true democracy, such a process is meaningless unless the government leaders and the citizens who elect them have a basic understanding of fundamental science. Therefore, the popular media have a responsibility to convey scientific information in a way that is accurate, unbiased, and readily assimilated by the majority of citizens. Hence, Science Debate 2008 would have been an ideal platform for the facilitation of scientific information exchange as well as its dissemination.

Contemporary society is continually confronted with increasingly sophisticated decisions regarding the relationship of humankind to the rest of the natural world. Science in general and chemistry in particular promote economic development, catalyze improvements to the quality of human life, and ensure the protection of natural resources and the environment. It is imperative that the presidential candidates and the citizenry focus on complex pragmatic concerns rather than the putative "moral" quandaries associated with abortion, religion, and same-sex marriage. Rescheduling Science Debate 2008 would be a first step in the correct direction.

John R. Stanks



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