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Why I’m Giving Obama and Romney a B in Science

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Obama succinctly describes his administration’s efforts to promote clean, renewable energy in response to a question about meeting “the demand for energy while ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future.”

Romney starts his response by positioning himself as the champion of the middle class, careful to throw in the “independence” buzzword (“a crucial component of my plan for a stronger middle class is to dramatically increase domestic energy production and partner closely with Canada and Mexico to achieve North American energy independence by 2020″) and makes sure to mention he has a six-part plan and a white paper (we’re advised to check out MittRomney.com) with even more details.

Do Obama and Romney Make the Grade About Science?

Just as Romney’s love of using white boards to explain his platform’s policies (and running mate Paul Ryan’s of PowerPoint) has been oft-remarked, the bullet points and over-scrupulous attention to details gives Romney’s responses a properly wonkish look and feel. His team must have gone to pains to answer the questions but some of his commentary veers towards the rhetorical: “In a Romney Administration, sound science will inform sound policy decisions, and the costs and benefits of regulations will be properly weighed in that process,” says Romney about a question on science in public policy.

What, indeed, is “sound science” vs. plain old “science science”?

Scientific American and ScienceDebate.org will grade Obama’s and Romney’s responses and publish the results in the the November issue of Scientific American.

If I were assigning grades, I would put both Obama’s and Romney’s answers in the B/B+ range. Obama’s to-the-point responses answer the questions, but, as Helmuth notes, their solid and accurate content’s effect is lessened by a lackluster presentation, poor organization and weak argumentation.

Romney’s offerings certainly look as if they merit a higher grade. But the introduction of not-entirely-relevant topics and repeated attempts to turn the discussion back to a platform (decreasing government regulation, promoting the private sector) make one wonder, if the bells and whistles of bullet points were stripped away, what’s left?

 

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86 comments

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12:36PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Republicans have NO intention of EVER cooperating with ANY Democrat in office. They are against women, children and the middle class. Why they have become so obstructive over the years I can only guess is that they want more money in their pockets and to hell with the rest of the nation. Vote Republicans out of office in every state and at every opportunity.

3:26AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

It sounds to me like Obama gets a B, being marked down for poor presentation.
Romney gets a D for failing to address the questions set, and an F- for his coursework (his "sound science" on climate change, for instance).

1:45AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

let your voice be heard-VOTE

11:23AM PDT on Sep 16, 2012

Thank you.

9:53AM PDT on Sep 16, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

7:49AM PDT on Sep 16, 2012

What would the civilized world do without the opinion of Dr. Chew. We can always look to her unbiased absolutely mind boggling insight into things scientific. I am so glad that Stephen Hawkins,Shirley Ann Jackson, and Nikodem Poplawski have had the good fortune to be able to fall back on the amazing strength in knowledge of the scientific wunderkind Kristina Chew ! I am so glad Ms. Chew is so readily available to GRADE the scientific knowledge of politicians with her interpretation of the Mighty Chew exam for measuring scientific Knowledge ! Such amazing skill and insight and ability she demonstrates in her self confident judgmental journeys into academia ! Lo the fortune our specie enjoys being alive during her magnanimous tenure ! Really ? I mean Really ?

3:01AM PDT on Sep 16, 2012

thanks

5:23PM PDT on Sep 15, 2012

I'll take Obama any day of the week as opposed to ANY Republican.

3:17PM PDT on Sep 14, 2012

Thanks for sharing!

11:44AM PDT on Sep 14, 2012

So, in matters of fact, style outweighs substance? Sounds like a very Republican view.

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