Field of Science

Who advises McCain and Obama on science issues?

I mentioned recently that Obama's statements on science policy convinced me that he had actually talked to some scientists and understood what it's like on the ground. McCain has yet to convince me.

I wasn't surprised, then, to see in this week's Science a report that Obama has been very active in soliciting advice from scientists, whereas McCain's advisory committee was described as "two guys and a dog."

The article (subscription required) details interactions between scientists and the two campaigns. The primary additional piece of analysis that struck me was the following statement:

For many U.S. academic researchers, presidential politics comes down to two big issues: getting more money for science and having a seat at the table. The first requires agreement between the president and Congress, however, and any promise to increase research spending could easily be derailed by the Iraq war, an ailing economy, and rising health care and energy costs. That puts a premium on the second issue, namely, the appointment of people who will make the key decisions in the next Administration.
This makes the open nature of the Obama campaign a good sign.

The article also reports that Obama's science advisors weren't necessary even asked whether they supported his candidacy. After an administration that excluded anyone with a contrary opinion -- or contrary facts -- that is also encouraging.

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