Field of Science

Nature Magazine endorses Obama (but not because of science policy)

Nature Magazine's latest issue, just published online, endorses Obama. Interestingly, this is not because of "any specific pledge to fund some particular agency or initiative at a certain level." Instead, the editorial emphasizes the contrast in the ways the two candidates reach decisions:

On a range of topics, science included, Obama has surrounded himself with a wider and more able cadre of advisers than McCain. This is not a panacea. Some of the policies Obama supports -- continued subsidies for corn ethanol, for example -- seem misguided. The advice of experts is all the more valuable when it is diverse: 'groupthink' is a problem in any job. Obama seems to understands [sic] this. He tends to seek a range of opinions and analyses to ensure that his opinion, when reached, has been well considered and exposed to alternatives. He also exhibits pragmatism -- for example in his proposals for health-care reform -- that suggests a keen sense for the tests reality can bring to bear on policy.

Some will find strengths in McCain that they value more highly than the commitment to reasoned assessments that appeals in Obama. But all the signs are that the former seeks a narrower range of advice. Equally worrying is that he fails to educate himself on crucial matters; hte attitude he has taken to economic policy over many years is at issue here. Either as a result of poor advice, or of advice inadequately considered, he frequently makes decisions that seem capricious or erratic.

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