I wasn’t a big fan of the effort to get a science debate for the presidential campaign in 2008, in part because I consider U.S. presidential debates pretty worthless vehicles for discussing policy. The only tangible outcome that I could connect to a ‘debate’ was getting the two campaigns to answer a list of questions, something most major advocacy groups can get without a lot of effort.
It hasn’t stopped the organizers from trying again. They haven’t bothered with the Republican primary campaign, but still talk as though they will try and get a science debate between President Obama and whomever grabs the Republican nomination. However, the dates of the presidential debates were selected a long time ago. I don’t think it unreasonable for a group legitimately interested in a science debate to try and work through the existing system – or advocate to change it – in order to achieve its goals. That ScienceDebate is apparently unable or unwilling to deal with the major factor preventing their goal puts the heat to my cynicism. Since the top questions suggested for the debate mostly target the culture wars or science funding, it’s perhaps better that this project fail again.