Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies 2.07

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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8 Comments

  1. Part of the problem that Nature and some other anti-debaters seem to have is that they think the debate is some kind of quiz on science knowledge or a free-form lecture. If that were the intent, then they would be correct to say that the debate is not the right format.

    However, the purpose of the debate is not to see how Huckabee responds to tiktaalik or have Clinton (not Hillary) explain global warming. The idea behind the debate is to ask questions and get answers about how the candidates evaluate current scientific understanding, how they deal with changes in science, and how they set priorities in science funding. White papers are a good source of information, but they can't respond to questions, and the campaign machines don't respond to questions from individuals unless there is a camera present.

    There are a lot of ways in which a debate could be bad, but a bad debate would still be better than the thunderous silence on these issues.

  2. Let me say up front that I like the idea of a science debate, because science is important, and we need to get more people to recognize how important it is, in addition to finding out how politicians think about it so we can be informed voters. And yes, a "bad debate" — one which did not reveal so much on the latter front, or which revealed that the candidates were functionally dead — could still succeed at "raising consciousness."

    My concern is that all the activity and enthusiasm we've seen so far has the following headline: "Big science organization X endorses Science Debate 2008!" Hmmm. Issuing statements that say that science is important — isn't that what big science organizations are for? Statements are cheap, and there's no real downside, so what else would we expect? Furthermore, while the blogospheric pickup on the story has been pretty good, and I think a couple Op-Eds have floated around, has it really hit the evening news? It would be a perfect story for Stephen Colbert, but to my knowledge, he hasn't brought it up.

    So, really, what's happening here?

    My pessimism is encapsulated by PZ Myers: "The framework for the debate is coming together…now all they need is some debaters."

  3. RE: "Hillary"

    Has it occurred to anyone that people call her Hillary, not only because of her campaign signs, but because she's familiar? Why does it have to be because people aren't respecting women? And anyway, maybe it makes her seem more accessible and "one of the people" to refer to her as Hillary.

    We play the "poor woman" card waaaaay too much…this is silly.

  4. Hmm, this is interesting. When I check out the feministing article about the Maryland school district, and try to view the source article, all I get is:

    You Are Banned. Practice Your Misogyny, Racism and/or Homophobia Elsewhere.

    Do they treat all newcomers that way? Is it because I'm a guy? Because I didn't know the secret sisterhood handshake?

    Perhaps I'll try again later from home …

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