On Darwin Day, a Darwin Descendent on Science and the Election

My great-great-grandfather, Charles Darwin, was born on this day 207 years ago. The Origin of Species was published over 150 years ago. Although he had the central ideas in mind long before, Darwin spent 20 years accumulating and marshaling his evidence before publication. Yesterday, it was announced that an idea Einstein proposed 100 years ago, the last prediction of his general theory of relativity, had been confirmed. Most people, myself included, will have some trouble understanding this. Many Americans, as with Darwin’s theory, will refuse to understand it.

That’s okay — science is patient.

The American public, however, should NOT be patient about another extraordinary thing that happened yesterday: at the Democratic Primary debate in Wisconsin, there was not one single science question. Although there were a few vague references to the environment, neither of the candidates revealed any aspect of their science policy agendas. Think about that. Were it not for medical science, at least half of the four people on stage would be dead — they’d either not have survived birth or died several years ago. Were it not for science, our economy would collapse. Were it not for science we would have little understanding of what we are doing to our planet that may make it impossible to live on.

You could take these three areas of science — medicine, science and the economy, and the environment — and give each a debate, and you’d still only scratch the surface. But no debates on literally the most important issues on earth? Not even a single question last night? That’s verging on insane.

The only organization that’s been persistently asking for such a debate is ScienceDebate.org. It wants a couple of science and environment primary debates and another general election debate. The organization —> Read More