When most of the Republican candidates for President proclaimed that they did not believe in evolution during a debate last year, astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss was one of many who were aghast. The Case Western University professor and best-selling author was even more upset when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee shrugged off concerns, saying that he was running for President, not writing a middle-school curriculum. "How could being scientifically illiterate be perfectly acceptable?" Krauss asks. "No one would accept a candidate who, say, denied the Holocaust."Indeed.
The Business Week article is an important one for educators. How can America susrvive if a president is elected who denies the principles of science? Can we grow doctors, biologists, nano-technologists, and more if the country operates on superstition? And how do teachers keep their jobs when they are treated as witches?
"It's hard to get 12,000 scientists to agree on anything," says Alan Leschner, chief of AAAS and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "But science is the biggest issue facing modern society, and we are concerned that only one candidate—Hillary Clinton—has so far devoted any energy to science."
There's also a palatable hunger in the scientific community for a government that bases its policies on science, after years of decisions from the Bush Administration that they believe ignored scientific reality. "We have all become painfully aware in recent years that it is not only irresponsible but dangerous and expensive to distort and repackage scientific conclusions for political purposes," Otto explained in a recent editorial on the Salon Web site.