Obama = science

by Stephanie Chasteen on September 29, 2008

In case any of you have missed it… Obama is increasingly the candidate who is the most science friendly. You can see a redux of his detailed plan for science and technology and the letter from 61 Nobel Laureates endorsing Obama . You can see more on the candidates’ positions on science & technology on the dedicated blog from Discover magazine – A Vote for Science.

My conservative Christian salvation-army family was visiting this weekend and we all delicately avoided questions of politics. I know they’re all voting for McCain, in part because of the McCain campaign’s support of intelligent design. A canvasser came to the door during their visit to ask who we were voting for, and my mother and I both whispered “Obama.” My aunt called out after him, “We all love each other, but we don’t talk politics.”

But, I mean, <sigh>, it’s a bit tough. Surprisingly, though, my uncle has taken me up on my suggestion to listen to Point of Inquiry (the podcast of the Center for Inquiry, devoted to rationalism). That’s a very thoughtful show, that doesn’t disparage people for their beliefs, simply promotes a rationalist view of the world. In particular its areas of interest are:

  1. Pseudoscience and the paranormal (Bigfoot, UFOs, psychics, communication with the dead, cryptozoology, etc.)
  2. Alternative medicine (faith healing, homeopathy, “healing touch,” the efficacy of prayer, etc.)
  3. Religion and secularism (church-state separation, the effects and proper role of religion in society, the future of secularism and nonbelief, etc.

My uncle said that he understands where “they” are coming from a bit more, now, and is considering writing an essay on the role of science and religion that can speak to both sides.

Here’s a nice post from Framing Science about how atheists’ condescending attitude towards religion is self-defeating.


Jennifer Ouellette September 29, 2008 at 11:44 am

I have a similar family, and you’re lucky to have an uncle at least willing to listen to the other side. 🙂 Really, not talking about politics or religion is the only solution, unless one really enjoys fractious arguments at family gatherings. I don’t. 🙂 But occasionally we do fnd some common ground.

Coco McBean September 29, 2008 at 11:51 am



Don’t judge me by my site though! LOL!

Coco McBean September 29, 2008 at 11:54 am

It’s scary that someone vying for a top position in the government has these views and expresses them so publicly. Electing the McPalin ticket will be bad for science, bad for education and bad for religious freedom (for non-Christians). I find it shocking how Republican candidates come off as uneducated and ignorant.

sciencegeekgirl September 29, 2008 at 12:01 pm

My uncle has not always been so open, Jennifer, I actually almost fell out of my chair when he told me. This is the same uncle who, when I went into Peace Corps, told me that he thought that Africa was so woefully underdeveloped because “they haven’t found God.” (What about those Christian countries?) The fact that he was interested in learning more about the worldview that I call home was very heartening to me, because I do think that he and I have much we could learn from each other (though *very* carefully).

?*? September 29, 2008 at 5:44 pm

I’ve tried to enlighten my parents to the idea that electing a candidate who won’t fund science adequately will leave me TAing against my will for, like, the next six or seven years. (Never mind that there’s also cash from military and industrial sources available in my field…they don’t need to know that.) Sadly, it’s not working yet.

I hope Sarah Palin gets eaten by a moose.

Also, you were in the Peace Corps? Cool.

Matt September 30, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Point of Inquiry is probably one of the best sites for bringing folks gently around for a more rational way of thinking. Once they get closer to the turning point, a podcast like Skeptics Guide to the Universe works well. But of course some of the more stuffy folks may not take well to a couple of the ‘free spirits’ on the SGU podcast.

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