So this is cool: the National Forensic League — the national honor society that promotes debating skills for high school students, and which suggests topics for debate teams — has announced their policy topic for the 2011 – 2012 debating season… and I like it!
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth’s mesosphere.
Nice! I think this is an excellent topic, and I know it’ll get a lot of folks thinking about space. There are a lot of pros and cons to space exploration, of course, but to me the positives far, far outstrip the negatives. Not everyone agrees, so I’d be interested in seeing some of these debates.
I get a lot of questions — a lot — about astronomy and space from kids in this age group. I expect this debate topic will prompt many more, since I’m outspoken on the topic. So I’ll take this opportunity to link to a few of my earlier blog posts where I make my opinions pretty clear. I’ve divided them up into subtopics to make them a little easier to read, too. I have no problem trying to influence the opinions of others, but my intent here is to give any potential debaters a place to start, a jumping-off point.
Agree with me? Disagree? Why, that’s why we have debates!
Politics and space
– Space leaders to Congress: light this private candle
– Congress passes NASA authorization bill, but I’d rather watch sausages being made
– Obama lays out bold revised space policy
– Obama champions science… but where’s NASA?
– Obama and McCain on space exploration
– What value space exploration?
– 40 years later, failure is still no longer an option
– Give space a chance
– From distant planets to the deep blue sea
– Why explore space?
– Neil Tyson on exploring space
– Human exploration of Phobos and Deimos
NASA and space
– Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia, and those who sacrifice for the stars
– Ten years of the International Space Station
– NASA’s next small step: to an asteroid
– Wait, how big is NASA’s budget again?
– My NASA Op-Ed in the New York Post
– Whence NASA?
– NASA’s budget… as far as American’s think
– Followup to Congressional NASA hearings and my thoughts
– An open letter to NASA
I expect I’ll be referring a few students to this blog post in the year to come… and if you know kids who are interested, let them know about the topic! And, as always: per ardua, ad astra.
Tip o’ the spacesuit visor to Linda Mitts for this info.
Regular readers know that I will sometimes fume and gnash about politics and science. I’ve been active about this for some time now, and while I hope that making noise will help, I have longed to do more.
Now I can.
Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum (from The Intersection) have started up what may be an incredibly effective grassroots campaign to get the Presidential candidates to debate science. A real, actual televised debate on real, actual science.
Right now, the effort is mostly getting signatures, but once a critical mass is reached a more proactive stance will be taken (some things apparently are happening sotto voce as well). So far, they’re doing very well: the list of scientists is impressive. They also have a nice list of bloggers supporting them, including one or two Best Science Blog winners you may recognize.
Update: D’oh! Chris just sent me a note reminding me that there is a Facebook group for the Science Debate too. If you’re a member of Facebook, sign up!
I think this would be a fantastic opportunity. I suspect a lot of the candidates would do quite well in such a debate, while others… well, remember when three Republican candidates raised their hands and said they thought evolution was wrong? Wouldn’t you like to see a debate with some, ah, interesting follow-up to that?
Yeah, me too. Support the cause. Get these candidates to publicly state their stance on science. The country — the world — needs this.