Sixty one Nobel Laureates have just released an open letter endorsing Barack Obama for president of the United States. As far as I know, this is far and away the largest number of prize-winners to ever endorse a presidential candidate. It’s a sign of just how bad things have gotten in this country.
Of course, there has been plenty of evidence for the decline of the scientific enterprise in the US (science funding issues, The Gathering Storm, the politicization of science). Eight years of Bush have not been kind to science. And given the challenges we are facing (e.g., how to sustain well over 6 billion people without destroying our planet), this is not the time to short-change the scientific enterprise. Sadly, there is much evidence that McCain will carry on the Republican trend. Picking a running-mate that believes the Earth is 3000 years old, and that humans have nothing to do with global warming, does not inspire confidence. The McCain campaign has finally responded to the questions from Science Debate 2008, and the answers are mostly platitudes, without substance or firm commitments. Obama, on the other hand, gives science its due. His campaign has released an extremely detailed plan to rescue science. Both Nature and Physics Today have done fairly thorough comparisons, as has a certain somebody’s better half.
When 61 Nobel Laureates express such dismay at the current state of affairs, and such uniform and clear conviction that Obama is the best candidate, perhaps it’s time to take notice?
Update: All three of the 2008 American Nobelists in science have now endorsed Obama. And a few other Nobel Laureates have added their names to the letter, including New Mexico’s very own Murray Gell-Mann.