I’m sure our blog audience includes a wide swath of undecided voters, a/k/a “Joe the Reader of Blogs.” (Okay, perhaps not.) So, to help along the decision-making process, here are some endorsements from respected sources.
If you are a reader of sciencey blogs, you have undoubtedly heard that Seed has endorsed Barack Obama. This is consistent with newspapers across the country, who have gone for Obama at the rate of 234 to 105 — a healthy difference with 2004, when Kerry squeaked by Bush, 213 to 205. The Economist has endorsed Obama; we’ve already mentioned the Financial Times. Even prominent conservative Stephen Colbert, not wanting to feel left out, has endorsed Obama. When McCain’s “supporters” offer up helpful testimony like this, who is to blame him?
Most interesting to me is that Nature has endorsed Obama for President. (Thanks to Alex Witze.) It’s interesting because Nature has been around a long time as one of the world’s premier scientific journals, and has never before endorsed a candidate for the U.S. Presidency. And their reasons sound pretty similar to mine:
But science is bound by, and committed to, a set of normative values — values that have application to political questions. Placing a disinterested view of the world as it is ahead of our views of how it should be; recognizing that ideas should be tested in as systematic a way as possible; appreciating that there are experts whose views and criticisms need to be taken seriously: these are all attributes of good science that can be usefully applied when making decisions about the world of which science is but a part. Writ larger, the core values of science are those of open debate within a free society that have come down to us from the Enlightenment in many forms, not the least of which is the constitution of the United States.
On a range of topics, science included, Obama has surrounded himself with a wider and more able cadre of advisers than McCain. This is not a panacea. Some of the policies Obama supports — continued subsidies for corn ethanol, for example — seem misguided. The advice of experts is all the more valuable when it is diverse: ‘groupthink’ is a problem in any job. Obama seems to understands this. He tends to seek a range of opinions and analyses to ensure that his own opinion, when reached, has been well considered and exposed to alternatives. He also exhibits pragmatism — for example in his proposals for health-care reform — that suggests a keen sense for the tests reality can bring to bear on policy.
Obama is very far away from being an infallible political savior, and if he wins I’m sure there will be times when he does the wrong thing. But, to reiterate something I said at American Airspace, he thinks like an academic in the best sense of the word. He listens, and considers what he hears critically and analytically, and then comes to a conclusion and deals with the consequences. Even if I don’t always agree with the conclusions, it will be an unambiguous blessing to at long last have a President with that cast of mind.
We can close with some words from the guy who invented quarks.