The Top Science Questions Facing America: 2012 Edition

The suggestion portion of the process is now closed. We are now in phase two: taking your submissions under advisement and working with a panel of representatives from leading U.S. science organizations to consolidate ideas and craft the top science questions facing America in 2012.

What are the top science questions the candidates for president should answer? We’re not interested in quizzing candidates on the particulars of cell mitosis or the third digit of pi. We want to know their positions on the big science and engineering policy questions that affect all our lives. The questions we will consider most successful will probe the candidates on the broad, important issues of our day around science in an insightful and fair way.

A top science question the candidates for president should answer is:

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  1. When scientific consensus on an important public policy issue runs contrary to your views or your party's platform, what will you do?

    Science isn't about what's popular, or confirming our beliefs, or what makes us feel good; it's about getting at the truth of how the world works. In matters of public policy past administrations have chosen to ignore science when the evidence ran contrary to their party's position on an issue. As a leader, will you support sound policies based on good science even if they are unpopular with some of your constituents?

    32 votes
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      3 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    • Should the United States fund a "War on Aging "?

      Slowly but surely scientists,and doctors are beginning to understand why people inevitably age and die. Slowly but surely, progress is occurring in the field of life extension. Much work remains to be done but in a country that declares,"life" as the first inalienable right in its Constitution, pursuit of indefinite life extension should be a national priority!

      1,383 votes
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        131 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
      • 41 votes
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          1 comment  ·  Climate  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
        • 22 votes
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            0 comments  ·  Science Literacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
          • Do the huge subsidies and tax breaks to the fossil fuel industries skew the economics of enegy and hinder the development of clean energy?

            Besides the well known tax breaks (deepwater incentives, depletion allowances, tertiary recovery tax breaks) and other government support (eminent domain used to secure mineral rights, and rights of way for pipelines and transmission lines, dredging of deepwater ports and waterways, leases on public land) there are other hidden government giveaways to the fossil fuel industries. Government research labs provide the basic research that these companies need (seismology, offshore surveys, deep drilling, enhanced gas recovery, super computing). The military protects the oil supply lines. The Coast Guard cleans up the spills. The taxpowers pay the costs of the pollution left behind,…

            23 votes
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              0 comments  ·  Energy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
            • Is enough being done to protect our food supplies?

              We continually have scares from contaminated food (tainted spinach, mercury in fish, salmonella, botulism, Mad Cows). There are terroristic threats against our food supply. Pollinating bees are dying off. Are gentically modified foods safe? We import more and more food from countries where they tell us not to drink the water or eat the salads or eat the shellfish. Factory farming methods have a huge economic impact when contamination is discovered and there's no way to trace the source, especially when meat products from a dozen states are mixed together in packing plants Lack of genetic diversity in our seed…

              19 votes
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                0 comments  ·  Agriculture  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
              • 11 votes
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                  2 comments  ·  Education  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                • What is your plan to protect and clean up the environment?

                  One party denies environmental science and claims protecting the environment is a job killer. The other party wants to promote clean energy, Businessmen and lawyers seem to be ignorant of science yet they design the policies. Will they listen to the scientists or ignore them? How will they fund Superfund cleanups? How will they protect our water supply? How will they deal with the stresses of the Population Bomb? How will they deal with the dead zone in the Gulf or ocean acidification?

                  21 votes
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                    0 comments  ·  Environment  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                  • should our business and law schools address science issues?

                    We always hear from business leaders that American students are illiterate when it comes to business and economic issues. But are our future leaders who largly come from the business and law communities knowledgable enough about the science issues that they will have to deal with? Can they calculate the economic impact that nature has on our economy? Should basic science and environmental science be taught in business and law schools? Should profits always take precedence over environmental destruction? Should developers build in geologically hazardous areas (ie. barrier islands, landslide areas) or fill-in wetlands? Should air pollution be paid for…

                    11 votes
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                      2 comments  ·  Education  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                    • Science at times may be at odds with your faith. If so, should it be discussed or destroyed?

                      Science can be controversial as it works its way through discovery, understanding and universal adoption. Quashing innovative research based on non-universal religious beliefs can put our nation at a disadvantage and put off life-saving and life-changing discoveries. How can you balance your personal beliefs with American's constitutional freedoms of liberty?

                      9 votes
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                        0 comments  ·  Scientific Integrity  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                      • What funding role should the National Science Foundation be fulfilling?

                        The NSF has focused lately on funding large projects, at the expensive of smaller research grants. While this helps to push forward scientific innovation in select topics, it also gives the U.S. government a greater role in dedicating what specific topics in science are funded.

                        8 votes
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                          0 comments  ·  Research Funding  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                        • Do you understand the economic and social benefits of protecting wetlands?

                          Do you understand the economic and social benefits of protecting wetlands?

                          Wetlands are very important to our quality of life. They prevent flooding, replenish our aquifers, purify our pollution, provide the breeding grounds for our major fisheries, are the most biologically active areas of our oceans, and they provide recreational opportunities for millions of humans who fish, swim, hunt, sail, etc. We've made progress in preserving large wetlands from further loss, but now we're losing them in dribs and drabs, a road needs to be enlarged here, a condo with a water view is being built there, and all of…

                          16 votes
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                            0 comments  ·  Environment  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                          • Will you examine how to significantly accelerate progress toward curing age-related disease?

                            While there has been some progress at reducing the prevalence and progression of age-related diseases such as heart disease and some forms of cancer in the United States, not even a single age-related disease can fully prevented or cured despite decades of research and enormous amounts of funding. As a result, 90% of United States citizens still suffer and die of age-related disease. What can be done to significantly accelerate progress toward desperately-needed cures?

                            12 votes
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                              0 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                            • Explain if a new cabinet position consolidating the scientific entities within the government be created?

                              The NAS recommendation in "Science and Technology for America's Progress" (2008) emphasized the need for the Office of Science and Technology Policy Director to be a cabinet level position. I was postulating whether having a completely "science devoted" department would increase science's influence on policy, education, business, and social decisions. I feel science has frequently been used as a political tool when the data supports a position. I therefore would like scientists to independently select the director - but I do not know how such a selection process would be enacted.
                              Ahh...perchance to dream......when there is
                              "Water, water everywhere and…

                              16 votes
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                                0 comments  ·  Scientific Integrity  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                              • 13 votes
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                                  0 comments  ·  Nanotechnology  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                • What is your position on funding and deploying the James Webb telescope and the continuation of the Hubble Heritage project?

                                  What is your position on funding and deploying the James Webb telescope and the continuation of the Hubble Heritage project?

                                  14 votes
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                                    0 comments  ·  Space  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                  • Are there any reasons to keep funding the NCCAM despite 20 years and $3 billion tax money having resulted in no progress?

                                    The NCCAM was established despite an outcry from the medical community in a personal desire of senator Tom Harkin to see alternative medicine validated.

                                    Fast-forward 20 years and not a single alternative therapy has been validated by the NCCAM. Reports coming out of it are negative, few, and poor in quality. It is standards-wise the worst branch of the NIH, with no results despite a total of over $3 billion in tax spending.

                                    There is a concern that the center is only ideologically motivated to try and prove opinions and not conduct actual health research.

                                    26 votes
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                                      0 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                    • Value of Oil and WATER, it reflects water as granted, what will be future of securing sources

                                      water gets value when it comes in the bottle. without bottle it ha no value. Why water is still not an issue for majority of policy maker, and people. Please give some importance to the country like nepal so that may be it is call of today.

                                      17 votes
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                                        1 comment  ·  Water  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                      • 9 votes
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                                          0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                        • 287 votes
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                                            6 comments  ·  Science Literacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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