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. What is the government doing to prepare us for the inevitable climate changes?

    Since most Americans will now finally admit they believe in global climate change. The issue has now moved to, why is the climate changing? Is it simply part of the earth’s natural cycle of warming and cooling and nothing can be done to reverse it? Or is it somehow related to human activity and can be reversed, if it is not too late? Either way the change is happening. Do we just fend for ourselves and hope insurance companies will pay for flooded property on the inundated coasts, tornadoes in the Midwest and all other unforeseen disasters.

    90 votes
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      2 comments  ·  Climate  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    • What specific programs will you support to encourage basic science (not medical or engineering) research?

      not all science is immediately practical, but we still need to support basic research!

      100 votes
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        1 comment  ·  Research Funding  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
      • What role do you see gov. research and development playing in helping to secure American competitiveness and a healthy economy?

        I would like candidates to demonstrate an awareness that what has helped keep America competitive in the world economy is the historical and continued commitment to publically funded science research and development. Public money in this area goes towards the betterment of all Americans and, through economic osmosis, the entire world. Investment now will reap rewards far into the future.

        80 votes
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          0 comments  ·  Competitiveness  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
        • Would you support requiring Human Papillomavirus vaccinations for students?

          Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations like Cervarix and Gardasil have been proven effective at combating sexually transmitted cancer causing agents. Would you support an initiative to require these vaccines for all females in order to attend public schools, like so many other vaccinations that prevent critical illnesses?

          40 votes
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            2 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
          • What plans do you have to ensure that scientific and technological advancements are not used to harm people?

            What plans do you have to ensure that scientific and technological advances will be used for the betterment of society and not for its destruction (like nuclear power and chemical pollution)

            26 votes
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              0 comments  ·  National Security  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
            • 76 votes
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                2 comments  ·  Innovation  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
              • 77 votes
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                  1 comment  ·  Scientific Integrity  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                • Why does the U.S. import so many workers in the areas of science and engineering even though our universities produce plenty of graduates?

                  Between 1985 and 2000, the United States averaged three times more science and engineering graduates than new job openings each year (Vivek Wadhwa, Bloomberg Businessweek, October 26, 2007). Currently, less than one-third of science and engineering graduates are working in a STEM [science, technology, engineering, or mathematics] field closely related to their degree, while 65 percent of science and engineering graduates are either employed in or training for another career field within two years ("Science and Engineering Indicators 2010", Table 3-4; also, Lowell & Salzman 2007, "Into the Eye of the Storm", page 31).

                  71 votes
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                    2 comments  ·  Education  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                  • 3 votes
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                      0 comments  ·  Space  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                    • 13 votes
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                        0 comments  ·  Climate  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                      • Please explain why the summers are warmer than winters.

                        This is to see if the candidates have an understanding of science.

                        63 votes
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                          3 comments  ·  Science Literacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                        • When determining policy, what is the best way to resolve conflicting findings in scientific research?

                          Many findings are reported which may conflict with previous findings, but are candidates able to determine which are closer to "reality" and their implications for policy development? Do they understand the scientic method and how new or additional information is incorporated with existing paradigms?

                          Similar to #12 in scientific integegrity category.

                          71 votes
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                            1 comment  ·  Scientific Integrity  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                          • Is or is not climate change in part the result of human activities?

                            Global warming has historic precedents (a few ice ages, etc.,). So, It's probably not fair to suggest that the current global warming trend is entirely caused by human action. Still, the growth in population and creation of pollutants by man's activities in the last century have been significant. It is difficult to believe, then, that no part of the current global warming trend is not caused by man's activities.

                            75 votes
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                              1 comment  ·  Climate  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                            • What limits should Medicare and other Federal health care programs impose on paying for new, more effective medicines & surgical procedures?

                              More effective medicines & surgical procedures are coming to market with high price tags that could add trillions to the total costs of Medicare and other Federal health care programs. Would you favor tight limits on such Federal expenditures? Or would you favor paying readily for such scientific and technological advances in health care?

                              3 votes
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                                0 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                              • 55 votes
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                                  0 comments  ·  Oceans  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                • 59 votes
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                                    2 comments  ·  Energy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                  • Space: Do you understand the Fibonacci sequence, and how it would possibly be used in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence?

                                    Do you understand the Fibonacci sequence, and how it would possibly be used in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence?

                                    1 vote
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                                      0 comments  ·  Space  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                    • How can we use research, science and technology to help reduce the costs and improve the quality of health care?

                                      Health care costs are increasing, and it would be good to know how the candidates plan to control those costs.

                                      54 votes
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                                        1 comment  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                      • Who would you rather have perform your bypass operation, your plumber or a heart surgeon?

                                        The point is, of course, that by preferring the views of amateurs on global warming to those acquired over decades of research by 98% of the world's climate scientists, many of our politicians are effectively opting for the plumber.

                                        21 votes
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                                          4 comments  ·  Climate  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                        • Do you support defunding the NCCAM and other parts of the NIH which promote pseudoscience in the name of "alternative" medicine?

                                          The National Center for Complementary and Alternative (NCCAM) medicine spends over $100 million per year researching "alternative" medicine. The systems studied include Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Chiropractic and many others whose basic principles contradict the fundamentals of modern science. The NCCAM's basic purpose is unscientific, it aims to "validate" these treatments. Science needs to start with "do these treatments work", and the answer clear: NO. Basic science and lots of research which has already been done agree, these treatments can't work and don't work. As a result the NCCAM funding is wasted, this is over one hundred million dollars diverted from real…

                                          50 votes
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                                            2 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

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