McCain and Obama on Science: Another View

WE RECENTLY ran an article on this subject, Obama and McCain: Their Views on Science, based on what we deemed a reliable report. Our “reliable” opinion was arrived at because that report accurately described Sarah Palin’s position on evolution. That issue has become our litmus test for determining whether a newspaper is at least trying to be accurate or is just spewing talking points.

Today’s article has been appearing in the McClatchy Newspapers, a group that includes the Anchorage Daily News, which we’ve previously observed has been hostile to Palin. This copy of the article is in the Miami Herald, but we’ve also seen it in other papers: Candidates’ science platforms offer similar goals but different paths.

We’ll begin with their coverage of the evolution issue, so you can see where our assessment of their accuracy comes from. As usual, we’ll add bold for emphasis:

Both candidates say they believe in evolution and oppose the teaching of creationism or “intelligent design” in public school science classes.

That’s always said about the two principal candidates. If it could be distorted, it would be.

“I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated,” Obama told Sciencedebate.

Curmudgeon’s translation: “I’m a community organizer reading a speech that was prepared by my staff.”

“I believe in evolution,” McCain said during a Republican primary debate last year. “But I also believe when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.” In his 2005 book, “Character Is Destiny,” McCain wrote: “Darwin helped explain nature’s life. … He did not exclude God.”

Curmudgeon’s translation: “I’ve got a lot of crazy supporters, so I’ll toss in some of the ol’ Noah’s Ark stuff.”

McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, has supported the teaching of creationism as well as evolution in public school.

“Teach both,” she said at a debate on Oct. 27, 2006, when she was running for governor of Alaska. “Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.”

Regular readers here know that’s misleading, and so does the press. We covered that here: Scientific American Quote-Mines Palin on Creationism.

Now that you can judge the reliability of the Miami Herald in such matters, their article starts off like this:

Both John McCain and Barack Obama strongly support government investment in science and technology. They say that expanded research and development are vital for America’s health, economy and environment. Otherwise, they warn, the U.S. may be overtaken by Europe, China and others.

However, Democrat Obama leans more toward government help, while McCain’s Republican approach includes lower taxes, incentives to private industry and less government regulation.

That reflects the general Republican and Democrat approach to things, so it’s probably accurate. Here’s a bit more:

Obama says the federal budget for physical and biological sciences, mathematics and engineering should be doubled over the next 10 years.

McCain also supports increased government spending, but specifies no amount or timing. However, he’s vowed to freeze domestic outlays for all purposes except for national security, veterans and a few other “vital” but unspecified programs in his first year in office.

Read the whole article if you want what may be a slanted discussion of these issues. Even the parts that are accurate — and who really knows? — may now be obsolete, given current economic conditions.

But life is always an uncertain endeavor, and so we persevere.

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