America's choice : Article : NatureThe human world will weep on November 5th when President-to-be Palin takes her oath of office.
The values of scientific enquiry, rather than any particular policy positions on science, suggest a preference for one US presidential candidate over the other.
The election of a US president almost always seems like a crossroads, but the choice to be made on 4 November feels unusual, and daunting, in its national and global significance.
... 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. ... 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.
Some will find strengths in McCain that they value more highly than the commitment to reasoned assessment that appeals in Obama. But all the signs are that the former seeks a narrower range of advice. Equally worrying is that he fails to educate himself on crucial matters; the attitude he has taken to economic policy over many years is at issue here. Either as a result of poor advice, or of advice inadequately considered, he frequently makes decisions that seem capricious or erratic. The most notable of these is his ill-considered choice of Sarah Palin, the Republican governor of Alaska, as running mate. Palin lacks the experience, and any outward sign of the capacity, to face the rigours of the presidency...
...This journal does not have a vote, and does not claim any particular standing from which to instruct those who do. But if it did, it would cast its vote for Barack Obama.
What of the natural world? I can't imagine Gaia having an opinion, but if it did it might favor a planet with fewer humans. Gaia, I think, would vote for McCain/Palin.