political science part 1: barack obama

December 10, 2007 at 12:25 am | | news, political science, science and the public, science community

Out of curiosity, I started reading how the different presidential candidates stand on science, science funding, and research. Some of the candidates even have information about it right on their websites! So I’ll try to convey to you all what I discover. Part 1 is Barack Obama, next will be Hillary Clinton, then Joe Biden and John Edwards. Stay tuned…

There’s not tons of information on Obama’s website specifically about scientific research, but there is this paragraph (emphases are mine):

Barack Obama supports doubling federal funding for basic research, changing the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology. This will foster home-grown innovation, help ensure the competitiveness of US technology-based businesses, and ensure that 21st century jobs can and will grow in America. As a share of the Gross Domestic Product, American federal investment in the physical sciences and engineering research has dropped by half since 1970. Yet, it often has been federally-supported basic research that has generated the innovation to create markets and drive economic growth. For example, one recent report demonstrated how federally supported research in fiber optics and lasers helped spur the telecommunications revolution.

Obama also commented on the US patent system:

A system that produces timely, high-quality patents is essential for global competitiveness in the 21st century. By improving predictability and clarity in our patent system, we will help foster an environment that encourages innovation. Giving the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) the resources to improve patent quality and opening up the patent process to citizen review will reduce the uncertainty and wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation. With better informational resources, the Patent and Trademark Office could offer patent applicants who know they have significant inventions the option of a rigorous and public peer review that would produce a “gold-plated” patent much less vulnerable to court challenge. Where dubious patents are being asserted, the PTO could conduct low-cost, timely administrative proceedings to determine patent validity. As president, Barack Obama will ensure that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and collaboration.

There’s more information on the official Obama website here. But not too much more. Nothing really specific. Still, doubling the federal budget for scientific research would be quite impressive.


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  1. wow, a doubling surely would be nice.

    plan to look at any of the republicans?

    Comment by matt — December 10, 2007 #

  2. But surely there are other topics with somewhat more weight?? I was shocked (though no longer surprised) when I heard that over 10% in the USA is below acceptable living standards…

    For one reason or another, those improved industrial competitiveness has not lead to better living in the US. Something must be broken. Some leakage in the piping, I would say as organic chemist. Memory leak I would suspect as chemoinformatician.

    Comment by Egon Willighagen — December 10, 2007 #

  3. Phil Plait had a blurb on Clinton’s campaign promises.

    Comment by kendall — December 10, 2007 #

  4. Egon, I agree completely. There are bigger issues in the world (and in the election) than science funding. I don’t think science funding is in the top 5 issues that concern me. But a pro-science stance does say something about how a person would run a country. And anyway, this is a science blog, so I thought I’d look into science funding.
    And matt, I think Charles might write a post on the Republican candidates, but it’s harder because few of them (if any) have anything pro-science on their websites!

    Comment by sam — December 10, 2007 #

  5. A doubling of the budget on basic research seems impressive, but I’d also comment that it also seems rather cost prohibitive. And unless specifics are declared, a “pro-science” stance isn’t really all that different from one that is “not anti-science”.

    I guess it would be better than the status quo, but I’d like to see some other position statements on this issue.

    Also, like Egon and others above, these statements are hollow unless put into a perspective that includes some sort of priority, since there are other issues that are more important (even if they don’t affect me as a scientist as directly). Without prioritizing issues, candidates are just making hollow promises…

    …and Presidential Candidates never make hollow promises!…

    Comment by bink — December 10, 2007 #

  6. […] is better planned than Obama’s idea listed on his website. That’s not to say that Clinton would actually do a better […]

    Pingback by Everyday Scientist » political science part 2: hillary clinton — December 11, 2007 #

  7. Obama’s plan for gold-plating patents is an idea re-cycled from three law professors in 2005. It is not a particularly good idea.


    Gold-plating of patents: Obama’s bad AND recycled idea

    Comment by Lawrence B. Ebert — September 8, 2008 #

  8. Peer Review And Innovation In Science

    A. “The new face of peer review”, in “Funding Opportunities and Advice” forum, at

    refers to “changes to the peer review process”.

    B. However, “peer review process” is the least disturbing aspect of “peer review” in science

    Samples of factual observations of other negative aspects of peer review in science:

    “A U.S. Supreme Court decision and an analysis of the peer review system substantiate complaints about this fundamental aspect of scientific research. Far from filtering out junk science, peer review may be blocking the flow of innovation, and corrupting public support of science.”

    – “Peer review stifles innovation, perpetuates the status quo, and rewards the prominent. Peer review tends to block work that is either innovative or contrary to the reviewers’ perspective.”

    C. “Peer Review” is, factually, a tool of a “Subversive Activities Control Board”

    The most revolting corrupt aspect of peer review in science is its exploitation by the Science Establishment to tightly clamp its political and financial omni-everything rule and control, including stifling of any shred of scientific innovation.

    D. The corruption is not inherent in the tool, but in the nature of the Science Establishment

    “Implications Of Science And Technology Evolution”

    The peer review process is but a tool of the Establishment. The corruption is not inherent in the tool, but in the nature of the Science Establishment.

    As long as Science and Technologhy are considered and handled, conceptually and administratively, as one realm and one faculty this corruption cannot and will not be overcome. This conception and attitude is THE CORRUPTION OF SCIENCE BY THE 21st CENTURY TECHNOLOGY CULTURE.

    Dov Henis

    (A DH Comment From The 22nd Century)

    Comment by Dov Henis — December 2, 2008 #

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