Issues in Science and Technology, a journal published by the National Academies, recently published an editorial by Shawn Otto and Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-founders of ScienceDebate2008, about the history of the initiative. The editorial mentions the public opinion poll that Research!America conducted with ScienceDebate2008.
Probing further, the Science Debate team learned that science was seen as a niche topic by the campaigns, and a presidential debate dedicated to science policy issues such as climate change, innovation, research, health care, energy, ocean health, stem cells, and the like was viewed as requiring extensive preparation and posing high risk for a limited return.
Science Debate 2008 wanted to test this assumption, so it partnered with Research!America and hired Harris to conduct a national poll. The results were astounding: Fully 85% of U.S. adults said the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss key policy problems facing the United States, such as health care, climate change, and energy, and how science can help tackle them. There was virtually no difference across party lines. Contrary to the candidates’ assumptions, science is of broad concern to the public.
Read the entire editorial here.