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A New Election Year Tradition

After successfully getting the 2008 US presidential candidates to lay out their positions on science and technology, the grassroots organization ScienceDebate.org is once again calling on presidential hopefuls to answer a handful of questions intended to provide voters with some insight into their stance on science policy.

Marissa Fessenden at ScienceDebate.org partner Scientific American writes that innovation, economic growth, and climate change are "just a few of the challenges and opportunities that face the US" and are "also firmly linked to science."

The group has put together 14 questions for President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney to address for ScienceDebate 2012, based on input from "thousands of scientists, engineers, and concerned citizens."

SceinceDebate.org notes that candidates "readily debate jobs and the economy even though they are not economists; they debate foreign policy and military intervention even though they are not diplomats or generals; they debate faith and values even though they are not priests or pastors. We call on the candidates for President to also debate these Top American Science Questions that affect all voters' lives."

This year, the group is also posing a subset of those 14 questions to "influential members of Congress, chosen because they lead their parties or congressional committees in charge of science and technology-related policy," Fassenden writes.

The demand for Congress to participate in ScienceDebate 2012 is timely given the controversy that has surrounded recent remarks on rape and pregnancy from Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who sits on the House Committee for Science, Space, and Technology. In light of Akin's "folkloric views on reproduction," as a CNN.com op-ed put it, a petition has been started to remove him from the committee.

Scientific American will publish and grade the presidential candidates' responses to the ScienceDebate 2012 questions in its November issue, while it will post Congress's replies online.

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