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Let's Talk Science

Organizers of Science Debate are trying to get this election cycle's slate of candidates to talk more about science and its role in public policy, Newsweek reports.

Matthew Chapman, a British­born American author and descendent of Charles Darwin, and some colleagues are working with the National Geographic Channel and Arizona State University to stage such a debate. Previous attempts during earlier presidential elections for a science debate didn't pan out, though President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney did answer some science-related questions in writing in 2012.

"I believe that there will come a time when it will seem as odd for a candidate not to attend a debate on science as it would now seem odd for one not to attend a debate on foreign or domestic policy or the economy," Chapman says.

But as Newsweek writes, that won't be an easy journey. Both sides of the political spectrum hold anti-science views — such as climate change-deniers on the right and anti-vaccine proponents on the left — and it's become a partisan divide. Surveys conducted by Pew have found that while the public respects scientists, it doesn't necessarily believe them. And that, the organizers say, is why a debate is needed.

"Leading the national discussion requires some basic knowledge of what the important issues are, what is known and not known, and what new efforts need to be commenced," physicist Lawrence Krauss tells Newsweek. "Scientific data is not Democratic or Republican."