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Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson have all responded to Science Debate’s presidential policy quiz. (GeekWire illustration)

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson may not be on stage for this year’s televised presidential debates, but he is getting his say on America’s top issues relating to science and technology, health and the environment – thanks to Science Debate.

Johnson was the last of four presidential hopefuls to respond to Science Debate’s 20-question policy quiz. His answers went online today. Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump and the Green Party’s Jill Stein weighed in a week earlier.

Shawn Otto, who chairs the ScienceDebate.org initiative, said in a news release that the candidates’ responses “provide a window into the role evidence from science plays in their decision-making” – but he emphasized that the voters shouldn’t rely solely on the quiz answers.

“Now we need journalists and the public to press these candidates for more specifics,” Otto said. “How reasonable are their proposals, given the known evidence? What relative roles do ideology and evidence seem to play in their thinking? These are important considerations in electing an executive who will have the power to set policy, guide and enforce regulations, influence research investments, sign treaties, inspire students, encourage innovation, approve laws, manage immigration, and commit soldiers to battle.”

 

Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, is more likely than Trump to accept the mainstream scientific verdict on issues such as climate change but less likely than Clinton or Stein to offer a policy prescription. Here are some excerpts:

Climate change: Johnson acknowledges that industrial greenhouse-gas emissions are contributing to climate change. “Unfortunately for policymakers – the very activities that appear to contribute to climate change also contribute to mankind’s health and prosperity, so we view with a skeptical eye any attempts to curtail economic activity,” he said. Instead, he’d rely on the market to address climate repercussions.

Energy: “We believe that no source of energy is categorically wrong or right, but some sources of energy may be procured or used incorrectly or used in the wrong applications, too often as a consequence of government interference and manipulation.”

Space exploration: “Private corporations are increasingly interested in space travel, and the private sector has access to far more resources than the public, so we welcome private participation and even dominance in space exploration.”

Scientific integrity: “Particularly in this age of almost limitless information and instant ‘peer review,’ real transparency will resolve many of the distortions that exist and create a scientific check on political interference. Science has too often been encouraged to oversell its results in the political theater.”

Internet policy: The National Security Agency should stick to “its original purpose of remaining on the forefront of American cyber defenses,” Johnson says. “The best way to improve cybersecurity is to educate the most likely security hole in any technology – the people sitting at the keyboards.”

Innovation: “The most important policies for science and engineering are those that reduce the burdens on the economy of deficit spending and debt, and which reduce a tax burden that siphons dollars away from investment and into government coffers.”

Check out the full list of 20 responses at Science Debate’s website. You can also get a quick four-candidate comparison on science and environment issues (plus lots more) at ProCon.org. For additional perspectives focusing on Clinton and Trump, take a look at Science News’ issue-by-issue analysis, plus the matchup from ISideWith.com,

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