The scientific views of presidential candidate George Pataki

There are so many presidential candidates announcing that I’m falling behind. We recently heard that George Pataki, the former governor of New York, is officially seeking the Republican presidential nomination. He is considered a long-shot candidate, primarily because he is ranked as the most moderate of all the candidates seeking the nomination.

Below are statments and positions Pataki has made pertaining to his views on science. As I’ve said on each of these “views” posts, the point is to see if scientific evidence influences his thinking or if he rejects evidence when it doesn’t suit his previously held belief. The first three topics are not at all controversial as far as the scientific evidence is concerned, but can be among those who are not persuaded by evidence.

Climate Change

Pataki recently served as the co-chair of the Council on Foreign Relations task force on climate change. He and his colleagues released a report called Confronting Climate Change: A Strategy for US Foreign Policy. It seems clear from this report that Pataki believes that climate change is real and scientifically proven. He suggests that the best way to deal with climate change is through private initiatives, rather than governmental regulations.

The theory of evolution

It is hard to pin down a specific quote of Pataki’s regarding whether or not he accepts the science of evolution. In a recent interview with CNBC, he said “But I think it is absurd in the 21st century we’re talking about things like measles vaccines and evolution instead of things like going after ISIS before they can attack us here and reforming Washington where it’s so controlled by the special interests.” That seems to suggest that he does believe in evolution, and finds it absurd that serious presidential candidates question it. If that is what he means, I agree completely.

Vaccinations

In a taped conversation with Republican activists in New Hampshire, Pataki said “I think science has shown that vaccinations work. And to me what is really dangerous is when a parent doesn’t get their child vaccinated, a young infant who can’t be vaccinated could catch the disease. Sadly we had 50,000 whooping cough cases last year, including 20 deaths, so I think vaccination is very important and certainly appropriate that we encourage in the strongest possible terms people to make sure their children are immunized.”

Science funding

Finally when it comes to supporting and funding sciences, Pataki gave a ‘state of the state’ speech while he was governor of New York in which he said we needed to invest more in math and science education to stay competitive with the rest of the world. As governor, he provided state funding for the Energy Recovery Linac, a project designed to create the brightest source of X-rays in the world. He also provided funding to multiple institutions in New York to facilitate high-tech and biotech research. His record as governor is very pro-science!

Politicus Cerebri

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