On the scientific views of presidential candidate Chris Christie

Finally we come to my favorite candidate to read and write about, a man who could be described as a rational-minded moderate or an egotistical, tyrannical thug but would never be described as boring. Chris Christie. Christie has been serving as governor of New Jersey since 2010, and is now one of the 17 candidates elbowing their way to the Republican presidential nomination.

Christie is somewhat famous for his brash temperament and his town-hall meetings in which he gives it to people unfiltered. He has also gotten attention for demanding Mitt Romney not raise money from any donors in New Jersey until he approved, and shutting down the George Washington Bridge to cause a massive traffic jam as payback to a local official for not backing him. Whatever you think of Christie, you have to admit he’s fun to pay attention to. If you don’t know what I’m talking about just watch this quick highlight of some things he’s said.

Below are Christie’s statements, positions and policies regarding a few issues that are controversial among the public but have massive amounts of evidence supporting one side over the other. By examining his views on these issues we can hopefully shed some light on how much data, evidence and science shape his world view.

Climate Change

At an event in New Hampshire, Governor Christie said “I think global warming is real. I don’t think that’s deniable, and I do think human activity contributes to it.”

So he accepts the science. When it comes to policy solutions to this problem Christie stressed that the United States “can’t be acting unilaterally.” His record as governor on environmental policy is somewhat mixed.

The theory of evolution

Christie’s position on whether or not he accepts the science of evolution is easily summed up by one quote he made at a press conference in 2011: “That’s none of your business.” Christie went on to say “Evolution is required teaching, if there’s a certain school district that also wants to teach creationism, that’s not something we should decide in Trenton.” I’ll call this a punt, but even though he dodged answering the question (so much for giving it to us straight) his position shows a tolerance and acceptance for cramming religious ideas into a science classroom. Certainly Creationism can be taught in a theology class, but in biology classrooms it is shameful to teach anything other than biology.

 Vaccinations

Earlier this year Governor Christie said in regard to vaccination “Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated, and we think that it’s an important part of being sure we protect their health and the public health. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

A few months later in New Hampshire, when confronted by a member of the National Vaccine Information Center – an anti-vaccination group – Christie said “I would err on the side of protecting public health through vaccine unless that vaccine has proven to be harmful to the public.”

I think this passes as a position informed by the science. My take is that he is trying his best not to be dismissive of parents’ concern but is also acknowledging that that public health requires mandatory vaccinations until a vaccine is proven to be harmful. Am I being too generous to pull all of that out of his cryptic politician speak?

Science funding

Christie has tried to cut cancer research funding in his home state of New Jersey six years in a row. Christie also cut education funding by about 1 billion dollars as governor. However, he was one of only a few Republican governors to sign on to a letter to congress which said:

As you develop the Congressional Budget Resolution, we urge you to enable the 3.2% funding increase for NIH contained in the President’s budget request. We thank you for your past support for biomedical research and ask you to craft a budget resolution that accommodates the President’s $32.2 billion FY 2011 NIH budget request.

Politicus Cerebri

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