Voting Science


How important is science in the 2012 elections? It gets little mention directly and appears most often as policy statements.

Is it important? Are you reading this post on some ‘net enabled device? Thank science.

Are you reading this post on a mobile or tablet device? Thank science. Does your computer fit in your hand rather than fill a room? Thank science.

Do you get your calls via cellphone more often than landline? Thank science. For that matter, thank science for your landline, too.

You don’t think Science is important?

Science is business. Don’t forget that. And business is economics. Italy is imprisoning six scientists who failed to correctly predict the extent of an earthquake in L’Aquila in 2009. Think of the insurance bills that had to be paid in that city. Italy’s courts have also decided mobile phones cause brain tumors. Think of the medical costs! Think of the caveats mobile phone developers will need to have written into purchase agreements to indemnify them from heretical liability claims!

And in the US? Textbooks are bought and ordered more on what politics are in the largest sales territories. If everybody in a given sales territory thinks Creationism is truer than Evolution, guess what goes in the textbook? Voting with one’s pocketbook is fine but the short-sightedness of that approach is incredible. Vote that way long enough and the US — already losing some of its technological advantage — becomes a scientific backwater relying on other countries for innovation. Lose technological advantage and military strength is not far behind.

And we thought Wikipedia was dangerous?

Who’s for Science? (a view from across the pond)

The following is from the British science journal Nature v490 25 Oct 2012. The full article is High stakes for US science and a worthy read.


In their own words

Barack Obama (blue) and Mitt Romney (red) speak about science issues on the campaign trail.

CLIMATE

Obama: “Climate change is one of the biggest issues… we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits.”

Romney: “I oppose steps like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system …Economic growth and technological innovation, not economy-suppressing regulation, is the key to environmental protection.”

The bottom line: Romney opposes all climate regulations. Obama used regulatory powers to push through energy and climate regulations, and subsidies for low-carbon energy technology.

EDUCATION

Obama: “Now I want to hire another hundred thousand new math and science teachers and create two million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now.”

Romney: “I propose we grade our schools so parents …can take their child to a school that’s being more successful. I don’t want to cut our commitment to education, I want to make it more effective and efficient.”

The bottom line: Obama often emphasizes science education. Romney focuses on streamlining the federal role in education while encouraging school choice and voucher
programmes.

ENERGY

Obama: “I have supported an all-of-the-above energy approach that will allow us to take control of our energy future, one where we safely and responsibly develop America’s many energy resources.”

Romney: “A crucial component of my plan …is to dramatically increase domestic energy production and partner closely with Canada and Mexico to achieve North American energy independence by 2020.”

The bottom line: Romney and Obama have tussled over who supports fossil fuels the most. The difference is that Obama continues to push to develop renewable sources for the long
term.

INNOVATION

Obama: “I am committed to doubling funding for key research agencies to support scientists and entrepreneurs, so that we can preserve America’s place as the world leader in innovation.”

Romney: “The promotion of innovation will begin on Day One, with efforts to simplify the corporate tax code, reform job retraining programmes, reduce regulatory burdens, and protect American intellectual property.”

The bottom line: Obama deployed stimulus money to commercialize new technologies. Romney supports basic research, but leaves innovation and commercialization to the private
sector.

REGULATION

Obama: “Smart rules can save lives and keep us safe, but there are some regulations that don’t make sense and cost too much.”

Romney: “We must reduce the power of unaccountable regulators by requiring that all major regulations receive congressional approval and by imposing a regulatory cap that prevents the addition of new regulatory costs.”

The bottom line: Romney would slow or stop regulation where possible. Obama moved to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, but also used regulatory powers to further his agenda.

SPACE

Obama: “Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn and operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, ultimately in ways that are more sustainable and even indefinite.”

Romney: “America has enjoyed a half-century of leadership in space, but now that leadership is eroding …I will bring together all the stakeholders …and define the pathway forward.”

The bottom line: Under Obama, NASA has drifted into budgetary and mission limbo. Romney has underscored the problem but offers few specifics about what he would change.

STEM CELLS

Obama: “We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield.”

Romney: “I have a deep concern about curing disease …but I will not create new embryos through cloning or through embryo farming, because that would be creating life for the purpose of destroying it.”

The bottom line: Obama repealed limits on federal funding of stem-cell research. Romney has not specified his stance, but his religious views may stand in opposition to current policy.


Like your bigscreen TVs, your Facebook and Twitter? Are you a mayor in 4Square or have your family’s highest score in Angry Birds? Do you shop online? Is your refrigerator, computer or car energy efficient? Are you taking medication that keeps in check an illness that killed your grandparents?

Thank science.

What is the cost of undervaluing science? Living Under the China Skies or giving up personal security in ways most people can’t imagine.

Like your life, your gadgets and toys and want more for less at the grocery store and gas pump?

Vote Science.


Do You Feel Secure?

Cybersecurity is one of the unspoken yet staggeringly large concerns of any industrial nation these days. This concern comes in two levels: infrastructure and personal. Big federal agencies concern themselves with cyberattacks on infrastructure, big businesses make money off people’s concerns about their personal information.

And I’ll bet you’re thinking this is about banking accounts, credit card accounts and the like.

We can cover that, too, and this post is about your face, your skin, … basically your biomarkers, those things that uniquely identify you as you to biosensors, including things like heart rate, breathing, blood flow, et cetera.

Biosensors? Have you ever been anywhere where you had to pass through something that scanned your body (have you flown lately?) or some part of your body (do you login to your company’s computers via a fingerprint?)?

Welcome to Biosensors

Consider the Future Attributes Screening Technology and Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (FAST and SPOT, respectively. See Airport security: Intent to deceive?). If we can’t trust our neighbors to do the math, can we trust them to make reliable observations about us?

These are actually telling questions for NextStage. We demonstrated a detection system back in 2001 that, when deployed on a website (and didn’t require any form of biosensors…or was the most exacting biosensor in its day and still is, depending on your point of view), would recognize that a visitor was having malicious thoughts about whatever they were viewing. Imagine knowing ahead of time that someone was having bad thoughts about a national football game and that those thoughts had nothing to do with who might win but was directed to how much destruction might be achieved?

We talked to then US Senators Gregg and Sununu.

We sent material to the FBI and CIA.

And nobody was interested.

Let me repeat that; Nobody was interested!

It’s the same system that is now reporting on site visitor activity in over 120 countries worldwide.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? But systems that gather biometric markers as you walk through a crowd are currently under consideration.

By everybody.

So the next question is, how and where is all this gathered data to be stored? And who will have access? And for what reasons?

I’ve miles and miles of files, pretty files, of your forefather’s fruit, and now to suit our great computer, you’re magnetic ink1

You thought it was disturbing that 80,000 people’s credit card information was hacked? Imagine having your biologic trail stored somewhere and it being hacked! NextStage, partnering with Critical Mass, did some research on how different groups view “privacy” (See The Privacy Interview. One of that research’s findings is that boomers and millennials think of privacy quite differently: boomers view privacy loss as a personal attack, millennials view privacy loss as simply something that happens.).

Would they think the same way about loss of personal biometric data? Oddly enough, they might. Research shows that how millennials view personal social interaction is greatly different from boomers. Random “couplings” are much more prevalent than they were as little as ten years ago, mostly thanks to the social media revolution. One of the things we learned was demonstrated in social responsibility concepts: Boomers have car insurance in case they have an accident, millennials have car insurance so they can have an accident. Yet one of the first things determined during an accident is biologic culpability (we learn biologic culpability when newscasters tell us “drugs and alcohol were a factor…”).

I’m more than that, I know I am1

But biometric data stolen or compromised? That’s not really something people need to be worried about. Face it, very few people are so important that knowing their biologic activities and whereabouts in a given day are interesting enough to pilfer.

But paranoia is a wonderful thing. Remember, just because someone’s paranoid doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Maybe hacking biologic data is a real concern moving forward.

If you have trouble reconciling your bank statement, imagine having to keep track and reconcile where you’ve left pieces of yourself; skin, saliva, hair, …

And imagine being able to take a random sample from a public place and use it to falsify markers left elsewhere. Like crime scenes. DNA samples are becoming de reguerre as court evidence.

What if yours is hacked and is left hither and yon?

Voting may still be economics bound. Be ready to start voting on biologic privacy economics issues.


1: I first heard The Moody Blues In the Beginning at Hugh Mallet’s house long, long ago back as a freshman in high school. The lyrics significance caught me then because, while a poor highschool student, I was putting in time at MIT’s Lincoln Labs working in TX2 and not allowed to discuss my studies with anyone else. Anywhere. Ever.


Under the China Skies

Three astronauts flew China’s Shenzhou 9 spacecraft and boarded China’s Tiangong 1 — Heavenly Palace 1 — orbiting platform. The goal is to have a permanent, staffed station in place by 2020.

China's Astronauts return from a successful missionYou know those three astronauts weren’t Moe, Larry and Curly, correct?

And did you know that so far only China has used quantum cryptography over long distances successfully? Quantum cryptography is the gold standard, the ultimate unbreakable code. They send it and only the individual who’s meant to receive it can receive it.

And it can’t be faked. There are no false positives.

While I applaud China’s success, I am confused by the West’s response to their success. The Space Race is understood to include the unspoken “US-USSR” as a predicate. The only reason the US got to the moon was to make sure the USSR didn’t. The threat of an orbiting launch platform — standard military tactics, get the highground — was too much to be ignored and so the bulk of the US GNP was devoted to getting us to the (then) ultimate high ground before anybody else. As Alexander Graham Bell said, “The nation that secures control of the air will ultimately control the world.” Pity his vision was that bound.

Take the high ground and communicate with it via an unhackable, unbreakable connection?

Whoa!

So I have to wonder. The Chinese have the world’s largest standing army and the emphasis there is on “standing”. They currently do not have a means of transporting that army anywhere quickly. They’re building ships to do so, of course, and in the meantime they’re doing something almost as good: they’re building aircraft left, right and center. The People’s Republic of China is still a distant third when it comes to military aircraft and let’s face it, if they have a successful orbiting platform everybody else will be putting their military budget into equally successful catcher’s mitts.

Yet nobody’s talking about this?

While NextStage doesn’t listen to every political speech and doesn’t peruse sites as a general rule, we do listen to various news sources. How come nobody’s talking about this? Perhaps because the People’s Republic of China currently holds a lot of US paper?

Well, no, it doesn’t. Only about 8% in fact, and that’s not all that much. It is the third largest holder, true, and the bulk of US debt — about 69% — is owned by the US and its citizens. China’s not the only holder of US debt, others include Japan, the UK and Brazil.

Long story short, China calling in its paper isn’t as much of a worry as most people think…or as most pundits and party operatives are eager to tell you.

But China owning the skies?


The Fickle Vote (Politics and Your Mind 22 Oct 2012)


This post continues the Politics and Your Mind thread. You can read previous entries at

NextStage Political Reader determines political outcomes based on how people are thinking when they're on monitored websitesWe’re using The NextStage Political Reader to determine how people will vote in the 2012 US Presidential election and so far we’ve learned two distinct things:

  • The voting population that we’re able to sample is incredibly fickle. We’re sure their political leanings are driven by something but what, exactly, we’re not sure.
  • The first chart, Say, usually tracks the latest national polls for the same days within the margin of error.Pretty good, we thinks, as we’re not actually asking anybody anything, just observing how visitors behave on a variety of websites, the majority of which are not political at all.

The Gender Divide

Yes, we know it's suppose to be 'Alfred E. Smith'. We wanted to see who was paying attention.We first noticed the Gender Divide in Politics and the Gender Mind 10-12 Oct 2012 (With a Touch of Debate BS and PersonaScoping at the End). That Gender Divide continues…sort of. What we noticed the day after both Obama and Romney spoke at the Annual Alfred E. Neuman Dinner was how the genders responded to Obama’s self-deprecating humor. Men tend to like self-deprecating humor, women not so much and this showed up in the numbers the following day:

Humor and the Political Mind
Humor and the Political Mind - Men will favor men who laugh at themselves, women won't

The above finding amused us as this site’s most read post is Humor.

A Quick Read of the Charts

  • Say – What people would tell you in conversation. These numbers should be closest to national polls.
  • Think – Which party do people think will do better. This may or may not be who people would vote for or who they want to win, only who they think will do better.
  • Hearts – This is the number that most closely responds to the outcome of a secret ballot if held today.
  • End – If people could be magically transported to their real voting venue and knew for a fact that their vote would actually make a difference, how would they vote?

The Fickle Voter

We tracked daily visitor political leanings 19-22 Oct 2012. We’re not sure what happened over the weekend to cause the amazing Saturday Republican Surge nor the gradual climb of the Democrats (we don’t follow the news much unless we’re paid to). What we do know is that the Republican Surge corresponds to a surge in monitored visitor traffic (the % next to the days on the x-axis of the charts is the % of voting population we monitored each day). Saturday’s traffic volume was 3-9x what we monitored on the other days. If the increased traffic is the sole cause of the increased Republicanism (and recognizing we’re not necessarily monitoring the same visitors each day), this could be bad news for the Democrats.

Who Would They Say They’d Vote Right Now?
Would voters tell you they prefer Obama or Romney if you asked them right now?
But What Do They Think?
And What Are Their Hearts Telling Them?
Republican Support Seems to be Collapsing...Maybe
And In the End, Will Hearts or Minds Prevail?

A Final Word

The time for either party to strike is when voter hearts and minds are within a few points of each other. Hearts and minds with close numbers indicate voters’ higher and lower brains, conscious and non-conscious, are closely aligned. People act without thinking and without later remorse for their actions when conscious and non-conscious are aligned.

Come 6 Nov 2012, whoever synchronizes the most hearts and minds wins the election.


Politics and Your Mind 17 Oct 2012 (The Day After the Obama-Romney Hofstra Town Hall Style Debate)


NextStage Political Reader determines political outcomes based on how people are thinking when they're on monitored websitesThis post continues a thread started in Politics and Your Mind 9 Oct 2012 (Introducing the NextStage Political Reader) and continued in Politics and the Gender Mind 10-12 Oct 2012 (With a Touch of Debate BS and PersonaScoping at the End). We’re using The NextStage Political Reader to determine how people will vote in the 2012 US Presidential election.

The same caveats apply here as previously: NextStage is not monitoring all sites in the US nor was the entire voting population online during the time this data was collected.

A Quick Read of the Charts

  • Say – What people would tell you in conversation. These numbers should be closest to national polls.
  • Think – Which party do people think will do better. This may or may not be who people would vote for or who they want to win, only who they think will do better.
  • Hearts – This is the number that most closely responds to the outcome of a secret ballot if held today.
  • End – If people could be magically transported to their real voting venue and knew for a fact that their vote would actually make a difference, how would they vote?

The Gender Divide

The twelve or so hours since the debate started have been busy internet-wise. NextStage tracked over 10 million people (3.43% of the voter population) (over 7½ million women and close to 3 million men) and there is no doubt that President Obama carried the evening as far as women voters go. What President Obama also managed to do was make lots of men reconsider their voting decision. They didn’t go totally democratic and they did move away from republican by a substantial margin.

How Would They Say They’d Vote Right Now?
How did the Hofstra Debate Affect How Voters Say They'll Vote?

The real shift is in male consciousness, though. In their own minds, men believe President Obama won the debate.

But What Do They Think?

Heartwise, men still believe President Obama won the debate by a large margin although here we see that men still have a hankering for Governor Romney.

And What Are Their Hearts Telling Them?

But in the end and all things considered, the Democrats won the night.

And In the End, Will Hearts or Minds Prevail?

A Final Word

The Republicans may also believe President Obama and the Democrats carried the night. As I write this, it is slightly after 10amET and so far the only political calls to our offices have been by Republican operatives, and those to let us know how wrong President Obama was and what he wasn’t telling the debate audience. Normally there’s a 50/50 mix and the calls are issue oriented.