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Nature magazine has a nifty site posing 15 questions to the two major presidential candidates on an array of scientific and technological topics, including stem cells, nuclear fusion, space exploration, and mad cow disease. Unfortunately, many of the answers are disappointingly short and boilerplate. John Kerry misses a significant chance to differentiate himself from President Bush’s overpoliticized scientific panels by punting on the question about how he would ensure that his administration receives impartial scientific advice (question 2). And Bush repeats his canard that reducing greenhouse gas intensity does anything about climate change (question 12). Kerry deservedly attacks Bush on missile defense (question 5), saying that in its rush to deploy a system rather than continuing research, development, and testing, the administration “has shredded its own credibility” on this issue. And as blogger Chris Mooney points out, neither Bush nor Kerry apparently thinks there is any point beyond which genetic modification of plants and animals should be pursued (question 11).

Science magazine does a better job with its own presidential Q&As (PDF). Even when the questions are the same as Nature’s, the candidates’ answers are somewhat more developed. Start here if you only have time to read one or the other.

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