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Scientific American editors respond to Obama’s State of the Union address [Video]

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obama-state-of-the-union-address-2011President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night touched on topics that are near and dear to us at Scientific American, including technology, green energy sources, health care and innovation. Four of our editors give their thoughts on Obama’s speech and provide some context in the video below:





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  1. 1. engelj 11:22 am 01/27/2011

    I think SA is in danger here, of blatantly advocating a political position; something SA should avoid like the plague. Most especially in the segment by Christine Gorman on Obama health care.

    Gorman speaks in broad, and innacurate generalities abot comparative treatment evaluations, Electronic Health Records and specialty care versus general preventative care. These considerations were all either underway or in the pipeline well before the Affordable Health Care Act and certainly didn’t need this massive expense to continue.

    What gives us the "best bang for the buck" is conjecture at this point and is not yet a scienifically sustainable position.

    Gorman states as fact: "Many health care experts… have agreed". At least an equal amount of health care experts have disagreed. And we simply CAN go back to what we had before, if that is the best choice. If the cost to do so would in fact be less than the cost to continue.

    And in a "bi-partisan way" the fact is that the majority of the American voting citizenry do not agree with that we cannot "re-fight" these arguments. You do remember those citizens don’t you SA? They hold the decision-making authority on these issues, not the President of the United States.

    Gorman’s blatant and misinformed advocacy for the Obama position holds no place in a dispassionate analysis of the eficacy of the AFC act, especially when presented as a SA analysis.

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  2. 2. morebhp 12:15 pm 01/27/2011

    "I think SA is in danger here, of blatantly advocating a political position; something SA should avoid like the plague."

    It’s a little late for that, isn’t it?

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  3. 3. Sisko 3:37 pm 01/27/2011

    Scientific American has become a propaganda "rag" that supports political policy positions and no longer truly supports the development of science. The example of the health care position is a clear example of the editor’s political belief, and has nothing to do with science.

    SA also continually takes the position regarding climate change, that increasing CO2 is a pending disaster for humanity; regardless of this being scientifically unsupported and economically stupid. IMO, SA will continue to lose readers as more recognize it as a poor place to learn scientific facts.

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  4. 4. ENVME 4:37 pm 01/27/2011

    You have not offered one bit of data which supports your claim that the Uniform Healthcare Act is political in nature and your statement that "the fact is that the majority of the American voting citizenry do not agree with that we cannot "re-fight" these arguments" is totally unfounded. I disagree with your comments.

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  5. 5. ENVME 4:45 pm 01/27/2011

    I am beginning to think that some SA commenters are propaganda rags as supported by the arguments of Sisko, (e.g. healthcare and climate change). How you manage to tie two entirely separate social and environmental issues in one unsupported argument against SA is suspect, to put it mildly.

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  6. 6. engelj 6:35 pm 01/27/2011

    To those whop doubt the unpopularity of the Obama health care program I would suggest a simple google of "Obamacare Popularity" will reveal a plethoira of polls from various polling organizations clearly indicating public disenchantment.

    December 14, 2010 | 13:55

    From a Pro Obama pole:

    "A new ABC-Washington Post poll found ObamaCare sunk to its lowest popularity yet: 52 percent opposed, and only 43 percent in favor."

    From Kaiser

    "The November Kaiser Health Tracking Poll shows that President Obama’s health care overhaul has now hit a lower level of popularity than at any previous time in his presidency. Kaiser writes, "Just a quarter of the public (25 percent) now says they expect their own families to be better off under the health reform law, which is the lowest share since KFF [Kaiser Family Foundation] began tracking this question." Kaiser notes that it began tracking the question in February of 2009, just weeks after President Obama’s inauguration,"

    There are many more.

    But my real question and dismay was why S.A. would indulge in partisan political advocation for any cause or party. I had been away from S.A. for many years and recently jumped back in to find this twisted advocacy position across many areas of S.A. reportage. Clearly it’s my mistake. I need to find a science reportage service without bias.

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  7. 7. ENVME 6:58 pm 01/27/2011

    If you Google "Obamacare" rather than say, the Uniform Healthcare Act, you are going to end up with a skewed population of responders. The term "Obamacare" is political and a favorite term for opponents of broader healthcare coverage. This does nothing to further your argument.

    Regarding Kaiser Family Foundation. I don’t know what to say except a partner is Fox News (Rupert Murdoch).

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  8. 8. E-boy 1:42 am 01/28/2011

    Ummm… You really don’t know much about the press do you? I mean the editorial format predates the internet. It nearly predates the country. It’s a given that editors will occasionally publish pieces based on their personal opinions. Pick a newspaper or online media site and you will find more of the same. It’s not considered journalistically dishonest to publish editorials. In fact, the whole point is to let people know, in advance, that these are the opinions of the individuals writing. Editorials invite feedback, that’s the whole point.

    Having said that, you provide feedback without providing one single shred of evidence to back up any of the rather sweeping generalizations you make.

    For the record, insofar as how the public feels about the health care bill, a recent series of polls suggest that many of the sectors of the public that were unhappy with it are less so now. On top of that many of the dissenters feel it didn’t go far enough or say that their main issue with it is that it mandates health care coverage. A simple search through recent media publications on various news sites will reveal this information to you. That is assuming you aren’t entirely focussed on fox news and fringe blogs.

    Lastly, if you disapprove so deeply of sciam, why bother reading it? Why bother commenting?

    Here’s a little project for you. Go do your homework. After doing your homework, form an opinion that you can defend with actual evidence. Then feel free to come back here and post. You’ll find that folks here are far more receptive to opinions with an evidentiary basis, even when they don’t necessarily agree with them. It’s called a dialogue. Heck, if you had even cited a specific poll you would have gotten more positive responses. You’ll note that the information I provided was general in the extreme, but anyone with a computer can still find the info I’m speaking of.

    Please go troll a political blog. I’m sure Rush Limbaugh has a site you’d love.

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  9. 9. E-boy 1:45 am 01/28/2011

    You need to find a source without bias? You do realize that the onus there is squarely on your shoulders as a citizen right? Do what the rest of us do and get your news from multiple sources. Research the areas that are important to you. AGAIN, form an opinion based on evidence.

    The very fact you expect an Editorial to be something other than what the format was designed to be suggest to me that you have an awful lot to learn about how even the press in this country works. In short, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.

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  10. 10. Christine Gorman 5:23 pm 01/31/2011

    You said I made "broad, and innacurate generalities abot [sic] comparative treatment evaluations, Electronic Health Records and specialty care versus general preventative care. These considerations were all either underway or in the pipeline well before the Affordable Health Care Act."

    Hmmm. Don’t we want laws to be based on the best-available evidence?

    Yes, CER, EHR and a greater emphasis on primary care were underway before passage of the law, which is why you’d expect them to be part of any health care reform act. The fact that they predate the 2010 health care reform law does not negate the law’s usefulness.

    Indeed, one of the major features of the law, the insurance mandate, was the foundation of the Massachusetts health reform law — as signed by then Governor Mitt Romney (Republican) — in 2006.

    I won’t go into all the rest of your points because — whether you intended them to or not — I think they distract from the big picture.

    1) There is no question among non-partisan economists and health experts that the US health care system needs to be reFORMED, not just tinkered with at the edges if we wish to avoid bankrupting the country.

    2) A preliminary analysis in January of this year by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that repeal of the 2010 law will increase the US deficit by $230 billion over the next 10 years.

    3) The current health care system is so fragmented that it does not deliver true economic value. Read Michael Porter on this

    4) Economic considerations aside, the current health care system is so fragmented and so highly dependent on specialty care that it does not deliver great health outcomes. Those are not the only reasons why the US does not have better health outcomes but they are major ones and thus should be addressed.

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