Name: Ben Carson, M.D.
Party Affiliation: Republican
Government Positions Held: n/a
Career Outside of Politics: Neurosurgeon
Education: Residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, M.D. from University of Michigan, B.A. in Psychology from Yale University
Science Research Funding: Despite spending his career publishing research in collaboration with scientists, Dr. Carson has remained fairly quiet on the issue of research funding. However, his views on the use of human embryonic tissue in research have been a hot topic in the media. Although Dr. Carson claims to be pro-life and asserts “there is nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue”, he has co-authored a research paper that used embryonic tissue from aborted fetuses and maintains he did nothing wrong. The only other research-related topic Carson has taken a public stance on is his strong support of NASA, which he promises to get “off the ground”.
Climate Change and Alternative Energy: Dr. Carson has dismissed climate change as a product of natural cyclic periods of cooling and warming, and even asserted that the discussion is “irrelevant”. In that same interview, Dr. Carson suggested the “right thing” to focus on is challenging government programs, like the Environmental Protection Agency, “to find the most eco-friendly ways of developing our energy resources.” Furthermore, he supports the Keystone Pipeline and in his 2012 book, America the Beautiful, he promotes “tapping into our own resources” to gain petroleum independence.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): In an interview with Rural Town Hall, Dr. Carson expressed his support of food labeling for the anti-GMO crowd, but admitted that, in general, GMOs are safe and a product of advancing science.
STEM Education: Dr. Carson has not discussed STEM education directly, but has been vocal about education in general. Specifically, Dr. Carson is strong proponent of school choice and has voiced concern for the current public education system.
Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): Dr. Carson is not a fan of the Affordable Care Act. He even went so far as to equate it to slavery. However, unlike many of his republican colleagues, Carson will not repeal Obamacare until a suitable replacement is in place.
Vaccines: In the second GOP debate, Dr. Carson made it clear that vaccines do not cause autism. However, his support of vaccines is not without reservation. “Vaccines are very important. Certain ones,” Dr. Carson said. “The ones that would prevent death or crippling. There are others, there are a multitude of vaccines which probably don’t fit in that category, and there should be some discretion in those cases.”
Summary: Dr. Carson’s support of NASA is promising, but his indifference towards climate change, GMOs, and wavering support of vaccines concerns the scientific community. Overall, Carson has not made science a priority in his platform, and has failed to propose any specific policies that would aid the scientific community.