Welcome back to 2016 POTUS Candidates and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Today I’ll briefly look at Senator Rand Paul, Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina.


Preamble

In March I wrote a more thorough one of these for Senator Ted Cruz and intended to do something similar for all (?) the other candidates. But now there’s 30+ candidates and some summarizing is going to have to happen. The Republican candidates are going to have a televised debate on August 6th, so, I’m going to try to summarize all of them before then, ordered by the time they announced their campaign.



Rand Paul

Quick biography of candidate

Randal Howard Paul, known as Rand Paul, was born 7 January 1963 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the time, his father, Dr. Ronald Ernest “Ron” Paul was two years out of Duke University’s med school, and his mother, Carol Paul (née Wells), was raising Rand’s older brother and sister. Ron, Carol, and their children moved to Texas in 1968, from where Ron started being a federal Representative in 1976. Rand, as a teenager, identified as a member of the Episcopal Church, and read works by the economists of the Austrian school and Ayn Rand (who his nickname is not an homage to). He went to Baylor University for 3 years, primarily taking classes in biology and English, before being accepted into Duke University’s med school in 1984. He received his M.D. in 1988, he finished his residency in ophthalmology in 1993, and he moved to Kentucky after that. He worked on eyes at one clinic for 5 years, another for 10, and then started his own practice, which he folded in 2009, when he started his campaign for an open US Senate seat in Kentucky. He won that 2010 election and has been serving in the US Senate since January 2011, where he has pushed for a shrinking of the US federal government and for the strengthening of civil rights.

Advertisement

Does this candidate have a STEM background?

Yup. Dr. Paul is a medical doctor with over fifteen years of practice, and his undergraduate education included a large dosage of biology classes.


Advertisement

Marco Rubio

Quick biography of candidate

Marco Antonio Rubio was born 28 May 1971 in Miami, Florida to Cuban immigrants Mario Rubio y Reina and Oriaeles Rubio (née Garcia). His religious upbringing had some complexity: he was raised Catholic, but his family converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when they moved to Las Vegas, but then Marco converted back to Catholicism (apparently bringing his family with him?) before they moved back to Miami in 1985. Marco earned a political sciences bachelor’s degree from University of Florida in 1993, and his J.D. from University of Miami’s law school in 1996. He was a city commissioner for West Miami before winning a Florida House of Representatives position in 2000. While there he eventually became the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and after four full terms including three unopposed re-elections, term limits restricted him from continuing to serve in the Florida House. In 2009, after briefly running his own law firm and starting teaching at Florida International University, he started running for an empty Florida US Senate seat, which saw a contest between himself, a Democratic US Representative, and the Republican-turned-Independent (later-turned-Democrat) Florida governor. Mr. Rubio won that election and he has served almost one full term as a US Senator, including an opportunity to deliver the 2013 Official Opposition Response to the President’s State of the Union address.

Advertisement

Does this candidate have a STEM background?

It does not seem so.


Advertisement


Ben Carson

Quick biography of candidate

Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr. was born 18 September 1951 in Detroit, Michigan, to Robert Solomon Carson (a Seventh-day Adventist minister) and Sonya Carson (née Copeland); the second of their children. His parents divorced when he was eight; Ben and his older brother were raised by their mother. After graduating high school he majored in psychology at Yale University, he received his M.D. from University of Michigan, and he did his neurosurgery residency at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. After becoming the director of pediatric neurosurgery in 1984, the youngest physician to head a major division at that hospital, Dr. Carson did an amazing amount at John Hopkins Hospital including some very high-attention surgeries. In 2003 he was appointed to the President’s Council on Bioethics, and in 2008 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On February 2013 he was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast, where his speech brought him to the attention of several conservative pundits. He announced his retirement as a surgeon, effective July, in March of 2013, and he spent part of the rest of 2013 and 2014 slowly gaining support among conservative voters. He registered as a Republican on the day of the 2014 national elections.

Advertisement

Does this candidate have a STEM background?

Very much so; his bachelor’s degree is in a scientific field, he’s a medical doctor, and he practiced medicine at John Hopkins Hospital for almost 30 years.


Advertisement

Carly Fiorina

Quick biography of candidate

Cara Carleton Fiorina (née Sneed) was born 6 September 1954 in Austin, Texas to Joseph Tyree Sneed III and Madelon Montross Sneed (née Juergens). Joseph’s careers took the family out of the country, so Carly’s schooling included time in London and Ghana before she graduated high school in North Carolina. Carly got her bachelor’s in philosophy and medieval history at Stanford in 1976, attended a semester of UCLA law school after, but then worked at a real estate firm and then taught English in Italy for a time. She subsequently received a MBA at University of Maryland, College Park in 1980, which is when she started working at AT&T. She acquired a second master’s degree in 1989: a MS in management from MIT. AT&T was partially broken up in the 1990s, she transferred to Lucent in 1995/1996, and she got hired at Hewlett-Packard in 1999 as CEO, the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company. She led the company through its merger with Compaq but was eventually forced to resign in February 2005. Since then she has, among other things, run, unsuccessfully, for an occupied California US Senate seat and launched the One Woman Initiative to help coordinate donations to foreign aid organizations.

Advertisement

Does this candidate have a STEM background?

Yup. She has a master’s degree in science in the field of management and she worked in the tech industry from 1980 to 2005.


Advertisement

How old do they think the world is?

Dr. Paul, in June 2010, refused to answer, but then more recently he said that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

Mr. Rubio, in a GQ interview published in November 2012, gave a long-winded non-answer, including the line that “whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras” is “one of the great mysteries”. But then weeks later he clarified “that there is no scientific debate on the age of the Earth … at least four and half billion years old.” This is in some conflict with his sometimes pastor who teaches young-Earth creationism to both adults and children.

Advertisement

Dr. Carson, in September 2014, said no one knows how old the Earth is, but his faith as a Seventh-day Adventist probably means he agrees with his church that the Earth is thousands of years old and that Genesis is literally true.

I can’t find any answer for Ms. Fiorina. She grew up Episcopalian but by June of 2010 she identified as an irregular Christian churchgoer of no particular denomination.


Advertisement

Do they think humans naturally evolved from other apes?

Dr. Paul might, I can’t find a good answer. Apparently, according to a October 2014 quote from a college friend, when he was at Baylor he got into arguments with young-earth creationists.

Mr. Rubio’s sometimes pastor said, in 2014, that “evolution is not based on observable evidence”. Whether Mr. Rubio agrees with that or not is uncertain, but a long-standing argument of his is that children should be taught theology at home, and science at school, and that schools have to not let any conflicts occur: “And for me, personally, I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong.”

Advertisement

Dr. Carson, in 2006, said that he didn’t “believe in evolution.” More recently he appears to accept some parts of evolution (natural selection FTW!), but he thinks “kittens and eyeballs” and human brains are too complex to have appeared naturally and believes that these processes must have taken place with an “intelligent creator”.

I can’t find any answer for Ms. Fiorina.


Video break from Dr. Carson, talking about the Garden of Eden human diet

[1:59 into the video] The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel. And that fuel was the right kind of healthy food. You know we live in a society that is very sophisticated, and sometimes we’re not able to achieve the original diet. And we have to alter our diet to fit our lifestyle. Many of the natural things are not included in our diet. Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine or as a mechanism for maintaining health.

Advertisement


Do they think human activity is warming the planet?

Dr. Paul thinks nobody “exactly knows why” climate change occurs, but he has voted in agreement with Senate amendments that human carbon emissions warm the Earth… but he voted against an amendment saying this warming was significant.

Advertisement

Mr. Rubio has changed his mind. While Speaker of Florida’s House, he was for laws that would have limited Florida’s greenhouse gas emissions. But in February 2013 he thought that there’s “reasonable debate” on this question, and in May of 2014 he basically said scientists are lying about climate change. In May of this year he said that humans are not causing climate change and in January of this year he voted the same way that Senator Ted Cruz did, making no admission that humans are affecting climate.

Dr. Carson, in November of 2014, was unsure if Earth is warming or cooling, and in a March 2015 op-ed he argued that even if the world is warming that we should “develop our God-given resources.”

Ms. Fiorina has changed her mind. In 2008 she thought that a cap-and-trade carbon emissions system would help America. Two years later she thought “we should have the courage to examine the [climate] science on an ongoing basis.” By February 2015, she said that science is sure that humans are warming the planet, but she doesn’t think the US should do much to lower its carbon emissions unless China and India also do, but also thinks there can’t be a global deal to cut emissions “because we will not have a harmonized regulatory regime.” So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Advertisement


Do they think that human lives begin at conception?

Dr. Paul does, and he’s had a complex way of responding to that thought. In March of 2013 he introduced US Senate legislation that would have amended the US Constitution to give full human rights to zygotes (although, oddly, not fully criminalized elective abortion: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.”). But in April of 2014 he said that laws about legal abortion should not be made much more restrictive than they already are. More recently in April of this year he was unwilling to explain where the line between legal and illegal elective abortion should be drawn, echoing his statement in March 2013 that there are “thousands of exceptions” about any concrete line.

Advertisement

Mr. Rubio does, in May of 2010 he said that “life at every stage is worthy of protection” and in May of 2014 he said that the “science is settled” that human lives begin at conception. Edited 9 Aug to add: He’s had a complex history in regards to abortion exceptions.

Dr. Carson does, and has compared abortion to human sacrifice. I’m looking for a more rational and thought-out response than that, if anyone can find one please let me know in the comments.

Ms. Fiorina appears to think so; in June of 2010 she said she would “vote to overturn Roe v. Wade” but believes abortion should be legal (but not subsidized by public funds) in certain situations.

Advertisement


Concluding fun quote from Dr. Carson

The wonderful thing about medicine, when you show data, it changes people’s minds … That doesn’t happen in politics.

Advertisement


Executive summary

Rand Paul: On issues not related to human reproduction, he seems to be okay with science. B-, could use more regularity in his promotion of scientifically-accepted ideas.

Advertisement

Marco Rubio: Maybe he could flip-flop back onto accepting climate science. D+, would prefer it if he could figure out who he’s pandering to.

Ben Carson: Strong evidence that sometimes doctors and science don’t mix. F, just, yikes.

Carly Fiorina: Unless she flip-flops back into not accepting climate science, she seems okay. But I can’t find any information on whether she thinks that dinosaurs and humans lived together, which is a big deal. C+, until dinosaur data acquired.

Advertisement


Next up:

Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham

Images in post from gloryfist.com, Ethan Siegel’s blog at scienceblogs.com, Wikimedia user TimVickers’s modification of an illustration from Huxley’s 1863 book Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature, a blog that seems to have stopped adding new content, and a page at biologypop.com