Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 State of the (Scientific) Union

(Adapted from last year's post, with updated data for 2014)

Did you watch President Barack Obama present the 2014 State of the Union address?

Source: Whitehouse.gov
Once again, I downloaded the text to the 2014 S.o.T.U. (Opportunity for All), and compared it against the text from 2011 (Winning the Future), 2012 (An America Built to Last), and 2013 (Unfinished Tasks / Next Chapter)

I’m not a political pundit or a news analyst - I’m a scientist. So let's see how certain scientific themes grew or shrunk over the past 365 days.

Breakdown (# of each word in full text):

Energy – 2011: 9, 2012: 23, 2013: 18, 2014: 8
Oil – 2011: 2, 2012: 10, 2013: 5, 2014: 6
Gas - 2011: 1, 2012: 9, 2013: 7, 2014: 4
Wind / Solar - 2011: 4, 2012: 3, 2013: 4, 2014: 2
Nuclear – 2011: 5, 2012: 3, 2013: 3, 2014: 5
Batteries - 2011: 0, 2012: 2, 2013: 1, 2014: 0
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Biotech / Biomed / Biofuel – 2011: 3, 2012: 0, 2013: 0, 2014: 0
Chemical – 2011: 0, 2012: 1, 2013: 0, 2014: 1
Tech / technology – 2011: 12, 2012: 9, 2013: 8, 2014: 6
Science / scientist – 2011: 7, 2012: 2, 2013: 4, 2014: 1
Engineering – 2011: 3, 2012: 1, 2013: 3, 2014: 1
Math – 2011: 3, 2012: 0, 2013: 2, 2014: 1
Research – 2011: 9, 2012: 4, 2013: 4, 2014: 4
Development – 2011: 1, 2012: 2, 2013: 1, 2014: 0
Carbon – 2011: 0, 2012: 0, 2013: 1, 2014: 3
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College / Universities– 2011: 12, 2012: 15, 2013: 8, 2014: 12
Health – 2011: 8, 2012: 5, 2013: 5, 2014: 8
Internet  2011: 6, 2012: 1, 2013: 1, 2014: 0
Cyber  2011: 0, 2012: 1, 2013: 2, 2014: 1
Jobs  2011: 25, 2012: 33, 2013: 32, 2014: 23

Fun 2014 one-offs - "Let's Move!", in-sourcing, "vaccines against drug-resistant bacteria, and paper-thin material stronger than steel," unemployment insurance, STEM!, gender pay inequality, "MyRA," student loan debt, minimum wage, military drones, Iran, Mad Men.

Is there a take-home message here? Does word count relate to the overall direction of the country? Probably not. Each speech is different: 2014 spoke to middle-class unemployment, higher ed, and equality issues, while 2013 spent serious time on fiscal reform, job creation, foreign affairs, and domestic mass shooting incidents.

We've got Obama shilling for more jobs, which is great. It's a bit disheartening, though, to see that, in an era of STEM politics, we're seeing a steady year-to-year decrease for scientific terms in the SoTU. The excitement I once felt about a President who would speak about solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells has substantially dampened. 

Readers: Did I miss anything? Let's discuss it in the comments!

2 comments:

  1. Am I the only one who finds it slightly surreal that we are now getting applause for a plug for in-sourcing? Irrespective of your opinions regarding outsourcing, that's gotta tell you how times have changed.

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    Replies
    1. No, you're dead on. What's worse? *I* applauded when I heard it! : )

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