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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:18 PM   #1
Sydde
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US: not ignorant enough

Congressman wants to supervise the NSF:
The new chair of the House of Representatives science committee has drafted a bill that, in effect, would replace peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress. For good measure, it would also set in motion a process to determine whether the same criteria should be adopted by every other federal science agency.

The legislation, being worked up by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), represents the latest—and bluntest—attack on NSF by congressional Republicans seeking to halt what they believe is frivolous and wasteful research being funded in the social sciences. Last month, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) successfully attached language to a 2013 spending bill that prohibits NSF from funding any political science research for the rest of the fiscal year unless its director certifies that it pertains to economic development or national security. Smith's draft bill, called the "High Quality Research Act," would apply similar language to NSF's entire research portfolio across all the disciplines that it supports.
So, all research would have to conform to what they (or whoever is running things) would consider acceptable and immediately applicable. Sounds like a plan to me, I mean, all those scientists ever want to do is just waste our money and then tell us things we do not want to hear. They must be stopped!
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:38 PM   #2
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Someone has to determine where the money goes. Not saying it was the National Science Foundation but I just read that some woman is researching why guppies jump out of their tank. Really? Someone is paying for that research. Where is that money coming from? Is it a government grant that no one is checking on? Do we really care why guppies jump out of their tank?
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MuddyPaws1 View Post
Someone has to determine where the money goes. Not saying it was the National Science Foundation but I just read that some woman is researching why guppies jump out of their tank. Really? Someone is paying for that research. Where is that money coming from? Is it a government grant that no one is checking on? Do we really care why guppies jump out of their tank?
I bet the research project is more in depth than "guppies jumping out of a tank". For instance zebra fish genetics has provided many advances directly applicable to humans. But it's easy to misrepresent it for ideological purposes as "watching guppies have sex".

What do you think about research into moldy bread? Not worth funding?
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:47 PM   #4
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I bet the research project is more in depth than "guppies jumping out of a tank". For instance zebra fish genetics has provided many advances directly applicable to humans. But it's easy to misrepresent it for ideological purposes as "watching guppies have sex".

What do you think about research into moldy bread? Not worth funding?
The interview I read with the researcher said she was working on some other project when guppy she was using for that project jumped out of the tank and into her tea. She then put the other project on hold to determine why guppies jump out of their tanks. if there was another reason, then she should have said so.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:49 PM   #5
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Funny thing about research, you never know where it It will wind up or what other research can be based upon it.

Unless of course it's Congress and its lobbyist deciding what is legitimate research, in which case you know exactly how it will end.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by .Andy View Post
I bet the research project is more in depth than "guppies jumping out of a tank".


MuddyP1, please don't believe everything you hear.

Or at least don't spread the misinformation so carelessly.

It may damage your reputation as an intellectual.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:53 PM   #7
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MuddyP1, please don't believe everything you hear.

Or at least don't spread the misinformation so carelessly.

It may damage your reputation as an intellectual.
Prove me wrong.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:55 PM   #8
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Prove me wrong.
Prove yourself right.

(We'll see how interested I am in hunting down this twisted fish tale after dinner)
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 10:56 PM   #9
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Here's the article;

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%...l.pone.0061617.

It's based on the premise that it is evolutionary behaviour of the guppy. Supported by a summer research grant.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 11:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
Prove yourself right.

(We'll see how interested I am in hunting down this twisted fish tale after dinner)
Quote:
"The guppy jumped from its holding tank next to my computer," Soares, an assistant professor in the department of biology at the University of Maryland in College Park, told LiveScience. "Why do they do this? It was one of those things that we were just too curious about, so we had to look into it."

Guppies are known to be jumpy fish, but unlike other species (such as archer fish or sockeye salmon), they do not seem to leap out of the water to catch prey, escape from predators or overcome physical barriers during seasonal migrations.

"They just have this urge to jump," Soares said. "They don't do it out of panic, or because they're anxious about their environment. When we monitored them, they jumped when they were quiet and relaxed. Most fishes jump when they're startled, so either for migration or to avoid predators. But with guppies, it was a controlled situation when they performed this behavior."

In studying their high-speed video of leaping guppies, the researchers observed that the fish go through a short process to prepare for their jumps.

"I don't want to anthropomorphize too much, but it's almost like they have a plan," Soares said. "They stop, then use just their lateral fins to move a bit backwards, then they change direction, and when they take off from the water, they keep moving their bodies back and forth."

The researchers used wild guppies for their study, so what triggers pet guppies to jump remains a bit of a mystery.

"Domesticated guppies probably maintain some of their ancestral behaviors, but I don't really know," Soares said.
So they were interested in why pet guppies do it, so they used wild guppies and still don't know why pet guppies do it.

But someone paid for this groundbreaking, life saving research.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 11:05 PM   #11
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So they were interested in why pet guppies do it, so they used wild guppies and still don't know why pet guppies do it.
Your summation of the research is quite different to the research article.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 11:22 PM   #12
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I wonder if he would stop funding research to find out why oil sticks to birds.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 11:26 PM   #13
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It's a bit reminiscent of palin;

Quote:
"You've heard about some of these pet projects, they really don't make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not."
It's a good reason why research needs to be kept at least an arms length from partisan politics.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 11:31 PM   #14
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You guys are right. Give them a blank check. No one needs to justify any money spent that came from the taxpayers.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by .Andy View Post
Your summation of the research is quite different to the research article.
So big fancy words and graphs sway you? The bottom line is still the bottom line.

From the abstract.....

Quote:
Many fishes are able to jump out of the water and launch themselves into the air. Such behavior has been connected with prey capture, migration and predator avoidance. We found that jumping behavior of the guppy Poecilia reticulata is not associated with any of the above. The fish jump spontaneously, without being triggered by overt sensory cues, is not migratory and does not attempt to capture aerial food items.
So all that money spent for "they just do it".
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 11:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by MuddyPaws1 View Post
So big fancy words and graphs sway you? The bottom line is still the bottom line.

From the abstract.....

So all that money spent for "they just do it".
You haven't understood the article (actually you haven't even understood the abstract). As you quote, many fish jump for migration, predator escape and prey capture. However these were not the reasons these wild guppies do it. Those reasons aside the authors concluded from their study that it serves as a mechanism for genetic dispersal in a species with an interesting evolutionary pattern. Not "they just do it" or anything to do with pet guppies.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 11:48 PM   #16
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You haven't understood the article (actually you haven't even understood the abstract). As you quote, many fish jump for migration, predator escape and prey capture. However these were not the reasons these wild guppies do it. Those reasons aside the authors concluded from their study that it serves as a mechanism for genetic dispersal in a species with an interesting evolutionary pattern. Not "they just do it" or anything to do with pet guppies.
I know, big fancy graphs and stuff make it all look super important.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 11:59 PM   #17
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You guys are right. Give them a blank check. No one needs to justify any money spent that came from the taxpayers.
Yow.

That is quite the straw man.

Nobody has advocated for unaccounted and reckless spending.

We just want to make sure you're getting the story straight.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by .Andy View Post
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%...l.pone.0061617.

It's based on the premise that it is evolutionary behaviour of the guppy. Supported by a summer research grant.
I just finished laying out the commencement program for my university.

MuddyP1 would probably go apoplectic reading the titles of the masters theses.

I don't think he understands how or what these people study.

Hint: it often involves something very specific and—to the general public—something arcane and obscure.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 12:22 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by MuddyPaws1 View Post
You guys are right. Give them a blank check. No one needs to justify any money spent that came from the taxpayers.
You make the NSF sound like the Pentagon, which has managed to spend $396 billion for a plane that doesn't yet work. Or DARPA, which is currently trying to make an Iron Man suit.

Seriously.

But, straw-man argument aside, the NSF's grant process is peer-reviewed and highly competitive, but this bill would effectively shunt the research from scientists to Congress. This won't provide good science, instead it will give politicians another soap-box to grandstand, while the money for research dries up in favor of pet (like defense) projects that help bring pork to a Congressional district.

Congress already has the correct authority, they have the power of the purse, but this just injects politics into a situation that simply doesn't need it.

Quote:
...So all that money spent for "they just do it".
No, as .Andy noted:
"...it serves as a mechanism for genetic dispersal in a species with an interesting evolutionary pattern..."

The NSF's job is to fund basic research and that includes programs like the Research Experiences for Undergrads, which allows undergraduates in the sciences to produce scientific results and learn to do research, as well as Scalable Nano-manufacturing, Water Sustainability and Climate, robotics, computer science, etc.

The politicians like to talk about research on duck penises or shrimp on a treadmill because they're trying to score political points, but huge chunks of the NSF grants are entirely non-controversial.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 12:53 AM   #19
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The problem with research is that it often turns out to have very unexpected uses. The research into prime numbers and the physics of atoms weren't supposed to have any practical applications. Neither was Faraday's research into electricity.

Yet in reality the former is the foundation from encryption, which is essential for online shopping which is probably bought about trillions of dollars of benefits, and the study of atoms has led to nuclear energy and things like PET scanners.

Obviously electricity has had rather a lot of benefits too.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 01:23 AM   #20
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the problem with this is we have idiots like todd akin with his Legitimate rape and others of such ilk on the committees. Do you want people like that judging whats valid?? Since when are conservative Christians good at judging science? I mean some of them may believe the world is 6000 years old and Jesus rode dinosaurs.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 01:27 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by MuddyPaws1 View Post
You guys are right. Give them a blank check. No one needs to justify any money spent that came from the taxpayers.

----------



So big fancy words and graphs sway you? The bottom line is still the bottom line.

From the abstract.....



So all that money spent for "they just do it".
As one who has applied for funding for MY research, it is hardly easy to obtain
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 02:17 AM   #22
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The problem with research is that it often turns out to have very unexpected uses. The research into prime numbers and the physics of atoms weren't supposed to have any practical applications. Neither was Faraday's research into electricity.

Yet in reality the former is the foundation from encryption, which is essential for online shopping which is probably bought about trillions of dollars of benefits, and the study of atoms has led to nuclear energy and things like PET scanners.

Obviously electricity has had rather a lot of benefits too.
The return on investment is a big one that gets overlooked. In 2003 an independent economics firm was commissioned to review health and medical research expenditure in australia (which encompasses much basic science) and found about a 5 times return on investment. Unfortunately that still hasn't stopped successive governments cutting research expenditure. At least in part the anti-intellectualism fad that America is championing is partly responsible.

Access Economics Australia Economic Consulting: Exceptional Returns: the value of investing in health R&D in Australia. Canberra; 2003.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dukebound85 View Post
As one who has applied for funding for MY research, it is hardly easy to obtain
I'm sure you also got a chuckle out of the claim that the guppy researchers "found nothing" but still managed to publish their research in plos. If only it were that easy.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 02:19 AM   #23
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After reading through the posts in this thread, I have come to a single conclusion. People who perform scientific research must use small and easily understandable words in their reports for all the "Simple Jacks" who would otherwise object to the reasoning behind the research. Further, instead of using words, how about using pictures or symbols?
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 02:34 AM   #24
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I could imagine a scientific underground developing, a sort of egghead-brotherhood. I mean, science is quite arcane, they could easily band together to get research money by deceiving the congressmen, and the latter could well be none-the-wiser.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 03:09 AM   #25
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I know, big fancy graphs and stuff make it all look super important.
You can't reduce this stuff to layman's terms. It bastardizes the description to too great a degree, and you ignore the fact that these "fancy graphs" are reviewed by people who have reviewed many others. They shouldn't be swayed by the aesthetics of a presentation if they have viewed hundreds of others. It's just another of those things that all look the same if you're unfamiliar with the subject. I don't typically read this type of research. Mostly it's Siggraph articles. I'm not a programmer so it's out of personal interest.
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