US: not ignorant enough

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Sydde, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. macrumors 68000

    Sydde

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    #1
    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!
     
  2. macrumors 6502

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    #2
    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?
     
  3. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #3
    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?
     
  4. macrumors 6502

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    #4
    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.
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    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.
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    citizenzen

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    #6
    :rolleyes:

    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.
     
  7. macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Prove me wrong.
     
  8. macrumors 65816

    citizenzen

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    #8
    Prove yourself right.

    (We'll see how interested I am in hunting down this twisted fish tale after dinner)
     
  9. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #9
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    #10
    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.
     
  11. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #11
    Your summation of the research is quite different to the research article.
     
  12. macrumors P6

    Peace

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    #12
    I wonder if he would stop funding research to find out why oil sticks to birds.
     
  13. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #13
    It's a bit reminiscent of palin;

    It's a good reason why research needs to be kept at least an arms length from partisan politics.
     
  14. macrumors 6502

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    #14
    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".
     
  15. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #15
    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.
     
  16. macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I know, big fancy graphs and stuff make it all look super important.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    citizenzen

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    #17
    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.

    ----------

    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.
     
  18. macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #18
    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.

    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.
     
  19. macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #19
    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.
     
  20. macrumors 68000

    steve knight

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    #20
    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.
     
  21. macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #21
    As one who has applied for funding for MY research, it is hardly easy to obtain
     
  22. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #22
    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.


    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.
     
  23. macrumors 68020

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    #23
    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?
     
  24. thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sydde

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    #24
    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.
     
  25. macrumors 603

    thekev

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    #25
    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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