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Scientific thinking is taking a hit...

  1. Quilligrapher profile image90
    Quilligrapherposted 4 years ago

    ... from a bill drafted by Rep. Lamar Smith that would over ride peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a set of funding criteria chosen and overseen by Congress and he wants to use it as a model for every federal science agency we have.

    Rep. Smith's bill would force the NSF to prove the "worth" of their grants based on the opinions of men and women who are politicians, not scientists. It would be a serious setback for scientific advancement if we let the House pass this bill without registering our strong objections. We should not let the Congress hand over our scientific research to men and women whose expertise is political bias, not objective reasoning.

    If Rep. Smith pulls off this bill, it will open the door to the defunding of research, the suppression of facts, and the injection of party politics into scientific research. As citizens, we should not let him open that Pandora's box. Acting immediately by calling on the House to oppose Rep. Smith's egregious bill is a good beginning.


    Do not let Lamar Smith undo all the NSF has done for scientific progress. Oppose his bill to turn objective research into political fodder today.

    Click here to contact your representatives -- it just takes a second.

    1. profile image0
      Brenda Durhamposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      You're right, it shouldn't be left up to politicians.
      But neither should it be left up to the pseudo-scientists that are mixed in with the real scientists.  I take it you're not aware of that?  Nor that it's already "political" as in Left-wing ideology embedded in it so deep it ain't even funny?   What do you think most of those grants have gone for?----Left-wing research and such,  whether it's "science" or "social science" or whatever!
      So whadda we do?
      I would most certainly sign it IF it also weeded out the pseudo-science and its pushers.

      As it stands, and considering those facts I've mentioned, I may check out the actual Bill.  Rep. Smith may have a worthy point;  probably just fighting against that Leftist agenda that's already embedded.

      1. Quilligrapher profile image90
        Quilligrapherposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        Thank you, Ms. Durham, for your perspective. I encourage you to read the bill before deciding.

        Right now, scientists and academics screen NSF grant applications to determine their potential contribution to the total body of scientific knowledge. The funds available to support these projects are determined by Congress. The NSF directors and the peer-review teams are eminently more qualified to judge the potential of these research activities. Decisions should be based upon scientific advancement and not political agendas. There certainly is no evidence to support the claim that more then half of the grants go for left-wing research. Scientific research does not come in left or right flavors, so you must have made that up. Those pursuing power should not be judging the potential benefits produced by those pursuing scientific truths.

        Nice to have your slant, Ms. Durham. Thank you.

    2. bBerean profile image62
      bBereanposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      You do realize the politicians are the ones we hire to safeguard and responsibly utilize our money.  Laughable, I agree, considering their performance to date...but giving blank checks to self regulating entities to do whatever they want with is evidence of our leaders failing us, not of their success.  At least the politicians have some measure of accountability to us.  This just seems prudent. 

      Besides, since when isn't a major part and driving force of "science", politics anyway?  You get studies supporting both sides of nearly any issue, as long as there are dollars for it.  It also seems evident there is a strong political agenda in academia, where the scientists are trained and molded.  Genuine, pure science is good. What men do with it frequently is not.  Perhaps if the current system weren't so abused it wouldn't have come to this.  Do a little googling and see for yourself what ridiculous studies and huge grants our tax dollars are wasted on now.

      1. Quilligrapher profile image90
        Quilligrapherposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        Clearly, no one would challenge Congress’ right to oversight. The issue here has more to do with elected representatives’ training in the sciences and their ability to make judgement calls based upon scientific criteria. Sorry but I fail to see the connection between Federal grants for independent research and “studies supporting both sides of nearly any issue.” Independent research is designed to make contributions to the total scientific body of knowledge and not to support any side of any issue. Perhaps you are mixing your research apples and oranges together. Personally, I see little that supports the claim there is political “agenda” in academia. There is, however, a widespread liberal bent among scholars; resulting, no doubt, from exposure to new perspectives and fresh ideas that displace older, more conservative beliefs. Those who identify themselves with the political left are more likely to have earned a college degree than those to the right of center are. While I respect you opinions concerning wasted tax dollars, I still wonder if you have identified “ridiculous studies” and “huge grants” from reading research project conclusions or from reading their research project titles. As I have said before, it requires training in the sciences to become qualified to judge the potential of these research activities.

        I truly appreciate your sharing your points of view, bBerean. I hope you will support the petition drive to keep federally supported scientific research free from political bias from both the left and the right.

  2. Zelkiiro profile image94
    Zelkiiroposted 4 years ago

    In before Conservatives swoop in and claim politicians know science better than scientists do.

    1. Quilligrapher profile image90
      Quilligrapherposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you, Zelkiiro.

  3. A Troubled Man profile image61
    A Troubled Manposted 4 years ago

    If the politicians are well versed in science or at the very least have good representation from science minded advisers, the funding should get to the appropriate parties, however too often than not, the politicians are not scientifically inclined and wind up giving funding to crackpots and cranks who sell them with the latest "catch phrases"

    1. wilderness profile image99
      wildernessposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Unfortunately, there is more to it than that.  Research, for example, on the Higgs Bosun particle is unlikely to find support in highly conservative states merely because the media has labeled it the "God Particle".

      Research for "The effects of CO2 pollution on Global Warming" will find support from representatives in states with large alternative energy producers or a large green constituency - not so much from those without that obvious economic connection.

      Thats the kind of results found when politicians stick their noses into science.  Plus, of course, any large science study grant will always get support from the states where it is to be carried out and where the money is to be spent - pork, in other words.  Politics and money are what drive the politicians decisions, not science or world wide good that might come from research.

      In this way it is very similar to the yearly fight as to where military spending will be spent; what bases will be closed or expanded, what bases will get new equipment or personnel.  The needs of the nation OR military are ignored and what matters is which states get the money.  Even national costs of decisions don't count anywhere near as much as taking home the bacon to the constituents.

      1. A Troubled Man profile image61
        A Troubled Manposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        Douglas Fields explains it quite well...

        Can Politicians Be Trusted With Science

        http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/gue … h-science/

        1. wilderness profile image99
          wildernessposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          Yes he does, but I don't really think his question of politicians being out of line with the public deserves anything but a "No". 

          They aren't out of line; few people understand that pure research almost always produces results; results valuable to the general public.  All they ever hear is the shrimp on a treadmill and never try to understand why such a thing might be useful.  It "obviously" isn't, and therefore their money is always wasted.  One has only to look at space exploration, what the program has produced and now used in everyday life, and the current results of the the funding game.  Our space program is dead and gone, probably forever, because "it is all a waste".

        2. Quilligrapher profile image90
          Quilligrapherposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          Thank you, ATM, for linking to an excellent piece that addresses the very essence of this petition. I hope you have taken a minute to follow the link in the OP statement and you have shared your views on this bill with your elected representatives.