Condoms, Malt Liquor, and Good Scientific Research

By Chris Mooney | January 7, 2010 8:33 am

Yesterday, my latest blog post for Science Progress went live. It is about an attempt by Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn to pick through the scientific grants that resulted from the massive economic stimulus legislation, and try to pretend (baselessly) that this is wasted government spending. But of course, funding science creates jobs.

Consider, for example, a nearly $1 million NIH stimulus grant to Johns Hopkins University for a study on treatment options for drug abuse following inpatient care (such as counseling and follow-up care), which brought with it 86 jobs to support the large project. In other words, in this instance, medical knowledge and economic recovery will advance simultaneously.

And that’s just one of many such stories helpfully compiled on the ScienceWorksForUs website. It is important to remember that whenever major research projects get funded, the dollars tend to create a variety of university-based support jobs and graduate student livelihoods to carry out all aspects of the work. They also enable the retention of existing jobs that may otherwise have gone away, and perhaps also the hiring of professors and researchers.

McCain and Coburn ignore this context. Instead, they essentially mock various grants…

For instance, a malt liquor and marijuana study in Buffalo, New York, funded to the tune of $389,357. Coburn and McCain turn this entirely legitimate public health research inquiry into a joke, simply because the substances may have particular lifestyles associated with them. But so what? Young adults abuse these substances, and it is quite legitimate to study the associated effects. This is particularly the case for malt liquor, as the grant reports that it has received little research attention. Understanding early alcohol abuse patterns, as well as the deaths and injuries that result from drug abuse among young men, are clear public health benefits. Moreover, as with any major medical study, it’s inevitable that jobs will be created to support the work.

Something similar goes for another NIH-funded study on sexual behaviors of young women in college, determining whether they are more likely to “hook up” after drinking—once again, public health research that is greeted by McCain and Coburn only with a sneer. And on it goes: They dismiss a public health study on why young males don’t like wearing condoms, along with research on the “Icelandic Arctic Environment in the Viking Age,” the “Learning Patterns of Honeybees,” and so on.

Basically, the McCain Coburn approach is to point and laugh at various scientific studies, without showing either that they are bad science or that they won’t produce jobs. It’s a rather pathetic exercise….about which you can read more here.

Comments (90)

  1. Marion Delgado

    They’re just keeping up with the Palins. And the Jindals. Apparently, that stuff polled better for Bobby and Sarah than I would have guessed, at least in some quarters.

    OT: Did you note Eugenie Scott’s missive about NCSE having to find funding?

  2. Busiturtle

    Should all “research” projects be funded by the taxpayer?

    Perhaps not.

    If some sociology professor wants to research the mating habits of coeds perhaps he ought to do some fundraising of his own and not rely on the taxpayers of the United States of America.

  3. Jon

    This is kind of their job, isn’t it, as modern conservatives? “Those egghead elites in the gumment, what will they think of next? Studying pot, Vikings. Is that where my gumment money is going to? John Maynard Keynes, who’s that? Sounds like an elitist liberal to me.

    “Palin / Wurzelbacher, 2012!!”

  4. bilbo

    So studies of the causes of the spread of STDs in our nation shouldn’t be of national interest and aren’t relevant to “the taxpayers of the United States of America,” Busiturtle?

    You’re doing the same thing McCain/Coburn are doing: trying to distill a study about public health to “some sociology professor” just being curious about “the mating habits of coeds.” Aboslutely frucking pathetic.

    You originally came to the blog under the guise of an innocent observer, Busiturtle, but you’re quickly becoming the poster child for blind, unthinking anti-intellectualism. Predictable, I suppose.

  5. bilbo

    As usual, Jon is spot-on.

  6. Busiturtle

    Only a liberal could claim a study of aberrant behavior serves the common good.

    But hey, its “science” so no one can question the intent or motive of those being funded.

  7. Jon

    Only a liberal could claim a study of aberrant behavior serves the common good.

    I’ll have to tell my wife the inner city high school teacher that. That way she can stop paying attention to a lot of her students’ behavior, stop giving them advice, etc.

    She’ll be relieved she doesn’t have to bother any more. It’s at least 60% of what she does. That way she can just pass the problem kids on to the state unemployment rolls, prison system, etc.

  8. gillt

    Studies looking into the collaborating affects of alcohol and pot have been directly funded for decades by the federal government. I should know, I took part in one during the last Administration.

  9. @Busiturtle

    Only a liberal could claim a study of aberrant behavior serves the common good.

    Please tell me why studying some aberrant behaviors would NOT serve the public good.

  10. bilbo

    People having sex is “aberrant behavior?” News to me.

    Only an ultra right-wing nutjob would try to claim that something like the spread of STDs isn’t worth studying because they don’t have one…which is exactly what Busiturtle just implied. That’s the old “climate change isn’t doing anything at my house, so why are we worrying about it, again?” brand of ultraconservative logic.

    By that train of “logic,” if we’re going to claim that STDs aren’t worth studying, I guess we should also deem that government-funded programs meant to study and combat things like child abuse, domestic violence, and rape don’t serve “the common good” either. They all have their root source in “aberrant behavior,” y’know.

    Busiturtle brings up a good point. Why the hell is my hard-earned taxpayer money going to support my local police department’s sex crimes unit, when all they do is fight “aberrant behavior?” Let me keep my money, dammit. I don’t know anyone whose children are getting molested – why should my money be going to help people I don’t know?

    People like Busiturtle are exactly the kind of self-serving idiots who drove me away from conservatism. If it doesn’t benefit your wallet somehow, it’s not a worthwhile program to them. what a bullshit political philosophy…

  11. Buristurtle, if you were a true conservative, you’d know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  12. Busiturtle

    I am still waiting for anyone to explain a rational for deciding how scarce resources should be allocated to each research endeavor.

    Tax revenues are scarce people, just check the news out of California if you do not believe this.

    Who has the courage to declare a research project should be cut if ALL research projects are divine.

  13. PJ

    I don’t think what busiturtle is advocating falls under ANY political ideology other than stupid.

  14. Patrick

    Busiturtle says it best. I can just imagine the skeptic look on his face as he wrote his comment. I would just add that the money for this research is suppose to come for where?

    And just a plug, poke, or punch at the environment from which you write… If the educational/political machine which has infected the hallowed halls of learning would teach critical thinking instead of political indoctrination you would write a better blog and have less stress.

  15. bilbo

    Someone should have issued a strawman alert on Busiturtle and Patrick.

    Saying that “Only a liberal could claim a study of aberrant behavior serves the common good.” is CERTAINLY not the same as “We should decide how scarce resources should be allocated to each research endeavor.”

    The first is nothing more than partisan mind-vomit. Busiturtle only uttered the second phrase after three to four different people slapped him down for talking like a moron.

  16. gillt

    Busiturtle: “I am still waiting for anyone to explain a rational for deciding how scarce resources should be allocated to each research endeavor.”

    Each research endeavor?

    It’s time to grow up. Research is being carried out with your tax dollars whether you understand the process or not. We don’t stop and make sure every joe-sixpack understands the decision behind increasing Ro1 federal research grants for high throughput screens.

  17. Sorbet

    I am still waiting for anyone to explain a rational for deciding how scarce resources should be allocated to each research endeavor.

    The answer lies in the multiplication of benefits from scarce resources. You invest a million dollars in cancer and it leads to understanding that can save millions of lives, thus translating to saving billions of dollars in productivity engendered by all those people who live and work productively. McCain, Coburn and their conservative pals have no idea how science works.

  18. Milton C.

    Most research proposals require you to illustrate precisely how your research will benefit society, Busiturtle, whether that’s leading to direct creation of jobs or indirect economic/societal benefits, as Sorbet mentions above. If they can’t explain why well and succinctly, they get trashed. It’s that simple. Only someone with a terrible understanding of the process makes the claim that people just get money handed to them for nothing.

    I urge you to go check out the websites of the NSF, the NIH, or any other govt. science funding agency and read up on how they choose to fund projects and how money gets allocated. If you really have an interest in this outside of shilling against science as a political pawn (which I doubt given your posting record), you’ll be presently surprised at how much consideration gets put into where our money goes.

  19. PJ

    Sorbet is right. Most every funding agency makes a researcher state exactly what benefits their project will have to society, most of them economic. And if you get a project funded but don’t produce those benefits, you can get blacklisted by the agency: no more money for you.

    The assumption that “no one can question the intent or motive of those being funded” is a lie that originates in partisan politics. Scientists tear each other limb from limb over the “intent and motive” of a project. Most simply never even get funded.

  20. CW

    In our state, we had a rep who criticized a grant that studied the effects of alcohol intoxication. It was dismissed as something that everyone pretty much understood. However, it’s possible that this study could be used as comparative reference to other phenomenon that induce intoxication effects – seizures, sleep deprevation, etc.

    So my point is, to dismiss one study on the face of it totally eliminates the collateral benefit of what a single study can do – provide scientists with new hypotheses and theories to test as it relates to other things.

  21. Busiturtle

    Cancer is a common concern and just about everyone would say it deserves some federal funding. Although let it be pointed out that the private sector is even more interested in finding cures to cancer and thus spends far more on cancer research than does the public sector. Which is one reason HIV/AIDS receives so much disparate NIH funding; the reward to the private sector for treating aids (a largely avoidable disease by the way) does not come anywhere close to the payback one gets from treating cancer.

    There are an infinite number of concerns one may claim are in the public interest. Who can say that science research will improve the human experience more than, say, a new park, or a new school?

    Perhaps scientists should stop groveling at the public trough and prove to society that their work has value by producing something of value. Build a better mousetrap as they say.

  22. CW

    *provide new ideas to create hypotheses and theories….

  23. CW

    But the nature of cancer and HIV/Aids studies and how they are selected is something that requires a bit of research on your part. A lot of it depends on a basic cost-benefit analysis.

    HIV/Aids is a very specific thing as compared to “cancer” (many kinds of cancer that do different things). There’s not just one thing that causes cancer. It requires a lot of various factors acting together. Which is why we are still languishing in cancer treatments (other than a select minority). So it’s far more complicated than HIV/Aids.

    Therefore, studies on HIV/Aids tend to get more funding because they typically offer more high-probability results. In fact, scientists may be on the cusp of designing a vaccine-type treatment for HIV.

  24. bilbo

    “Perhaps scientists should stop groveling at the public trough and prove to society that their work has value by producing something of value”

    And thus, by insinuating that science has no value to society, Busiturtle displays both an incredible ignorance and completes the cycle of mindless drivel.

    What’s more? When you state that science has no value to society, you become a full-fledged science denialist, by the very definition of the term.

  25. bilbo

    Let it be noted that, despite saying earlier in the day that studies of STDs don’t benefit, “the common good,” we now have Busiturtle whining about the fact that HIV (an STD) gets less funding than cancer.

    The contradictions are flying a mile a minute now, aren’t they?

  26. Busiturtle

    The question is who decides the value of a scientific endeavor?

    Politicians who control the public purse strings?
    Hedge fund operators and Venture capitalists who mange their investors money?
    Investment bankers?
    Individual investors?
    Universities?
    Corporations?
    The scientist himself?
    The people?

    All of these have some say in how science and in particular a scientific venture should be valued. However, if politicians are the primary group saying a scientific venture has value I would suggest the decision is based on politics and not science.

  27. V.O.R.

    Guys, guys, guys! Wasn’t there a post here on civility recently?

    Just a couple of points should clear things up.

    Busiturtle:

    1) It’s a common misconception that scientists have some sort of pig-based trough-draining biotechnology. Stealthy full-body swine-suits, or something. They do not. Instead elected officials and bureaucrats ultimately appointed by elected officials evaluate proposals put forth by scientists for funding.

    So, ultimately, the people deciding funding are the voters. There are a few problems with the process such as voter apathy, voter ignorance, gamesmanship, irrational anti-science feelings, U. department heads channeling Rasputin, pork-barrel spending, the difficulty polysyllabic words hold for many politicians… etc., etc., etc. But it’s better than the historical alternatives, which can be broken down to two basic cases: Politicians funding science without the advice of scientists, and politicians not funding science.

    …Anyhoo: I get the feeling you’re a conservative-type voter and feel that liberals have an undue influence on the process, and bias the process toward funding rather than non-funding.

    That is completely true. You are on the wrong side of history. The sooner you can accept that, you reactionary under-informed dinosaur, the better. And I mean that in the kindest possible way.

    2) You have a *very* good point that all research is not divinely inspired and some should be cut. Anyone arguing that is clearly in the wrong. In the spirit of increased civility I volunteer to help you find such people.

    Then you can go away and tell them.

  28. Julie

    I’ve served on NSF panels before, and people like V.O.R., bilbo, and Sorbet and correct here. Busiturtle is painting a picture of science funding that isn’t true, and probably stems from a politically-motivated opinion on science. The idea that “whatever gets submitted gets a lot of money” is a common (but totally false) conception in the conservative world. I just can’t tell if Busiturtle is really in the dark on this or if he knows it and is just shilling for someone/some party.

    For the record:

    1.) Funding panels, don’t award money to every proposal that comes through the door. It is very, very, very difficult to get a grant proposal funded by a government agency.

    2.) Funding panels DO consdier economic/societal benefits of each proposal, and this is a major determinant of what gets funded and what doesn’t. someone who wants to research the attitudes of clowns, for example, had better have a relevasnt reason for doing so, or their project won’t even get considered for funding, let alone make it through to acceptance.

    3.) V.O.R. is absolutely correct – “the people” are very much involved in the funding process – albeit indirectly – and I urge Busiturtle or anyone else to go take a peek at the site of an agency like the NSF. They outline pretty clearly how the whole process works, all the way down to the nitty gritty details.

    4.) Science funding doesn’t – and I repeat, doesn’t – treat all research as “divinely inspired” or “above criticism.” That’s a common misconception often made by those with a political agenda against a particular project or organization. Research gets absolutely torn to shreds in the funding process.

  29. PJ

    Just for kicks and giggles, let’s review busiturtle’s arguing points today:

    – Busiturtle says that the world shouldn’t be expected to help low-lying areas that could be inundated by sea-level rise because a “tsunami could just wipe them out and there’s nothing we can or could do about it.”

    – Busiturtle from this morning: STDs shouldn’t be a concern of the general public because if someone gets them, it’s because of “aberrant behavior.”

    – Busiturtle from this afternoon: It’s horrible how we don’t give STD research enough public focus and funding. (=contradiction WTF?)

    – Busiturtle said that “only a liberal” would be interested in something as stupid as preventative medical research (and got promptly scolded by another conservative).

    – Busiturtle said that science currently has no “value” to society.

    Oh yes, it’s been a laughably fun day…

    -

  30. Thomas L

    V.O.R.,

    “Wrong side of history”. Love that line – but where did such come from? My bet is it is a slight slant on Hegel, and the Hegelian system. Sorry, but I just don’t think much of Hegelians. That’s a dead end in philosophy, got overtaken a couple hundred years ago now. Catch up.

    But more to the point, history doesn’t have “sides”. The actors (living people) have sides. History doesn’t much care one way or the other – it simply is the record of what has transpired. You need to get your talking points from someone more intelligent.

    You say politicians not funding is a bad thing. I disagree. Science did fine, as well as the arts, when governments were not providing abstract funding for abstract results. Up until the current century such funding was in fact very rare (and government funding is not comparable to having a patron – the patron expects something of measurable value as a result of their patronage). Yet somehow both the arts and science managed to progress quite a bit without all that government funding.

    If you really want to argue the economic side, let me know. I don’t think you are going to like the reality there though. Of course rather than debating such you can just watch over the next couple months as the states hack and slash in ways no one has seen for the past 40+ years… Our understanding of what is necessary is about to be seriously challenged.

  31. bilbo

    “Science did fine, as well as the arts, when governments were not providing abstract funding for abstract results. Up until the current century such funding was in fact very rare. Yet somehow both the arts and science managed to progress quite a bit without all that government funding.”

    Up until the current century, we didn’t know dick about genetics, we didn’t have satellites, our knowledge of diseases and how to treat them was marginal, at best, and our technological abilities were nil.

    Science has advanced in the last century. A hundred years ago, you could actually do most science on marginal funding. Nowadays, most science (especially in health sciences and technology) is incredibly expensive, and if you try to do it on a shoestring budget and by begging private groups for funding, we’d get little to no science done in this country.

    Just because science is expensive is not just cause to deem science of lesser value. That’s a fool’s bargain.

  32. Busiturtle

    Julie,

    I very much appreciate your insights. I realize I come across as a ardent critique of government and the relationship between government and science. Part of this is due to my being a skeptic of the political process serving the public’s interest. Another part is I do not believe a mingling of science and politics is good for the interests of scientists.

    The funding process should be demanding and I do not doubt that it is. The funding process should also be public and publicly funded research should be open to public scrutiny, except if classified. Scientists who receive public funding should not forget it is the public’s money. Government serves the people and not the other way around.

    The United States federal government is now running a $2 trillion annual deficit. The deficit as a percentage of GDP has not been this high since the last days of World War II. In such an environment ALL government spending should come under scrutiny. For Chris Mooney to mock politicians who question the validity of some funding suggests he is more a lobbyist than a concerned citizen.

    If McCain and Coburn do not practice some oversight of the grant process who will? As we have learned from the way Wall Street lobbyists skewed the playing field to favor their clients it is better not to have those cashing the checks writing the rules.

    As more scientists adopt the lobbyist mindset the pressure to corrupt science to satisfy a political end increases. We know this will happen in government funded science because it is well documented to have happened with private investment. A scientist oversells a discovery to gain funding and then as the deadline draws nigh the scientist may be pressured to compromise research, ignore risks and even fabricate results.

    How can Chris Mooney and others act as though they are incorruptible? How can they justify the labeling of political parties as pro or anti science? How can they presume that their science is true and accurate and the work of any who contradict their thesis is in error? If the science were decided on its merits then we could have confidence the outcome would yield an ever increasing understanding. But if politics and political coercion are used to short circuit and subvert the process all bets are off.

  33. gillt

    Thomas L., specifically what is abstract funding for abstract results? And state why you think it’s the norm today? From the looks of it, you have a few half-baked ideas about science funding and the economy, but I just want to make sure.

  34. db

    i cannot believe this trash is published by discover magazine. Over the last 10 years, I have seen this magazine move from reporting facts and science to a political forum. I am canceling my subscription and hope to find a suitable magazine that reports science, not politics. DANG I AM MAD AS HELL.

  35. Marion Delgado

    db the expression is “mad as a hatter.” Unfortunately, much of the damage we can’t help rehabilitate. However, for the rest, Dimercaprol is your friend:

    http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/medical/dimercaprol.htm

    And I am very sorry for your injury.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Ug. You’ve attacked idiots by making a puerile and bogus argument.

    “It is about an attempt by Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn to pick through the scientific grants that resulted from the massive economic stimulus legislation, and try to pretend (baselessly) that this is wasted government spending. **But of course, funding science creates jobs.**”

    I am positive enough about science that I think it should be defended on its merits, not on its job creation abilities.

    I think you demean science and scientists with that sentence — you do make it sound like much of it is worthless make work similar to paying men to dig holes and then fill them back up.

    Worse, the logical conclusion of your argument is that if we can find an investment/project that creates more jobs or creates a better ROI, than perhaps we should fund that as opposed to the research. You make possible an argument that says we should sort research along with other projects to determine the best return to the economy, and fund accordingly.

    The case you make for the research is as armchair as its gets. “Clear public benefits!” without quantifying the value of those benefits.

    Stating it is quite legitimate to study the associated effects does not lead to the conclusion that this particular study must be funded.

    Sigh,

  37. Once again Busiturtle, you miss a few key points:

    If the science were decided on its merits then we could have confidence the outcome would yield an ever increasing understanding. But if politics and political coercion are used to short circuit and subvert the process all bets are off.

    “Science” as you call it, and by which I conclude you mean federally funded science activities at both government labs and university or other non-governmental facilities , IS ALWAY decided on the merits when it is funded. Those grants that Mr.McCain and Mr. Coburn lampooned (like the volcan study previously bashed by Gov. Jindal) were not awarded willy-nilly, but through a rigorous peer-review process. NIH, NSF, DOE, and NOAA (just to name a few granting agencies) all publish extensive criteria in their grant solicitations (which are public documents themselves), and the applications are all reviewed by practicing scientists in fields with relevant expertise. Once funds are awarded, federal grant regulations REQUIRE regular reporting of activities, data and results – and nearly all of that is publiclly available through either the granting agency’s website or the research institution’s website.

    The problem of politics corruptig science does not come at the individual grant level, but rather at the level of both program funding AND use and interpretation of data after the work of science is complete. It is in these arenas, removed from the daily sceintific enterprise, where you should direct your anger and your challenge.

    As an example, when President Bush was in office, he froze all federal funding for stem cell research, and specifically restricted on-going research to existing stem cell lines. He did so because of his moral conviction that using stem cells – grown from human fetuses – was wrong. That was not a “science being judged on its merits” decision, but rather a case where science was constrained by politics. Now that Mr. Obama has lifted those restrictions, science can once again proceed forward, and when outcomes are reported, they can be judged within a much less hostile environment.

    Let me close with this:

    <b.Science will NEVER agree 100% of the time with anyone's personal or political views. NEVER!

    Nor should it. That doesn’t make sceince “bad” or “wrong” or “suspect.” Rather, that makes science an independent path to understanding how the world works. For that reason alone it should continue unfettered and fully supported. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have eradicated polio, learned how to prevent skin cancer, or discovered the caridac healing properties of red wine. If science was always constrained by politics, you wouldn’t have smoke alarms, or reusable coffee mugs, or windshiled washer fliud that can dissolve ice.

    Of course, maybe you don’t want such things.

  38. Houston, we seem to have lost a sentence here.

    Let me close with this:

    Science will never AGREE 100% with anyone’s personal or political wolrdview or beliefs. NEVER!

    Nor should it. That doesn’t make sceince “bad” or “wrong” or “suspect.” Rather, that makes science an independent path to understanding how the world works. For that reason alone it should continue unfettered and fully supported. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have eradicated polio, learned how to prevent skin cancer, or discovered the caridac healing properties of red wine. If science was always constrained by politics, you wouldn’t have smoke alarms, or reusable coffee mugs, or windshiled washer fliud that can dissolve ice.

    Of course, maybe you don’t want such things.

  39. Busiturtle

    Philip H.:

    Why should scientists who rely on the political process for funding be surprised to discover the funding is politicized? It is my thesis that this WILL happen. It is the nature of politicians to skew any set of facts to gain favor with their favored constituency. As a consequence I am wary of any scientists who accept government funding for their work and then blame politicians for imposing their agenda, as if the scientists themselves never have an agenda.

    Consistent with the objective of creating a highly educated society government should support honest scientific inquiry. What does this mean? For one students should be provided the tools and opportunity to learn how to do science. This means, above all, learning that science is about interpreting the facts as they are and not imposing a preconceived notion of what they should be. For another, a good science education would teach students to harbor some skepticism of what they and others believe to be consensus.

    The most effective thing advocates of science can do is to promote good science, irrespective of whether it produces results consistent with one’s political view.

  40. Busiturtle

    You see I actually applaud the efforts of Chris Mooney to promote the interests of science. Where I believe he gets off track is he is too eager to corrupt this goal, which most support, with a partisan agenda. Of course it is his blog and his life so he can write and do whatever he wants. He just should not expect nor demand unanimous agreement with his philosophical views. And time and again Chris has the tendency to assume those who do not agree with him are of a necessity less intelligent and / or bound by religious faith. Being presumptuous applies to both ends of the spectrum.

  41. The most effective thing advocates of science can do is to promote good science, irrespective of whether it produces results consistent with one’s political view.

    That’s EXACTLY what chris and Sheril have been trying to here, and at their former home at Science Blogs. Unfortunately, too many people don’t like the conclusions science reaches, and so they call it bad science, instead of being honest about it being a policy disagreement.

  42. Jon

    Thomas L. My bet is it is a slight slant on Hegel, and the Hegelian system. Sorry, but I just don’t think much of Hegelians.

    Thomas L., You won’t find much Hegel here. Nope–just the opposite. Just garden variety Anglo American empiricists in the tradition of Hume and Newton, the same prosaic enlightenment thinkers that influenced the writers of the US Constitution (I personally think they should take philosophers outside this tradition more seriously, but that’s another story…)

    But I know Cheney’s hagiographer Steven Hayward and Ronald Pestritto has been spreading around this vague notion about Weird German Thought like Hegel infiltrating “the Left”, and that may be where you got it (whatever that amorphous term “the Left” means these days, considering Bush only had a 25% approval rating when he left office. Was 75% of the country “the Left”? Who *wasn’t* suffering from “Bush Derangement Syndrome?”)

    Anyway, again, it’s just the opposite of what you say with regard to the influence of Weird German Thought. It has a much stronger pedigree on *the right* these days than the left. Check out the work of Sam Tanenhaus:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCWO-LSszZI#t=05m00s

    The three names Tanenhaus mentions in this Slate dialog are James Burnham, Irving Kristol, and Bill Buckley.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2231128/entry/2231131/

    James Burnham and Irving Kristol are both ex-Communists. If you want dialecticians in the Hegelian/Marxist tradition, it’s hard to find two men more steeped in 1930’s intellectual socialism than Burnham and Kristol. As for Buckley, his mentor was Wilmore Kendell, also a 1930’s Trotskyist.

    So anyway, if you’re looking for the influence of dialectical, Weird German Thought. Look closer to home.

  43. Jon

    By the way, this excerpt from the Tanenhaus talk is especially relevant to this thread:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCWO-LSszZI#t=08m43s

    The beginnings of the conservative movement is in large part a reaction to scientists and expertise being brought in to run the government during the New Deal.

    I think there can be arguments for a populist reaction to technocracy when it becomes excessive. But these days, it has become a reflex and a dogma in the conservative movement. Right wing populism has become a substitute for actually *thinking* about how you solve problems. It can be a complex world. Scientists can often be the best people to solve certain problems. Of course, if you want to rev up the GOP base, rant against these scientists as “elites”.

    Now, it’s one thing if you do this ranting against elites but actually solve solve problems when you take office. Maybe we’d be more forgiving if that happened. But the modern GOP seems to both take the cheap shots at scientists AND ignore and denigrate their expertise when they take office. This is not only disrespectful to honest peoples’ hard work, but more importantly, it’s *dangerous,* because we can’t afford to be without these peoples’ expertise.

  44. Busiturtle

    Jon,

    If progressives actually solved problems the public would be more confident that they could solve future ones. Alas, progressives have a sorry track record.

    Woodrow Wilson: Said he would keep the US out of war and then put the US into war. Botched the League of Nations and set the stage for the state of Germany to fail.

    FDR: Six years after his election unemployment was still greater than 15%.

    Johnson: How much money has been spent on the “War on Poverty”? Mission still not accomplished

    Obama: Greatest decline in presidential approval rating ever

    Fact is one of the greatest attributes of the American people is they care more about substance than soliloquy.

  45. Jon

    I never used the word “progressive” and wasn’t trying to defend Woodrow Wilson.

    What I was trying to do is defend *scientists* and what they do in government, explain that government research scientists have little or nothing to do with Hegel, and to offer an explanation of why the conservative movement has a problem with scientists (which, interestingly, ends up having something to do with Hegel).

  46. This is so goddamn infuriating. Thank you for bringing it to our collective attention. ScienceProgress.org looks like a great resource!

  47. Busiturtle

    Just as I was saying… Seems the government is just as willing to “buy” an experts opinion as is a private company. Makes one wonder why progressives are so outspoken about “Big Oil” when “Big Government” is far bigger and apparently pays just as well.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/08/economist-contract-health-department-touting-reform/

    MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the leading academic defenders of health care reform, is taking heat for failing to disclose consistently that he was under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services while he was touting the Democrats’ health proposals in the media.

    Gruber, according to federal government documents, is under a $297,600 contract until next month to provide “technical assistance” in evaluating health care reform proposals. He was under a $95,000 HHS contract before that.

  48. Christian Scientist

    Woodrow Wilson: Put the US into a war that decisively tipped the balance and defeated a fanatical nationalistic regime. As for the League of Nations et al. the blame hardly belongs only to the US. France, Britain etc. were intensely zealous about reperations and land acquisition which the US was not.

    FDR: Steered the country through WW2 and the Depression. Brought the unemployment rate down from 25%. Even conservatives acknowledge his Presidency. Polls consistently reveal him as one of the greatest presidents in history judged by people of all political colors.

    Obama: Reversed a great deal of knowledge that the incompetent and bigoted Bush did. Brought transparency and honesty to Washington. Acknowledged his mistakes. Restored science to its rightful place. More remains to be done and seen.

    Obviously you don’t understand the concept of weighing pros and cons. And cherry picking has of course been the birthright of conservatives for ages. So carry on.

  49. Busiturtle

    “Brought transparency and honesty to Washington.”

    Certainly not as reported by CSPAN

  50. Julie

    Busiturtle,

    I apologize for getting back so late with you on this – I didn’t know the thread would blow up like it did.

    I agree with you 100%: financial scrutiny is needed in ANY government program – bar none – whether it’s science or (now, unfortunately) healthcare. But scrutiny just for the sake of scrutiny doesn’t make it correct by default. The scrutiny has to be backed up with a good reason. Consider what you said in your response to me in post #32:

    “For Chris Mooney to mock politicians who question the validity of some funding suggests he is more a lobbyist than a concerned citizen.”

    That’s a completely incorrect statement. Chris isn’t mocking McCain and Coburn just because they’re questioning “the validity of some funding.” The reason Chris is criticizing them is because they’re hurling criticism without backing up WHY each project is useless – in other words, they’re just playing plain old partisan politics. I’m a die-hard conservative myself and voted for/support McCain (I know, I know – a conservative scientist – hard to believe. That’s part of the problem, but that’s for another thread), but it pains me to see McCain saying things equivalent to “Look how stupid this study is!! Some guy just wants to study college students having SEX…and we’re giving him taxpayer money!!!!!” when the reality of the study is actually to research the causes and spread of STDs: something far less petty and insignficiant than he makes it seem. If they could back up why they think those studies are useless with concrete reasons, then I’d be all behind him. But they can’t. They didn’t even make an attempt to. Instead, they chose to act like children and hurl mockery and insults (shameful for any politician elected by the people), and that’s utlimately why Chris is criticizing them. Weak politics like that is deserving of ridicule, no matter if you’re on their side of the aisle or not.

    I don’t imagine I’m going to get anywhere with you, though, because from the looks of your posts on this thread and others on this blog, you’re just interested in generally trolling and jumping in to hurl partisan insults against liberals. I haven’t seen a reasoned argument from you yet. Even though I seem to agree with you politically (from what I’ve seen), you’re not helping conservatism at all acting silly like this. It’s shameful, really….a lot like McCain not backing himself up.

  51. Thomas L

    Jon (43),

    I suggest you read Hegel’s “reason in history” (the very name of the work should give you a clue as to where such thinking comes from…) and then tell me again where else any talk of history, reason, sides, and the march there of has any such construct… If you can find such thinking outside of Hegelian logic and a direct construct in any other school of thought, point it out to me. If you can teach me anything about this area I would be more than amazed. Unless you have a PHD in it, it is highly unlikely you have done as much work in this area as I.

    Hume was so wrong I wouldn’t even know where to begin, though underclassmen and those who never take advanced level course work do find him wonderful as he is one of the “easiest” to understand. Unfortunately in philosophy easy is rarely “correct”. Hume does give the “humanities” a nice foundation though, and is generally credited with the early thinking of “progressive” thought. I quote here a summation of Hume for you: “he laid the foundations for the characteristically modern view that, while there are necessary relations between logical and mathematical ideas, there are no necessary cause-and-effect relations between and among facts.” (Mulford Silby; “Political Ideas and Ideologies: A History of Political Thought”) – Sure sounds like Newton to me (the two have VERY differing views).

    If you haven’t figured out the passage in Humpty Dumpty about what a word means was poking fun at Hume’s system you need to study more.

    I think you have the MSM version of conservative – not interested in the version that has developed sense the overtaking of the religious right; it is foreign to me and is an entirely different construct. My foundations in such matters rest on Rousseau, and are developed further by many, most especially the writings of the Founding Fathers.

  52. Thomas L

    Gilt (33),

    Well, there are many who thought my view of economics was wacked three years ago when I warned those I know to get ready for a very unpleasant episode in our economy. Many continued thinking I was “half baked” even after we fired our advisor and pulled 7 figures out of their management. Few think so anymore, but rather ask “how did you know”. Such isn’t rocket science, you just have to be able to read financial statements and know what is happening around you.

    I don’t stay in business by being a fool and loosing that which is required to finance the operation. It isn’t very hard to do a quick search and get the numbers on how the states are doing, but I’ll give you some help – here’s two charts that will give you an idea of just how well things are really going: http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/volcker/Rolling%20Witholdings%20December.jpg, http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/volcker/Monthly%20Tax%20Withholdings%20Dec.jpg. While I’m sure the Fed will come up with some imaginative way to pull this off, here’s a little reality of what has to transpire on the National financing front this year: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/brace-impact-2010-private-demand-us-fixed-income-has-increase-elevenfold-or-else.

    Now, if you think the states and local municipalities, which are not allowed to run deficits, are going to be able to continue funding at previous levels I’d love to hear how. I make the same recommendation to you as I have made to those I know & love – you’d better start paying attention and start learning or you will be wiped out in all this. If you think the current crisis is even close to being resolved, well, it’s you financial future, bet it as you will.

  53. Scientific investigation, like the heart, goes where it goes, not necessarily where we necessarily want it to go. The manipulation or re-characterization of science to suit one’s personal goals will always be problematic.

  54. SLC

    Re Busiturtle at #47

    Mr. Busiturtle cites something from the fascist news channel, home of whackjobs like Glenn the dreck Beck, Billo the clown O’Reilly, and Sean the schmuck Hannity. The fascist news channel is about as reliable a source of information as Pravda and Isvestia used to be during the existence of the unlamented former Soviet Union.

  55. Marion Delgado

    KILLFILE BOOKMARKLET FOR THE INTERSECTION:

    I made a bookmark (IKF) with this address:

    javascript:klist=[‘Busiturtle’,’Patrick’,’Thomas L’,’db’,’Anonymous Coward’];items=document.getElementsByTagName(‘li’);for (i in items){item=items[i];if(item.id){for (k in klist){if(item.childNodes[1].innerHTML==klist[k]){item.innerHTML=’Comment by ‘+klist[k]+’ killed.’}}}}alert(1)

    And put it in the personal toolbar. It’s very crude, but you can edit bookmarks, put your own list in at the start, add new strings, etc. The alert at the end prevents Firefox from rendering a blank page. It could be a anything. To add a new name, put it in quotes in the first set of brackets with a comma after it. Order’s not important. if the person has a URL with their name, you’d have to copy the whole contents of the cite tag from view source in the browser, add it, and escape any quotes.

    This bookmarklet just gets rid of them, no memo:

    javascript:klist=[‘Busiturtle’,’Patrick’,’Thomas L’,’db’,’Anonymous Coward’];items=document.getElementsByTagName(‘li’);for (i in items){item=items[i];if(item.id){for (k in klist){if(item.childNodes[1].innerHTML==klist[k]){item.style.display=’none’}}}}alert(‘killed’)

    I tried modifying the main greasemonkey killfile as follows:

    function discoverScenario() {
    return {
    commenttopxpath: “//ol[@class=’commentlist’]”,
    sigbit: “cite”,
    precedingBit: ”,
    followingBit: ”,
    mangleAppend: “cite”,
    __proto__:basicScenario()
    };
    }

    . . .

    discovermagazine:
    [
    {scenario:discoverScenario,hrefpat:”^[^/]*//[^/]*/\w+/[0-9]”},
    // Do all blogs at scienceblogs.com fit this format?
    ],

    but that didn’t work, so I’ll have to restudy it.

  56. Marion Delgado

    By the way, any names with spaces need to be converted to %20, etc.

  57. Jon

    where else any talk of history, reason, sides, and the march there of has any such construct

    You’ve got to be kidding. How about what any US high school kid learns about colonial and revolutionary history? Ben Franklin is the man who “snatched lightning from the Gods and the scepter from the Tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson commissioned a government scientific expedition with Lewis and Clark. Franklin and Jefferson both promoted smallpox vaccination early on… The list goes on.

    You don’t need to reach into Hegel to get notions of reason, progress, its enemies, etc. What’s Jefferson’s phrase? “I have sworn on the altar of God against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” These are hackneyed phrases and notions, and Hegel isn’t responsible for them. I don’t see why your argument is with Hegel and not with a host of other Enlightenment figures as well.

    On the other hand, Sam Tanenhaus’s arguments about the influence of Marxist thought on anti-communists like James Burnham and Irving Kristol are pretty compelling. There is a lot more History (with a capital “H”), “sides,” and “marching” in the works of Burnham and Kristol than there is in any scientific grant writing, scientific FOAs, etc. under the Obama administration.

  58. Jon

    (That was a reply to Thomas L in #51, BTW.)

  59. Jon

    Now you *could* make the argument that Progress with a capitol “P” is a kind of idolatry. And I would agree that it can be. But then you would have to make the argument that the people doing science in the government right now are guilty of that.

    I’m sure you could nitpick examples somewhere that you could frame in such a way to shock the heartland (studies on pot and Vikings, oh my!!!) but I think you need more than that to prove you’re not just digging up funny little details to stoke populist resentment…

  60. Thomas L

    Jon,

    To answer the Hegel question requires time. His work created a very specific use of these ideas and his influence is still very strong in many areas – as in he was VERY influential during his time. Don’t kid yourself about how many were influenced by it, and as I said – outside his school. The Founders uses of such terms were influenced by much earlier work that could never have developed into any idea of history having sides and being unstoppable. They were very worried about being stopped and took nothing for granted in that regard. Seeing as Hegel didn’t start writing until AFTER 1800, he obviously didn’t influence their thinking as the revolution was long over by then. One needs to be very careful when reading philosophical works that they aren’t using post influential understanding to decipherer what the pre influential school’s understanding was. I said nothing about the terms “reason”, “progress” or the “enemies of progress” in general – other than when they get connected to history and its march as used in such phrases as “the wrong side of…”. That is a very specific Hegelian construct. You can’t get to it any other way.

    So you know where my thinking comes from :), I have over 50 hours of credited course work in Philosophy – and that was just undergrad work. Minors were business (original plan was to go to work with Dad who was a project manager, FASB during my college years – so yes, I very much understand business and financial statements…) and Poly Sci (which is one class short of having been a double major). If I show up in a thread I will keep an eye on it and make sure I respond, but it might take a day – just a reality of time limits on this side. Usually I just read.

    However, having watched how much the Gov. interfered with the workings of FASB (for example, constantly overriding the board on how to deal with employee stock options, Dad had to fly to Washington several times and always came back annoyed… held it up for a decade in fact…) I can assure you having them in charge of science is a double edged sword…

    As to the Lewis & Clark expedition – never before heard it called a scientific expedition (the way you are implying). It was an expedition to ascertain what resources were contained in the land gained from the Louisiana Purchase – as in “how can we best exploit that which we just bought?” While “science” in some sense was part of the result, all they cared about was what was out there that we could make use of. Don’t look at that expedition through our modern glasses; see it for how they saw it at the time. For obvious reasons such was important to discover. If anything I would call it an economic use expedition.

    Marion

    Well, you probably won’t see this – but that’s just funny. Nice to see you like to challenge your thinking…

    Everyone,
    A good read http://www.safehaven.com/article-15441.htm. (where I can send you and you don’t have to register to recieve it) While financial in nature, the section titled “Prisoners of Our Preconceptions” would be something to ponder over in how people react in these threads. Has to do with biased assimilation, and why it is dangerous and something to be aware of. I’d also recommend subscribing to his weekly letter, it’s a level headed, well thought out look at what is going on, and his companion, “Outside the Box” is an interesting alternative take on things. For anyone wanting to get a better understanding of the economics going on it’s a good place to start (and yes, just a start).

  61. Busiturtle

    I’ve observed that many crazy and insane viewpoints have been attributed to me that I have never articulated. If progressives are so prone to play loose with the facts why should anyone believe anything they say, especially when it comes so science?

    In summary here are my fairly politically moderate opinions:

    – Should all “research” projects be funded by the taxpayer?, Perhaps not.

    – Only a liberal could claim a study of aberrant behavior serves the common good. (said in the context of liberals who claim the NEA should fund art composed of urine & feces)

    – Who has the courage to declare a research project should be cut if ALL research projects are divine?

    – There are an infinite number of concerns one may claim are in the public interest. Who can say that science research will improve the human experience more than, say, a new park, or a new school?

    – Perhaps scientists should stop groveling at the public trough and prove to society that their work has value by producing something of value. Build a better mousetrap as they say.

    – Fact is one of the greatest attributes of the American people is they care more about substance than soliloquy.

  62. PJ

    Busiturtle just said in #61:

    “I’ve observed that many crazy and insane viewpoints have been attributed to me that I have never articulated. If progressives are so prone to play loose with the facts why should anyone believe anything they say, especially when it comes so science?

    -Only a liberal could claim a study of aberrant behavior serves the common good. (said in the context of liberals who claim the NEA should fund art composed of urine & feces)”

    In the context of liberals “who claim the NEA should fund art composed of unine and feces?” Reallllllllllllllly?

    Nope.

    Here’s the actual context of Busiturtle’s quote:

    Bilbo’s question to Busiturtle (post #4): “So studies of the causes of the spread of STDs in our nation shouldn’t be of national interest and aren’t relevant to “the taxpayers of the United States of America,” Busiturtle?”

    and Busiturtle’s response (post #6): “Only a liberal could claim a study of aberrant behavior serves the common good.”

    Whether you meant it or not, the context shows that you said nothing of the sort. In the words of Joe Wilson, you LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It seems the only person attributing “insane viewpoints” to Busiturtle is, well, himself.

  63. gillt

    Thomas L.

    Going off on a meandering, anecdotal, arguing-by-link qualification of your economic savvy, is not the same as answering my questions.

    “Thomas L., specifically what is abstract funding for abstract results? And state why you think it’s the norm today?”

    Thanks for obfuscating!

  64. Thomas L

    Gilt,

    It would help if you asked one question at a time. Unlike many who seem to hang out here I only have so much time to devote to this – it is somewhat educational and somewhat entertaining, but I actually have real world things to deal with most of the time. Others depend on us (wife & myself) to stay on top of things less they end up without a job. So I answered one of your statements. “From the looks of it, you have a few half-baked ideas about science funding and the economy”, I believe you stated, so I answered the economic question which should be pretty easy to expand into why I have my thoughts on scientific expenditures… It should be rather self evident, but obviously in here such is a stretch. Sorry if you don’t think putting one’s perspective in is important, but rather is only “meandering arguing by link qualification”. The links mater in this discussion – they give us the reality funding works within.

    So, to take Jon’s example of the Lewis & Clark expedition – it was scientific in its most loose meaning (as in their understanding of scientific expenditure is far different then the modern one). The goal was to discover and map water routes which would have economic value, and take a basic inventory on what resources the areas held that could be exploited. They were given very specific tasks with very easily quantified results.

    While I do not doubt many areas of science are of the nature that they now require substantial financial inputs, such as current work in particle physics and astronomy, such is far different than thinking without government funding there would be no science. My main point is that Universities and even many private industries (such as pharmaceuticals) have become overly dependent on such funding. That is going to be a progressively dicey situation from here. The latest numbers I’ve seen are the states are running about 260 billion short for the next fiscal year – and that is with many of them counting on the Federal Gov. continuing to fund certain programs at the current levels (as in emergency funding from this past year). That is a rather precarious assumption as the National funding is becoming ever more risky itself. Keep an eye on Social Security – they didn’t pull in enough to cover outputs this year – that wasn’t supposed to happen for another 7 years. Shortfalls have soon have to be covered by the general fund – leaving less and less for everything else. Indications are many who have been forced into early retirementdisability are unlikely to return to the work force. Add to it unemployment going forward (here’s a realistic look at that picture: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/11/mapping-unemployment-you-make-call.html – might have to hit refresh to pop the page, just does that sometimes…) and just how much do you think the states and the Federal Gov. are going to be able to afford to fund?

    Now, when they are finally forced (and there are many ways such forcing can come to be) to deal with these funding shortfalls you can rest assured Education and Research will be on the chopping block, as will much else. Hence, we are about to redefine what “normal” levels for such are and will have to make truly difficult choices concerning what is important. Hence, economic justification for any research is highly likely to become part of the equation.

  65. gillt

    If you have only so much time to dedicate to comment boards, one would suppose you’d be brief and cut to the chase. So we’ll try again. You said something ridiculous and I asked for a bit of clarification.

    Thomas L. “You say politicians not funding is a bad thing. I disagree. Science did fine, as well as the arts, when governments were not providing abstract funding for abstract results.”

    What ever does that mean–abstract funding and abstract results? This should of course have clued you into giving us some examples (in the context of previous assertions) and a definition or two. But because your time is precious, you thought it better spend on another long-winded and irrelevant tangent.

    Also, what field of modern science gets by just fine without some sort of government funding? Even crap science like Complimentary Alternative Medicine has government funding. I’m sure you have a few examples on which you based these amazing claims.

  66. V.O.R.

    “That is a very specific Hegelian construct. You can’t get to it any other way.”

    I got to it by believing it a fit bit of bombast to go with the elaborate insult it preceded and the flatly declarative statement it followed. IMO they made an amusing contrast with the reasonable-sounding previous paragraph on one side and stilted confession of good will (“kindness”) to the other.

    I love the phrase too. As a joke.

    I suspect I picked it up from arguing too much with Conservatives – their word – who read too much Victor David Hansen. (Historical wargaming forum.) I’m pretty sure VDH isn’t a Hegal fan, but the style fits.

    And not that I meant the opposite. But much of that post was tongue-in-cheek, and certainly not to be taken 100% literally. I thought that obvious from the mention of piggy stealth-suits and Rasputin’s spirit. Overall point: Sincere. Wording: Sarcastic, at best.

    I’ve got a Philosophy degree, too. Maybe I’ve learned to not take it too seriously.

    I don’t want to get into exactly how influential Hegal was or wasn’t. (For one thing, there’s been some good scholarship recently casting doubt on the idea that more than a dozen people have ever *actually* read Hegal.) But I think Jon’s initial doubt was spot on.

  67. Thomas L

    Gilt,

    Stop taking what I am saying as somehow an attack on you or science. Sorry, not here for pop shot commentary – I could do that on Slashdot. Most of those here seem reasonably well educated and are also willing to back up their thinking with enough commentary to do such. What I am stressing is those in the research labs better start thinking about their funding different or they won’t have any – likely much sooner than many there, or in here, think (they aren’t exactly economic types and tend to be a bit unaware as to what is actually going on with such, even though in the end they are highly dependent on how the country as a whole is doing economically…)

    Abstract funding for abstract results – what is not self evident in that? Do you really think the public at large can make heads or tails out of how the funding for any project is decided? If the research is truly important, why does it need to be buried in a bill that has nothing to do with it? To the greater population the given examples in the blog are more abstract than even the opaque balance sheets of most financial firms. Abstract results – same thing, quite a lot of the public is having a very hard time seeing any meaningful result from quite a lot of the research being done. They want to know why their money is being spent on it.

    What the public sees is that much of our research money is not necessarily looking for an economically useful answer to a pressing economic issue. While interesting, it’s hard to see an actual “right now” kind of benefit to such work. So, given the financial realities – that would be what I have laid out for you above, such research (while arguably very important in the long term) will become harder and harder to justify in a system that has close to nothing to invest in any research at all. Thus, such studies are very likely to have to pass some litmus test on actual economic value (as in it will contribute directly to the bottom line) much sooner than many realize. The taxpaying public (where the money comes from) is demanding it. If you fail to see the connection between the economy and what is acceptable to the public in regards to spending, I’m not sure I can draw it out for you any clearer than I have.

    I don’t think bankrupt nations are exactly good for anyone in them (especially funding world class research projects) – and our attitude about funding things (not just science) has led us very close to that unpleasant place. It is an economic reality we will be unable to ignore much longer. I tend to find almost everything studied and researched of immense interest, but if you haven’t caught on yet, we are actually quite broke. All those “unfunded liabilities” you hear about are no longer decades away – they are already starting to show up (which means we have to get serious about how to come up with the actual $’s to fund them for real…).

    On one level such is not so bad – NASA has shown itself to be very creative in doing work with much less than they would desire (the Mars rovers, for example). But the types of studies that are addressed in the threads leading article are going to be harder and harder to justify going forward. Some may argue they matter greatly, others may argue they matter little – I’m proposing there are going to be many, many more such looks at things and there will likely be many, many more serious arguments about where our very limited funding goes. Even ones that may seem substantially important are likely to find funding increasingly difficult to achieve. Anytime the process can’t be understood it will automatically become suspect. That’s what happens when Governments run out of money.

  68. Thomas L

    V.O.R.,

    Yes, I generally take it light and don’t get too serious with people, most the friends know to steer clear of it with me less their brain hurt for days afterwards… But that is very definitely Hegelian construct, and if someone wants to dispute such I would really love to see where else they think it comes from (I would not expect an exact passage, but at least the work – I still enjoy it and still read when I find interesting stuff I haven’t dealt with before). If you haven’t read him you should, in one sense it is a very impressive look at what you can build using logics quirks, but mostly it should just scare the heck out of you. Perhaps one of the most dangerous systems ever made. Haven’t read any VDH, but if it comes from the conservative religious right I’d just assume pass ;). They are just as infected with it, so it may well have come from there. Unfortunately there really isn’t any easy way to debate anything with them, it is all faith and little disputable fact (well, they do make up some interesting “facts”, but that’s a different discussion…).

    As to having read or not read, it is rather like Hume (or really almost any of them). There aren’t that many around that have actually read him either (I find it amazing how many programs use summations or second hand explanations instead of actually reading the source, but I’ve seen too much of it to think many who only have a class or two have actually read them…). It’s how many are influenced by it without even knowing where it comes from. Used to have fun with friends taking everything they’d say for a night and explaining to them which school of philosophy such thinking came out of, and why such a view was a necessary given to be able to say such a thing. They always went “but I’ve never read them!”, and I’d go “yea, but that’s just how learning works, somewhere along the line that was the “cutting edge” of thought, and all the teachers knew it – you are left with the echo from such times…” – it made for some fun nights. I’ve actually had people look at the bookshelves and ask me if I’d actually read all that stuff or if it was just there for show. Makes me laugh every time it happens…

    If the country was still solvent I wouldn’t mind the funding at all – but we are in for one rough ride, and many still don’t get this is no little hick up. I seriously question, given the state & National economic condition, how much the government is going to be able to continue funding things. That’s why I think we had better start thinking hard about how to fund research in general, I’m not betting on a lot of help from the Government going forward. We are going to have our hands full with all the Boomers who never saved, are about to discover Social Security isn’t going to pay for much of anything, and the house they live in isn’t a retirement plan.

  69. gillt

    Unsurprisingly, you’ve moved the goal posts. You started off with the wild assumption that science will be fine without government funding. No, science would come to a halt. And when pressed to explain your nonsense, you backed off and made the impressively banal statement that in tough economic times we’ll have cut back on spending, with the implication that federal science funding will take a blow.

    And the whole thing is based on the assumption that American’s are in need of instant gratification and are science illiterate. So instead of asking how can we better educate the public on science, and that maybe our culture shouldn’t treat everything as infotainment (a lesson for the authors of this blog as well), you point the finger at working researchers for their need to wake up and realize who butters their bread.

    I’m sure you’ve heard of them, but have you ever read a grant proposal?

    And now that I understand the sophistication and experience you’ve brought to the table, you’ll understand why this researcher finds your over-simplification and naivety laughable.

    Here’s another assumption you made:
    “What the public sees is that much of our research money is not necessarily looking for an economically useful answer to a pressing economic issue.”

    And that’s why we have the NIH, so society as a whole can benefit from research that doesn’t address the bottom line, because that’s not the only metric we should be using in regards to evidence-based medicine or exploratory research.

    I’m sure you’re response to tax-payer funded research of rare and exotic diseases is morally reprehensible.

  70. bilbo

    It’s the classic conservative argument about whether or not something matters, gillt: if it doesn’t impact their wallet personally right here and right now, then it has no value.

    Push a hardcore conservative hard enough about their opinions, and it always boils down to that.

  71. V.O.R.

    “Push a hardcore conservative hard enough about their opinions, and it always boils down to that.”

    For shame. You really sell them short if you think it all revolves around their pocketbooks.

    Sometimes it’s because they harbor irrational hatreds drawn from deep insecurities.

  72. Thomas L

    Gilt,

    You really are good at twisting things up to make them match your argument. Where did I move the goal posts too? You must be young, as federal science funding taking a blow during an economic upheaval is pretty much what has happened several times in our history. There were serious funding arguments in the 70’s and again in the 80’s. Both were severe downturns, but not as bad as this one. When money is short, hard choices have to be made – the voters tend to pay a whole lot more attention to where that money goes, and surprisingly, as the source of it, they think they should have some say in it. Look at Arnold’s call that schools should be at least as well funded as the prisons – except to the public that’s a questionable call (everyone wants good schools, but no one wants criminals running around in their neighborhood – it’s a hard choice, and anyone’s guess which way such would go…). You fail to realize we are interring into a period where it will be an eitheror, not the recent past of a bothand.

    Yes, science will be fine without the government funding at its current level (it better be, or we are going to all be screwed). While it has been a long time sense science worked without so much support, I’m sure they’ll remember how to do it when the funding runs low. You are attacking the messenger and ignoring the message. Open up your ears the next time you are out and about and listen to what people are saying (try not to correct them, consider it a field mission to get a handle on how things on the ground are if you will…). Contain your moral outrage and start figuring out what battle is actually going to have to be fought instead of ranting on your preconceived theological underpinnings.

    If you haven’t figured out that Americans, on the whole, require instant gratification, I’m not sure we live in the same country. That has been the case for a few decades now. If I required instant gratification I wouldn’t be where I am. Yes, I’ve read grant proposals – even helped write a few. Did I say I didn’t understand it, or did I say the public doesn’t understand it? Besides which, grant proposals are but one part of the process. Why there is funding for one thing and not something else is more complicated than simply writing the proposal, and again, do you really think the public (not me) understands such? While you and I may agree that society can benefit, that was not my argument either – you and I are but two votes. I doubt you have ever really seen what happens when the economy really goes south. It isn’t pretty.

    Your conclusion is as off base as the rest of your rant – where have I ever said I am against research of any kind? I’m sorry if you don’t like the reality, one huge part of which is yes, it is money which makes the world go round, and all that research requires it (we call it funding) – but we can only fund what the purse has enough to pay for. That is not about wishing it where otherwise, it is acknowledging what the reality we are moving into is.

    Bilbo,

    Your comment is about as on target as usual. If there is nothing in the wallet, arguing about what to spend it on becomes rather pointless. Close to 20% of the population is unemployed (get past the headline number), and “The number of Americans using food stamps has grown to record levels, with one in every seven rural residents now receiving federal food aid. In urban areas, one in every nine residents receives food stamps” or some 12% (35 million)… keeping them housed and fed will become more and more of a priority. When it comes down to doing such or funding some research, which holds the moral high ground?

  73. bilbo

    And who says that cutting funding from health research that could save lives is “moral” because it saves money, Thomas? (I don’t think you’d advocate that, of course, but when you purposefully use vagaries such as “funding some research” to cloak the heart of your argument, then we can’t really say, can we?)

    The fact of the matter is that you seem to be arguing more for anti-intellectualism (science = against the common man) than you do for fiscal responsiblity, Thomas. It’s not just myself, but several other posters who seem to have noticed that.

  74. Thomas L

    Bilbo,

    Where, exactly, did I say anything about “saving” money? Saving implies excess. Excess is asuredly notmy point.

  75. bilbo

    Ah yes, evasion – the bread-and-butter tactic of denialist filth. I honestly didn’t have you pegged as such originally, but your consistent goalpost shifting and stuttering reclassificiation of argument is making me a believer.

    So, what exactly do you believe, Thomas? Whenever anyone offers evidence to contradict an argument you’ve just stated – whether it be me, VOR, or gillt – you suddenly hold a completely different value set. Either everyone here is in on a vast conspiracy to lie and make you look silly, or your stated values are shifting like a fart in the wind.

    I have to admit, though. Your style of argument – change the goalposts to fit whatever side your opposition does not, even if it contradicts a previous statement – is an easy one to take.

  76. Jon

    Thomas L When money is short, hard choices have to be made

    I take it you take the “treasury view” that Paul Krugman mentions in the post I linked to above?

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/24/keyness-difficult-idea/

    If what you mean by “hard choices” is cutting spending and not creating jobs, that runs counter to John Maynard Keynes’ work on how you escape a liquidity trap. Even Milton Friedman accepted the Keynesian revolution. This is David Frum, a *conservative* and a George Bush speechwriter:

    http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/20342?in=04:02&out=06:07

  77. Thomas L

    Jon,

    No, I’m not a Keynesian and not a Friedman follower either. Let me simply ask you, how well has Keynesian policies worked out for Japan? It didn’t work any better here either during the 30’s (people forget we were still in the depression – over 10 years – when we entered the war…). We’ve been lucky the last 70 years as we hold the “reserve currency” – that has allowed us to get away with quite a bit (if you want I can find you a you-tube post of the Fed VS. Schiff debate where one of the Fed guys says we’d likely lose that position, but “not in my lifetime”. Of course he’s like late 60’s, so not sure how warm and fuzzy that leaves me…). Except, of course, the 70’s which was pretty rough (but it was also what is known as a “technical default” – Nixon closed the gold window in 71, ending Breton Woods, and the following mess was to a large extent working though that event…).

    Personally I find Krugman kind of funny (yes, I know he won a Noble prize – but the real world is playing hell on his theoretical work…). I love his “insufficient aggregate demand” stuff – it’s an argument against economics 101 – supply and demand will always find equilibrium when prices adjust to the supply condition… except they are doing everything in their power to prevent prices from correcting. His real problem is he is not taking our creditors into account – if we owned our debt (the only thing that has kept Japan from an absolute miserable blow out – though two “lost decades” isn’t exactly encouraging either…), maybe we could play the game longer – but China has already made rumbles about us trying to “not honor our obligations” by pulling a major depreciation move. Really, read Keynes and you’ll see why Governments like it, but there is little there for a citizen to support. Following what is going on down in South America the past couple days? There will be shocks from that in the EU (their banks are leveraged there), which will lead to further stresses and further shocks.

    Our hands are more tied than Krugman is admitting. The populous is already getting uneasy with the numbers so his “not having the stomach” talk has more than a little merit. As I’ve been trying to get across, the politicians have to get elected – the public is broke, and going even broker, so they are quickly losing their patience and are smart enough to know those deficits are their children’s futures (debt slave…). Despite Krugman’s argument – yes, it is basically transferring money from one party to the government – only worse, this is money we don’t even have and will need to be repaid in future taxes – at the same time we are running like mad trying to figure out how to get the unfunded stuff funded. We are spending tomorrow’s income… in the 30’s we were a creditor nation, very different position (and it still didn’t work). There will be an effect from that (less future spending). If you think you are being helped with the slowly depreciating value of the dollar you don’t understand finance well enough yet (the result is what you have buys ever less – your standard of living is deteriorating before your eyes…). If you want to know what Krugman really thinks though (when not writing for the popular press), read this one: http://www.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/CRISES.pdf, the important part is the end, around page 12. Not sure I’d call that “happy talk”.

    And even outside of the Federal Government’s abilities to run such deficits (and remember – those unfunded liabilities are coming due…), the states don’t have that ability. They have to figure out where to CUT 260 billion (why I don’t get a few responses in here thinking such is about “saving” – we’re talking huge chopping here…). The “easy” stuff they cut last year – this time around it will start getting painful on a lot of levels. If the Federal Gov. bows to California (instead of what they said to New York in the 70’s) it opens a whole different flood gate on an already stressed system. Remember – if Cali doesn’t get at least 9 billion from the Federal Government the social programs in California will be gutted beyond recognition (no, don’t live in Cali).

    I tend to be an optimist (generally a prerequisite to running a business…), but I really don’t see any good options here. I don’t mind the Government trying to “create jobs” (actually wish they’d go to work on our infrastructure – water and waste, bridges – things we will have the benefit of for decades to come…), but a government job is not the same as a private sector job. The former is reliant on the later in the long run, and it’s the long run, if you will, that we have arrived at (See Krugmans speech I posted above). As I said, do yourself a favor and start learning what is going on and how it works, and don’t ever say you were not warned. I’ve given you enough links to do such, and “getting less bad” is far different than “recovering”.

    And I was no fan of either Bush.

  78. gillt

    A few days ago science would be fine without government funding and today Thomas L. assures us science and technology will be fine “without government funding at it’s current level,” with an admittance that science wasn’t what it was a century ago, so you know ooops, bad comparison on your part.

    You’re sorta moving in the right direction, adding a few qualifications as you go along…maybe tomorrow you’ll arrive at a different opinion.

    In grant proposals is a justification for the research. This typically involves a benefit to humanity, locally or otherwise with precise quotes on the amount of time and money required. But why am I telling you this? You’ve said you wrote a few but you also said “[researchers] aren’t exactly economic types and tend to be a bit unaware as to what is actually going on with such, even though in the end they are highly dependent on how the country as a whole is doing economically…)”

    I get it, you’re the economic guru here and we’re all clueless, pointy-headed science geeks largely sequestered from the goings on of the really real world, amiright!

  79. Thomas L

    Gilt,

    How is this: I don’t think government funding is a prerequisite to science happening. Science has always managed to get done, science likely will always continue to get done as long as man asks questions. I hope the government doesn’t put us so close to the edge that any funding for anything becomes increasingly unlikely. Considering the demographics, the unfunded promises coming due, the mess that all the pension plans are in, the worst unemployment sense the GD, states and municipalities that are thrashing as they try to come to terms with their budget shortfalls – (want me to keep going?) I am also not banking on it. And I do mean I am not banking on it in its most technical sense.

  80. Thomas L

    Jon,

    Thanks for the link (now that I watched the whole thing), interesting video. While I don’t fully agree with either, I’m likely closer to Frum all in all. To the great chagrin of many of my friends, I actually think Carter could have been a very decent president – but he came at a really bad time and never had much of a chance… (see previous post, he was left with the results of that… but then such was the result of playing financial games to “pay” for Vietnam… every president for at least the past 100 years has been left a mess from previous administrations, it’s just that the messes are getting bigger…) Reagan was O.K. as he got the country believing in itself again, but he began the process of playing with government stats to make things look better than they otherwise would (part of why it is dangerous to compare current conditions to the past – if you want numbers that let you do that and have an apples to apples comparison check out shadowstats.com…), thus I don’t think he was as great as many “conservatives” do, and if you adjust back to previous methodology they might not think it was so great either. Didn’t think much of Clinton, and Bush 2 was, well, better than having to have dealt with Gore is all I can say (though that is said in regards to the first election – no one expected 9/11, and he likely would have been O.K. if that hadn’t come along…). Bush Sr. was so-so. Keep in mind it is Congress & the House that actually do stuff though – the president only accomplishes what gets put on his desk…

    As I have said in these threads before – Republican and Democrat are but two of the political partiesmovements in this country – I am a member of neither, though several keep trying to put me in one. Sorry, I am a fierce independent. I do care about a fiscally sane future – from whichever party seems to understand what that means. Came up tonight – here’s GS take on what is up with unemployment http://www.zerohedge.com/article/goldman-provides-answer-albert-edwards-household-employment-survey-concerns – and if you looked at the link I gave above you ought to have some perspective on 100,000 jobsmonth just to stay at 10%… This is a very complicated mess – don’t make the mistake that you’ll get a clear idea how it is going from reading Krugman in the NYT. And yes, it’s not easy & I was lucky I had the dad I did who was at the top and took time to make sure I knew stuff – which I didn’t always appreciate at the time ;) – but anyone can learn, have watched several I know do just that over the past couple years…

  81. Thomas L

    Gilt,

    Here: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/82xx/doc8221/06-18-Research.pdf

    Looks like science research did just fine without nearly this much support as recently as 50 years ago. See page 10 for a break down of increases over the period of 1953 – 2004.

  82. Jon

    I love his “insufficient aggregate demand” stuff – it’s an argument against economics 101 – supply and demand will always find equilibrium when prices adjust to the supply condition…

    That’s microeconomics 101, but not macroeconomics 101. Microeconomics doesn’t deal with liquidity traps and large scale uncertainty as you had in the 1930’s. Yes, you may find an equilibrium but it will be at 25% unemployment.

    No Keynes, no Friedman… You sound like, um, a bit of an autodidact, Thomas L.

  83. V.O.R.

    “Looks like science research did just fine without nearly this much support as recently as 50 years ago. See page 10 for a break down of increases over the period of 1953 – 2004.”

    Heck, *70* years ago our armies did “just fine” without all this new-fangled stuff like assault rifles.
    30 years ago I ate nothing but baby food, and I did just fine.
    50 years ago we had no PCs, and did just fine.
    30 years ago I didn’t have a car, and I did just fine.
    50 years ago we had a hell of a lot less stuff to spend money on, and we did just fine.
    30 years ago I didn’t have the medicines I do now, and I did just fine.

    “Just fine.” What an awesome standard. But it’s a little vague, lets try to tighten things up. Call it the Thomas L Principle: If something existed in some form 50 years ago using less, there’s no reason to spend/apply more now.”

    Is that correct?

    “Science has always managed to get done, science likely will always continue to get done as long as man asks questions. ”

    I’m going to pop down to the local U. and tell them to sell all that expensive lab equipment. As long as man asks questions, they can still do science!

    But they can keep the stuff they could have had 50 years ago, right? (Universities and positions less than 50 years old aren’t likely to have such old stuff. OTOH, they’ll all be closed anyway.)

    Actually, you do have a good point: Scientists could just wait for the price of equipment, labor, etc. to fall to the point where they can pay for it all out for whatever budgets were 50 years ago.

    That’d work. Eventually.
    Just like market forces.

  84. Thomas L

    Jon,

    Really, start reading & learning. Anyone who has studied Economics knows they use very questionable modeling (they even acknowledge it) – I’ve actually read Keynes and several others – have you ever checked out mises.org and learned anything at all about the Austrian school view? Do you realize there are other theories and views in economics? Because you do not seem to realize there are many more ideas than just Keynesian ones. I’ve studied economics (formally) and still do – I wouldn’t say any of the “schools” are perfect – and surprisingly none of them think they are perfect either, which is why in the end it is up to each individual to figure things out to a large extent, or at least have enough of an idea of what is happening that they know when they are being sold crud.

    I am not some “finance guru” as you put it, just well informed and well read. As a business owner and farm owner I obviously have more of a reason than many to know what is going on and I try to pass that information along. I also have many contacts in almost every business you can think of where I constantly gain more information. Having worked in the courts I also have numerous friends who are in upper levels in various state agencies now, along with other friends who are actually on city councils, so I get told quite a bit about what is happening behind the scenes on many different levels as well.

    I am not nor have I made any suggestions on what any individual should do – other than to start reading and learning, and start asking serious questions of your advisor, if you have one. That sure is a radical idea.

    V.O.R,

    Did you read the CBO report I linked? Surprise, surprise, most scientific research and development is actually done by the private sector – add in non profits and Universities and it looks like it is between 70% and 80% so I’d actually like to hear the justification for the comments above about how science will stop dead without Government funding. Reduced, yes – but end? If you look at it you will also notice that funding levels, to a large extent, reflect the overall economy – when we have recessions spending on such tends to drop, and when things are going well they tend to get funded better. That is actually where this conversation started. Again, I never said anything about “saving”, but said they have les to spend so they will spend less. That’s just basic math.

    So again, sorry if you all don’t like reality, but such is what it is. There are several main posts about how to increase the public’s understanding of science – I actually read the links that get posted directed to me, but it seems that’s too much work for quite a few arguing in here. I have advised everyone to actually start reading and learning while providing links to places where such can be started – and get told I’m a nut case. Wonder why we have problems…

  85. Thomas L

    This may pop before my other post because it is short… But again, my views aren’t as unheard of as you all are pretending: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/01/measuring-effect-of-stimulus-if-you.html

  86. V.O.R.

    “Surprise, surprise, most scientific research and development is actually done by the private sector – add in non profits and Universities and it looks like it is between 70% and 80% so I’d actually like to hear the justification for the comments above about how science will stop dead without Government funding.”

    Sorry, I can’t edit my post to add comments about how science will stop dead without Government funding.

    What I was addressing was your line of reasoning. Or lack thereof, really. You used the “just fine” formula several times, and it’s “just bunk.” Of course science would go on without gov. funding – or even anything but questions. The problem, though, is whether or not we’d just the result of pulling gov. funding as “fine” or not. “Existent” and “fine” are not necessarily the same.

    And yeah, I read the CBO link. It just doesn’t support your reasoning. Not a surprise, since it’s so vague it’d be hard to find anything that does. I don’t think you were being a “nutcase”. I think you were being an annoyingly lazy thinker.

  87. Thomas L

    V.O.R.,

    I stand by my “just fine” comment. I’m not a supporter of the nanny state, and after digesting the CBO report I am actually even more comfortable with that statement. My basic claim was quite simple. We are in the early stages of a rather severe economic episode – a negative one. Due to our Governments long term failure to truly address its funding issues and the current demographics of the country, it is highly likely funding going forward is going to be ever more questionable and will most assuredly be ever more constrained and contested. On the state level this is highly likely to happen sooner rather than later, though on the Federal level not much later. That is basic math and understanding how governments are financed (there are limits to what the Government can do despite what some think…). This is a thread in a blog – I’m not writing a thesis, just hitting the main points of the arguments and providing links where one may learn more and gain some actual knowledge to help in their own understanding – I’m not insisting anyone agree, just presenting the groundwork of why I see it the way I do.

    Seeing as:

    “The federal government and industry are the primary sources of funding for research and development in the United States—in 2004 providing $93 billion and $199 billion, respectively. As those figures indicate, industry’s share of total R&D funding is the larger… Universities and colleges, nonprofit institutions, and state and local governments account for a small share of R&D spending (about $20 billion in 2004, or roughly 6 percent of the national total”

    I modified my earlier statement, mostly in regards to very expensive work in things like astronomy and physics – but even in those fields work would still be accomplished, though it may well take longer than many, including me, would like. I separate University funded science from Governmental funding simply because as long as we have Universities with Doctorial programs there will be research going on (requirements of receiving a doctorial…). While the Federal and State governments may be substantially limited in their future support, Universities have, for centuries, with or without such sources, managed to do such. So be it through raises in tuition or donations from the private sector I do not see them being unable to raise funds to continue (just maybe not directly through the Government…).

    Private industry is assuredly not going to drop its work, for many businesses such work is a requirement for advancing their industry. The private sector has, and likely always will be, advancing research in their own self interest, whether to gain an advantage over their competition, develop a break through medication that they can profit from, or simply create the next iteration of their product as examples. I also think a strong private sector is likely to be substantially better for funding going forward at any rate – seeing as they already supply the funding for about 2/3rds of it the worse the private sector is the worse the funding situation I’d say. The Government is never likely to be able to support such levels of funding – even if we were socialist.

    I also note “although the federal government’s share rose rapidly during the 1950s and early 1960s, it has declined significantly since then…” – thus it would appear that science has already been learning to work without the levels of funding they received at the peak of such at any rate. And it still seems to be humming along fine.

    Your argument is that science will cease being able to function if it loses what amounts to about 30% of its total funding. While your humor makes me laugh and you have a good sense of irony, it does not provide a counter argument.

    Sorry, just don’t see it.

    This is not directed specifically at you, but one thing I have noticed in these threads is a great ability to use high school level debate skills with almost as much substance hiding behind a very sharp ability to belittle others points of view with little actual refutation. I really expected more from the readers of this blog.

  88. Hum, hard to find a private compnay that would survive this:

    Your argument is that science will cease being able to function if it loses what amounts to about 30% of its total funding. While your humor makes me laugh and you have a good sense of irony, it does not provide a counter argument.

    unless said company was an Americna financial institution that some person decided was too big to fail.

    Look, when it come to federal funding of science, the task is always phrased as cut funding or raise taxes. What about cutting other things? The DoD (which not coincidently funds a LOT of science and engineering) doesn’t get mentioned as a candidate, but funding two overseas wars at the same time takes a LOT of money. Likewise, funding humanitarian missions overseas takes a lot of money. Funding highway construction takes a LOT of money. And the list goes on and on.

    Yet when we as a nation are in hard times, the knives are pointed at the scientific enterprise, and doubly so when that enterprise is offering up science that doesn’t match with someone’s politics.

  89. Sean

    Please don’t waste your time “debating” with Bilbo. His only tools are foul language and fabrications.

    In a previous “debate” on this blog he literally fabricated a quote from scratch to support his claim that climate change “deniers” also deny the link between smoking and cancer.

    I asked him to provide a link to the quote and all I got was a barrage of insults.

    When I demonstrated through a google search that he definitely fabricated the quote he went silent and moved onto this page.

    You can read all about it here:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/12/09/how-the-global-warming-story-changed-disastrously-due-to-climategate/

  90. I really enjoy what you post here, very insightful and smart. One issue though, I’m running Firefox on Fedora and parts of your site structure are a little off. I realize it’s not a common setup, but it’s still something to keep an eye on. Just shooting you a heads up.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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