Friday, July 15, 2011

Some political summer reading: the NSF budget matters!

A few weeks ago, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a report examining the US National Science Foundation. If you are interested in reading about the politics of science and science funding, it's a disturbing and fascinating report. 

Beyond generic (and uncontroversial) calls for aggressive innovation and extreme frugality (somewhat conflicting goals, to be sure), the balance of the document is irresponsible, both in its careless handling of facts about NSF-funded research (currently discussed and derided in online venues; especially enjoyable is Mike the Mad Biologist blog ...) and in its terrible policy recommendation.

The strangest – and indeed dangerous - suggestion of this report is the call for the elimination of the social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE) directorate of the NSF. (That includes, of course, anthropology, sociology, political science, LINGUISTICS, geography, COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE, and many other aspects of research which we value, both as scientists and as citizens.) 

In today's, my NYU colleague Mitchell Moss and I attack Coburn and his report. This is pure science advocacy, so stay away if this sort of thing rubs you the wrong way. This is *not* research on talking or on brains or on both. 

David Poeppel and Mitchell Moss

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