21 Mar

Senate burns scientific process down with amendment to limit science investment

Well, that’s a foolish way to stop investing in the future:

“This afternoon, the United States Senate delivered a devastating blow to the integrity of the scientific process at the National Science Foundation (NSF) by voting for the Coburn Amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013.
Senator Coburn (R-OK) submitted an amendment (SA 65, as modified) to the Mikulski-Shelby Amendment (SA 26) to H.R. 933 (Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013).  The amendment places unprecedented restriction on the national research agenda by declaring the political science study of democracy and public policy out of bounds.  The amendment allows only political science research that promotes ‘national security or the economic interests of the United States.’ “

(Via Senate Delivers a Devastating Blow to the Integrity of the Scientific Process at… — WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —.)

See also, Lysenkoism, USSR:

In 1948, genetics was officially declared “a bourgeois pseudoscience”;[10] all geneticists were fired from their jobs (some were also arrested), and all genetic research was discontinued. Nikita Khrushchev, who claimed to be an expert in agricultural science, also valued Lysenko as a great scientist, and the taboo on genetics continued (but all geneticists were released or rehabilitated posthumously). The ban was only waived in the mid-1960s.

Thus, Lysenkoism caused serious, long-term harm to Soviet knowledge of biology. It represented a serious failure of the early Soviet leadership to find real solutions to agricultural problems, throwing their support behind a charlatan at the expense of many human lives.

Republicans, between this amendment and the consistent, radical opposition to all mentions of climate change and global warming, have often embodied modern day Lysenkoism. Fortunately there’s a two party system, the damage isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. But this is shooting yourself in the foot.

Sure, ‘public policy and democracy’ studies are vaguely worded. But have no doubt climate change, economics (particularly austerity studies) will be in this line up that get metaphorically shot after being put up against the wall.