Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Weird Anti-Science

Two different articles on Slate point out different aspects of Republican dislike of science. First Phil Plait on his Bad Astronomy blog addresses the broad anti-science agenda expressed by multiple GOP politicians, especially Lamar Smith who apparently thinks that peer review is highly overrated when compared with political review. The other article is actually linked to by Plait's article but is more focused on the dislike of research in the social sciences.

I consider it reasonable to judge some of those attitudes by those who hold them and one of the Republican members of the house mentioned in the article on the attacks on social science research is a real gem. When Rep. Bill Posey had been in office for a whole two months he became the first Republican to propose a birther bill, one of those masterpieces of legislation whose sole purpose was to legitimize those who thought Barack Obama was the result of a strange conspiracy to put a non-citizen in the White House. Basically he criticized multiple research studies on the basis of them not being vital to national security or our national interest. Apparently the concept that learning new things is inherently in our best interest lies somewhere beyond the ability of his mind to grasp. It's also rather sad that apparently Posey believes this doozy of a claim:

Posey slightly softened his tone. “I'm not advocating we stop all the social-science study spending,” he said. “I just think it might be appropriate that much of that be left to the private sector.” How much, though? Someone should probably conduct a study.

I'm not aware of any private sector funding for real research in these fields that isn't interested in predetermined answers, are you?