If topics for peer reviewed scientific research funding is not safe from congress’s influence than nothing is. What’s next Jeff??? Climate change research because only gays and eskimos worry about melting ice and plankton counts?
On Thursday, on a mostly party-line vote, the House passed an amendment by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to prohibit the National Science Foundation from funding political science research. And, in doing so, it politicized one of the main ways this country funds scientific research
“My amendment does not reduce funding for the NSF,” he explained. Rather, “this amendment is simply oriented toward ensuring, at the least, that the NSF does not waste taxpayer dollars on a meritless program.” Well, what Flake considers a meritless program, anyway.
As Christopher Zorn writes, the NSF runs a widely respected peer-review program that decides what science to fund. If Flake wanted to reduce the funding available to the NSF in total, that would be one thing (and, to be fair to Flake, he has proposed that in the past). But what he’s doing here is telling the NSF what is and isn’t acceptable science to fund. That’s not how scientific decisions are supposed to work. And the effect could be chilling.