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Thread: "High Quality Research Act"

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    "High Quality Research Act"

    This is quite alarming

    Lamar Smith, head of the House Science Committee, has authored something he calls the "High Quality Research Act", which would require the National Science Foundation to

    1. Not replicate any experiments performed outside the NSF's remit

    2. Submit any technical peer review discussions for political peer review.

    I don't know whether these proposals are due to ignorance of science or an attempt to silence publicly funded science in the United States, but in either case there must be something that can be done to stop it.

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    Moderator's note to all: the concern has been raised (via report) that this thread might not be in keeping with our rules. On the contrary, while rule 12 generally prohibits political (and religious) discussions, it goes on to explain:

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    Perhaps it is buyers remorse? Congress asks a lot of questions of scientists and teams that are pretty silly.

    Of course, that theory doesn't address the underlying problem with this sort of policy/law. You need duplication otherwise you will run down paths that are worse than useless. That and the issue of having science research vetted by people who don't have a clue; if they had a clue, they wouldn't need the NFS.

    All I can picture is that guy in "Contact" arguing "One antenna, one channel."
    Solfe

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    Given that 251 people have looked at this, it seems odd to me that only two have replied. I think that the vicious reaction reserved for politics on this forum has chilled debate on political issues of scientific import.

    I'm reminded of this discussion in which it was argued that representative democracy keeps ignorant laypeople from undermining science. Except when those same ignorant laypeople elect other ignorant laypeople to undermine science for them.

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    @OP

    Yes, I came across a reference elsewhere to this policy idea and was equally aghast. On reflexion, it seems the attitude stems as much from a poor notion of how science works in general as it does from other bias, which shall remain uncharacterized.

    I find the best response, instead of head-on criticism, in Congress would be to keep asking questions of the type "so that if situation A arises, we should not investigate?" where "A" is obviously desirable; say, debunking an outrageous ATM claim one knows even good old Lamar might object to. Do that over and over with more examples and similar leading questions, and the if the guy has any sense at all, he'll at least realize a tad more about how ridiculous he sounds.

    [I had a customer, a friendly one, ranting the other evening about deporting all the foreigners. By the time I was finished, he had been pushed into agreeing that their native-born spouses and children all ought to be tossed, patients abandoned by 'alien' doctors now on the run, and so on. There came a point where he simply apologized and said, "I don't know. Sorry."]

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    I'm afraid to post.
    GOP Push Politicization Of Scientific Research
    says why.


    Think Progress
    Smith is a climate skeptic who has taken to the House floor to rant against scientists and journalists “determined to advance the idea of human-made global warming.” Here’s Smith in a 2009 speech after scientists’ emails were hacked from a server at the University of East Anglia:
    “We now know that prominent scientists were so determined to advance the idea of human-made global warming that they worked together to hide contradictory temperature data. But for two weeks, none of the networks gave the scandal any coverage on their evening news programs. And when they finally did cover it, their reporting was largely slanted in favor of global warming alarmists. The networks have shown a steady pattern of bias on climate change. During a six-month period, four out of five network news reports failed to acknowledge any dissenting opinions about global warming, according to a Business and Media Institute study. The networks should tell Americans the truth, rather than hide the facts.
    In fact, independent reviews found that climate scientists neither hid nor tampered with data.


    H
    ouse science panel wears blinders
    “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.”
    That scientific opinion comes courtesy of Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, who also apparently sees geology as originating in the devil’s realm, since he also has said he believes the earth is only “about 9,000 years old” and “was created in six days as we know them.” We wish that what we’re about to report was a joke but, alas, it is not. Broun is a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
    And thanks to an appointment by the science committee’s new chairman, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, Broun will lead the panel’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight during the recently convened 113th Congress.
    How do you have this discussion about these anti-science nut-jobs and not discuss the elephant in the room that they are all GOP?

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Given that 251 people have looked at this, it seems odd to me that only two have replied. I think that the vicious reaction reserved for politics on this forum has chilled debate on political issues of scientific import.
    For me, it's more like this. If somebody posted something arguing it's a great idea, I'd be tempted to post. But so far I haven't come across anything I really wanted to respond to, except yours!
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    I'm afraid to post. says why.


    Think Progress

    H
    ouse science panel wears blinders


    How do you have this discussion about these anti-science nut-jobs and not discuss the elephant in the room that they are all GOP?
    Leaving aside the poison of partisan politics, there is also the problem of preconceived notions. Don't forget, it was Bill Clinton who cancelled the Superconducting Supercollider.

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    I have typed, retyped, deleted, rewrote, and so on.

    I guess all I can say is these none of these guys are doing a really great job, and these few who think this idea is good are the poster children.
    Solfe

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    While Rep. Smith is demanding the "technical peer review discussions" in his letter to the NSF for the five projects described in the article, the proposed act seems to only require the NSF to do a better job of explaining how it determines the uniqueness and appropriateness of the research it funds.

    But...doesn't it do so now? Maybe I'm reading the bill wrongly, but the proposed legislation does not seem to require any scientific process of the NSF.

    Here's the key bit:

    [The director]....shall publish a statement on the public website of the Foundation that certifies that the research project (1) is in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science; (2) is the finest quality, is ground breaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and (3) is not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.
    The remainder of the act says come back and tell us how you're going to do this and how might we apply this same concept to other science agencies funded by the government.

    When I read this my first thought was that Rep. Smith was firing a shot across the bow of the NSF for some other reason which hasn't been made clear yet, or he's looking for some other reason to keep the collective feet of the NSF to the fire. Certainly budget constraints are affecting all agencies of the federal government and if the chairman of the NSF's oversight committee did not require strong justification then he or she would be remiss in duties. But the fundamental why of this act remains to be seen (other than posturing). And the timing doesn't seem to be tied to anything.

    If it's just to place more control over the NSF then this bill seems rather weak. The committee already controls the NSF budget.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Leaving aside the poison of partisan politics, there is also the problem of preconceived notions. Don't forget, it was Bill Clinton who cancelled the Superconducting Supercollider.
    You call it "poison" but you give an example of legislation you take issue with. My examples were of science denial and young Earth creationism beliefs. It's a false equivalency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    You call it "poison" but you give an example of legislation you take issue with. My examples were of science denial and young Earth creationism beliefs. It's a false equivalency.
    So is this. I am a republican and I suspect I am more hardline on science than most people.

    In fact, in the past, I have suggested (here and elsewhere) that BAUT members should write the definitive books to prove "anthropological global warming" doesn't exist, that "Nibiru" is a fact and will destroy everyone and everything and another title to absolutely prove that the Earth is merely 6000 years old.

    Once these books are written, we would use the demographics of sales and money earned to transform the BAUT into a militant political unit that would combat stupid everywhere starting with key elections around the US. I think I also suggested that we should use some funds to pay the mod team and give them cool things like motorcycles and gaming systems.

    Perhaps people were lead to believe that I was being funny, but no, I really think this is a good idea. It worked for Moby, it could work for us.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    This is quite alarming

    Lamar Smith, head of the House Science Committee, has authored something he calls the "High Quality Research Act", which would require the National Science Foundation to

    1. Not replicate any experiments performed outside the NSF's remit

    2. Submit any technical peer review discussions for political peer review.

    I don't know whether these proposals are due to ignorance of science or an attempt to silence publicly funded science in the United States, but in either case there must be something that can be done to stop it.
    I worry much more about the second one than the first, as many US politicians are openly and avidly opposed to science. As demonstrated during the primaries for the GOP's presidential campaign, anti-science is a critical component to winning primaries in some states. Indeed, I think it's incontrovertible that a requirement to "[s]ubmit any technical peer review discussions for political peer review" is designed to place a stalinist control on science. Remember Lysenko?
    Last edited by swampyankee; 2013-May-05 at 03:57 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    ...I have suggested (here and elsewhere) that BAUT members should write the definitive books to prove "anthropological global warming" doesn't exist, that "Nibiru" is a fact and will destroy everyone and everything and another title to absolutely prove that the Earth is merely 6000 years old.

    Once these books are written, we would use the demographics of sales and money earned to transform the BAUT into a militant political unit that would combat stupid everywhere starting with key elections around the US. I think I also suggested that we should use some funds to pay the mod team and give them cool things like motorcycles and gaming systems.

    Perhaps people were lead to believe that I was being funny, but no, I really think this is a good idea. It worked for Moby, it could work for us.
    So you would have us humiliate ourselves, by adding to the "junk" science that is already "out there" in order to "militantly"
    impose our will/opinion on others??

    You can't "force" people into rationality...they either "arrive" at it by themselves, or they do not.

    My personal opinion...bad idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    How do you have this discussion about these anti-science nut-jobs and not discuss the elephant in the room that they are all GOP?
    Simply replace the term "GOP" with the term "certain politicians"...rational readers will know what you are talking about without bringing partisian politics into it.


    Naw...that wouldn't "work", because everyone would know which certain politicians were being talked about.


    Never mind...

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.A.F. View Post
    So you would have us humiliate ourselves, by adding to the "junk" science that is already "out there" in order to "militantly"
    impose our will/opinion on others??

    You can't "force" people into rationality...they either "arrive" at it by themselves, or they do not.

    My personal opinion...bad idea.
    Most BAUT members are the experts on these fields, and we have great outreach method. Are we embarrassed for this today? No.

    Is it snide? Yes.

    Is it jaded? Yes.

    But does it work? Don't know... if someone debunked an ATM thread using the parlance of the advocate of the theory, would it not still be debunking? I think it would, even in the case where the OP didn't understand what was happening. Generally, BAUT does not endorse this method of approach, but it isn't exactly prohibited. You'd just have to be very savvy with the rules and not stomping other people.

    This approach eliminates possible bad choices by society in general. I don't apologize for that. This is what happens in the world. It is very much like a meme, the successful ones are remembered and the unsuccessful aren't. (I hate the whole, lets throw Darwin under the bus, Evolutionary quotes for stuff like this.)
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Most BAUT members are the experts on these fields, and we have great outreach method. Are we embarrassed for this today?
    ??? I posted that it would be humiliating/embarrassing/whatever to be involved, in any way, with the promotion of bad science.

    What that has to do with what you posted, I do not know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.A.F. View Post
    ??? I posted that it would be humiliating/embarrassing/whatever to be involved, in any way, with the promotion of bad science.

    What that has to do with what you posted, I do not know.
    But isn't that what we do? We provide a forum for bad science.

    On paper, the onus is on the advocate to prove their theory or conspiracy.

    In reality, the onus is on the BAUT members to reply to weird stuff in a polite, logical, consistent, and correct way, despite the fact that 99% is pure crud and the other 1% is simply is coated with crud. Without all of those responsibilities taken on by the members of this board, this is a forum that prompts bad science. We aren't even required to reply. The OP of conspiracy or ATM isn't really under any of those obligations, they can simply not reply for 30 days and they have a permanent place on the board to advocate weirdness.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    But isn't that what we do? We provide a forum for bad science.
    Yes...to debunk it, not to "promote" it....do you not see the difference between the 2?

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    Apropos of the discussion, here's a tidbit from Ars Tecnica:

    Moderation through explanation. Alternately, this section could be called Where Dunning-Kreuger meets politics. Four researchers at three different institutions joined forces to ask a simple question: why is it that people have such extreme positions on subjects that are rather complicated and nuanced? "We hypothesized that people typically know less about such policies than they think they do," the authors write, going on to discuss their experimental method: asking people with extreme opinions to explain the issue. That brought an end to their subjects' belief that they actually understood the issue they were otherwise willing to argue passionately about (or, as the authors put it, "undermined the illusion of explanatory depth"). Once people recognized their ignorance, positions tended to moderate.

    In contrast, simply asking people to explain why they like their preferred policy kept the illusion intact. "The evidence suggests that people’s mistaken sense that they understand the causal processes underlying policies contributes to political polarization," they conclude.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    So is this. I am a republican and I suspect I am more hardline on science than most people.

    In fact, in the past, I have suggested (here and elsewhere) that BAUT members should write the definitive books to prove "anthropological global warming" doesn't exist, that "Nibiru" is a fact and will destroy everyone and everything and another title to absolutely prove that the Earth is merely 6000 years old.

    Once these books are written, we would use the demographics of sales and money earned to transform the BAUT into a militant political unit that would combat stupid everywhere starting with key elections around the US. I think I also suggested that we should use some funds to pay the mod team and give them cool things like motorcycles and gaming systems.

    Perhaps people were lead to believe that I was being funny, but no, I really think this is a good idea. It worked for Moby, it could work for us.
    This is the problem with discussing this issue. Just because some people who believe in a bizarre reality are Republican doesn't mean I'm saying all Republicans believe such things. Of course they don't, and of course there are plenty people on the left who have an unscientific basis for their realities.

    The problem isn't the continuum of beliefs vs the continuum of the political spectrum. The current problem is people with certain anti-science agendas, be they based on religious ideology, economically motivated, or some other ideology, are trying to inject those beliefs into the political arena. And it's been exacerbated by the GOP courting the fringe, they make a good voting base. I don't think being a political conservative means you are more likely to be Creationist or a AGW denier, I believe the GOP leadership courted these people and now they are reaping the side effects.


    How do these people with such ignorant beliefs get elected?


    And I fault my own Party for timidness calling out the anti-science beliefs. We tiptoe around them. The left is just as afraid of the voters that the right courted, as the right that courted them now seem to be.


    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    I worry much more about the second one than the first, as many US politicians are openly and avidly opposed to science. As demonstrated during the primaries for the GOP's presidential campaign, anti-science is a critical component to winning primaries in some states. Indeed, I think it's incontrovertible that a requirement to "[s]ubmit any technical peer review discussions for political peer review" is designed to place a stalinist control on science. Remember Lysenko?
    Remember Bush's NASA fact minders?



    Quote Originally Posted by R.A.F. View Post
    Simply replace the term "GOP" with the term "certain politicians"...rational readers will know what you are talking about without bringing partisian politics into it.
    Naw...that wouldn't "work", because everyone would know which certain politicians were being talked about.
    Never mind...
    Not only that but we'd be addressing everything except the elephant in the room. (Pun wasn't intended but now that I see it, )

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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    Not only that but we'd be addressing everything except the elephant in the room. (Pun wasn't intended but now that I see it, )
    I hadn't noticed it until just now, myself...

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.A.F. View Post
    Yes...to debunk it, not to "promote" it....do you not see the difference between the 2?
    There is a difference, but my idea is proactive, not reactionary. It drains resources from the foolish and creates a ready made FAQ of refutation on arrival. It also provides amusement.

    Proactive, prepared, fun. Win-win-win.
    Last edited by Solfe; 2013-May-06 at 01:09 AM.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    There is a difference, but my idea is proactive, not reactionary. It drains resources from the foolish and creates a ready made FAQ of refutation on arrive. It also provides amusement.

    Proactive, prepared, fun. Win-win-win.
    ...and in the process, you "sell your soul" to the woowoo's, by promoting anti-science.

    Thanks, but no thanks...

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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    How do these people with such ignorant beliefs get elected?
    Ignorant voters?

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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    You call it "poison" but you give an example of legislation you take issue with. My examples were of science denial and young Earth creationism beliefs. It's a false equivalency.
    As it happens, I am a Democrat (or would be if I still lived in the US) from a family of Democrats, so partisanship had nothing to do with my reply. The left is less anti-science than the right, but both have anti-science biases.

    And no, it is not a false equivalency, because beliefs don't matter. Actions do. I don't care if they're Young Earth Creationists, or Scientologists, or Earth-goddess worshippers, Moonies, or racial supremacists. All I care about is that they keep their personal beliefs at home and stick to the rules while at work.

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    There are anti-science people all over the political spectrum, and if a similar case came up from a different portion of the political spectrum, I'd make the same complaint: ideological controlof science is a hallmark of tyranny.
    Last edited by swampyankee; 2013-May-07 at 10:39 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    As it happens, I am a Democrat (or would be if I still lived in the US) from a family of Democrats, so partisanship had nothing to do with my reply. The left is less anti-science than the right, but both have anti-science biases.

    And no, it is not a false equivalency, because beliefs don't matter. Actions do. I don't care if they're Young Earth Creationists, or Scientologists, or Earth-goddess worshippers, Moonies, or racial supremacists. All I care about is that they keep their personal beliefs at home and stick to the rules while at work.
    Name some legislation initiated by the left that either interferes with or goes against the scientific evidence.

    The false equivalency is not which side has more nut-jobs, the problem is turning those against-the-scientific-evidence beliefs into laws. Those Young Earth Creationists have been attacking public school science curriculum with legislation. The AGW deniers are using legislation to block remedies.
    Last edited by beskeptical; 2013-May-07 at 10:38 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical View Post
    Name some legislation initiated by the left that either interferes with or goes against the scientific evidence.
    I can't give you a specific piece of legislation, but there must be some anti-GMO legislation out there pushed by the left.
    Last edited by Jens; 2013-May-08 at 02:55 AM.
    As above, so below

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    Betcha Lamar Smith uses his cellphone and his GPS every day. Ain't science wonderful, Lamar?
    I'm not a hardnosed mainstreamer; I just like the observations, theories, predictions, and results to match.

    "Mainstream isn’t a faith system. It is a verified body of work that must be taken into account if you wish to add to that body of work, or if you want to change the conclusions of that body of work." - korjik

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