Partisan Attacks on Research

November 25, 2008

Congressmen serving on committees dealing with aspects of research…are often well disposed toward support of scientific research…they cannot afford…to become vulnerable. They must take into account tides of public opinion.
As a partisan document, the article is a triumph. Research is confused with development..downgraded by citation of examples likely to seem ridiculous to the reader and by skillful choice of guilt-connoting words–such phrases as …”sprawling research program”…”lucrative contracts”….”getting fat at the public trough”.

and it just gets worse…

quotes Senator…as attacking the National Institutes of Health as a “worst offender”…a less astute reader could be left with the impression that a large fraction of NIH and other federal funds is spent on irrelevant areas.

emphasis most assuredly added by YHN….

Politicians, however, cannot be expected to assume all the burden of setting the record straight. Scientists must help to ensure that the public has an accurate understanding of what it is getting for its money.

When was this written? Drop an estimate in the comments and I’ll post the citation later…

No Responses Yet to “Partisan Attacks on Research”

  1. Dave Says:

    Remember William Proxmire? Remember the endless babbling about some $800 toilet seat? Given those indicators of public sentiment, I would have guessed the text above came from about 1980. I would be surprised if it came from any reputable source in the last 20 years. Biomedical science has been an increasingly easy sell. If anything, I think lately the tendency lately has been to hype research too much and expect too much from NIH. I thought this article was pretty insightful:
    So was my guess right? Being impatient, and knowing that most bloggers basically just rehash crap they came across while incessantly surfing the web, I Googled the text.
    I was a bit surprised by the date, but not much. I won’t ruin for others. They can wait for your followup, DM, or Google it themselves.


  2. llewelly Says:



  3. llewelly Says:

    I posted my guess before reading Dave’s post. Now that I’ve googled – I was, of course, as wrong as Dave. But not really surprised; the actual year is in the decade I thought next most likely.


  4. cookingwithsolvents Says:

    Google is amazing. . .searching the first paragraph gives a link to the citation as the first hit and this blog post as the second. two hours after the original post


  5. The last, YHN-emphasized, statement resembles very closely something that Zerhouni once wrote, I think. Doesn’t seem to fit with the earlier parts though.
    Now I’ll go google it.


  6. DrugMonkey Says:

    You Googlenauts are no fun…. heh.

    Abelson, P.H. A partisan attack on research. Science. 1967 Jun 9;156(780):1315.

    It is quite instructive to PubMed queries on “NIH funding” and the like and start with the oldest citations…


  7. Becca Says:

    Google is amazing. . .searching the first paragraph gives a link to the citation as the first hit and this blog post as the second. two hours after the original post
    Doesn’t Google stalk you and figure out what websites you go to and rank your links acordingly?


  8. juniorprof Says:

    DM, you should know already that none of us can do anything without first plugging it into the google. If google suddenly went away, my brain would fall out, I’m quite sure!
    Becca, I’m starting to think that it does.


  9. cookingwithsolvents Says:

    Even if it does, it is AMAZING to think that in 2 hours (or much less) google has crawled this blog and updated its search results. The computing power that company brings to bear simply staggers my mind when I think about it.
    Note: I remember when webcrawler was pretty much the only reasonable option and even in the days when google was new it took weeks for things to be updated in search results.


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