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SOPA Creator Now In Charge of NSF Grants 307

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the dinosaurs-walked-with-man dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "Remember SOPA? If not, perhaps the name Lamar Smith will ring a bell. The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology chose Smith to Chair as an overseer for the National Science Foundation's funding process. Smith is preparing a bill (PDF) which will require that every grant must benefit 'national defense,' be of 'utmost importance to society,' and not be 'duplicative of other research.' Duplicating research seems reasonable until you consider that this could also mean the NSF will not provide funding for research once someone has already provided results — manufactured or otherwise. A strange target since there is a process in place which makes an effort to limit duplicate funding already. The first and second requirements, even when read in context, still miss the point of basic research. If we were absolutely without-a-doubt-certain of the results, there would be little point in doing the research in the first place."
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SOPA Creator Now In Charge of NSF Grants

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  • Job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by puddingebola (2036796) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @08:06AM (#43589269) Journal
    This job got easier when I realized nobody was going to try and duplicate my results.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @08:07AM (#43589271) Homepage

    The purpose of research is to create evidence when we make a case for something we want. We *will* duplicate research programs so that we have an increased chance of getting the results we are paying for. But once those reqults are acquired, no further research is needed.

    Smoking is good for you.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @08:26AM (#43589343) Homepage

    I don't want to fund research on gun violence either.

    The problem ISN'T guns. It's the culture of people. We have a culture of violence in the US as much as we woud like to deny it. We glorify it in so many ways -- in the media, the movies, TV shows and pop music. Without that culture, the interest in guns would decrease with the exception of those who use them as intended -- as tools and defense. And without guns, the violence would change adjust.

    Presently, we have beating by hand, foot, bludgeon, knife, sword, gun and by larger things such as automobile. To take away things from people who are innocent is punishment of the innocent. Can that really be justified because a particular means is demonized?

    At the end of the day, violence takes many, many forms. To address the problem by separating the means is frivolous.

  • Unfortunately... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @08:27AM (#43589349) Journal

    Alas, the 'national defense' bit is by far the less problematic portion:

    "(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;"

    Ok, so (1) doesn't include noble goals like "Science, because knowing shit is awesome!"; but it's vacuous enough that nearly anything fits. If it is 'science' it probably helps you(or may help you in the future) manipulate the world in some way, and any positive manipulations count as 'national health, prosperity, or welfare' and any negative ones can be dropped on people we dislike and called 'national defense'.

    "(2) is the finest quality, is ground breaking,
      and answers questions or solves problems that are of
      utmost importance to society at large;"

    Here's where it goes downhill: Basic Research, motherfucker, have you heard of it? Contrary to what the movies might have led you to believe, 'science' isn't something that a single multidisciplinarian genius brings from test tube to field-ready superpower within a 10 minute montage set in a 'laboratory' that looks more like a small datacenter set up to impress visitors. And, when a given piece of research is the lucky one to go down in history as "Dr. Somebody Invented X", the writeup will have about a zillion papers of the form "A banal and seemingly pointless characterization of bandgap somethingorother in ionized flebatonium" that seemed like pointless noodling until they turned out to be useful.

    C'mon, Lamar, I realize that not much gets past your shit-eating grin and incredible density; but surely you don't imagine that scientists who could be out raking in the nobels and lucrative startup stock by cranking out world-altering research of staggering utility are just holding out on us, and sequencing random beetle genomes because grantwriting is just so much fun? If there were plenty of 'groundbreaking' research that 'answers questions or solves problems of utmost importance to society at large' scientists would be shiving one another with broken Erlenmeyer flasks to be the first to do it. Guess what, most of science is just prep work for the good stuff, much of which we don't even know will be the good stuff until we've already done the prep work.

    Clause 1 is just babble, of no real consequence(except perhaps to make paper abstracts and grant proposals even more vaguely optimistic); but clause 2 essentially provides unlimited scope to defund absolutely anything that isn't the final stages of a successful R&D exercise.

  • by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @08:39AM (#43589447) Homepage
    Because we as a nation keep asking for them because:

    * They help our business interests.
    * They appeal to our religious convictions.
    * They look good and sound good on the local TV.
    * We think no wrong of them because it's always the other idiots outside our districts that are the problem all over the country.
    * We actually think these people care for us and buy in to the bull in the campaign ads.

    Uninformed and uneducated voters are killing the country. They scream about kicking carrier politicians out but never really start with their own house while expecting somoene else to do it elsewhere.
  • by blueg3 (192743) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @08:54AM (#43589545)

    I don't want to fund research on gun violence either.

    The problem ISN'T guns. It's the culture of people. ...
    Without that culture, the interest in guns would decrease with the exception of those who use them as intended -- as tools and defense. And without guns, the violence would change adjust.

    See, figuring out whether or not that's true is what the research is for.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @08:57AM (#43589567)

    Whether to fund paleontology with tax dollars is a legitimate question. I happen to think dinosaurs rock and I can afford to pay my share of Jack Horner's salary, but a reasonable person might feel that the money could be better spent maintaining bridges or something.

    I would welcome that kind of discussion. What I don't welcome is political maneuvering to hijack a federal agency to serve a minority interest.

  • by belthize (990217) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @09:01AM (#43589605)

    This is why we need research, even in the soft sciences like history. Without such research it's trivial for put forth ideas that sound self evident and they become 'truth'.

    This series of articles suggests it was economic collapse and not religious dogma. []

    I don't know which is true, they both sound plausible. The fact is science is good and it should not be retarded in the name of religion or short term economic relief.

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @09:02AM (#43589613) Homepage
    Grassroots conservatives really dont care about a lot of issues that the liberals claim that are for/against. I would wager it is safe to say the same for the way conservatives feel towards liberals ideas. I know a good portion of both and lean libertarian myself, Plain and simple the fringe is what is spoken about by both sides. If we asked neutral questions instead of loaded questions like the media (both fox and msnbc) we would be better off. Instead of asking "if we invest X into solar by raising taxes on Y (oil) is that good for the country?" how about we simply ask "would you switch over to solar if the cost was close to the same as you pay for energy today?"

    do you see how one turns into a fight and the other does not?

    I could point out that some research on both sides are utterly crap. funding the study of beetles migration habits? yeah I dont think we need to waste money on that one
  • by dragonsomnolent (978815) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @09:23AM (#43589801) Homepage
    Not to burst your bubble regarding places with strict anti gun laws but they don't all have higher crime rates (for violent crimes anyway). Mexico has massive violent crime issues and strict gun control, whereas England has strict gun laws and they have a much lower rate of violent crime. Of interesting note, in Switzerland, where there isn't gun registration, they have a very low rate of violent crime overall. Seems to me that the violence has a lot more to do with other factors than just the legality of firearms. Source: []
  • by tekrat (242117) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @09:33AM (#43589913) Homepage Journal

    Even better, the pentagon/military already funds their own basic research, that's what DARPA is all about -- the NSF is supposed to be separate for NON MILITARY purposes. So now everything is all about supporting the Military Industrial Complex.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @09:41AM (#43589995)
    I would rather have inefficient freedom than efficient tyranny.
  • Re:Job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chihowa (366380) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @10:07AM (#43590235)

    It got harder for them, because now they have to do the basic research themselves.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @10:38AM (#43590585) Homepage Journal

    Lamar Smith is stupid fucking douchebag. I think that's all that needs be said, no need to get into specifics.

  • by tubs (143128) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @10:48AM (#43590691)

    If an individual had a gun, it would neither make that person more or less likely to be violent, but it would ensure that violence of any kind involving that person is more likely to involve a gun.

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @11:01AM (#43590851) Homepage Journal
    I don't want to fund research on gun violence either.
    That's silly. If you really believe that guns don't cause the violence, and people just use the tools available to do their violence, than you should believe that a study on gun violence would confirm that.
  • by lymond01 (314120) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @11:27AM (#43591113)

    Okay, so as much as I hate to say this, referencing the Daily Show for facts is the liberal's answer to quoting Rush Limbaugh. Those shows are entertainment -- everything is taken out of context for humor or to drive home a point which may or may not be salient. John Stewart knows his stuff, certainly, and I am in no way comparing him to Mr. Limbaugh in terms of knowledge, but don't think for a minute that he presents an unbiased view of things. I'm betting the reason the gun laws were so successful in Australia has nothing to do with the laws themselves -- it has to do with the culture (as someone said). People weren't randomly killing each other en masse or in major gang warfare daily like we do here in the US of A (or however the media is presenting it).

    Because, seriously. You might need a gun in Australia, but it's for the man-eating spiders.

  • by NatasRevol (731260) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @11:28AM (#43591121) Journal

    Mexico may have strict gun laws. Not sure they actually have strict gun control though.

  • by lymond01 (314120) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @11:32AM (#43591163) mod points, but this is really the problem. If I'm of a mind to carry a gun around, it likely means I'm of a mind to use one should a problem arise. And that threshold of when I pull out my gun varies between people. Some people need to be threatened with a gun themselves; others only require your foot to get stepped on accidentally, or a dirty look. Without a gun, their only response is a likely non-lethal shouting match or at worst a fist fight (which last longer than a gun battle and are more apt to be stopped by the audience, with the audience surviving the attempt). With a gun, someone is likely to die.

    Guns have their place, but it isn't in your waistband, nor strapped to your back in an open-carry town. Those bozos carrying round rifles to inform people of their rights generated a bunch of 911 calls. Because, you know, you're carrying around rifles in the street. That's a culture change no one wants, thanks.

  • by Ryanrule (1657199) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @01:07PM (#43592231)

    libertarian = moron.

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.