Michael Todd – Whither, or Wither, Social Science at the NSF?

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socialThe Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives delivered a message to social science last week: we’ve weighed you and found you wanting. In two separate House bills that set funding for the National Science Foundation, a federal agency that pays for more than half the university-based social, behavioral and economic research in the United States, Republican lawmakers introduced specific amendments that reduced spending on social science research compared to spending for this year.

The gist of the arguments made against the social sciences is two pronged—that they’re silly (“questionable” is popular nomenclature) at worst and at best the U.S. can’t afford to pay for the research when there’s a huge and growing national debt. Part of the second argument sets up a zero-sum competition between the so-called “hard” sciences that presumably produce direct and immediate payoffs and social sciences that, in this view, don’t. There’s been a tit-for-tat feud in the House, as Republicans cite projects they find questionable–spending $270,000 to study pictures in National Geographic–while Democrats volley back with odd-sounding projects that later paid remarkable dividends–monkey brain research that now powers thought-activated prosthetic limbs.

Read more: http://www.socialsciencespace.com/whither-or-wither-social-science

See also the Open Access Sectionhttp://www.socialsciencespace.com/category/openaccess/

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