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American Science Struggles Through Budget Cuts

The U.S. is living through big cuts in basic research.  We’ll look at what that means for science and the future of American competitiveness.

Lorraine Gudas, chair of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College, participates in a "Rally for Medical Research," Monday, April 8, 2013, in Washington. The rally focused on sequestration’s cuts to NIH funding, impacting patients, jobs, and research. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Lorraine Gudas, chair of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College, participates in a “Rally for Medical Research,” Monday, April 8, 2013, in Washington. The rally focused on sequestration’s cuts to NIH funding, impacting patients, jobs and research. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

American leadership in science has been a given for most of the last century. About a third of science research and development in this country has been supported by the federal government. Funding for about 60 percent of basic research in science comes from Washington. We’ve celebrated the results, from moon shots to the Internet.

Now Washington’s cutting back, and it’s hitting American science — just when competitor nations are plowing more cash into the science frontier.

Up next On Point: On the lab bench and front lines, the sequester and more hit home in American science.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Alexandra Witze, correspondent for Nature. (@alexwitze)

Paul Alivisatos, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He’s also a professor of chemistry and materials science at the University of California Berkeley. (@PaulAlivisatos)

Ann Bonham, chief scientific officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges and professor of pharmacology and internal medicine at the University of California Davis.

Barney Keller, communications director of the Club for Growth, a 501(c)(4) organization that promotes reining in government spending. (@barneykeller)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: NIH Cuts Began Ahead Of Sequester – “The National Institutes of Health began reducing research-grant payments to scientists at universities and hospitals around the country over recent months, even before the across-the-board federal spending cuts took effect…NIH Director Francis S. Collins said spending will be cut by 5% at each of the NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, including the National Cancer Institute; the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, and the National Institute on Aging. ‘Everything will take a hit,’ he said.”

The Washington Post: The Coming R&D Crash – “At its peak in 2009, the federal government funded some 31 percent of all R&D in the country, with private firms and universities financing the rest. The array of federal programs is staggering, from semiconductor work at the Pentagon to climate-change research at NOAA to clinical trials for cancer at the National Institutes for Health. About half of the spending here is ‘basic’ research and half ‘applied’ research. Yet as a recent report from ITIF explains, this landscape is set to shift now that Congress is putting strict limits on discretionary spending. If the sequester spending cuts take effect on Mar. 1, total spending on research and development will drop to 2007 levels and grow only slowly thereafter.”

Politico: NIH Director Francis Collins: Medical Research At Risk – “From his perch at the National Institutes of Health’s sprawling campus in Bethesda, Md., Director Francis Collins is eyeing the impending sequestration cuts warily. If lawmakers don’t find a way to blunt the across-the-board cuts, the government’s premier medical research center will lose 6.4 percent of its budget — a cut Collins calls a ‘profound and devastating blow’ for medical research at a time of unprecedented scientific discovery.”

The New York Times: Opinion: Laureates Urge No Cuts to Budgets for Research – “More than 50 Nobel laureates are urging Congress to spare the federal science establishment from the looming budget cuts known as the sequester, saying that research has endured years of budget reductions and that additional cuts could endanger “the innovation engine that is essential to our economy.”

Tweets From During The Show

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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    I fail to see why the US cannot form a Federal Lottery to support specific science projects, that we the people could vote on with our purchase of “that” projects lottery ticket. Did we not just have a 600 million dollar lottery prize ? With better payouts, it would have been even higher !

    • donniethebrasco

       Along that same idea, my belief is that along with filing taxes, tax payers should be asked where they want their taxes to go.

      It would be non-binding.  There would be less than 10 choices along the line of:

      Where do you want your taxes to go:

      1. Defense        30%
      2. Education      30%
      3. Help the poor 10%
      4. Environment   10%
      5. Foreign Aid     10%
      6. Administration 5%
      7. Other

      Then the government would compile this information and report how different/similar they are.

      • JobExperience

        All tax levies should be subject to taxpayer designation.  It should be binding. Otherwise it’s a waste of tax money. Another lottery would only intensify income and wealth concentration, which is now our biggest problem.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    This is what happens when people blinded with anger are given power.

    • HonestDebate1

      “Austerity”, that’s funny.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        No it’s not.
        Neither are you.

        • HonestDebate1

          I stand corrected. The notion we are seeing anything close to even freezing spending much less cutting it is funny. And labeling this austerity is hilarious.

      • jefe68

        That’s sick, Dishonest debate.

        • HonestDebate1

          Saying this is austerity is not only dishonest, it’s insane.

    • donniethebrasco

      It is a farce to see what qualifies for “science” in the United States.  It is more political correctness masquerading as science.

      http://cnsnews.com/news/article/feds-spend-15-million-study-why-lesbians-are-fat

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Funny how people who wish to speak about “masquerading” link to…Conservative News Service?

        Hahahahaha.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        Funny… if you were actually current on public health, you might have a clue why studying obesity is important… But who am I to even attempt to reveal the mysteries of life to the ignorant US.

      • LinRP

         donnie, this post of yours deserves this:

        “Ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about, yet refuse to investigate.”

  • donniethebrasco

    When more and more of the economy relies on taxes, there will continue to be more and more cuts.

    The goose that lays the golden eggs are the private sector.  The public sector has been unwilling to wait for the eggs.  The government actions are equivalent to open the goose up and get the eggs.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      It must be a sweet gig to just regurgitate all the things every Beltway Inbred “knows” because of the right’s firehose of arglebargle. Saves having to make a real case.

      Except here you don’t get to run out the clock by lying your ass off leaving your opponents scrambling to correct the misstatements.

      • JobExperience

        Tom: Oops, we’re out of time. We’ll just have to let your falsehoods and halftruths stand until the next right wing pundit can reinforce them. Pass the Brawny towels, please. We’re finished swapping spit.

    • JobExperience

      Corporatism sucks the golden eggs.

  • John Cedar

     

    {yawn} Research spending returned to 2007 levels? ‘doubt
    that is true, but if so, we will be fine at that level for a while. However,
    with federal spending at the austere sum of  a bazillion dollars per year, there are plenty of give away
    programs that could be cut instead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

    Even if we funded scientific endeavors at the levels we did in the past or at the levels that one would expect in a modern nation that expects to maintain its power, does the United States, at this point, even have the intellectual chops to engage in real scientific research? After all, over half the country thinks the universe was created six thousand years ago by a supernatural being in the sky. 

    • viacarrozza

      The only ones who matter in the game of innovation are the outliers.  The archaic beliefs of the masses ultimately hold no sway although these beliefs can impede swift progress.

      • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

        Indeed, but when those masses send representatives who believe as they do to the U.S. Congress and that Congress controls the purse strings, then it becomes an issue.

  • Markus6

    Can we have some real data on current spending levels. And not just how much it’s being reduced, but how our spending levels compare to other parts of the world. 

    I don’t think it is, but it might be like defense spending cuts. Republicans cite reductions of X% in defense, but never mention that we’re still spending 5 times what the second place country (China) is spending. 

    I have no data on this, but looking at how governments operate, I’m guessing that 30% of the spending is an absolute waste of time and a function of a politician’s ability to bring home the bacon. However, I worry that cuts being made would not be of this research, but would include research that is truly valuable.

  • Acnestes

    It is to this country’s shame and  disgrace that we have reached a point that this should even need to be a subject for debate.

    • JobExperience

      The Nazis keep demanding a do-over….

  • creaker

    You have to question what the value of this research is these days for most Americans anyway when the private sector walks off with any worthwhile results to use in overseas factories.

    Government funded research these days is just another big ticket entitlement for corporations.

    • donniethebrasco

      Two ways R&D is done:

      Direct cash through grants from the federal government and private foundations for basic research at universities whether or not it is commercially viable.

      Spending by corporations for patentable, commercially viable technologies.

      Both are positive, but there needs to be better controls on university research.  Some is politically motivated.

      There has been skewed data to support global warming, but I would support “carbon capture” research.

  • donniethebrasco

    ii

  • donniethebrasco
    • JJT123

      From your own right-wing link. What a terrible thing to do with tax money, developing public health data that can be applied to a wide swath of the population:

       
      “It will be impossible to develop evidence-based
      preventive interventions unless we first answer basic questions about
      causal pathways, as we plan to do,” they said. “Our study has high
      potential for public health impact not only for sexual minorities but
      also for heterosexuals, as we seek to uncover how processes of gender
      socialization may exacerbate obesity risk in both sexual minority
      females and heterosexual males.” 

    • Jasoturner

      Clearly this proves all research is wasteful and fraudulent.  You have won today’s comments section.

  • Jim

    there are too many religious and narrow minded people in Washington DC who refuses to acknowledge evolution… so what gives… a religious conservative or a progressive liberal? this is the $64,000 question.

    • donniethebrasco

       What research is being spent on evolution?  It doesn’t seem to be a big area of research.

      • JobExperience

         It’s largely proven so why waste funds?
        Details confirm the larger theory as time goes on.
        The Bible seems crazier the more we find out.

    • JasonB

      sure, but these religious folks seem to be fine spending hundreds of billions on war. 

      • JobExperience

        Mass extermination of alternatives is their way of proving the Gospels.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bruce.lanphear Bruce Lanphear

    As a NIH-funded researcher, I have benefited greatly from investments in research. But a critical historical perspective suggests that we should:

    1. expand our search for causes (i.e., environmental risk factors), more than cures (new drugs). 

    2. focus on improvements in public health (air pollution controls, reducing exposures to toxics) more than molecular mechanisms.

    There is considerable evidence that we can prevent many common chronic diseases — and it will be cost-beneficial — but it will require us to limit short-term industry profits.

    Thus far, we have been put short-term profits ahead of prevention and public health.

     

    • donniethebrasco

       NIH spends money on figuring out why lesbians are fat.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Please, someone else with a record of real sourcing cite me a contexted quote.

        • JobExperience

          Your doctor may want to add ABILIFY.
          (Kind of an A-thingy that follows you and your meds around.)

      • jefe68

        I think the NIH should do a study on people of your ilk. To find out why they post nonsense.

  • Michiganjf

    At a time when we’re more dependent than ever on science to help solve critical, mounting problems…

    at a time when we sorely need the jobs that scientific innovation generates…

    at a time when science is under attack by the ignorant, who would gleefully take us all back to the stone age in many ways…

    … at this critical juncture, politicians are still pushing tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent, corporate welfare (subsidies), and a larger military!

    These jokers really need to get their priorities straight!

  • JasonB

    I can’t believe we spend countless dollars killing people around the world and nation building, while spending less on scientific discovery. We are giving it all to other nations. 

  • donniethebrasco

    Do we know if the majority of the cuts are in Defense research?  Where is the cutting?

    Is the cutting in medicine?  Why can’t they get funding through licensing their discoveries?

  • Dab200

    US is doomed if it doesn’t wake up and puts its priorities in the right order. More more/higher percentage is spent on defense than on research that is simple stupid! 

  • donniethebrasco

    The woman pictured above, Lorraine Gudas, was accused of defrauding the NIH by filing false claims for federal research grant money.

    http://www.cornellsun.com/node/36187

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Tom, at what point does the combination of

    Republican politician

    and

    Fox News interview

    add up to

    aren’t qualified to say word one about science?

  • creaker

    The thing that is very different these days – if your money is largely invested in China and India, who do you want to succeed?

  • http://www.facebook.com/KobiTirey Kobi Tirey

    I try to keep an open mind, but one of the reasons I have no faith in the Republican Party is that they put the entrepreneur on a pedestal while dragging the scientific community’s through the mud. It’s the one-two punch that has made this country great, but right now we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. In the past we asked the scientific community to cure polio, end WWII, and take us to the moon. Now it’s time for us to answer their call or perish. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      So, basically the GOP is trying to “reform” scientific research the same way they they want to “reform” public education, it sounds.

      I’ve always been fascinated by the right’s ability to know everything that education needs, while not being teachers. Is it the same thing in science?

  • donniethebrasco

    The fraud and malfeasance in the research industry is mind boggling.

    • Dab200

      There is none in defense? How much money simply disappeared in Iraq?

      • donniethebrasco

         Most of the research cuts are in defense.

        • JobExperience

          They had to be because it got the most money to begin with. I forgot you can’t grasp percentages.

  • JasonB

    I love science. I’m finishing my PhD now. I’ve decided to search for jobs as far outside of science itself as I can. It’s turned into a Ponzi scheme. We are training more doctoral students in the life sciences than there are jobs available, and now we are reducing funding. We are graduating people who spend many years training to be a quality scientist only to find themselves unemployed or underemployed. 

    • donniethebrasco

       You can make $20,000 in a lab.  Worth the $250,000 you spent on your degree.

      • Give_Me_Liberty_92

        apocalyptic nonsense. a PhD is paid for tuition and fees and you can get a BS with less than 1/5 that amount in any decent state University, like I did. A PhD with plenty of a good postdoc training starting in a private company makes from as little as $80,000 here in Boston and he gets to 100,000 in 3 years if you can work you butt off. $20,000 is not even the salary of my janitor….you obviously have no clue.

        Let’s face it: The federal government has subsidized an excess of medical research for 20-25 years, from 1995 to 2010 the budged triplicated, therefore overtraining a large pool of biomed scientists, at a rate as large as 10X the past. It’s basic economics. Only a dummy could have thought that there would have been an academic job for everyone. Now it is time for those scientists to realize that they have to look for their fortune elsewhere, and for those remaining inside academia it may be time to reconsider the wisdom of the tenure for life and the priority of their research programs (I trained at Harvard and even that place is full of people working on marginal problems that generate marginal peer reviewed papers). 

        It is not a tragedy, but an opportunity. After a life spent in the ivory tower it may come as a shocking news, but there is plenty of interesting research work to do outside academia….

  • Dab200

    We have one major Party that doesn’t believe in science and these are the results!

    • donniethebrasco

      The democrats don’t believe in science.  They believe in junk science.

      • JobExperience

         It’s a one party corporate state where 90% of citizens have no say. You probably think pro-wrestling is legit too. Cheer loud for the Flying Flunkie.

    • Give_Me_Liberty_92

      nonsense. that’s not the core of the issue. just because some of them have silly positions on global worming or evolutions you cannot generalize, not for the present GOP, not historically, that the GOP is anti-scientific research. 

      after all federal research peaked under Bush, during an era full of christian conservatives…. what is true is that the NIH budget grew from 11 billion dollars in 1995 to 30 billion dollars in 2010 (current $). 36 billions with supplemental appropriations. unsustainable, some may argue.it was a nice ride but it ends at some point.I think the fiscal concern on the right is sincere (have you looked at the federal budget projections recently?) and that perhaps it is time to redirect resources and optimize the investment of the current funding.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1605881770 Becky MacDougall Chen

    My husband will finish his residency in pathology at BWH this July.  He has an MD/PhD and lots of lab experience.  Only 1 of his class of 12 or 13 of MD/PhDs (who started their training in 2001) has decided to go on to bench research.  The rest have decided to do clinical work or go into private biotech because the risk is too great that, after all of this work and training, you will not be able to secure enough grant money to keep going. Most of them feel they were a bit “duped” into thinking that being a primary investigator with their own lab is a realistic goal.

    • Jasoturner

      Brigham rules.  Good luck to your husband.  It is a shame that being a PI is considered too risky, but given everything I’m hearing, running and getting funding for a lab does sound like a very dicey proposition.

  • Annie Tye

    One problem seems to be that we’ve forgotten how amazing the discovery of the polio vaccine was in terms of improving quality of life. The current movement against vaccinating children is oftentimes quite dangerous. Furthermore, the denial of evolution undermines science as a whole. So sad! Science is amazing!!

    • donniethebrasco

      Let’s go back to the 1950′s to justify spending today.

      Let’s spend at the level of GDP.

      • JobExperience

        Let’s do. Let’s go back before you were born.

    • JobExperience

       Science today is a political football and the superstitious religious team is scoring because the refs are bought.

  • Coastghost

    Oh, let’s endorse instead Paul Feyerabend’s AGAINST METHOD: let’s begin to separate the odious and dangerous connections between State and Science. With neo-positivist and crypto-positivist scientism running amok in academia and research labs to this day, why not sever ALL connections between the apparatus of state and the ambitions of science? Obama wants the State to master “the mapping of the human brain” with all the gee-whiz benefits to be accrued: but who wants Obama’s nanny state meddling inside their cranium? CUT all Federal scientific funding: or are we more concerned with the supremacy and preciousness of scientific expertise than with the plodding lives of pedestrian citizens? Jonathan Swift coined the Flying Island of Laputa almost three centuries ago: Laputa flies as ably today without Federal subsidization, just as CPB/NPR/PRI/APM ostensibly would do if we decided to forego the pretense of “public radio”.

  • Annie Tye

    One problem seems to be that we’ve forgotten how amazing the discovery of the polio vaccine was in terms of improving quality of life. The current movement against vaccinating children is just plain scary, in many cases! Furthermore, the denial of evolution undermines science as a whole. So sad! Science is amazing!!

    • JobExperience

       This area of controversy is more complicated than you assume. If you give a good thing to big bidness they will ruin it trying to increase profits.

  • AARNSTEN

    I am a neuroscientist at Yale working on the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. We do highly specialized work- there are only a few of us in the world capable of doing the type of work we do, and if we don’t get funding this research will disappear. We may have discovered a way to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and yet we have had a terrible time getting funding for it. As Alzheimer’s Disease costs a fortune to care for patients, (predicted to rise to over 1 trillion a year by 2050), it is simply crazy not to support our basic research.

    • donniethebrasco

       I think you have a vested interest in your argument.

      • creaker

        And people who profit from the disease remaining unpreventable don’t?

        • JobExperience

           Sometimes I think cold fusion has been demonstrated and that cars can run on tap water…. but corporate secrecy means we’ll never know for sure.

      • AARNSTEN

        Of course! A lifetime of research trying to solve disease! 

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         IMO Alzheimer’s and brain research is critically important.  Much more important than studying fat lesbians.

        However, your comment reminds me of this quote:

        “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”-Upton Sinclair

      • JobExperience

         Symptoms are already showing.

    • JobExperience

       I can see why you feel threatened.
      You could have made more money for the Wealthy if you’d discovered a daily  $100 pill to stave off dementia.

      • AARNSTEN

        Have you ever had a loved one wither away from Alzheimer’s or some other terrible cognitive disorder? Watched your loving, thoughtful son become psychotic and terrified by his own thoughts? In my experience, people who have not suffered often do not understand what this is really about

        • JobExperience

          Yes, that very thing has happened to me twice in the last decade. That  is why I prefer research on causes and prevention over research on treatment schemes. You said you’d found a “cure”. What did you mean by that claim?

  • creaker

    On the Alzheimer’s discussion – what she’s saying is that research should be done so the folks getting all those billions because of the disease won’t get it anymore. Those folks have an economic incentive for that research never taking place.

    • JobExperience

      The corporate mentality could never allow Alzheimer’s to be prevented or cured. They need to make it (and every condition) a lifelong maintenance proposition using their secret formulas to stay alive. Are your kids Roundup Ready?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Okay, this is where public radio needs a liberal guest to counter the Club for Growth guy’s stuff, rather than just say “on the one hand on the other”.

    Can anyone booking guests figure this out?

    • JobExperience

       They figured “this” out.
      Pick a guest to please the funding Oligarchs.

  • ToyYoda

    I’m worried about what will happen with the scientists that survive.  Will they be lured by big pharma money or industrial money?  Will research be driven toward a drug end goal, or a patentable invention instead of basic research driven by curiousity and the beauty of nature?

    What about other sciences outside of medicine?

  • donniethebrasco

    Research into absurd science supports the administrators at Harvard, Yale, etc.

  • beeste

    Blood from a stone.  Sure, there are efficiencies that are found anywhere, but it will come out of the scientist’s salaries.  After a 6 year PhD in Boston averaging ~27 K/year in stipend, I’m now in my 3rd year of a postdoc just cracking 39 K/year.  I’m a PhD in my early 30s trying to start a family, and working enough hours/week to be looking at essentially minimum hourly wage.  Government asks people to become scientists?  Well I’d like to see anyone asking for a bigger sacrifice, you have to love it.  My college classmates made there fortunes on Wall Street, and I’m clipping coupons.  Sure, find efficiencies.  But the fact is efficiency means America will lose it’s scientific edge.

  • Plant doc

    There’s another impact of decreases research funding. Increasingly over the past 20 years, research universities have come to depend on grant overhead. In many Federal research programs, over 50% of grant dollars go to universities to support research infrastructure and administration, grant overhead. As research money dries up, we lose basic physical capacity to support it.

    Personally, I have supported technicians and students for over 25 years, but am thinking that it is taking too much time and energy to continue to do that, even if I am fortunate enough to be funded. I work in agricultural research, and the overhead from USDA is generally much lower than that for other agencies. As a result, my administrators value our labs grant success less than they might if someone were getting grants from, say NIH. All the signs say that rather than working on alternatives to pesticides, I should let Monsanto do our ag. research.

  • donniethebrasco

    It is so hard to argue against someone who has facts and numbers.

    I feel so good to spend to help people. Who cares how much it is?

    I don’t make any money, so someone else has to pay anyway.

    Robin Hood politics once again on NPR.

    • JobExperience

      My suspicion is that you have nothing to share.

      • jefe68

        What do expect from a troll, intelligence?

    • StilllHere

      This board is full of academics and public employees sucking at the government’s teat.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Can someone on this show push the Club for Growth guy to use percentages instead of big scary context-free numbers?

    Or talk to him about tax receipts v. the business cycle?

    This is not economics rocket science, Tom.

    • Rick Evans

      I’m no fan of Club for Growth politics. However the use of percentages is more misleading than absolute numbers. And, how are the numbers “context-free” in the context of discussing the use of federal dollars? Percentages hide context. For example a 33% drop in murders is a lot more significant when it goes from 100 to 67 than when it goes from 3 to 2.

  • Give_Me_Liberty_92

    People, lighten up! life in research can exist outside academia!
     US universities have produced an excess of biomed PhDs over the past 20 years because of well funded -perhaps not sustainable-federal programs, so it was bound to happen that not everybody would be able to get a cozy tenured job in academia. I was one of them in spite of a respectable CV of training an publications.But you know what? industry, which spends the remaining 66% share of money in research, needs smart and creative scientists too, and a PhD can be spent in many other non-research areas that can deeply contribute to society.

    so, move on to better and greater things outside the ivory tower…..

    if you are smart you will be able to be just as free and creative.

  • JoeAlvin

    These cuts aren’t just affecting future scientist, doctors, and patients! As a PhD student at Vanderbilt University, this impotent and senile congress are ushering current students out of R&D positions into jobs quickly being filled by “insourced” H1B visas. We are becoming a lost generation of minds.

    • Jasoturner

      It may be more than just a generation I’m afraid…

  • JasonB

    Your guest might think these studies he is citing are absurd, but they aren’t. Anytime we seek to answer a question that we don’t know the answer to, we are increasing our worth of knowledge. And often, when we conduct studies like this, we find that the answer is something other than what we thought we knew. For instance, someone once studied why giraffes have long necks (from an evolutionary standpoint). At the time, the common belief was that it was to reach higher food sources, but it was discovered that giraffes eat primarily from the leaves lower to the ground. Now, the primary hypothesis is that they evolved long necks as a trait acquired in battling for mates. 

    • donniethebrasco

       I’d like to do some research into why beer foams if it is hit with another beer bottle.

      Give me some money.

      • JobExperience

        Underaged teenagers in a parking lot will fund your project. Leave taxpayers in peace.

  • donniethebrasco

    Climate change nut – Dr. A. Paul Alivisatos

  • geraldfnord

    Oh! whatever will the man from the ‘Club for Growth’ say? —I doubt it would be something that boils down to ‘what rich men and companies want is what should happen and that anything in which they are not interested is unworthy of existence’.

    Really, the short-term horizon and self-interested bias of modern companies and the idiosyncratic nature of private funding guaranties that we will need government funding of research, and often it will be research with no immediate, obvious, benefit (like those solar energy, ‘I.C. chip’, ‘human genome’ [which started with fruit flies] , and ‘ARPAnet’ boondoggles).

    But then again, seed corn is so _tasty_.

    • JobExperience

      We’re basing our system of laws on a boardgame.
      Money is a cultural fiction based upon social contract.

  • JJT123

    Ask Barney Keller if he believes in evolution or intelligent design.

    • donniethebrasco

      Has anyone spent any federal research money on intelligent design?

      I see that question as religious, not scientific.

      • JobExperience

        They found out Noah made more room on the Ark by recruiting pairs of baby dinosaurs only. Also, it was a Fuji apple Eve ate, but Adam had a Stamen. (analysis of corprolites in Iraq) Jesus wore his hair in a mullet (shroud of Turin).

  • William

    Tom, calm down…it matters, each special interest is crying very loud at the mere thought of giving up a few dollars….

  • donniethebrasco

    Ethanol uses more energy than it creates.

    It takes 1.1 gallons of gas to make 1 gallon of ethanol.

    It also raises the price of food so that third world people die of starvation.

    So, ethanol helps control world population?

    Well, at least something good comes from it.

    • beeste

       Ethanol in the US is a dream of corn subsidies, not research scientists.  When the US takes over Brazil, that may change but for today please do not include ethanol in this conversation.  You’ll note it was something George W Bush talked about, not Obama.  Why do you think that is?

      • JobExperience

         And, nutjobs can drink it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mathias-Detamore/12926446 Mathias Detamore

    Why does scientific research need to merely be attached to the development of economic gains? Capitalism has highjacked what we determine is “legitimate” research, when much of the so-called frivilous research, especially in the social sciences, is meant to bring to light social inequity and disadvantage that is embedded in the capitalist apparatus.

    • JobExperience

       Exactly! What is most profitable is usually not the best thing for most people.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    “Should science be tightening its belt along with everyone else”? asks our host.

    Hey, Tom, how many public radio programs do I need to hear until I find one which doesn’t presume the idea that austerity is good?

    We got a Club for Growth guy here, who knows nothing about science, and no liberal economist to battle him?

    • donniethebrasco

      Austerity comes from the slow killing of the capitalist golden goose.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        You forgot to say “fat lesbian research”. You’re slipping.

        • JobExperience

          Hormones acting up, need more underarm AXIRON. Warning: may drive right wing ideologues to terrorism.

  • geraldfnord

    Bubble chambers were developed from an insight into where beer-bubbles form.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270700321 Kathy Hutson

    The private sector is absolutely the WRONG place for research for the good.  Private business is working for a profit, not the public good or public knowledge.  Just look at the proprietary actions placed on genes, pharmaceuticals, etc.

    • donniethebrasco

       It is not a question whether scientific research should exist, but how much should be spent.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Now Kathy, I’ve heard that Monsanto’s new soybean is equipped with a radio chip which signals if it’s being planted a second season, in violation of the license agreement.

      That’s the kind of progess we can’t put a price on.

      Oh, wait.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Great comment. Profit has no place in education, healthcare, infrastructure improvement, or scientific advancement. Every time it is the primary focus, profitability becomes a barrier not a booster.

  • donniethebrasco

    What qualifies as medical research – Why are Lesbians fat?

    • JobExperience

       Maybe it’s your thyroid, Donna.

  • donniethebrasco

    Punk review process.

  • beeste

    Please ask the Club from Growth guest to name one blockbuster pharmaceutical designed without the benefit of its fundamental research funded by government grants? 

  • Coastghost

    Feyerabend’s substantive argument is that separation of Science from State is as critical today as separation as Church from State was in days of yore. The State has enough power, thank you, without appropriating technologies and applications that will only further cow our docile herds of humanity. End the connections between Science and State sooner rather than later.

    • JobExperience

       The Koch’s are far better at turning ideology into findings.

    • Jasoturner

      I think Feyerabend has some pretty radical ideas about science and the scientific method, so his opinions about government funded research may be more complicated than one expects.  Nonetheless, it is hard to see how important basic research would be carried out without state support.  And some of this research – think NIH funded research – clearly contributes to an improvement in the quality of life that we lead.

  • geraldfnord

    Until the Renaissance and then the Enlightenment, satire was usually reactionary, as it’s much easier to mock new things which seem absurd than old things that actually are.

    (The change: once we had some idea of how much better things _could_ be, we could see the absurdity of many of the traditional things.)

  • donniethebrasco

    The evil of religious conservatives.  So SPEND MORE!

    • geraldfnord

      An entirely measured, fair, and rational assessment of our _real_ views… you have found us out sir, and only our heavy pay-cheques from Mr Soros—pardon, I meant ‘Satan’—will ease our shame an iota.

      • JobExperience

         His tune will change when he’s diagnosed with an “orphan disease.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnmichael.battaglia John-Michael Battaglia

    Why should the general public be surprised to discover that America continues to suffer a decline in the field of science and scientific research through a “brain drain” and a reduction in federal funding? 

    After all, who else is responsible for electing the current crop of scientifically ignorant politicians to our pitifully dysfunctional Congress? You get what you pay for. 

    If the public continues to elect irrational, anti-scientific people, who place more stock in the irrationality of effervescent political ideologies and unprovable religious belief systems, then the public deserves the suffer for placing in power such greedy whores to our new corporatocracy. Not just now, but for a long time into the future.

  • http://www.facebook.com/josie.bateman Josie Bateman

    As a medic professional myself, beneficiary of research medically and spouse of a researcher who spend so much of his 30+ years in basic science actually writing grants, as more and more got turned down as funding dried up and basic science is no “sexy”, (I ask and this is with all due respect), should those of retirement age respectfully step back to allow the younger “outside of the box thinkers” be allowed a chance of win grant funding. The older “more famous” researchers still have an advantage over the unknowns when it comes to distributing the funds from the NIH.

    Thank you for the ability to participate Tom, you run a great program.

    • donniethebrasco

       You have a self-interest in your argument.  Of course you are for government spending in basic research.

      • http://www.facebook.com/josie.bateman Josie Bateman

        Thank you for your comment donniethebrasco, No! I am for research! and funds available for thus, though distributed differently, allowing and encouraging our youth to take on their own different projects and approaches. (None of my children are in research…….no self interest)

  • J__o__h__n

    Club for Growth isn’t a Republican organization?  I forgot that it is a social welfare organization. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Now John, didn’t you see the Club for Growth trucks distributing blankets, bottled water and hot meals in Moore, OK last week?

      • JobExperience

        No, they were  handing out Gander Mountain coupons to White men to go buy more guns and ammo.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        CFG participating in nanny gvt?

        It’s really “The club for growth of the wealth of the romney types”

  • JJT123

    Barney Keller’s last job was working for a special-interest politician who denies global warming, evolution, and scientific sexual health studies. Can we trust Keller on these issues at all?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1667042363 Guen Reyes

    We are turning into a third world country, slowly but surely; more than bridges will collapse as we see with the lack of important scientific research funding, not holding financial institutions and big oil accountable or culpable, etc…the US is at the mercy of politicians who are destroying this country from the inside out

    • donniethebrasco

      We are turning into a third world country because of all of the Robin Hood/redistribution policies.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        Wrong, as usual. The downward spiral is a result of our complacency. 100% of the population complains about the government, what percentage actually votes? The gerrymandered district nightmare would begin to come unraveled if we ALL got involved. Bet you have nightmares like that.

      • StilllHere

        Exactly, that’s how the unwinding began.

  • Elizabeth_in_RI

    I’ll bet if your male guest were subject to hot flashes he wouldn’t be speaking in a such a condescending way about research focused on alternative means of treating various symptoms women deal with during menopause or other life stages. Somehow there is always money for military research or other masculine pursuits…

  • geraldfnord

    So silly to research hot-flashes! They only will affect about half of us, and the girly (and so less important*) part of the population.

    .

    .

    *Real Men have always found women suspiciously effeminate….

    • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.harshav Barbara Harshav

      Right!  I was part of that acupuncture and hot flashes study; it was hardly frivolous!

  • jim_thompson

    Your guest from the Club for Growth who says they are not a Republican organization is laughable.  Of course it is a GOP front group.  Any assertion otherwise lacks credibiltiy.

    Jim in Fort Mill,SC

  • http://www.facebook.com/victoria.n.johnson.71 Victoria Nichols Johnson

    If the private sector takes over all research, who is going to teach these researchers how to research?  Money must go to learning institutions for this.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      The private sector doesn’t do basic research very well. They’ve cut back over time due to short term orientation and corporate top-down management steers their scientists into low risk, low reward projects. Their performance is a joke compared to university labs.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Heck, their track record in pharmaceuticals is a pretty good gloombringer: Just tweaking things a bit so Patented Drug X can be repatented and remain exclusive. Creating new drugs for many over-prescribed conditions (see Colbert’s riff on about 30 blood pressure meds last week) because they can be prescribed.

        At some point it has to be realized that chasing a market doesn’t equal open-ended research.

  • NOLALiz

    This guy is an idiot. Indirect costs covers the cost of the institutions since funding for research has been going to private companies (politicians buying their next job) and state and federal funds to schools have been reduced (so we can fund things like abstinence only sex ed).
    This is so stupid and short sighted. I have to turn this off. Makes me so angry. Fewer and fewer chances to get students funded. And some set of small minded, today thinking, partisans… grr…. grr….
    The USA becomes a third world country. And these jerks will say it is because of some moral reason, not a lapse of critical thinking. Grr…

  • AC

    i wonder if researchers for viagra have had issues getting $$. sorry i missed this show :(
    sounds like there were lots of well-rounded opinions – not.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      That’s a funny and pithy line, AC.

      It belongs up there with

      “If men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

  • https://profiles.google.com/112518337782686917659 Taylor

    I am currently a medical student doing a research year between my 3rd and 4th years, about to apply to residency programs.  My personal interest has always been academic medicine and I’ve had a strong interest in translational research but, between federal funding cuts (which have already had very real effects on my research- the funding mechanism I was using for sequencing tumors is now unavailable) and changes to graduate student loans it has become a very hard field to enter.  Not only is the chance of competing for grant money significantly reduced but MD candidates’ financial aid packages have changed (loss of subsidised stafford, addition of loan origination fees) such that we will be carrying more debt– a huge deterrent to entering academic medicine where salaries,  even if successfully competing for grants, are substantially less.

  • Coastghost

    Distinctly odd how spokespersons for science routinely invoke the appeal of “the future”: even though the sciences of astronomy and photography assure us that the only temporal state admitting to baryonic description and depiction is the temporal state of the past: the future miraculously never arrives, the present remains only an extrapolation of the past.

  • Michiganjf

    Tom,

       that story your guest told was an important example, as many OBVIOUSLY don’t know that seemingly “frivolous” science can end up leading to ground-breaking discoveries which revolutionize a field… this allows people like your conservative guest to mislead their adherents with mindless rhetoric and scare tactics.

    You were too quick to say “yes, yes, we know that silly sounding science can end up being very important.”

    … Your guest made a great point!

  • Faizab

    I am a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt in the biomedical research field… years of training and if we still do it with among the lowest salaries for highly educated people, it means that we not only care but are passionate about research and science and want to make breakthroughs and help improve health of everyone hence health of the country. That’s being said I don’t know how I could compete and become a principal investigator myself with such a slash in funding- it’s the killing of the Leader in the Science that is the US home to the best scientists and Nobel laureates…

  • DrTing

     Science
    is data; finding it; looking at it, thinking about it. For much of the world
    data seems quite dull, but for the scientist, data contains hidden within it
    small sparks which can set the imagination on fire (from http://www.studentvision.org). No funding in
    USA, we still do science. Collaborate with good scientists from China &
    Europe?

  • TomK_in_Boston

    This is almost too depressing to comment. Cutting science is insane killing of the golden goose. Why?

    Short term focus makes the private sector unable to do basic research. So it’s done in university labs, flows to startups, and then gets picked up by the big cos. The system works. The benefits are clearly seen everywhere. Why cripple it?

    The exodus of the good students is already evident. Chinese students, eg, can stay in the USA, like they used to do, or go home and get great jobs in rapidly expanding new facilities, like the USA in the 60s.

    • Trond33

      Increasingly, those foreign students have no interests in staying in the U.S…. and a lot of American graduates are following them overseas.  Too little has been written about the U.S. brain drain.  It is ongoing and will only pickup steam in the next two decades.  

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Also a lot of the best math and computer science students who stay head to wall st to study how to win in the casino instead of how to make a new drug or solar cell. That’s a brain drain, too.

        The financial sector, which at one point accounted for 40% of GDP, is a real cancer on the USA.

    • Jasoturner

      In a decade or two, will our brightest head to China and India in pursuit of opportunity and interesting work?  Perhaps so.

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Do you also worry about the “extermination” of the independent American inventor – because that has been happening over the last 30 years.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    I understand that Michelle Rhee has been run out of yet another town on a rail because people have caught on to her idea of destroying education labelled as saving it.

    Maybe there’s a future for her in the similar field of “reforming scientific research”.

    • jefe68

      I find that to be interesting. What she advocates for is not about education, it’s about reform at the expense of education. 

  • Kathy

    We shouldn’t be cutting science. It’s an investment. We shouldn’t be cutting education, infrastructure, or a thousand other things either.

  • DrTing

    Do
    a fee for service for biotech pharma? e.g.
    assay? PCR? Microarray? DNA sequencing, even new drug
    screening?

    also
    sell some or your reagents from your lab (e.g. DNA, RNA, antibodies etc) to
    biotech pharma?

    You may
    get a foot in the door for your future job!

    • Shark2007

       You clearly don’t understand the difference between basic science and applied science. The government funded research does not allow you to sell your the side products of your research for cash. Besides it would be an even bigger distraction than applying for grants.

  • Kathy

    We need those fighters! There’s no way we could ever do without them as long as the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact still threaten us!

  • DrTing

    Need to
    mix biz with science & we scientists need to learn how to sell (be
    independent?)

    We
    need to build a bridge with academia and industry (from http://www.nobel-pauling.org).

    We
    need to use practical science for solving problems or prevent/cure
    diseases

    • TomK_in_Boston

      We do that now

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Don’t forget, OFFENSE is expensive too.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      And the Offense always results in additional Defense.
      Vicious Circle.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Funding is cut to the science community and the science community complains.  No surprise.  The science community made some good points about real problems with the cuts.

    Perhaps the system needs reform.  There was no introspection.  They couldn’t even admit that they waste money on silly grants.  It appears the cuts are falling hardest on the young scientists.  Another way of the looking at this, the entrenched powers are being protected.  Again, no surprise.

    I’ve always wondered why government science research isn’t self funding — over the long haul.  Does the government cede all intellectual property ownership? Are there no royalty payments from big pharma, etc.?

    • TomK_in_Boston

      You divert as usual. The money spent on silly grants is invisible, nothing, compared to the great work being done. The only reason to bring it up is to attack vs having a serious discussion.

      The system works. We have had world leadership since the end of WW2. Why mess with it?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         No room for improvement?  Sorry, I don’t buy it.

        We had Bell Labs at the end of WWII.  Alas no more.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          I feel bad for you, Worried. Most of us by about age 10 can recognize the trick of cloaking an attack as an attempt to improve something. We wouldn’t be wasting our time talking about a system that has worked so well if it weren’t for the anti-gvt ideologues.

          “Alas” no more Bell Labs? I don’t think so, from your point of view. Bell Labs was possible because of the AT&T telephone monopoly. Free from market pressure and the need to tweak quarterly earnings, they were free to spend on basic research. As soon as competition was introduced to the telephone market, the basic research was cancelled. The Bell story makes it crystal clear that basic research can’t be done by the corporate sector. Somehow I think you missed that message.

    • jefe68

      Silly grants? The anti-science expert has spoken.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         Thanks for adding to the discussion.

        Wouldn’t it have been refreshing for the guests to acknowledge mistakes were made and they could do better?

        • jefe68

          Mistakes are made by all sorts of entities.
          In science there are going to be mistakes, ideas that fail, and experiments that have negative results. One wonders how penicillin would have ever been developed with a mindset that you have.
          This is about funding, or the lack there of.

          This whole thing goes hand in hand with the idea of austerity and cutting spending.
          It’s in line with the lack of funding for infrastructure, education, healthcare and many more programs that we as a nation need to grow. Without them we will become a huge backwater nation. 

          Is this what you want? 

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             I’m open to spending MORE on basic research in certain areas but that doesn’t mean we don’t NEED to get on a track to a balanced budget.

            I agree with Barney Keller — it is about priorities.  The Feds are awash in money.  Cut the crap — spend on the good.

            btw — I agree education is important but I haven’t heard a good argument for the Feds to be involved.  Keep it local.

        • StilllHere

          It’s his usual shtick!  Boring nonsense.

          • jefe68

            Troll.

    • Trond33

      You do hint about one “flaw” in the U.S. model.  Increasingly universities have been securing patents and licensing technologies developed in their labs.  The government is behind in this arena.  Applying the same logic that gives mining companies $1 leases to extract valuable minerals, with the thinking the process spurs economic activity.  Yet, in a globalized world where technologies (and those minerals) might well be brought to economic fruition on the other side of the world, such short sighted concepts should be reconsidered.  

      If The People fund the research, then The People should hold the rights and reap the profits, no matter where in the world the economic benefits of the technology is generated.   

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        Under the AIA universities not only will continue to be able to get patents on government funded work, but they will also receive “special” treatment under the new patent rules (fully implemented on March 18). They will get exceptions and special treatment that independent (non-government funded) inventors will never get. Guess who we have to thank for these special loopholes? Yup … the high paid special interest lobbyists!

    • ExcellentNews

      Publicly funded research is public property. The government does cede all IP to “the people”. Anyone can take a piece of publicly funded research, turn it into a business if they can, and keep the revenues. That is in fact how business runs in America.

      The way government collects royalties is by taxation. When you consider that virtually any economic activity you see today would be impossible without basic science and technology (which was funded largely by the people), taxes should not seem as demonic as portrayed by the shills for Rupert Murdoch and the Kochs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    It’s actually all of the above. Defense + Medicaid + the middle class entitlements (Medicare and SS) are the elephants in the room. Cut all of them, and restructure the last 3 such that they don’t impose such a tremendous burden on young people (e.g., through means-testing).

    • Shark2007

       You seem to forget the entitlements for the rich, and corporations, i.e. the ability to hide your money in tax havens.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

     Sorry but the unfunded liability of medicare and SS is $124T == $1M per taxpayer.  This is a measure of generational theft.

    http://www.usdebtclock.org/

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      …and no context given, if your raw numbers are even to be believed.

      What a surprise.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         Context?  The actuarial analysis computes to a $124T unfunded liability given today’s program rules.  Divide that by all taxpayers and you get a $1M liability per taxpayer.  Simple math.

        It is a good measure of the magnitude of the problem and why politicians on both sides say the problem is REAL.

        • StilllHere

          Not simple enough for him.

    • jimino

       
      SS is fully funded by it’s baby-boomer age expected beneficiaries for several decades.  There currently is a several trillion dollar surplus.

      Unless, of course, our money is not paid as promised.

    • mozartman

      I told you not to worry about that fantasy number – you can say too that the unfunded liability for parents to finance their kids’ education is $80 trillion.  Will they pay it?  of course not.  Will we pay the $124 trillion in future Medicare spending?  of course not.  Just because somebody throws out a number doesn’t mean somebody else will pay it.  

      Future generations will balk at paying that sum and bond markets will prevent the US form borrowing that much well before we are even close to that amount.  We just have to find a way to make due with what we have and some seniors will have to make with fewer medical services.  They are in good company – no developed country spends anywhere close to what we spend on medical care for seniors, most of it wasted anyway.  Our seniors don’t live any longer, are not any healthier or any happier.  Where is all that money going to?  Drug makers who spend more on marketing than on research, insurance CEOs, overpaid hospital managers, overpaid sales people, totally overpriced med schools, etc.  That will simply have to stop and it will stop.  Ask the Greeks how quickly bond market take away the punch bowl. 

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         It is not a fantasy number.  It is an accurate measure of false promises made by politicians.

        • mozartman

          The dollar value that the promise may be accurate but where in the world would you take $125 trillion from?  Mostly from the bond markets since Medicare premiums are way too low and they won’t be raised anytime soon since younger workers will refuse to pay them.  So any shortfall will come from borrowing, i.e. the bond markets.  Do you seriously think they will just hand us $125 trillion willy nilly without any thought of how we can repay that money?  of course not.  A few trillion more, and then lenders will demand higher interest rates until a point is reached where we have to say no and limit access to Medicare services.  I hope that will happen since the system we have now is extremely wasteful.  medicare itself is very efficient, but the problem is they cannot say no.  They have to say no to somebody who is close to death getting a new hip which happened to the grandpa of a friend of mine who fell down after a stroke and died a few weeks afterwards, with a $15,000 shiny new hip paid for by you and me. That will have to end which is why that $125 trillion or whatever is pure fantasy.  I can say I will buy a $50 million home at age 60.  I can dream, but it won’t happen.  Same for those Medicare benefits – seniors can dream, but it won’t happen.  No bank will give me $50 million and no creditors will give the US $125 trillion. 

      • Shark2007

         The cost of health care could be greatly reduced by moving to a single payer system and allowing the Feds to negotiate with drug companies on drug prices. A large portion of the current cost is profit and overhead for insurance companies.

        • mozartman

          It will happen eventually.  I give it another 25 years.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/brick.thompson.75 Brick Thompson

        Best comment in this thread, particularly the bit about medical spending on seniors.  It sounds like a nice thing to do, but everyone should bare in mind, 50-80% of all of the healthcare dollars you will require will be in the last 6-12 months of your life.  Medicine can do amazing things, like keep you alive with artificial lung/heart/kidneys, but it’s not unusual for these things to cost thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars a day.  

        • mozartman

          Fully agree – many of those seniors don’t even want to be kept alive by artificial means.  They suffer greatly and some are half dead already. Americans have to learn to let go.  Being from Europe, I can tell the difference between Americans and Europeans with regards to death.  Americans pressure the hospital to keep granny alive at all means, even if she wants to die.  Doctors here like to practice “heroic” medicine and they are good at it. It’s also very profitable. All know that medicare will pay since politicians don’t want to tick off their most loyal voters, the seniors.  

          In Europe, where you have universal health care budget (we ration too, by exclusion and price) the insurance companies simply won’t pay for that nonsense.  if you are close to death, you go to a hospice or they only give you water and pain medication, but nothing else.  I know – both my parents died that way.  They received excellent care, but when it became hopeless, everybody agreed to let go.  Americans still have to learn that.  it’s not a defeat, just nature taking it’s course. 

  • jefe68

    Thomas Dolby, She Blinded me With Science:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3oMGlQXhHA

  • DrewInGeorgia

    I didn’t get to listen to the show or read the commentary yet so forgive me if this has already been pointed out.

    For those who think that austerity works or that resulting displacement, homelessness and starvation are amusing, I have but one word for you:
    Europe.

    It’s easy to think that everything is Honkey Dory when you never look beyond your own falsely perceived safe-haven.
    Keep on thinking it can’t happen to you.

  • terry7

    How to draw the public’s attention to this critical issue, educate them about it, and prevail upon them to act on it – that is the question.  Could novelists play a part?  Concerns about various political and social issues in the past and a desire to motivate the populous to address those concerns moved Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Upton Sinclair, and John Steinbeck in their time to pen classic works of fiction, which drew attention to and stirred public debate about those issues. 

    Where are the thoughtful and gifted writers of our time who would lend their talents to help shape our future?  Draw us a picture of our country and the world decades into the future if Congress continues to operate in this anti-science, anti-research frame of mind.  Stir up debate.  Move the public to pressure Congress to work for the common good (not just their next elections) and to save our country in the process.

  • Trond33

    The U.S. started to lose the battle for basic science research some 20 years ago.  Realizing the economic importance of basic research, other nations have invested more-and-more.  American research Ph.D. graduates today are as likely to end up in Europe or Asia than somewhere in the U.S.  Go where the funding is, why risk being underemployed in the U.S.? 

    The other side of the coin is a sword.  Over the past twenty years you increasingly see innovative technologies coming from overseas.  Often coming from dynamic and market responsive foreign small- and medium-size companies.  Organizations that can do circles around the oversized lumbering U.S. corporations that predominates so much of the U.S. economy.  

    The scientific brain drain is just another facet of the major forces facing the U.S.  Unfortunately, this comes at a time the populace is hiding behind an increasing variety of entertainment screens; and the “leadership” in the halls of government (i.e. Congress, et al.) and by the “elite” has absconded.  Hijacked by greed driven special interests.  It is hard to be an optimist when considering the future of the U.S.A. 

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      And now after enactment of the AIA (so called, “America Invents Act”), the U.S. (for the first time in over 230 years), will also lose at least 30% of it innovations, inventions, venture capital and future innovators (possibly to cyber-thieves). This happened in Canada when it adopted European and Japanese patent rules.

      Congress and the Obama administration sure are a piece of work when it comes to support for the STEM fields (or any other fields of intellectual and artistic endeavor)!

      • BostonDad

         As another Truth Seeker (scientist struggling to maintain even smallest of Labs. in current environment this show is talking about and thinking about ‘brain-draining’) I overall subscribe to paragraph #1 above, but #2 needs to separate Tea Party from reasonable Republicans (yes, there are SOME !) and Dems / Obama:

        “Democrats and most Republican senators favor not just rolling back the
        sequester cuts but increasing NIH funding next year. But not so in the
        House, where Republicans recently voted to cut the NIH budget by another
        20 percent next year — that’s in addition to the cuts already mandated
        by the sequester” !

        http://www.wbur.org/2013/05/28/sequester-nih-research-mass?utm_source=cc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nwsltr-13-05-28

        • The_Truth_Seeker

          As an independent researcher and entrepreneur, I have applied for at least 6-7 grants over the years and never was awarded even 1/10th what the typical university award would have been. So I ended up pretty much wasting the equivalent of an entire year of my life applying for non-existent funding (which I will never get back). 

          The public funding systems of this country are not only inadequately funded, but also rigged in favor of the “well known” researchers having the the right connections and “university locations”. All funding should be by lottery draw to qualified candidates and projects. Despite what is repeatedly said, both the private and public sectors still hold to the belief that if they really, really, try hard enough, they can usually find a way to pick the “winners” from the losers – even in research. But in truth, it seems to mostly boil down to the same truth as in real estate, namely that funding for research in the U.S. (and elsewhere), basically comes down to “location, location, location” + nice landscaping and maybe some good window dressing :-). If you live in the middle states, forget it. If you are independent of the university system – forget it. But then, that may be why we have people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniac, Elon Musk, Serge Brin, Mark Zukerberg, etc. etc. Good thing they were still able to become billionaires (and therefore “winners”), despite never getting any government funding (at least not early on). Hat’s off to the independent researchers of America (at least the ones that are left).

          By the way, if more talented young people were able to get grants (public or private), we wouldn’t need to “import” even more low cost talent from abroad! We have plenty here already – they just aren’t being given a chance anymore (and they have to pay back all those student loans).

  • StilllHere

    Reducing hot flashes through yoga: $147,694
    Funds granted to Wake Forest University to study “preliminary data on the efficacy of integral yoga for reducing menopausal hot flashes.

    Create interactive dance performance technology: $762,372
    This federal grant to UNC-Charlotte will fund the development of computer technology to digitally record the dance moves of performers. The recorded movements can then be reviewed and manipulated by a computer program.

    National Science Foundation twofer: The first was for an $84,000 grant that was intended to discover why people fall in love. The second, for $500,000 (part of which was from two other federal agencies), was to determine which stimuli cause rats, monkeys, and humans to bite and clench their jaws.

    • jefe68

      Pointless dribble by the troll.

    • cathyac

       Our healthcare system must spend millions of dollars a year on drugs to cope with hot flashes.  If research shows that they could be more successfully managed with yoga and therefore could save millions of dollars in healthcare, wouldn’t that be good to know and a useful investment of tax dollars?  Drug companies certainly would not want to conduct that research. 

    • Shark2007

       Perhaps we should be more blunt instead of asking why people fall in love, we should ask why do people choose one partner versus another for sex and or matrimony. An interesting question in that the bad choices people make cost us a lot of money in broken families, divorce courts and social costs.

      Cross species studies are useful in finding common elements in neural mechanisms controlling behavior. Biting and clenching of jaws is something that is easy to measure. But then for those who prefer ignorance I guess  any title would be the subject of ridicule. I remember a front page piece in the Washington Times (the Moony Paper) that ridiculed the Latin species names in an attack on evolutionary theory. No doubt quite a bit of fun for the ignorant.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      This “fat lesbian” thing is not the winning trick every right-winger in this space thinks it is.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        it is super funny though

    • ExcellentNews

      It sounds like money well spent.

      Project #1 – if it works, great. Spending 150K to see whether a simple technique can alleviate a significant health discomfort that will affect 50% of Americans sounds good. If it does not work, it is still better than a major pharma corporation spending 5 billion to market a half-assed “designer drug” and making the taxpayers pay for it anyway.

      Project #2 – great idea. Research that can be immediately applied to the video game and movie industries (major economic activities where the US still leads).

      Project #3 – any surgeon, doctor, or biomedical engineer will see the merit of understanding better how the “machinery” of biting works.

      Most great ideas cannot be funded by corporations, because there is no clear path from research to short-term profit. Yet, virtually all of economic progress and profit of the last 100 years come from basic research. Government is the only entity that can be relied on to fund it. You need manure to grow the mushrooms…

  • passarinha

    I am a scientist in the field of radar remote sensing (from satellites and airborne platforms). The U.S. was the clearcut leader in this technology through the 1990s but now lags behind the EU, Canada, and Japan, with few new graduate students being trained and no new satellites launched — attributable to reductions in NASA funding. This field may sound esoteric but has many important applications including deforestation monitoring, estimating forest carbon storage, and flood mapping.

  • Trond33

    The truth is defense and government programs across the board need to be streamlined and cut (proactively through things like means testing) — WHILE also taxes have to be raised.  

    The large U.S. expenditure on defense is a global scourge.  The U.S. artificially propping up the military industrial complex creates a global armament glut.  Countless wars, such as ongoing in Syria, have been more brutal, wider in scope and lasted artificially longer by the worldwide easy availability of military hardware.  Cutting the military budget in the U.S. will have a worldwide peace dividend. 

  • dandrisc

    I fall on the side of fully supporting and properly funding science and research.  However, if our global political and corporate leaders continue to ignore major scientific information, not sure of its overall long-term value.  For example, despite compelling science regarding climate change we are not doing nearly enough personally or as a society to prevent future disaster to ourselves and our planet.  We are also essentially ignoring the tragic scientific fact that there is a mass extinction of other species presently taking place on planet earth.   Global political and religious leaders rarely mention the fact that human population growth and our collective behavoir and way of life is whiping out major ecosystems and species.  We can’t afford to continue ignoring such scientific facts today the way Galileo was ignored and punished for his genius.  Time is not on our side, and is especially not on the side of countless incredible species.

    Frankly I don’t really care if through science we cure cancer or other human disease, but continue destroying the fabric of life from which all science was born.  Nine billion healthy humans without much else left on the planet does not sound like a future I am excited about for all our children.  Humanity, including our science needs to rise above its collective ego and become far less anthropocentric.  And our leaders need to embrace the scientific reality of the present status of planet earth.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pstaats1 Peter Staats

      Well dandrisc, looks you have become a believer in the most extreme versions of the global warming alarmism. Without a shred of verifiable science they have convinced you that the world as we know it will soon end.  And the well documented fraud and political manipulation of the science has not deterred you from your beliefs.  Like Henny Penny you have joined the throng that is trying to convince our government to throw away our money on a fools errand. The growing realization of this fraud is one reason that people are beginning to question all government science spending.

      • jefe68

        Funny I was just reading about the fraud of which you are speaking of, is a fraud.

        Seems to me you sir are the one who is delusional. 

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        And you got your PhD in climate science where???

        • jefe68

          And you have the above stated degree from where?

          • The_Truth_Seeker

            I’m not criticizing this particular “science”. To do so, it helps to actually be someone trained in science. I have degrees in other science fields.

      • dandrisc

        I am not getting into a debate over what is causing climate change, just that it is happening. The science of what is causing it is up for debate, the science that it is happening is not!  Ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising at alarming rates.  This is a proven fact, unless you are among those that don’t believe we went to the moon.  Human activity and carbon loading in the atmosphere can only be helping to accelerate this.  Al Gore presented fairly impressive scientific data to back this.  Yes, I am one of those people who believe we went to the moon.

        I note you ignore my other issue, which is the CURRENT mass extinction of flora and fauna on planet earth.  Perhaps you feel E.O. Wilson is fabricating these alarming facts as well.  What would a pulitzer prize winning scientist know about such things?  Or perhaps you are among the disconnected throngs of humans that simply don’t care about other species.

        By the way Peter, the “world as we know it” is ending.  Check out some maps/data of the vanishing rain forests, spreading deserts, species extinction, melting ice caps, exploding human population, etc.  I have traveled to many distant places to observe this with my own eyes.  Of course one needs to open their eyes to see it.

      • Shark2007

         Peter, perhaps you would like to tell us about your expertise in radiation transfer and thermodynamics. What do you know about fluid dynamics — atmospheric circulation and ocean circulations? Repeating the same old idiot lines you get from right wing talk radio/blogs doesn’t cut it. Check out some of the science for a change.

        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=81214&src=eoa-iotd

      • Jasoturner

        Bird, insect, fish and plant species are migrating north for the first time in recorded history.  Stupid creatures.  Perhaps you can enlighten us why this documented trend is occurring.  Clearly the alarmists don’t have a clue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dhrosier Dreighton Rosier

    Social Security and Medicare are seriously misunderstood by the vast majority of American citizens.  Barney Keller’s statements that HHS should be considered as just another part of the debt are deeply troubling and representative of that misunderstanding.

    Those benefits are NOT welfare benefits, they are earned by the workers who have paid into the system, and the payments their employers have made based on the employment of the workers.  Their FICA contributions purchase the right to those benefits and the retirement income security they provide.  That is not the same thing as funding those benefits.  Many early participants did receive a financial windfall but many of those individuals have passed and none are in a position to reimburse for their windfall.

    To the extent any cutback is made that will have to be replaced.  Many individuals have Social Security as their only retirement income, for a huge majority of those with private benefits supplementary to Social Security the SS benefits are the major source of their retirement income security.

    Cost of Living WILL be paid one way or another.  To the extent that cost is not offset by the COLA that is part of the Social Security the increases in the Cost of Living will be paid through the starvation and deprivation of millions of older Americans.

  • Bruce94

    Basic research used to be a budget item that received bipartisan support along with education, targeted training and infrastructure especially in a weak, post-recession economy.  These items were regarded by both the GOP and Dems as necessary investments to ensure the future growth of the economy and a viable middle-class.  However, nowadays, thanks to the rise of the Tea Party and Cro-Mag Conservatism within the GOP, our traditional commitment to research, education, training and infrastructure has been weakened by the insidious spread of a radical, far-right ideology seeking to shrink government to the point it “can be drowned in a bathtub.”  Characterized by an anti-government, conspiracy-theory paranoia, this ideology led directly to the GOP hostage taking during the 2011 debt ceiling debate that brought us the fiscal insanity and rank stupidity of the sequester, which conservative cretins like Keller try in vain to defend.  Increasing the debt ceiling, itself, as well as closing tax loopholes used to be examples of bipartisan cooperation where both sides agreed to put aside their ideological differences for the good of the country.  Also, the act of deficit reduction used to be undertaken with the recognition that it entailed BOTH spending cuts AND tax increases before bipartisanship was marginalized by the Republicans.  In addition, the movement of bipartisan legislation thru the Senate and the appointment of nominees to federal agencies and judgeships used to be a product of this same spirit of cooperation before the GOP employed the filibuster in an unprecedented and perversely partisan manner never before envisioned by the Founders.  Reduced funding of basic research is just another instance of GOP obstructionism in the name of a false, manufactured debt crisis–and more evidence of an intellectually and morally bankrupt GOP.

    • William

       The budget is over 3 trillion dollars and if that is not “enough” there is little more the taxpayers can provide. Perhaps, the NIH could look at other agencies and identify which programs should be cut and the money given to them for their projects.

      • Bruce94

        By extension, I guess in the conservative alternate universe, you would also argue along with OK Republican Sen. Tom Coburn that victims of the tornado that hit Moore, OK and their representatives should have to identify offsets before receiving federal disaster assistance. 

        I’d argue that disaster preparation, response and recovery is too important (and costly) to be left solely to the states and voluntarism, just as basic research is too important (and costly) to be left to the private sector or states alone to sponsor. 

        While we dither in the U.S., our competitors in Asia and Europe will surpass us in the breakthroughs and innovations that we need to remain competitive in the 21st century. 

      • Doubting_Thomas12

        How much of that goes to handouts for the wealthy, tax breaks for our largest and most corrupt corporations, and buying thousands of tanks that the Army has said explicitly “WE DON’T WANT THEM- THANKS ANYWAYS”?

    • harverdphd

       “Hyper-partisanship makes people stupid.”  – MadMarkTheCodeWarrior  – 05/02/13

      • Bruce94

        “I think they ought to put a sign on the [GOP] national committee door that says closed for repairs.” – Bob Dole 05/26/13 –

        A former Republican Senate majority leader, presidential nominee and a reasonable voice from the not-too-distant past when the GOP had national aspirations before it was transformed into an asylum for detached, dysfunctional plutocrats.

        • Doubting_Thomas12

          I reiterate- plenty of Republicans of the past who were good men. Abe Lincoln for one, and Reagan (overall, an example of which is his equalizing tax rates on capital gains and labor) for two. There’s also a former Louisiana Governor, and small bank owner, who wanted to butt Wall Street out of politics. Pity he was silenced by his party’s overlords, who are owned by the banks even more than a lot of Democrats nowadays.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Exactly, the only possible reason to mess with a system that has performed so brilliantly is anti-gvt ideology. No matter how well it works, if it’s in the public sector, it will be attacked.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Ignorance is not knowing better and doing something foolish,
    Stupidity is knowing better but doing the same thing.

    • Ray in VT

      I always liked “Ignorance is curable, but stupid is forever.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/pstaats1 Peter Staats

    Eisenhower knew whereof he spoke in his 1961 farewell address:
    “The free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”  Ike’s concerns came to fruition long ago.  The scientific-technological elite is an even greater threat to our nation than is the military-industrial complex.

    • Shark2007

       Perhaps you would like to elaborate as to what these threats are. Clearly Senator. Coburn and the flack from the Club for Growth are very powerful yet not part of the scientific-technological elite. The latter having millions of dollars to put toward the election of ultra right wing Republicans.

    • Doubting_Thomas12

      …?

      How? The funding for science is less than 1% of what the military receives, less than 0.000055866% of what wall street received, and less than 0.0083% of what we give in tax breaks for the wealthy each year.

      Ike lived in the day when we were starting to spend loads on space travel, but hadn’t seen the results or benefits yet. Perhaps he’d have a different view today, when we waste trillions on bailing out failed businesses, yet people like you think of scientists as the enemies of the state.

      • peterstaats

        You have it backwards, not scientists as the enemy of the state, but the state as enemy of science.  When the state owns you, then your freedom of thought and direction become very limited.  You allow the state to influence your science as a tool to justify coercive policy.  The government gets a big return on the $ spent on research.

        I completely agree with you on the evils of government bailouts and tax loopholes.  And the defense spending is driven by crony capitalists rather than by military needs.

        • Doubting_Thomas12

          I see what you mean now- my apologies, I misunderstood you at first.

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Why doesn’t On-Point cover the AIA (the so called, “America Invents Act”)??? – particularly after more and more of these kinds of stories are appearing every week:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/05/28/186875872/top-stories-rough-weather-ahead-u-s-weapon-designs-hacked

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=186853260

    The Democratic Congress overwhellmingly voted for the multinational pushed AIA and president Obama had no problem signing it. Forget about the cyber theft of American R&D – the thieves will no be granted U.S. patents on “some” of this stolen IP!! Way to go Congress (again)!

  • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.harshav Barbara Harshav

    As one of your callers pointed out, funding is only a symptom of the real problem we face in this country concerning science.  When we teach “creationism” or “intelligent design,” we demonstrate our misunderstanding and contempt for what science is.  Schoolchildren who are taught such “theories” will spend their lives searching for Noah’s Ark and not doing important scientific research because they have been taught that their “beliefs” are what counts.  So, clearly, there is no climate change because most Americans don’t believe there is.  And we fell behind in stem-cell research because W’s beliefs wouldn’t let us do it.  
    And market-driven medicine and medical research is clearly not the most efficient way to deal with the health care system in this country.  The overlooked “orphan” diseases are proof of that.
    If we’re going to resume leadership in science, we have to protect scientific research from extra-scientific political and religious beliefs.  

    • William

       Is there a problem with the various agencies just refusing to spend their money in a wise manner? We have seen all spending for every agency increase for the last 12 years and yet none of them seem to want to accept any reduction in the growth of spending.

      • Shark2007

         As a portion of GDP, the spending on science has decreased. Spending is relative, so simply looking at the magnitude without looking at the relation of science spending to the rest of the economy distorts the understanding.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        When a Republican gets back in the White House, make him listen to you the way you demand it of a Democrat.

      • ExcellentNews

        How do you determine what is “wise” or not? Many of the greatest breakthroughs in science have come from activities that seemed outright silly at the time. IMHO, the people best qualified to determine WHERE research money is spent are those who are involved in science. The job of any decent government should be to determine HOW MUCH of the total budget should go to science. Given that virtually all progress and growth in the last 100 years has originated from basic research, the sensible answer should be “a lot more than we currently do”. Any politician who bashes science does it because he knows that people with any sort of rational training cannot support them.

    • Sy2502

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, but I think the problem is on both sides of the spectrum as both easily fall prey of pseudoscience and superstition. Where science is concerned, Adam and Eve is no better or worse than crystal healing, life vibrations, and other New Age tinged beliefs. The problem is that people don’t understand the difference between knowledge and belief, they think one can pick and choose which science to believe just like one chooses which divinity to believe. The difference between objective and subjective knowledge is lost to most. Most people aren’t just lacking in the subjects of Science (biology, physics, etc) but in the most fundamental concepts at its core: logic, the scientific method, and the importance of supporting evidence. 

      • cathyac

        I thought you were talking about science vs non-science but then you talk about crystal healing as the other end of the spectrum.   What spectrum are you referring to?

      • Sy2502

        I apologize for being unclear, I was talking about the ideological/political spectrum. 

      • Shark2007

         I haven’t run into people with ‘New Age’ beliefs that are working to cut science funding. The ones I know simply can’t cope with the existential nature of life and have a live-let-live attitude toward science, unlike the Club for Growth hacks and anti-science Tea Party types.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Bothsides?

        You’re wrong about that.

        At some point the right became anti-science. Don’t know if they really are, don’t care. Because they need to put on a show for their base that they’re anti-science, the upshoot is the same.

        • Sy2502

          Some of the right IS anti science. So is some of the left. The whole hoopla about vaccines giving autism didn’t come from the right.

    • HonestDebate1

      It is called The Theory of Evolution. W did not ban stem cell research. 

      • Jasoturner

        For people who study science, theory is not a pejorative term.  The difference between real, scientific theories and silliness like intelligent design is that real science delivers testable hypotheses that affirm or refute the theory.

        And no, W did not ban stem cell research.  He simply refused to fund it.

        • HonestDebate1

          Ms. Harshav wrote:`Schoolchildren who are taught such “theories” will spend their lives searching for Noah’s Ark and not doing important scientific research because they have been taught that their “beliefs” are what counts.

          It seemed to me it was she who used the word as a perforative. I was only pointing out the obvious.

          I would debate you on intelligent design but when I look to the sky I cannot comprehend infinity. I cannot fathom what is on the other side of the outer edge of the universe. I cannot imagine the day before the beginning of time. And craziest of all, I believe not a single person alive today can say with absolute certainty what happens when you die. No, IMHO there are some things that can’t be known, so at some point everything comes down to faith in something even if it’s nothing.

          W funded plenty. It seems to me to be unjust to force people who are morally opposed to pay for some things. The government cannot fund a penny of anything until after it takes that money from someone else, borrows it or prints it. 

          • Jasoturner

            Actually, I believe she put “theories” in quotes because intelligent design is not an evidence-based theory.  It is received wisdom.  But some have incorrectly asserted that it is a theory.

            Regarding the universe and what we can or cannot know, On Point had a fascinating and accessible show a week or two back:

            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/04/16/mapping-the-universe

            I suspect sometimes people underestimate how much of nature and the universe may be understandable by humans if we persist in asking questions and learning.

          • HonestDebate1

            Well, I read it differently, I also sensed a dismissal of religion. I guess my only point is we should not dismiss anything if the ultimate answer cannot be known. We should respect how others view their mortality and the beliefs that bring them comfort. For some that’s religion and for some it’s science with all point in-between represented as well.  

          • Jasoturner

            Ah, but you raise an interesting point.  If an ultimate answer is not known today, is that the end of the story?  At one time, we we might have had no explanation except gods to explain things like weather and natural disasters and the stars and the planets.  But we know better today what causes these things and what they are.  So what the future brings is unknown in terms of our knowledge, no?

            But I completely agree that we should respect how others view own life.  That was well put.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        There’s just something funny about a righty getting into a flap with anyone about the scientific definition of “theory”.

        You’re on thin, thin ice.

      • ExcellentNews

        It is ok to debate theories and religions. It is not ok to turn that debate into political levers the real purpose of which is to let the global oligarch pay no taxes and write their profits onto law.

  • Peter Nelson

    This is such an important topic…thank you for illuminating what’s going on! I haven’t been able to hear much of the broadcast, but want to point out that folks like Coburn don’t have a clue: He’s no better than Palin complaining about the study of fruitfly genetics. Taken out of the context of evolution, medicine, psychology, etc. it’s easy to make some of these topics sound ridiculous, but the problem is that Barney Keller and others aren’t scientists. Funding for basic research is so critical and so difficult to get that it boarders on frivolous to get a graduate degree in the sciences if you think you’re going to do something that doesn’t have direct application to medicine, pharmaceuticals, engineering, resource management or some other applied field.

  • Peter Nelson

    You can’t look to the private sector to do basic research! Geez…this Barney guy is clueless! Send him back to school…

    • notafeminista

      Why not?

      • Eliza_Bee

        1) Because the private sector has vested
        interests.  They will not fund research that could end up cutting into
        their profits.  They might distort research results to protect or increase their
        profits.

         

        2) Because the private sector focuses on developing technologies that will likely lead to products in the near future.
         Basic research is a longer-term proposition:  it’s about asking
        questions that might possibly lead to new technologies in the future.

      • ExcellentNews

        Because basic research improves the quality of life for all without making money for the few. Also, the overwhelming majority of people in science cannot stomach the conservative ideologies, and find themselves forced to the left.

        You sound like a free market fundamentalist, so please don’t ask questions that might put your beliefs against the data…

      • Doubting_Thomas12

        Because basic research is incredibly expensive, and doesn’t produce anything you can use for a minimum of one to two decades. Why? Applied Physics then Engineering takes time to catch up and find uses for all the new information that is found.

        Computer chips, space travel, GPS, and dozens of other basic implementations of knowledge gleaned from and paid for by the government has turned into ridiculously lucrative private sector programs. But I challenge you to find anything except the now defunct Bell Labs that actually invests in basic research.

    • peterstaats

      Does anyone remember Bell Labs?  But the government brought them down because Bell was too successful.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.walsh.5494 Gregory Walsh

    Let me understand, the US Government is handing out too much money for scientific research which in many cases improves our quality of life and most certainly will be responsible for solving the problems our horrific environmental policies have allowed to take place.  At the same time we have multibillion dollar bailouts for wall street and corporate interests and huge tax loopholes for companies like GE and Exxon Mobile.  Both of which (including wasteful American citizens) directly contribute to weakened regulations and the pollution of our planet.  But wait, maybe we should cut Medicare and Medicaid, those programs aren’t important to quality of life.  There is and end to the game of lets prioritize greed and de-prioritize health, we are simply accelerating it.  Mr. Keller and those who focus their attention on infinite “economic” growth are so myopic in my opinion that they would get rid of their noses to spite their faces.

    • Doubting_Thomas12

      Of course! Think how many banks could be bailed out with the amount we’re saving!

      … the answer is less than one, fyi, but logic be damned! We’ll keep defunding the rest of our country to make sure our financial overlords and their children are well taken care of.

  • disqus_fw2Bu1dEsd

    First they came for the Humanities and I said nothing. Then they came for science and technology and I said nothing…

  • Aaron Stratton

    Barney Keller: We’re not a Republican organization…
    Tom Ashbrook: Really?

    +1 Tom

  • Luca Mazzucato

    Competing with China/India for tenure-tracks

    The sequester is crippling the hiring rate of tenure-tracks too: several of my post-doc colleagues in both physics and neuroscience now leave their Ivy league univ. to Europe, Israel, Brazil, China, India. I have seen this before: from Southern Europe in the nineties, people would move to the US. Now they’re going back. The brightest Chinese/Indian grad students now go back to their country right after PhD and even senior faculty is moving back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.rice.abraham.sandhillgarden.NCFL Linda Rice Carlton Abraham

    I think its telling that the speaker believes that research on hot flashes is money thrown away. As someone who has suffered from many daily hot flashes per day for 8 years I would appreciate a cure, from what ever source. Obviously the speaker has no knowledge of science and is completely unqualified to determine what is important and what is not.

    • ExcellentNews

      If you are surprised by their opinion on “hot flashes”, you must not have been paying attention to their national campaign to force women to carry the babies of rapists.

      If you wonder why the Republican party is focusing on issues like that at times of great crisis – the answer is simple. They use top-notch science to identify issues that are (1) highly polarizing and (2) irrelevant to corporate profits and practices. The irony of using science to fight science…

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.brice.71 Mark Brice

    Would everybody puh-leez stop referring to “The Sequester?”  “Sequester” is a verb.  The noun is “sequestration.”

    Sheesh.

  • Shark2007

    Barney Keller: We’re not a Republican organization….

    To bad Tom wasn’t more direct. He should have asked how many Democrats much less moderate Republicans the Club for Growth had supported with their “issue” adds and other contributions. Club for Growth are just hired guns for the Koch brothers and their like. They will never let intellectual honesty get in the way of selling their snake oil.

  • Jasoturner

    Well, I listened more attentively to this podcast this morning on the train.  Barney Keller from the Club for Growth was like a child among adults.  Incredible that by spewing anecdotes he thinks he can convince people that scientific research is just another place to tighten our belts.  What a dope.  The fact that a guy like that is solicited for opinion demonstrates the sorry state of our national “dialogue”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brick.thompson.75 Brick Thompson

    If you’re talking about general dementia (not the genetic types and not types associated with metabolic disturbances, trauma, etc), we do know how to prevent it.  Exercise and actively engaging the mind (new learning done not just in school but for the rest of your life, nto just doing a Sudoku puzzle).  The brain atrophies just like a muscle if it not used.  There are probably favorable diets as well, but that’s less clear at this point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brick.thompson.75 Brick Thompson

    Case in point, flu vaccinations.  We have evidence now that the flu vaccination is largely ineffective. Yet the companies that make it (sanofi et al), want to continue selling it instead of refining the vaccine or perhaps creating a  new paradigm altogether.  Naturally enough, this seems like a problem that corporations aren’t going to solve and will have to be tackled by immunologists and biomedical engineers doing basic science from government funded initiatives.

    I want to add, this largely just applies to flu vaccination.  The other vaccines are highly efficacious and relatively inexpensive.

    • ExcellentNews

      You cannot “refine” something like a flu vaccine, it is not like you are distilling cognac. The flu virus is highly polymorphic, which means by nature, it is very hard to target well. This is why the flu vaccine is much less effective than say, polio. Nevertheless, despite its imperfections, it still improves the statistical outcome from a flu, and thus it saves hundreds of thousands of lives around the world yearly.

      As for a “new paradigm”, this kind of things come only from government-sponsored basic research. Nobody has any idea what such a new paradigm can be, until found. For all we know, the research projects that the corporate shill from the “Club for Growth” was bashing might be the ones that open the door to it…

      As for corporations – they do not do basic research because there is no money in it. In fact, if you let it to the tender mercies of the market, they would not even do basic applications like vaccines. No vaccine has even made a fraction of the profit that a half-scam like Lipitor has made (not targeting Lipitor in particular – that applies to virtually any drug that is mass-marketed today – just read the fine print in the FDA-mandated disclosure their CEOS have lobbied to eliminate since the 90s.). Think about it – one $15 shot that keeps you safe for years, versus a $15 pill that you take daily and does not really work anyway… Where is the real money?

      Big pharma hates vaccines and the only reason why they make them is that they are mandated to do it. If you let them on their own devices, all they would do is half-effective pills for obesity…etc with 90% of the budget going to marketing, not basic research.  

  • ExcellentNews

    Hey Barney Keller! Here are some more wasteful, stupid projects that you need to add to your scripted talking points:

     - Growth patterns of slime mold. I mean, how stupid it is to spend money on that ?!?!?! (worry not, most of your supporters do not know this is how antibiotics were discovered).

     - Playing with silly-cone crystals (worry not, most of your buddies cannot spell its name either. Anyway, the kind of ridiculous research that led to semiconductors…)

      – Government-paid bureaucrats in the patent office day-dreaming and mooching off job-creator taxes (never mind that one of them day-dreamed the framework upon which half of modern physics is based upon).

    Anyway, a third-world oligarchy with no real government (the America that your corporate paymasters seem to want) needs no science. Teach some science to the peons, and they start to ask questions, think for themselves, and get uppity. If the top 0.01% that funds your “Club” ever needs more scientific progress, they can always outsource it, and make sure it does not undercut any current profits.

    After all, clean energy, cancer cures for all …etc will really not make your patrons any richer. Especially, considering that a big chunk of your funding comes from places like Saudi Arabia or China…

  • velvinette

    My husband earned a funded Ph.D. at Brown and most of the students in his program in the mid-’80s were from other countries. Most were planning to go back, except the Chinese who ended up staying due to Tianemmen Square and the extention of their visas by Bush I. Since Eastern Europe also fell the year my husband graduated, he was competing with hundreds of new candidates from either China or Eastern Europe for jobs. The current professors are probably upset because they will no longer be able to pick off the best brains from around the world for their research

  • velvinette

    Now that other countries are educating their own citizens, perhaps ours will have a better chance of getting into these programs and getting jobs. Also all had full funding, which meant they didn’t have to incur debt, as MDs, MBAs, lawyers and yes English Ph.Ds do. Since scientists can actually get good jobs, this is a pretty sweet deal. We pay for it because it’s defense, apparently, but aren’t doctors also serving the public good? Anyhow, if some of these people have to take out $10,000 or $20,000 in debt they still won’t be so badly off. If students are deterred from the career for that perhaps they should not be scientists. My husband’s thesis advisor spent all of his time applying for grants and did not actually perform any research himself and the graduate students had a lot of the contact with undergrads, outside of lectures.

  • Robert Roggers

    The worst part about cutting research budgets is threefold. The first being that basic research is a long term investment with proven payout. It does not follow a stock-market model of a percentage earned annually. It is a highly variable market in which we must be prepared to lose big, for many years sometimes, before we see a big payout. This is one of the reasons why government funded research is so important, the private sector cannot afford to lose for 20-30 years before they make it all back with dividends. Secondly, low research budgets mean low pay, which means student loans don’t get paid back (to the government) on time, which means that a whole subset of the scientific population cannot become economic drivers in the classical/political sense. We are not buying new cars, we are not buying new homes, we are not going on expensive vacations. The last point is a long-term look in that many of my colleagues are putting off having children or choosing to not have children altogether. This means that people who would normally be great parents do not get to have that opportunity because its not economically feasible, this destroys our workforce, causes an overall average age increase in our population and lowers the tax-base for the government in the future. Sure this is not a huge portion of the population, maybe a couple of percentage points, but I can guarantee that it will be felt over several generations. The last point is entirely personal. I have spent 10 yeares obtaining various degrees while getting paid next to nothing, the next step is a postdoc, where I get paid a little more than nothing (a stretch for a family of three, that’s for sure). I don’t have one dime saved in a dedicated retirement fund. Everything my wife and I save goes to the growing cost of educating our daughter so that maybe she makes enough to take care of dear old Mom and Dad when we get too old to work. At least that’s what it looks like right now. 

    • velvinette

      Robert, I don’t think most doctoral students spend 10 years getting various degrees unless you are including undergrad, which most people do not get paid for. In fact, most graduate students outside the sciences do not get paid to go to grad school, as most science students have. Once you get a job you should make a decent salary by national standards, and you should not have a lot of loans to pay back since you were paid, albeit at a low level, to get your degree. Most other scientists we know who got their doctorates in their late ’20s have done fine.

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Hey, On-Point, please cover the AIA (“America Invents Act”) and its potential devastating impact on future science and innovation in America. It already costs over $15K to just file and prosecute a patent today and only 35% will make it through the process. How is anyone under the age of 30 supposed to be able to ever get a patent on a new invention now (much less protect it)?? If you have to already be rich to get a patent on a new idea, then only the rich will ever get future patents and only the rich will be able to do R&D and protect the results. How’s that going to help American science and innovation???

  • Gordon Green

    That Barney sounds like an arrogant child among adults who actually know what they’re talking about.  God help us if minds like his will be dictating our national policies.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    but now how will we find out why lesbians are fat?

  • Doubting_Thomas12

    The trouble there is that less labs being funded would mean less people working on the problems. And let’s be perfectly honest, the creative spark needed to attack problems in ways that haven’t been done before isn’t present in everyone in the labs you speak of. It’s there in a few people, but the rest are just top-performers. Point of fact, many could theoretically be replaced by computers. Not that they should, but a strength of this country is pursuing solutions off the beaten path, not just a few possible ways of doing something as promoted by the “big boys” in the field.

  • Pingback: Director Alivisatos Featured in NPR Story on Science Budget Cuts

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 28, 2014
Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown before the start of his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.  (AP)

The message that will last out of Ferguson with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

Aug 28, 2014
Some of the hundreds of earthquake damaged wine barrels cover and toppled a pair of forklifts at the Kieu Hoang Winery, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. (AP)

Drought in California, earthquake in Napa. We look at broken bottles and the health of the American wine industry.

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Aug 27, 2014
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This week the Emmys celebrate the best in television. We’ll look at what’s ahead for the Fall TV season.

 
Aug 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, center, looks at them, prior to their talks after after posing for a photo in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP)

Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s leader meet. We’ll look at Russia and the high voltage chess game over Ukraine. Plus, we look at potential US military strikes in Syria and Iraq.

On Point Blog
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Friday, Aug 22, 2014

On mixed media messaging, Spotify serendipity and a view of Earth from the International Space Station.

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