Science can't catch a break this week. A site devoted to ridiculing Democrats is faux outraged that the NIH funded $3.6 million to study the menstruation cycles of rhesus monkeys on any number of addictive drugs.
That's not really one you or I can criticize the way they do. For starters, that money was over a 10-year period and evaluating pharmacological interventions is necessary because drug addiction is an expensive problem, both for the economy and the culture. Does hormonal status impact drug abuse and addiction? If so, that would be downright revolutionary and exactly the kind of transformative research we should be funding. I am critical of funding for non-science and also waste because both of those things limit actual research funding, so this is okay even if I don't much care what might happen to the menstrual cycles of drug addicts. At least the NIH isn't funding political science think tanks and subsidizing science magazines the way the NSF is.
Anyway, trumping up hyperbole about studies on addiction being a legitimate waste issue is a lose for Republican credibility in science this week.
But Democrats have been just as stupid.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a fringe progressive if there is one, sought to protect NIH funding by invoking that research had "a Biblical power to cure in a very, very special way". Is she trying to be clever? Metaphorical? I assume scientists on her side will rationalize that she is trying to appeal to the religious rubes in the Republican party (and aren't they all rubes?) but she is a flat-out kook, who is just as anti-science as the anti-vaccine hippies in Washington state and shouldn't be let off the hook because she is defending more spending - there is every chance she believes the NIH is a way to perform religious miracles if its budget goes up.
Anyway, if a Republican said something so goofy about science research I assume more than one person in the blogosphere would notice.
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