Most researchers regard their work as vital to society, even if that value is only higher order and the chain to societal benefit is tenuous to outsiders. That's no different than any other job - people at the Department of Motor Vehicles feel like the entire state would halt without them and, in an elaborate food chain, they are right, and the same holds true for environmentalists who worry that some obscure critter going extinct will have a butterfly effect on worldwide ecology. In a domino world, they are also correct.
But researchers are different than those other examples because they can't just do their jobs, they have to not only show they are doing their jobs, they have to prove they should continue doing them, and then raise the money to do it.
It's common belief that Vikings visited Newfoundland, therefore reaching the New World from Europe before Christopher Columbus, but a new genetic analysis claims not only did Vikings visit North America, they brought natives back to Europe with them. And had babies.
The report in the latest edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology says researchers sequenced the complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome of 11 people with haplogroup C1, a lineage that was involved in the settlement of North America over 12,000 years ago, from four different families. No problem, they moved there recently, right?
The federal government rarely succeeds in its attempts to legislate what I would call positive things - this is because the government has no power beyond restricting money and every effort to exceed that is met with resistance by constitutional scholars and states.
A progressive culture like the US wants more government whereas a liberal culture like the US wants freedom, and I would argue the best way to implement both goals is that, rather than attempting positive change (and failing - see American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Affordable Health Care for America Act) , government stick to punitive actions.
Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, had a life-changing event occur almost one year ago. On November 19th, 2009, a thousand e-mail messages and documents, many his correspondence, were released to the public.
Many stressed that those messages were stolen(1), as if the process vindicated the content (would it do so if damning emails had been from Exxon or BP?) but that was small solace because climate science was already suffering backlash and climate science detractors had a field day alleging the entire process was tainted.
Blogging really only became a communications whirlwind when President George W. Bush was in the White House so, for the most part, science blogger outrage focused on his actions as President, and those of the Republican Congress.
Criticisms of Bush were so prevalent it seemed like Republicans must be anti-science because so many Democratic science bloggers said so (and there were no Republicans in science blogging to dispute it), with charges of reports being edited and various unpopular (and later, it turned out, not evidence-based) restrictions on areas like human embryonic stem cell research.