Removing peer review from science in the NSF?
So, apparently the chief sponsor of the SOPA bill (aka Stop Online Piracy Act aka the Let the Government Censor the Internet Act), Texas Republican congressman Lamar Smith (21st district) has a new bill in the works. It appears to be just as “great” as SOPA was:
- SOPA creator’s latest bill proposes stripping peer-review from science funding (via Raw Story)
- U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants (via Science Insider)
Basically, Rep. Smith thinks that it’s a good idea to do away with the peer-review aspect of deciding who gets grant funding from the National Science Foundation. Let me repeat that: Smith thinks that it’s a good idea to remove one of the most crucial aspects of science, from science. Other concerns with the bill as proposed is that it greatly plays down the importance of replication and duplication of experiments, one of the primary ways we know things to be true and not just a Type I or Type II error.
Luckily, Smith has a very strong science background to back up these changes. Primarily…he’s not one and has no training in any scientific field. Despite serving on the House’s Committee on Science, Space, and Technology for over two decades, he is a climate change denier. Not exactly stellar credentials so far.
And then, there is the matter of Smith identifying as Christian Scientists. Not that he is a Christian who is a scientist, mind you. He instead subscribes to the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy (please go and read that page, as it helps one to understand just how really, really out there her “teachings” and philosophy were) and their resultant adoption by the Church of Christ, Scientist. Chief among these is believing that if someone is ill or sick with a disease, they do not need medical treatment, but instead that “sickness is an error” which could be cured via special types of prayer.
Let me just lay that out: the current chair of the House Committee on SCIENCE thinks that disease is cured by prayer and not caused by microbes, infections, and the like. This is the same person who thinks it is a good idea to remove peer review and replication from the nation’s largest science funding agency.
How in the world does Smith have any influence on the nation’s science? In no rational world would this man have anything to do with decisions that impact the future of scientific research…which goes to show you how this is most certainly not a rational world. Maybe he would benefit from a watching (or three) of my talk on what makes science science?
For our final word on this nonsense, we turn to local interwebs celebrity, Sweet Brown: