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Senator Coburn strikes again

0_61_coburn_tom_320_xlargeIt’s as predictable as a curse word in a Bob Saget comedy routine. Periodically, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn puts out a review of the government projects that he and his staff have designated as wasteful government spending. And each time, his list includes a number of research grants that he thinks are preposterous. Silly. Emblematic of a Washington that is severely out of touch with the American people. In these reports, science becomes a laugh line.

Earlier this year, Sen. Coburn worked to partially defund political science research; political scientists have warned that such efforts damage public debate and are a “remarkable embarrassment for the world’s exemplary democracy.”

Two years ago, the senator criticized experiments that put shrimp on a treadmill. If his staffers had contacted the principal researcher – as journalists eventually did — they would have learned that the experiments measured the impact of water quality on shrimp health. Pretty important to a $10 billion industry.

This time around, they shake their heads in consternation at federal initiatives to “count sheep,” referring to U.S. Geological Survey and other agency unmanned aircraft missions that allow the government to collect information on everything from wildfires to earthquakes in previously inaccessible areas. This data can help legislators and government officials make more informed decisions.

Click here to read more from this December 19, 2013 Union of Concerned Scientists post by Michael Halpern.

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