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Senate staff reshuffle: Climate denial is everywhere

The recent elections returned Republicans to control of the Senate, which means all the committees within the chamber will see their leadership change. This really shouldn’t be a scientific issue. And yet, in the current environment, where science is often a political football, it really will be one. To understand why, you just have to look at what’s happened with the House Science Committee, where Republicans have been in power…

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Short-term loss, long-term gain for climate change?

Image by AndyHogan14 There’s been a lot of anxiety in climate change circles after Tuesday’s election ushered in a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. The Wednesday morning headlines were dire, including this one from Vox: “The biggest loser in this election is the climate.” On its face, I agree. The chances of bold climate action within the next two years took a big hit Tuesday. Coupled with the latest…

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Should the Government Fund Only Science in the “National Interest”?

National Geographic The glass-and-concrete headquarters of the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, normally hosts scientists who decide the fate of fellow researchers’ grant proposals. But in a nondescript spare office on the 12th floor, new players have set up shop: congressional aides reviewing the merits of scientific studies conducted with government funding. The two aides are evaluating the scientific merit of research proposals submitted to the the $7-billion-per-year agency,…

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Battle between NSF and House science committee escalates

Four times this past summer, in a spare room on the top floor of the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) outside of Washington, D.C., two congressional staffers spent hours poring over material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade. Each folder contained confidential information that included the initial application, reviewer comments on its merit, correspondence between program officers and principal investigators, and…

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Why Congress should fund social science

“Cosmos,” the fascinating television series, tells us not only about science, engineering and mathematics but also its history. In one episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson tells the story of how, during the 17th century, the Royal Society in England funded Hisotria Piscium, a groundbreaking (at the time) book on the history of fish. When the book failed to sell, the financial loss was so severe that the Royal Society had to…

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The Next Frontier In The War On Science

The Obama administration and the scientific community at large are expressing serious alarm at a House Republican bill that they argue would dramatically undermine way research is conducted in America. Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014,” the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on…

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Science reviews FY2015 White House budget proposal

President Barack Obama on Tuesday released a $3.901 trillion budget request to Congress, including proposals for a host of federal research agencies. The unveiling is just the beginning of the annual budget process; Congress will now chew on the proposal, and is likely to ignore many of the White House’s suggestions. Still, the budget request offers insight into the White House’s research priorities, and can play an important role in…

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Senator Coburn strikes again

It’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…

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