The Stupid Party

The U.S. currently spends about $27 billion a year on biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health, and something less than a quarter of that amount ($6 billion per year) on all other scientific research through the National Science Foundation. Of that smaller amount, less than 5% ($247 million) goes to “social, behavioral, and economic sciences.”

Yes, biomedical studies are expensive. And yes, everyone wants a cure fox X, by tomorrow morning if possible. But the imbalance is bad for the scientific enterprise, and probably not optimal even from the narrow perspective of improving health care, let alone health outcomes.

But don’t worry: Eric Cantor has a solution to the problem: eliminate all federal social funding for social science. Because of course the less we know about how social systems work, the more likely we are to believe Republican b.s.

I suppose it’s no surprise that the Stupid Party is also the Party of Ignorance. The fact that research and higher education are two major industries in which the U.S. remains the undoubted world leader doesn’t matter to them as long as the people who work in that sector (1) insist on finding and communicating inconvenient truth and (2) vote Democratic. But couldn’t Cantor at least change his name to Kent? His current behavior constitutes an embarrassment to the rest of the Jews.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

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Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.