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Nature editorial opposes funding cuts to political science

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In an editorial, “A different agenda” (Nature 487, 271 19 July 2012), Nature’s editors inform us of government funding cuts to political science, which the editors oppose: “An attempt by Congress to save money by not funding political science seems to be motivated by ideological rather than financial reasons”:

The social sciences are an easy target for this type of attack because they are less cluttered with technical terminology and so seem easier for the layperson to assess. As social scientist Duncan Watts at Microsoft Research in New York City has pointed out: “Everyone has experience being human, and so the vast majority of findings in social science coincide with something that we have either experienced or can imagine experiencing.” This means that the Flakes of this world have little trouble proclaiming such findings obvious or insignificant.

Part of the blame must lie with the practice of labelling the social sciences as soft, which too readily translates as meaning woolly or soft-headed. …

Actually, it translates more often these days as not really a science and easily, willingly corrupted.

Where has this editorialist been all his life? A two-word response: Diedrik Stapel

There may be solutions, who knows? But Nature’s editors do their readers a disservice by second-guessing the motives or future plans of people who are fed up with paying for the Tamany Hall of the sciences.

True, people tend to notice more if it is aimed at them. But by now the stink should be evident to all. Maybe the discipline of funding cuts will help the discipline:

See, for example, Social science’s house is on fire, and top guns don’t seem to notice

Big news in peer review?: Reproducibility project!

The basic message should be aimed at the discipline, not the public: Reform or die.

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