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America, a country that has led the worlds of science and innovation for nearly a century is now reversing course! Excerpts from the Policy Forum, Science, VOL 341, 16 Aug 2013, follow.

    Item: The National Science Foundation, NSF, now cannot fund political science unless it promotes national security or the economic interests of the U.S.

    Item: A bill is now proposed in Congress to exclude funding for health economics research by the National Institute of Science.

Political Interference In Research Is Self-Defeating.

Hitler had his Himmler; Stalin had his Lysenko; both attempts to dominate the world are now history for the simple reason that politicians live in a different world—a word of denial and fantasy. this is instinct in many of us, but it also can arise by nurturing, training or brain washing. It is one thing to learn how to dominate others; it is quite another to create new science or the technologies derived therefrom.

Rising to high political office entails managing mass psychology and mythos (dogma or slight-of-hand at worst). Rising to credibility in science involves Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). These embrace Logos--facts and behaviors tied together and "explained" by logic. Only logos (STEM) has ever done much for the advancement of civilization over the last ten millennia.

Political Interference In Research Is Just That: Interference.

This follows the above. Politicians are simply unaware of the very real potential in social science, or its problem for that matter. Many must fear it, given their animosity toward the subject. For example 40% of all premature deaths arise from social choices. Why? Politicians are also unaware on another score. Their time is too limited for them to appraise a new proposal beyond its title and brief description, assuming they can at least do that. This feature affects politicians of all parties. We consult medical practitioners when we are ill or need direction. We consult engineers or other specialists when constructing something new and tangible. But what politician has the time or inclination to take the time necessary to ensure a wise or even probabilistic result when social science is concerned.

Political Ignorance of the scope of social science.

One cannot know too much, but this one is an example of a class of people who know too little of the true value of political science, not to mention social science, of which it is a sub-set. This one may underlie all the others. Academics, business leaders, philanthropists, and many whose business it is to influence government do recognize the value of and the necessity for pursuing social science.

Given this huge and extremely important dichotomy, why do you suppose it is so persistent in America?

Could it be that politicians too often fear social science because if it were seriously pursued, they might eventually have to embrace logos themselves?

How might that work?


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