Not only wrong…

As boingboing noted and NewScientist covered, the GOP wants the American public to try to judge what science projecs need cutting. A key paragraph for me:

The suggested search terms – “success, culture, media, games, social norm, lawyers, museum, leisure, stimulus” – and the contrast drawn between “worthy research in the hard sciences” and “questionable projects” hint that researchers funded by the NSF’s Directorate of Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences have the most to fear.

Why is this such a bat-guano insane idea?

I’ve taught research methods classes. One of the hardest things to teach students is this:

The things you take for granted as “normal” need to be tested as well. Think of all the things your parents or grandparents “knew”. Even in the hard sciences, we “knew” that going too fast – like 60-70 mph – would do horrible things to the human body. We “knew” the capabilities of women versus men. We “knew” that lobotomies were the best way to treat people.

We have cultural assumptions. They’re the things we “just know”.

And almost always, it’s not quite right.

So when you hear about the research that proves (or investigates) something that “everybody knows”, maybe you should take a second. Be glad someone actually tried to find out the truth.