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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Republicans attempt to eliminate Peer-Review Process

   
Author Topic: Republicans attempt to eliminate Peer-Review Process
Elison R. Salazar
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Can't get outraged anymore really.
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Orincoro
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I don't believe you.
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Samprimary
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I swear I waltzed into this thread convinced that this could not be an accurate description of the conservatives acting like that much of a stereotype of themselves

quote:
mith’s “High Quality Research Act,” embedded below, scraps the NSF’s current peer-review process, which solicits the opinions of independent experts as to the “intellectual merit” and “broader impacts” of proposed research. In its stead, a new set of non-scientific standards for science funding are proposed.

Those proposed standards are three-fold, requiring the NSF’s director to certify that all accepted research proposals are: “in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science; the finest quality, is groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.” The draft bill also requires that the NSF director report to Congress how the same criteria can be applied to “other Federal science agencies.”

In addition to the problem of stripping out a transparent, peer-review process, the new standards also discount the importance of research duplication, an important part of the scientific process. Without overlapping research, scientists cannot independently verify experimental results from other laboratories.

this party can't die fast enough
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King of Men
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Ok, working scientist here. In favour of peer review. But the fact is, the taxpayers have a right to choose what they want to pay for. If they decide to pay for applied instead of pure science, and if they decide to use criteria other than purely science-internal ones, that's their prerogative. Science funding is a privilege, not a right; and him as pays the piper, calls the tune. If you don't like that, don't take NSF money.
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Destineer
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I like that "We live in a democracy, so let's not object to any proposed laws, because if they get passed they're the will of the people" line. It works all over the place!
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Lyrhawn
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Congress hasn't done anything that reflects my will in years.
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Dan_Frank
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I don't think that's what KoM was saying.

I bet he thinks you should object. He's just also okay with the possibility that the majority of voters disagree with him and want to change the parameters of government funding for science.

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James Tiberius Kirk
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Item #1 is actually in the NSF mission statement, #2 is rather nebulous, and aspects of #3 are among several existing criteria for grant review. The bill itself is remarkably vague considering that is supposedly the intellectual product of a congressional hearing and several interviews. It is slightly less than three pages long. Ironically (or maybe not), NSF grants are more thoroughly described.

I imagine that specific aspects of its implementation are open to considerable interpretation.

In fact, I looked over Rep Smith's letter to the Director, and his cited editorial in Roll Call. Given what he wrote, I suspect this proposal is just a reflection of the fact that there is a subset of legislators who believe it is the their job to be outraged about federal spending, and propose 'solutions.'

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
I suspect this proposal is just a reflection of the fact that there is a subset of legislators who believe it is the their job to be outraged about federal spending, and propose 'solutions.'
Sounds like the GOP mission statement for the last...40 years.
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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I invoke whatever rule it is that says you shouldn't immediately attribute to malice whatever can be adequately explained by stupidity. I can't see any hidden agenda in here; it's just a bunch of scientifically-ignorant politicians thinking that duplicitous experiments are a bad thing because "you're wasting taxpayer money on experiments that have already been done!"

It's a product of how Republican politicians have made spending cuts their rallying cry over the past few years, and how many are ignorant enough of the scientific process to fail to understand how peer-review works. And also how "create jobs" is the ultimate measure of the benefits of a bill.

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Samprimary
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Whether or not there is evidence of special interest being a player in this doesn't matter.

As in, it doesn't matter if this is an assault on scientific processes for the sake of greed, or for the sake of pure idiocy. Either way it still creates an equally pressing argument that a party that supports this can't be ushered out of office fast enough.

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Aros
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This site is pure idiocy. You all do realize that this isn't endemic of all Republicans, right? It's just one nutjob. . . .
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King of Men
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Edit: This was in response to a post by Samp which has since disappeared. There were clearly good reasons for Samp to remove it, so I won't quote it. Just be aware that there was some context to this post that is no longer apparent.

Edit the second: "Disappeared" should read "disappeared from where I was looking for it". It's still there. It is of course possible that it magically disappeared and then re-appeared when I went back to look again.


So... your outrage turns out not to be based on actual facts. Try some commentary from a man who actually read the bill. Most important points, on peer review and on replication:

quote:
The bill does not ban peer-review, in the sense of the scientific peer review that happens in journals. It changes the review process for grant funding from one where domain experts review which grants are likely to be useful, to one where the head of the NSF chooses projects to fund directly. Because the domain experts are sort of “peers” of the scientists involved, and they’re “reviewing” the grants, you can sort of call this process “peer review”, and if you do that, this bill “ends peer review”. But if you just write a headline saying “REPUBLICANS TRY TO ABOLISH PEER REVIEW IN NEW ANTI-SCIENCE BILL”, no.
quote:
The bill is not trying to ban the replication process either (sadly, if there are any politicians who hate studies being replicated, they’re probably pretty content with the current state of science already.) The bill actually bans “duplication” of studies, which surprisingly is not the same concept despite being an extremely similar sounding word! Duplication seems to be the process of getting several times as much money for the same research by applying for multiple grants without informing one grant agency that you already received a grant from the other.
How about we all calm down and try to oppose bad bills on their merits, as opposed to mouth-frothing outrage at how people who might slightly disagree with you over priorities can possibly be so stupid?

[ April 30, 2013, 12:31 PM: Message edited by: King of Men ]

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TomDavidson
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Something doesn't have to be true for all Republicans to be endemic in Republicans, and I would suggest that a general misunderstanding of science is endemic to legislators, and a general distrust of the scientific method is endemic to Republicans. The combination is unfortunate.
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King of Men
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Edit: I now see that Tom was responding to Aros's post, not to mine; and mine, in turn, was a response to a post of Samprimary's [strike]that has now disappeared[/strike]. Some confusion has obviously resulted.


Ah. So now the argument is no longer "This bill is anti-science and evidence of science-distrust in Republicans". Now it is just plain "Republicans are bad at science", no evidence offered.

When event A makes you say "X is true", and then it turns out that A is not in fact very strong evidence of X, you ought not to turns around and say "Well, X is true anyway, so A doesn't matter". A matters very much: It is what caused X to rise to your attention at this time. If your explanation that X caused A turns out to be wrong, then you should reduce your belief in X, not defend it as true in general. This is the fallacy of privileging the hypothesis.

An analogous case: Somebody is mugged on the street, and it is reported that the mugger was black. Several people immediately come out and say "Ah-hah, isn't his what we've always said? Black people are more criminal than white ones. It is known." Then the correct reports come out and show that the mugger was, in fact, white. What would you say if the response to this was "Well, ok, we were wrong in this specific case, but it's still true that blacks are overall more criminal."? I think you would not consider this a legitimate tactic of argument.

[ April 30, 2013, 12:31 PM: Message edited by: King of Men ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
So... your outrage turns out not to be based on actual facts.

The bill would replace the current peer review process for some things at the NSF with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress, and start a process of determining whether the same criteria should be adopted by every other federal science agency.

Bill is dumb and bad. It is proposed by a bad dumb man, Lamar Smith, who has a history of trying to undermine science in a way endemic (yes aros) to the republican party.

Proposal already got hit with pointed criticism by Johnson and has resulted in a NSF-supporting broadside by Obama. The end.

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King of Men
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quote:
peer review
Again: What you are calling "peer review" in the process of deciding who gets NSF funding is not peer review in the usual meaning of the word. It is not the case that journal articles will no longer be reviewed by other scientists if the bill passes. You are using the same phrase for two entirely different things, and thereby making the bill look much worse than it is.

quote:
Bill is dumb and bad.
Quite possibly true, but not supported by any actual argument of yours.

quote:
It is proposed by a bad dumb man
Irrelevant ad hom.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Edit: I now see that Tom was responding to Aros's post, not to mine; and mine, in turn, was a response to a post of Samprimary's [strike]that has now disappeared[/strike]. Some confusion has obviously resulted.

All of my posts that I have made in this thread are still here, and none have been removed.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
It is proposed by a bad dumb man
Irrelevant ad hom.
Go read up on him, then. I only encourage it.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Edit: I now see that Tom was responding to Aros's post, not to mine; and mine, in turn, was a response to a post of Samprimary's [strike]that has now disappeared[/strike]. Some confusion has obviously resulted.

All of my posts that I have made in this thread are still here, and none have been removed.
Yes, sorry. That's why I added the 'strike' code, which doesn't seem to work on this forum. Also see my second edit to the post above.
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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
So... your outrage turns out not to be based on actual facts.

The bill would replace the current peer review process for some things at the NSF with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress, and start a process of determining whether the same criteria should be adopted by every other federal science agency.
I'm actually not convinced that this bill, as written, would actually accomplish this or much of anything else.
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Aros
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+1 to KoM.

The argument is: one Republican is crazy and anti-science, therefore all Republicans are crazy and anti-science.

Isn't this the same line of reasoning that Fox "News" uses? There are a handful of extreme lefty near-socialist Democrats, therefore the president and all the rest are socialists.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
The argument is: one Republican is crazy and anti-science, therefore all Republicans are crazy and anti-science.

This is an argument that you alone are supposing.

There is a huge difference between "literally everyone in the republican party is crazy and anti-science herp derp" and noting another flagrant example to dump on the pile wherein a prominent figure in the republican party demonstrates a continued desire to do things that will undermine the sciences. In a way which is par for the course for both him and for a party that will put him in legislative committees in charge of science.

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Aros
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Sam -- read the title of this post. Hey, while you're at it, read some of the responses.
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Samprimary
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"Republicans attempt to eliminate Peer-Review Process" does not mean "one Republican is crazy and anti-science, therefore all Republicans are crazy and anti-science."

I will repeat it for your benefit: it's an argument you alone are supposing.

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Aros
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So, it should read "A Republican attempts to eliminate Peer-Review Process"?

Dwerp

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TomDavidson
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quote:
There are a handful of extreme lefty near-socialist Democrats...
There are?
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Elison R. Salazar
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Yeah that's definitely a citation needed moment, I think they're all center right neoliberals at this point.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer:
I invoke whatever rule it is that says you shouldn't immediately attribute to malice whatever can be adequately explained by stupidity. I can't see any hidden agenda in here; it's just a bunch of scientifically-ignorant politicians thinking that duplicitous experiments are a bad thing because "you're wasting taxpayer money on experiments that have already been done!"

We have a right to expect neither stupidity nor malice from our lawmakers. And that expectation ought to be reflected in how we vote, because when it comes to writing laws, there is no attributing to stupidity what might as well be malice- what is important is what ends up on the books.


quote:
The argument is: one Republican is crazy and anti-science, therefore all Republicans are crazy and anti-science.
Pretty sure the argument is that this party is pathetic for entertaining the likes of Lamar Smith, who as a Christian Scientist serving as Chairman of the House Committee on Science is attempting, quite transparently, to interject political maneuvering into the grant application process for hard science research- the only likely outcome of which would be to reduce the effectiveness of federal grants for scientific research.
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Elison R. Salazar
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I believe the worry is that Lamar Smith can open the door to legitimizing Intelligent Design somehow.
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King of Men
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Ok, great, then make those arguments using stuff Smith has done that's, you know, actually stupid. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill just because a bill has his name on it; it legitimises the Republican claim that this is just about partisanship and not real concern for science - this actually looks pretty accurate to me; clearly none of you read anything beyond the shock-horror headlines - and weakens the response when he does something that's actually a problem. Can I just remind you of the boy who got a grant to study predator-prey relationships between wolves and sheep?
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Destineer
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You think removing peer review from grant selection is a molehill?
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King of Men
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No, but for the third time, that's not what the bill does.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
No, but for the third time, that's not what the bill does.

I think KOM works for a lab that's got a hot but worthless drug about to go to market, and has been lobbying for this change. [Smile]
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Ok, great, then make those arguments using stuff Smith has done that's, you know, actually stupid. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill just because a bill has his name on it; it legitimises the Republican claim that this is just about partisanship and not real concern for science - this actually looks pretty accurate to me; clearly none of you read anything beyond the shock-horror headlines - and weakens the response when he does something that's actually a problem. Can I just remind you of the boy who got a grant to study predator-prey relationships between wolves and sheep?

I read the bill. My reaction is to the bill. The headline, like all headlines about "that crazy bill they introduced," is stupid in the usual way: a bill is nothing until it is a law. My concern is that, yes, this person is the chairman of that committee. Guess who has a lot of sway in deciding which bills are even considered?


quote:
No, but for the third time, that's not what the bill does.
You are mistaken.
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T:man
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
There are a handful of extreme lefty near-socialist Democrats

God I wish.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by T:man:
quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
There are a handful of extreme lefty near-socialist Democrats

God I wish.
I actually laughed out loud at this.
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
No, but for the third time, that's not what the bill does.

I said, from grant selection. Not paper publication. The bill does do that.
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Samprimary
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Yes, if it helps to clear up confusion, we know there's 1. the peer review which is most often what someone is talking about when they talk about scientific peer review and 2. the peer review for funding/grant stuff that is being talked about here
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TomDavidson
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*nod* This bill just makes it easier for politicians to turn grant funding into another form of pork.
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Darth_Mauve
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Worse. It allows political control over what science tries to prove or disprove. Do you think the Tobacco industry would have allowed its representatives to approve research into carcinogenics? Do you think the oil industry would have allowed representatives to approve research into the dangers of leaded fuel? Do you think today's energy companies would allow research funds into the dangers of Fracking--unless they could guarantee a positive result?
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Glenn Arnold
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Just throwing in an additional reaction to the bill from another article:
quote:
any research done using federal funds (which is the majority of research done in the United States) must have its results and finding approved by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives.If the findings are not agreed to, the research is taken from the researchers and disposed of by Congress as it sees fit.

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