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Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

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Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Old 10-07-09, 06:00 PM
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Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

http://coburn.senate.gov/public/inde...fcfb490ec11%29

and more specifics here

http://coburn.senate.gov/public/inde...5-846640c2c880

The National Science Foundation (which receives a 6.6% increase in this bill over last year) spent $91.3 million over the last 10 years on political “science.” The purpose of this amendment is not to restrict science, but rather to better focus scarce basic research dollars on the important scientific endeavors that can expand our knowledge of true science and yield breakthroughs and discoveries that can improve the human condition.
His main gripe as I see it, is that Political Science, is not a science in the way most Americans understand science.

Here are some of the programs he thinks are unimportant:
- $188,206 to ask the question, “Why do political candidates make vague statements, and what are the consequences?” “In addition to advancing our understanding of politics, the project will have several broader impacts,” according to NSF, including “practical lessons for candidates, advisors, and citizens who are involved in political campaigns;”6
- $152,253 to examine ―Political Discussion in the Workplace‖ to examine “practical insights into how the workplace might be utilized better as a context for promoting the goals of both broader and deeper public discourse;”7
- $11,825 to study “Prime Time Politics: Television News and the Visual Framing of War;‖8
- $91,601 to conduct a survey to determine why people are for or against American military conflicts;9
- $130,525 to conduct a survey on the impact of Medicare reform on senior citizens’ political views and participation. This research examines whether or not changes to the program enacted by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 is influencing seniors‟ “orientations toward government, vote choice, and regard for the two political parties.” According to NSF, “this project not only presents a significant advance for the scholarly literature on policy feedback effects, but it will also contribute
to future debates on one of the largest public programs in the United States. By examining how senior citizens have fared under this highly consequential reform of Medicare, this study will help lawmakers and other policy actors as they continue to reform the program and address the needs of this vulnerable population.”10
- $143,254 to evaluate ―whip counts‖ by party leaders in the United States Congress to determine the impact of party leaders in the legislative process and how successful party leaders are at mobilizing support for party programs; 11
- $50,000 to hold a conference on the effect of youtube.com on the 2008 election;12
- $8,992 to study campaign finance reform, with the stated intent of providing “a basis for assessing future proposed changes to campaign finance regulations;13
- $70,731 to examine the ―costs‖ of voting, such as the time associated with locating the voting place, waiting in line to vote, traveling to and from a polling place and “learning enough about the ballot choices to make one's vote minimally informed;”14 and
- $958 for a direct mail survey of the residents of Celebration, Florida regarding their feelings of living in privately operated city.15 Celebration is an unincorporated master-planned community near Walt Disney World Resort with 9,000 residents16 that was founded in 1994 by the Walt Disney Company.
NSF has also provided federal financial support for:
- The ―Human Rights Data Project‖ which concluded that the United States has been “increasingly willing to torture „enemy combatants‟ and imprison suspected terrorists,” leading to a worldwide increase in “human rights violations” as others followed-suit;17
- Research conducted by several universities to determine why white working-class voters voted Republican in recent national elections. The study is an attempt to explain what the authors describe as the
“puzzling behavior” of white working-class voters who vote for Republican candidates that support economic priorities that “seem to favor the wealthy at the expense of redistributive policies that would provide immediate benefits to larger segments of the population;”18
- A UC Berkeley study to test the impact of terrorism threats on the presidential race (the study found that it would not be a smart move for John McCain in the last election to play up imminent terrorist threats);19 - Production of “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,‖ in order to provide “Complete, live, prime-time, gavel-to-gavel coverage of 2008 Democratic and GOP national conventions;”20 and
I think it is fairly well known that I am ABD in Political Science. I think this is preposterous on many levels. If what I do is not science, than neither is economics, sociology, anthropology and so on.
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Old 10-07-09, 06:57 PM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

I would agree that it is a science similar to econ, sociology, etc. But I would rather see all of budget get a reduction rather than an increase. For no other reason than we don't have the money.

Btw, your political science stuff that you have posted has always been most interesting.
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Old 10-07-09, 07:16 PM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

$188,206 to ask the question, “Why do political candidates make vague statements, and what are the consequences?”
How much does it cost to answer the question?
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Old 10-07-09, 07:47 PM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Cut it all. Not because I don't think its science, but because we should be cutting everything we can right now. The federal gov is such a bloated beast I would advocate cuting or turning over to the states about 75% of it.
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Old 10-07-09, 08:22 PM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Just because the thread reminded me of it:

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Old 10-07-09, 09:33 PM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Originally Posted by Decadance View Post
I think it is fairly well known that I am ABD in Political Science. I think this is preposterous on many levels. If what I do is not science, than neither is economics, sociology, anthropology and so on.
Name five falsifiable predictions of political science.
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Old 10-07-09, 11:48 PM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Limiting this challenge just to predictions eliminates much of the work in political science. Like many sciences, including so called hard sciences, one of the goals is to explain, not just predict. Furthermore, unlike more familiar hard sciences, much of political science is stated in probabilistic terms, because while human beings and systems do behave in trends, they are not mechanical.

That being said:
1. Duverge's Law
2. Krehbiel's Pivotal Politics Summary Here
3. Aldrich's Why Parties Summary Here
4.Zaller's The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion Summary Here
5. Huber and Stephens Development and Crisis of the Welfare State: Parties and Policies in Global Markets Intro CHP here as Doc

This are simply some of my favorite empirical works. There is some level of methodological pluralism, though all are empirical. Realize, I did not use work out of my own sub-field, as I thought that would be cheating.
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Old 10-08-09, 10:50 AM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Originally Posted by Decadance View Post
Limiting this challenge just to predictions eliminates much of the work in political science. Like many sciences, including so called hard sciences, one of the goals is to explain, not just predict. Furthermore, unlike more familiar hard sciences, much of political science is stated in probabilistic terms, because while human beings and systems do behave in trends, they are not mechanical.

That being said:
1. Duverge's Law
2. Krehbiel's Pivotal Politics Summary Here
3. Aldrich's Why Parties Summary Here
4.Zaller's The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion Summary Here
5. Huber and Stephens Development and Crisis of the Welfare State: Parties and Policies in Global Markets Intro CHP here as Doc

This are simply some of my favorite empirical works. There is some level of methodological pluralism, though all are empirical. Realize, I did not use work out of my own sub-field, as I thought that would be cheating.
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Old 10-08-09, 10:52 AM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Originally Posted by Decadance View Post
Limiting this challenge just to predictions eliminates much of the work in political science. Like many sciences, including so called hard sciences, one of the goals is to explain, not just predict. Furthermore, unlike more familiar hard sciences, much of political science is stated in probabilistic terms, because while human beings and systems do behave in trends, they are not mechanical.

That being said:
1. Duverge's Law
2. Krehbiel's Pivotal Politics Summary Here
3. Aldrich's Why Parties Summary Here
4.Zaller's The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion Summary Here
5. Huber and Stephens Development and Crisis of the Welfare State: Parties and Policies in Global Markets Intro CHP here as Doc

This are simply some of my favorite empirical works. There is some level of methodological pluralism, though all are empirical. Realize, I did not use work out of my own sub-field, as I thought that would be cheating.
I'll add:

Hibbs, Douglas - "Political Parties and Macroeconomic Policy"
Kalyvas, Stathis - The Rise of Christian Democracy in Europe
Lijphart, Arend - Patterns of Democracy
Kramer, Gerald - "Short-Term Fluctuations in U.S. Voting Behavior, 1896-1964"

I could literally go on, and on, as (I'm sure) so could the esteemed gentleman from the state to the north.
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Old 10-08-09, 11:23 AM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Originally Posted by Decadance View Post
Limiting this challenge just to predictions eliminates much of the work in political science. Like many sciences, including so called hard sciences, one of the goals is to explain, not just predict. Furthermore, unlike more familiar hard sciences, much of political science is stated in probabilistic terms, because while human beings and systems do behave in trends, they are not mechanical.
All well and good, but the key to something being a science is falsifiability. Looking at the examples you posted, I don't think any of them would impress Karl Popper.
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Old 10-08-09, 11:54 AM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

It uses the scientific method but in the end its an applied science and I have no problem increasing funding for both the physical sciences and applied sciences that have a greater positive effect like psychology
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Old 10-08-09, 12:08 PM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

While Popper is correct about the crux of science being falsification (see my critique of evolution in the famous kvrdave post in other), Popper's understanding of what falsification means is based on a mechanical application of hard science techniques. Indeed, there are some areas of hard sciences (physics and math) that when dealing with statistical distributions and probability would also not meet Poppers idea of falsifiable (eg. the best distribution to summarize the time to failure for ball bearings is a uniform distribution, where each point on the time line is equally probable).

I can't speak for other Political Scientists, but I find myself much closer to the views of Lakatos on falsification, which is based upon a Kuhnian view of a sort.
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Old 10-12-09, 10:31 AM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

Hey Tom, the NSF funded the research for this brand new Nobel Laureate in Economics. Elinor Ostrom just happens to be a formally trained Political Scientist.

Congrats Lin!

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe...ef=igoogle_cnn

Last edited by Decadance; 10-12-09 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 10-12-09, 10:49 AM
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Re: Sen. Tom Coburn trying to cut NSF funding for Political Science today

I don't see the point of this aside from political posturing, much like the Conservative 'fruit fly' meme during the election. The total NSF budget is positively miniscule compared to our Defense budget, or Health and Human Services or hell, even the Dept. of Agriculture. I don't have any strong opinions about the programs they're trying to cut, but I don't think the NSF is where we should be directing our budget woes. In fact it's one of the last places I would look for wasteful spending. All the programs outlined in the OP don't even net to $1M.

Last edited by Nausicaa; 10-12-09 at 10:52 AM.
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