The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Archive for February 6th, 2009

Time to Invest in Science

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 6, 2009

There were two recent pieces of news that caught my attention regarding basic scientific research & science education in the United States. Unfortunately, neither of them are good – I’ll deal with them one at a time in their own blog entries.

i want you for science

The first is an email I received about the current wrangling in the U.S. Congress over President Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package. It seems that some Senators are proposing to cut a large portion of the proposed increase in science funding in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. You can read the details at this Talking Points Memo link, but here is a brief summary…

NASA exploration $750,000,000 = 50%
NSF $1,402,000,000 = 100%
NOAA $427,000,000 = 34.94%
NIST $218,000,000 = 37.91%
DOE energy efficiency & renewable energy $1,000,000,000 = 38%
DOE office of science $100,000,000 = 100%

Fortunately, the folks over at Science Debate 2008 are making a big stink out of this situation. I think their own words in the email I received say it best

… science and technology are responsible for half of the economic development of the United States since WWII and yet, if current trends hold, some, such as the Business Roundtable, have predicted that 90% of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia within 5 years.

The United States simply MUST renew our investment in the single greatest economic engine this country has ever known. Small federal investments in scientific research have helped produce things like the internet and the transistor that have consistently delivered multi-trillion dollar economies.

So, if you’re as upset as I am about this situation (and you’re a United States citizen), take a moment to contact your Senators and let them know how you feel. Here are some tips, from the Science Debate 2008 folks, about what to say

1. WHAT TO DO: call and email your two U.S. senators. Contact from a constituent on a wonky issue like this will have enormous influence. Calling is better than email, but do both if you can.

Go here to find your Senator, and select your state in the drop down box in the upper right hand corner:

Tell them in your own words to reject the reduction
effort in the stimulus bill led by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) when it comes to science.

Note that most Senator’s web pages contain a form (e.g. – CONTACT ME) that you can fill out to contact the Senator. Also, use your own words since identical
messages get rejected by the Senators’ staff. You can adapt language from my previous email or from below, but be sure to personalize it.


A) Science & technology have produced half of the economic growth of the United States since WWII.

B) Spending on basic research is the single greatest economic engine this country has ever known.

C) Funding to federal granting agencies is about as “shovel-ready” a stimulus as you can get. If the granting agencies lower their score thresholds for awards across the board the money will be flowing within months, leading to rapid hiring and increased purchasing from technical service and supply companies that are largely American, and creating thousands of the kinds of high-quality jobs the country needs.

Sending your Senator a quick email may not seem like much, but if enough of us do it, then we can have a huge impact. Remember, if we don’t stand up for U.S. science, who will?

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