Letters to the Editor

The March for Science

What was the March for Science about? Was it physical science or political science?

It was about political science because federal research and development (R&D) funding hasn’t changed much in the last 40 years. The federal budget has grown rapidly in the last 20 years due to increased spending on social services not discretionary services. The Association for the Advancement of Science shows that the federal government spent about $147 billion on R&D in 2016, or 3.7 percent of expenditures. The marchers should note the decrease of 10 percent from 2010 due to a 17 percent cut in defense spending.

Obama DID NOT INCREASE the amount of money spent on non-defense R&D over eight years.

The Science Day message was that new discoveries will vanish if we don’t keep spending on R&D at the current rate, ignoring our $500 billion/year deficit.

What do we get for our money?

In 2015, the Department of Defense approved a $283,500 grant to monitor the day-to-day life of baby gnatcatchers.

America’s feeling pretty polarized these days. The National Science Foundation (NSF) gave the Massachusetts Institute of Technology $400,000 to ponder the burning question: “Does media choice cause polarization, or does polarization cause media choice?”

In 2014, the National Institute of Health spent over $800,000 to make a video game about food fights.

In 2012, the NSF gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000. The study was to see if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger, would it help them with their putting?

Does anyone seriously believe that the $147 billion in research money doled out by government is being spent wisely? There are FORTY government agencies studying climate change issues with a lot of overlap. It’s time that someone start auditing this activity. Fortunately, President Trump is taking a look.

I support government funding of research and development, especially at universities. It made it possible for me to write a master’s thesis on high-energy physics. But to think we are starving R&D in this country is absurd.

PAUL RAVELING
El Dorado Hills

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