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Duke University

Social science caricature sets back human progress

Social science caricature sets back human progress

The June 29 op-ed by physician and molecular biologist Henry I. Miller, "With NSF Funds Limited, Is $697,177 for Climate Change Musical Worth It?," raised important questions about accountability, but it unfairly implied that most social science research is frivolous. Ever since the days of Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.), whose Golden Fleece Awards in the 1970s and '80s famously roasted research projects with obscure or silly-sounding titles, government-funded efforts to understand human behavior have been a favorite target for attacks. Now the attacks are expanding to more broadly target basic science, which focuses on the long-term acquisition of knowledge rather than on...