As some of you probably heard, last week Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) managed to get an amendment passed prohibiting the US National Science Foundation from funding any research in political science, unless the research can be “certified” as “promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.” This sort of political interference with the peer-review process, of course, sets a chilling precedent for all academic research, regardless of discipline. (What’s next, an amendment banning computer science research, unless it has applications to scheduling baseball games or slicing apple pies?) But on researching further, I discovered that Sen. Coburn has long had it in for the NSF, and even has a whole webpage listing his grievances against the agency. Most of it is the usual “can you believe they wasted money to study something so silly or obvious?,” but by far my favorite tidbit is the following:
Inappropriate staff behavior including porn surfing and Jello wrestling and skinny-dipping at NSF-operated facilities in Antarctica.
It occurred to me that the NSF really has no need to explain this one, since a complete explanation is contained in a single word of the charge itself: Antarctica. Personally, I’d support launching an investigation of NSF’s Antarctica facilities, were it discovered that the people stuck in them weren’t porn surfing and Jello wrestling and skinny-dipping.