Changes at NSF

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The biology proposal cycle at NSF is going to be changed into an annual cycle of preliminary and full proposals. The assistant director has detailed the changes in a letter to scientists.

August 15, 2011

Dear Colleague:

As you are no doubt aware, the proposal workload across the Foundation has increased dramatically over the past decade. For example in IOS, the number of unsolicited proposals received into the core programs during this time period has increased 43% while the number of awards made has decreased by 11 percentage points, from 28% to 17%. Clearly, this is a burden on the Program Directors and administrative staff at NSF as well as on the community, who, in addition to submitting proposals are also called upon to serve as ad hoc and panel reviewers.

Effective immediately, the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated new procedures for the submission and review of regular research proposals to the core programs within the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB), Division of Environmental Biology (DEB), and Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS). One goal of these new procedures is to reduce the burdens on the PI and reviewer communities associated with intensifying competition for limited funds. A second is to better manage proposal processing in the face of growing proposal submission numbers while maintaining the high quality of the merit review process and resulting funding selections 1. In response to these challenges, three BIO Divisions are revising their procedures for submission and review of research proposals. The changes for MCB were previously announced in a new solicitation (NSF-11-545).

DEB and IOS will both implement an annual cycle of preliminary and full proposals beginning in January 2012. Preliminary proposals will be accepted in January. Following review by a panel of outside experts, each applicant will be notified of a binding decision to Invite or Not Invite submission of a full proposal. Please note that each investigator is limited to submitting two preliminary proposals a year to either Division, whether as a PI, co-PI or lead senior investigator of a subaward.

All proposals submitted to DEB or IOS in response to the core program solicitations, and to the Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) and Long-term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) solicitations, must pass the preliminary proposal stage. The only exceptions are LTREB Renewals.

RAPIDs, EAGERs, conferences/workshops and supplemental funding requests will continue to be accepted at any time by IOS and DEB programs. Proposals submitted in response to special solicitations (e.g. BREAD, CAREER, CNH, EEID) will remain unaffected by these new review procedures. However, OPUS and RCN proposals will only be accepted by the core programs in DEB and IOS once a year at the August deadline for full proposals.

Full details can be found in a new Program Solicitation that will be posted on each Division’s website (DEB) and (IOS) . A single set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about these changes also can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub[…]key=nsf11079 and linked from each Division website. In addition, both IOS and DEB will be hosting webinars to provide further information, please see the Division websites for details and contact information if you have questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Dr. Joann Roskoski
Assistant Director (Acting)
Directorate for Biological Sciences

50 Comments

Yes, that came in my email too (as a current NSF grantee). It doesn’t affect me immediately (not till next time I apply), but what does it mean? They seemed to be descending into a death spiral where they got more and more applications because fewer and fewer of these were funded, so they would accept even fewer, and so on. Does this just make people wait longer before resubmitting after being turned down? And how will this preliminary-and-full proposal system work? Presumably you won’t have to wait till the following January to submit your full proposal. I suspect the preliminary proposal system is meant as a way of spending less effort reviewing proposals that will be turned down.

Oh, wait, I forgot, according to the experts over at Uncommon Descent, all we have to do is write proposals expressing our awed reverence for everything Charles Darwin ever said, and we will have ample amounts of money thrown at us without any requirement that it be used for actual research. ;-)

Joe Felsenstein said: Oh, wait, I forgot, according to the experts over at Uncommon Descent, all we have to do is write proposals expressing our awed reverence for everything Charles Darwin ever said, and we will have ample amounts of money thrown at us without any requirement that it be used for actual research. ;-)

Really? How do I get some of that money?

Along similar lines, every time I contradict, say, antivaxers I ask them who I should contact in Big Pharma to get my payoff – “because right now I’m doing it for nothing.”

Joe Felsenstein said:

Oh, wait, I forgot, according to the experts over at Uncommon Descent, all we have to do is write proposals expressing our awed reverence for everything Charles Darwin ever said, and we will have ample amounts of money thrown at us without any requirement that it be used for actual research. ;-)

Psst … I think you have to mention global warming as well.

SWT said:

Joe Felsenstein said:

Oh, wait, I forgot, according to the experts over at Uncommon Descent, all we have to do is write proposals expressing our awed reverence for everything Charles Darwin ever said, and we will have ample amounts of money thrown at us without any requirement that it be used for actual research. ;-)

Psst … I think you have to mention global warming as well.

It would be unfair to do that since then I will automatically get two piles of money when one would be all I could possibly spend.

Joe Felsenstein said:

It would be unfair to do that since then I will automatically get two piles of money when one would be all I could possibly spend.

Tell you what … sign me on as a co-author, and I’ll cut you 10% of my half.

I thought that we had grad students and postdocs two help us spend two piles of money.

From their NSF 11-079 Bulletin we find in item 5,

5. Are all BIO divisions switching to the new preliminary proposal solicitation?

No. Only DEB and IOS programs have implemented the preliminary proposal solicitation format. Please review the relevant solicitation carefully for specific requirements

So far this doesn’t appear to be an across-the-board procedure. But given the budget cutbacks and political climate, I am wondering if this is going to spread.

I suspect we are headed into a phase in which emphasis on applied research may result in the displacing or postponing of some important fundamental research.

We may even see other departments such as DOE and DOD picking up basic research under the guise of laying the foundations for applications or national security. Right after WWII, the navy funded a lot of basic research.

Even now, there are basic research projects in DOD that are attempting to lay the groundwork for future technology because many of the basic questions haven’t been answered satisfactorily yet. It also leaves lots of room for secrecy and sleaze (e.g., isomer weapons).

SWT said: Psst … I think you have to mention global warming as well.

Rick Perry’s book described global-warming science as “one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.”” Today (8/17/2011) he said “the issue of global warming has been politicized,” and argued that America should not spend billions of dollars addressing “a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective is more and more being put into question.”

The Rethuglicans aren’t even pretending to be sane any more.

Remember: “There is no Sanity Clause”.

Paul Burnett said:

SWT said: Psst … I think you have to mention global warming as well.

Rick Perry’s book described global-warming science as “one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.”” Today (8/17/2011) he said “the issue of global warming has been politicized,” and argued that America should not spend billions of dollars addressing “a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective is more and more being put into question.”

The Rethuglicans aren’t even pretending to be sane any more.

Rick Perry did a rain dance the other day with his Christian fundies backing him up. The drought in Texas will surely end soon with a torrential downpour proving proving that global warming is a myth and that god is on his side. In the meantime Perry might very well receive federal disaster relief funds for his thirsty oilmen and all the crops that have dried up, which of course he’d deny he desperately needs.

Mike Elzinga said: I suspect we are headed into a phase in which emphasis on applied research may result in the displacing or postponing of some important fundamental research.

DARPA seems to be continuing the “advanced tech research” – it was always DARPA’s charter to do the “blue sky” stuff since the armed services are focused on mission needs. Some really fascinating battlefield medicine stuff with obvious civilian applications.

Fundamental science? That tends to be a hard call for military financing. I recall that the Arecibo radio telescope was originally designated an “ionospheric research” station, it appears as a ploy to get DoD funding. Don’t see stuff like that flying these days.

Paul Burnett said:

SWT said: Psst … I think you have to mention global warming as well.

Rick Perry’s book described global-warming science as “one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.”” Today (8/17/2011) he said “the issue of global warming has been politicized,” and argued that America should not spend billions of dollars addressing “a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective is more and more being put into question.”

The Rethuglicans aren’t even pretending to be sane any more.

Chris Matthews had David E. Campbell and Joan Walsh on talking about the Tea Party this evening.

Also, Campbell and Robert Putnam had an article in the New York Times yesterday.

mrg Wrote:

DARPA seems to be continuing the “advanced tech research” – it was always DARPA’s charter to do the “blue sky” stuff since the armed services are focused on mission needs. Some really fascinating battlefield medicine stuff with obvious civilian applications.

Nuclear weapons followed so very closely after the discovery of fission that I suspect this is the reason that the Navy was so willing to support basic research after the war. That was, of course, before DARPA.

I remember back in the 1980s when the Air Force swooped in and classified a bunch of research in the area of electro-optics; even to the point of having presentations pulled at national meetings.

I have had some experience with this myself. There has been – and, I suspect, continues to be – some extremely interesting fundamental research going on and being funded by the military. There are good reasons for this; but it sure is a frustrating way to do basic research.

My own feelings about this are extremely mixed; but I think the chances of having one’s work classified these days – especially if it is funded by some branch of the DOD - is far greater than it was in the past. I am quite sure this applies to most areas of science; and biology has become extremely closely tied to the strategies and tactics of international conflict just as physics and chemistry are.

Private funding is just as fickle. There is money to be made in patenting breakthroughs in biology and new biological research techniques. Industry is just as bad at classifying things as is the military.

Mike Elzinga said: Chris Matthews had David E. Campbell and Joan Walsh on talking about the Tea Party this evening.

I just finally heard about McCain’s comment about “Tea Party hobbits”. Apparently Tolkien fans were very indignant.

“One ring to stupefy them all.”

That TIMES article seemed very astute:

Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent.

… It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

… [The] inclination among the Tea Party faithful to mix religion and politics explains their support for Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas …

… Yet it is precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose. While over the last five years Americans have become slightly more conservative economically, they have swung even further in opposition to mingling religion and politics. It thus makes sense that the Tea Party ranks alongside the Christian Right in unpopularity.

On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans.

Interesting – atheism does not “play well in Peoria”, but Peoria still doesn’t like politicians putting religion front and center. I would suspect it’s because even many believers see it as a front for pushing one sect at the expense of all the others, not to mention nonbelievers.

I don’t find it implausible that the Tea Party has shot its bolt. These populist movements come and go in US history – the “Know-Nothings” in the 1850s, the “America Firsters” up to World War II. Ideologically they’re not necessarily the same, but they all have a similar mindset – a lot of heat but no brains. They tend to fall as quickly as they rise … only to come back a half a century or so later.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Yes, that came in my email too (as a current NSF grantee). It doesn’t affect me immediately (not till next time I apply), but what does it mean? They seemed to be descending into a death spiral where they got more and more applications because fewer and fewer of these were funded, so they would accept even fewer, and so on. Does this just make people wait longer before resubmitting after being turned down? And how will this preliminary-and-full proposal system work? Presumably you won’t have to wait till the following January to submit your full proposal. I suspect the preliminary proposal system is meant as a way of spending less effort reviewing proposals that will be turned down.

Oh, wait, I forgot, according to the experts over at Uncommon Descent, all we have to do is write proposals expressing our awed reverence for everything Charles Darwin ever said, and we will have ample amounts of money thrown at us without any requirement that it be used for actual research. ;-)

It doesn’t affect me, but my division has not seen an increase in their budget for more than a decade. I was on two proposals that got all excellents, and were rated in the compelling proposal, must fund class. Neither got funded because of the budget cuts (we were in limbo waiting hear if there would be enough money for weeks for each proposal). Now we have to resubmit proposals. Funding rates are down to about 7%. And of course Coburn from Oklahoma tried to kill funded to the social Sciences Division entirely (thank God he did not succeed). But things have been getting worse for years in my division, with the absolute number of applications up, and the number funded down.

mplavcan said:

It doesn’t affect me, but my division has not seen an increase in their budget for more than a decade. I was on two proposals that got all excellents, and were rated in the compelling proposal, must fund class. Neither got funded because of the budget cuts (we were in limbo waiting hear if there would be enough money for weeks for each proposal). Now we have to resubmit proposals. Funding rates are down to about 7%. And of course Coburn from Oklahoma tried to kill funded to the social Sciences Division entirely (thank God he did not succeed). But things have been getting worse for years in my division, with the absolute number of applications up, and the number funded down.

I think funding rates in the DEB division where I apply are less than 10%. This has led to people increasing the number of proposals they submit, in desperation. In turn NSF is getting more and more restrictive about how many submissions you can make, and how often – they don’t have enough staff and cannot recruit enough unpaid volunteer reviewers. That is what is behind the new system announced in this letter. And of course, more cuts are coming as the right-wingers in Congress increasingly get their way.

NSF has always been the poor stepchild of science funding, as it was openly funding basic research. Congress has always balked at funding basic research. In the past a lot of basic research in biology took place instead in National Institutes of Health, disguised as immediately health-related research (just as a lot of basic research in fields like physics and oceanography was once funded by the Office of Naval Research in the period after World War II, disguised as defense-related research). In 2011 NSF had 6.8 billion dollars to spend on basic research. By contrast, NIH had 31.2 billion, though not all of the research they fund is basic research. And of course basic research is not funded by industry, as the results arising from it cannot be patented, copyrighted, or trademarked.

I can survive, as I am moving towards the end of my career, but postdocs like Reed and Nick are just about to get their first academic jobs. It will be demanded of them that they prove their worth by bringing in grants immediately, in order to justify their departments giving them tenure in a few years. That will be less and less possible.

So the future of basic research in the U.S. looks pretty bleak. This ought to be encouraging news for the political Right, who increasingly have openly aligned themselves against science. But even non-right-wing politicians are apt to denounce the money spent on basic research as wasted, when it could have been spent on social needs.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Oh, wait, I forgot, according to the experts over at Uncommon Descent, all we have to do is write proposals expressing our awed reverence for everything Charles Darwin ever said, and we will have ample amounts of money thrown at us without any requirement that it be used for actual research. ;-)

This is basically correct. Not entirely correct, but broadly so.

Not only will you get funding, but you will be guaranteed publication in the likes of Nature, PNAS and Science. Meanwhile millions of American taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet.

Btw, I didn’t apply for any grants to facilitate my own published research:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/[…]x.20365/full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21550380

I did the science for the love of it, and not for any financial or career incentive. We need more people like myself and less elitist academics who have monopolized any discussion about science. I hope both the Administration and Congress recognizes this.

Joe Felsenstein said:

So the future of basic research in the U.S. looks pretty bleak. This ought to be encouraging news for the political Right, who increasingly have openly aligned themselves against science. But even non-right-wing politicians are apt to denounce the money spent on basic research as wasted, when it could have been spent on social needs.

Neil deGrasse Tyson has it right. We stopped dreaming after we went to the Moon.

It wasn’t just Congress eliminating the funding for big projects like the Superconducting Super Collider even as it was being constructed. All sorts of basic research projects were targeted.

Some here will remember the “Golden Fleece Award” given by William Proxmire to projects that were deemed stupid; and many of them definitely were.

Unfortunately that award also became a template for the Right Wing and the Religious Right to caricature scientific projects in order to drum up public opposition to research that was extremely important.

For example, research directed at determining the life cycle and breeding patterns of crop-destroying or disease-carrying pests in order to target their reproductive cycle at the most effective time – thereby minimizing damage to the environment and other creatures – was portrayed as some kind of pornographic sex study.

I don’t remember all of the political shenanigans by these wingnut politicians, but I remember the political atmosphere they managed to establish against basic research. Much of this paralleled the rise of “scientific” creationism, intelligent design, and general well-organized and well-funded anti-science and anti-evolution campaigns and by the newly formed Right Wing think tanks.

I think the trigger for all that anti-science campaigning started as a reaction to the push to improve science education in the public schools after Sputnik. That got the fundamentalists up in arms; and there were plenty of Right Wing radicals with money who were willing to exploit that fury.

So we went through a period of excitement and hope about science; but as the reactionary forces got organized and started targeting the “liberal elite,” they were fairly effective at poisoning the atmosphere of cooperation and of hope and change.

There was also the reaction against the Civil Rights movement that provided more fear and hatred to be exploited.

We also passed the peak of oil production in the US in the 1970s, and became dependent on oil from the Middle East. World peak oil has now been passed. World population is now passing 7 billion. Climate change is now a reality. All of this was predicted clearly back in the 1950s and 60s. Now it’s here.

And now we have a crop of selfish, obstructionist Right Wing politicians, and the people who bought them, playing IGMFY politics and inciting an atmosphere of suspicion and hate.

I was talking with an old colleague a couple of months ago, and he was reminiscing that we in our particular generation were lucky to have had our run during the peak of the US economy and peak oil. This despite World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the risks and dangers many in our generation faced. The peak was somewhere back in the 1970s; just about the time of peak oil. The really serious problems looming on the horizon were constantly being ignored by our political leaders. Now they are here.

Atheistoclast said:

Btw, I didn’t apply for any grants to facilitate my own published research:

Likewise this character.

Like him, you have never faced any accountability either; you dodged it on purpose. You are self-pampered and self-absorbed.

Your “research” is verschlecht and you don’t even know it. It is “wonderful” only in your own mind.

Mike Elzinga said: Likewise this character.

Yes, but Newman did attempt to sell shares in his company until the authorities told him to knock it off. Since he was unlikely to get a research grant, he needed to obtain funding from those less inclined to ask difficult questions.

There’s a dystopian vision for the 21st Century - creationist “research” only, privately funded by Christian dominionist billionaires.

Mike Elzinga said:

[Many interesting things but also:]

Some here will remember the “Golden Fleece Award” given by William Proxmire to projects that were deemed stupid; and many of them definitely were.

Beg to differ on that one. Proxmire, a consummate opportunist, was always denouncing biologists for working on fruit flies, on mice, on monkeys, on all sorts of organisms that sounded silly. I often wondered what species you could work on that wouldn’t sound silly according to Proxmire. Other than humans.

In the most recent presidential election, Sarah Palin, channeling Proxmire’s ghost, denounced a research project that was work on fruit flies that had to be carried out in Paris. Obviously a silly project and a mere excuse to go to Paris, right? Well, actually wrong. These weren’t ordinary genetics lab fruit flies, they were the Mediterranean Fruit Fly that is a major crop pest. (Unlike Drosophila which is harmless to crops). And if you work on them in the U.S. some of them will escape and cause an outbreak of infestation. In France, they are already out there so best to do the work there.

OK, Palin isn’t Proxmire, but many of the projects that Proxmire denounced were actually sensible and interesting research.

Mike Elzinga said:

Atheistoclast said:

Btw, I didn’t apply for any grants to facilitate my own published research:

Likewise this character.

Like him, you have never faced any accountability either; you dodged it on purpose. You are self-pampered and self-absorbed.

Your “research” is verschlecht and you don’t even know it. It is “wonderful” only in your own mind.

I never claimed it was wonderful. All I claimed was that it was peer-reviewed and published in scientific journals. It is now part of the body and dialogue of science.

I have more papers in the works!

Btw, if you know of a fundie site offering research grants for anti-evolutionary science please inform me.

This change is pretty much ending my career right here and now. I was almost ready to resubmit a proposal this January. We have worked hard to get the preliminary data that we did not have the first round for a proposal that was received very well. Now, I first have to jump the hoop of a preliminary proposal and hopefully a full proposal soon after. The main point why this is so bad for me is that I do not have the time to wait till the much later return date for this cycle, especially if you do not get funded the first time around. It will take now up to two years for a single submission and resubmission to get somewhere. I just do not have the cash to wait till the now much longer cycle will be finalized.

Joe Felsenstein said:

OK, Palin isn’t Proxmire, but many of the projects that Proxmire denounced were actually sensible and interesting research.

It could be said that the science of inferring phylogenies (Joe’s field) serves no real-world application, although it is interesting nonetheless. Indeed, historical reconstruction can hardly be called an empirical science sensu stricto.

However, I think many scientists have had their paw in the honey jar for too long now. If they want to conduct curiosity projects, then they should do them at their own expense.

Atheistoclast said:

Btw, I didn’t apply for any grants to facilitate my own published research:

Well, that explains it.

Anyone who thinks that phylogenies have no real world applications is sadly misinformed. Try again Joe.

Oh, wait, I forgot, according to the experts over at Uncommon Descent, all we have to do is write proposals expressing our awed reverence for everything Charles Darwin ever said, and we will have ample amounts of money thrown at us without any requirement that it be used for actual research. ;-)

That’s a testable hypothesis from the IDM. They should go for it.

DS said:

Atheistoclast said:

Btw, I didn’t apply for any grants to facilitate my own published research:

Well, that explains it.

Anyone who thinks that phylogenies have no real world applications is sadly misinformed. Try again Joe.

Care to offer some real-world applications? Does it really matter when chimps and humans are supposed to have last shared a common ancestor by studying mutation rates and nucleotide differences?

Atheistoclast said:

DS said:

Atheistoclast said:

Btw, I didn’t apply for any grants to facilitate my own published research:

Well, that explains it.

Anyone who thinks that phylogenies have no real world applications is sadly misinformed. Try again Joe.

Care to offer some real-world applications? Does it really matter when chimps and humans are supposed to have last shared a common ancestor by studying mutation rates and nucleotide differences?

Yes, it really matters. And yes I would, thanks for asking. Unless of course you don’t think that it matters where HIV came from, or how the different strains are related to each other, or who infected who, or how it might mutate in the future. This is just one of thousands of examples of the importance of phylogenetics. But then again, you aren’t an expert in this field, so it’s no wonder you don’t know the first thing about it. It’s no wonder your opinion is completely worthless. All you can do is keep denigrating a real scientist because of your science envy.

Time for another dump to the bathroom wall Reed. Doesn’t his guy ever get tired of being obnoxious?

Joe Felsenstein said:

In the most recent presidential election, Sarah Palin, channeling Proxmire’s ghost, denounced a research project that was work on fruit flies that had to be carried out in Paris.

OK, Palin isn’t Proxmire, but many of the projects that Proxmire denounced were actually sensible and interesting research.

Indeed, that was my point.

I definitely did not like what Proxmire did. The vetting of proposals should have been left up to the scientific community. Proxmire politicized and caricatured proposals and, in doing so, manipulated public perceptions.

I can’t speak for biology because I am not an expert; but in physics, a lot of proposals were a waste of time and money. The physics community would very likely have rejected them or requested major revisions. I simply assumed this is the case for all of science.

And by the way, physics has some strange sounding proposal titles also (involving top and bottom quarks, axions, naked charges, naked beauty, etc.). Some physicists got a little carried away in playing with these words, and Proxmire pounced. However, it was the senior members of the physics community who put this childishness to rest.

But that vetting process is a normal part of what goes on in the competition for funding. Proxmire’s caricaturing of the proposals became a template for turning public perception against science. The worst came after Proxmire – who was a Democrat as I recall – and was picked up by the Right.

On the other hand, some of the crap that goes on in the bowels of DOD “secrecy” should be made public; and the tactics Proxmire used would be right on target.

DS said:

Atheistoclast said:

DS said:

Atheistoclast said:

Btw, I didn’t apply for any grants to facilitate my own published research:

Well, that explains it.

Anyone who thinks that phylogenies have no real world applications is sadly misinformed. Try again Joe.

Care to offer some real-world applications? Does it really matter when chimps and humans are supposed to have last shared a common ancestor by studying mutation rates and nucleotide differences?

Yes, it really matters. And yes I would, thanks for asking. Unless of course you don’t think that it matters where HIV came from, or how the different strains are related to each other, or who infected who, or how it might mutate in the future. This is just one of thousands of examples of the importance of phylogenetics. But then again, you aren’t an expert in this field, so it’s no wonder you don’t know the first thing about it. It’s no wonder your opinion is completely worthless. All you can do is keep denigrating a real scientist because of your science envy.

Time for another dump to the bathroom wall Reed. Doesn’t his guy ever get tired of being obnoxious?

You are extrapolating again. You are claiming that because the phylogeny of certain pathogens might be useful, all phylogenetic inference is. Do you see the logical flaw in this type of argument?

Atheistoclast said:

You are extrapolating again. You are claiming that because the phylogeny of certain pathogens might be useful, all phylogenetic inference is. Do you see the logical flaw in this type of argument?

How do you know until you do it?

What use is a baby?

Atheistoclast said:

You are extrapolating again. You are claiming that because the phylogeny of certain pathogens might be useful, all phylogenetic inference is. Do you see the logical flaw in this type of argument?

And you are off topic again. Your feeble attempt at character assassination isn’t going to work.

You are the one who claimed that phylogenetics was worthless. You are the one who claimed that it was a waste of money. I have supplied exactly what you requested, a perfect example of an important real world application of phylogenetics. You were wrong again, just admit it.

More importantly, phylogenetics is central to the study of evolution. The first step in studying the evolution of a trait is to determine the phylogeny of the relevant groups. The next step is to trace the evolution of the trait mapped onto that phylogeny. The third step is to then use the information regarding the trajectory of evolution to infer the processes responsible. The next step is to identify the genes and mutations responsible. In other words, knowledge of pattern informs knowledge of process. That’s how evolution is studied. But you wouldn’t know anything about that I guess, not being an expert or a scientist.

I will be more than happy to continue this discussion on the bathroom wall, as is always necessary when you try to derail a thread. I have no interest in continuing the discussion here and making more work for the moderator to clean up.

You are extrapolating again. You are claiming that because the phylogeny of certain pathogens might be useful, all phylogenetic inference is. Do you see the logical flaw in this type of argument?

Honestly, my immediate reaction to that was “How do we know” before I had read the next Just Bob:

How do you know until you do it?

and I don’t even pretend to be anything near like a scientist.

Btw, if you know of a fundie site offering research grants for anti-evolutionary science please inform me.

It appears this pretty much sums up your philosophy regarding real science versus your pseudoscience.

Anti-(something) science?

Science is primarily about what is, not what isn’t.

So “anti-(something) science” is a self-contradictory phrase.

DS said:

You are the one who claimed that phylogenetics was worthless. You are the one who claimed that it was a waste of money. I have supplied exactly what you requested, a perfect example of an important real world application of phylogenetics. You were wrong again, just admit it.

It is a waste of money. You cited using phylogenetic techniques to trace the origin of a particular virus. That isn’t good enough to justify supporting such a science in general. And the phylogeny of HIV doesn’t help us find a cure for it. So it is greatly limited. All funding must be cut off at once.

More importantly, phylogenetics is central to the study of evolution. The first step in studying the evolution of a trait is to determine the phylogeny of the relevant groups. The next step is to trace the evolution of the trait mapped onto that phylogeny. The third step is to then use the information regarding the trajectory of evolution to infer the processes responsible. The next step is to identify the genes and mutations responsible. In other words, knowledge of pattern informs knowledge of process. That’s how evolution is studied. But you wouldn’t know anything about that I guess, not being an expert or a scientist.

So, you van use phylogenetic techniques to learn how the liver “evolved”? is that what you are saying? Is that science or is it speculatve historical recreation?

Neil deGrasse Tyson has it right. We stopped dreaming after we went to the Moon.

Somewhat off topic, but I think this comment is silly. People can’t stop dreaming anymore than they can stop sleeping.

The political (which is to say, public) motivation for the moon race was to beat the Russians. Sure, scientists and sci-fi aficianados and the L5 society had a dream, but for most people it was regarded as God-fearing capitalism beating Godless communism.

After the US won that race, the space program ran into two problems. The main one, of course, was that the Russians stopped competing. And the minor one was, there was no further feasible goal that excited public interest. If the Russians had clearly challenged us to a space station race, today we’d have a hell of a space station up there. But the public doesn’t dream scientific dreams, they dream of defeating the heathen.

Our dreams are always emotional. “Intellectual dreams” are only ratinalizations pasted onto our desires.

The Moon race was never really about science – the geoscience community had to scream to get geologist Jack Schmitt on the final flight – and it was only partly about advanced technology development – the Moon program yielded very little new technology that wouldn’t likely have been developed otherwise, the one unambiguous contribution being cordless power tools.

JFK wanted to challenge the Soviets in a way that didn’t involve pointing a gun in their faces. He chose a target date of 1970 because he doubted a political consensus could be held together any longer than that. It was a spectacular stunt, but no more than a stunt. We got vastly more science out of Voyager II (thanks to a very lucky planetary alignment).

http://www.vectorsite.net/tamrc.html

There’s tons of activity going on in space and space science – the Russkies just flew a radio telescope, Spektr-R, that will provide a space “arm” of an interferometer network, giving staggering resolution. NASA is getting ready to fly the very first true hard X-ray space telescope. But space spectaculars are a hard sell.

We could have made a manned trip to Mars by now if we had not wasted so much money on that failed Space Shuttle program. I’d say it was the BIGGEST failure in American history. It achieved a few good things, but it did not slash the costs of launching satillites and astronauts into space, it did not lead to interplanetary flights, and it KILLED 14 PEOPLE NEEDLESSLY, including that teacher who could have inspired a whole new generation of astronauts. Now we may soon have almost none!

Dale Husband

Oh yes. The politics behind the shuttle were, ah, interesting:

http://www.vectorsite.net/tashutl.html

Atheistoclast said:

Btw, I didn’t apply for any grants to facilitate my own published research:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/[…]x.20365/full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21550380

I did the science for the love of it, and not for any financial or career incentive. We need more people like myself and less elitist academics who have monopolized any discussion about science. I hope both the Administration and Congress recognizes this.

Ahh.…that explains it. You couldn’t get funded, so now blame the “elitists” for rejecting your brilliant work. And you are right! It is all a conspiracy against you and people who think like you. We are out to get you. And all of us elitist professors in our fancy cars and boats, playing golf and schmoozing with each other at the country clubs, making sure that we are part of the same cabalistic group before we can get our papers published. All so that we can make more and more money for ourselves feeding off of the taxpayers, an d gleefully forwarding our agenda to undermine God and morality.

Pardon me, but Butler just finished pouring my ‘89 Cheval Blanc, and I need to shower up after a hard day of polo with my fellow NSF funded Darwinist atheists before indulging. I think for my next grant I’ll put in for a yacht.

Flint said:

Neil deGrasse Tyson has it right. We stopped dreaming after we went to the Moon.

Somewhat off topic, but I think this comment is silly. People can’t stop dreaming anymore than they can stop sleeping.

The political (which is to say, public) motivation for the moon race was to beat the Russians.

You raise some interesting issues about the politicization of science. I could also bring up the Challenger shuttle disaster and Richard Feynman’s Appendix F of the Roger’s Commission report. The political pressure to “git ‘er done” resulted in a lot of mismanagement and egregious short cuts that resulted in the o-ring failure on the booster rockets.

But there were other things as well. There were “Project Orion,” the Nuclear Airplane,” “Project Excalibur,” the “Space Elevator,” Isomer Weapons (the “nuclear hand grenade”), the “Plowshare Project,” secret military projects involving telekinesis and precognition, “Star Wars;” sheesh, the list goes on and on.

I don’t recall as many crackpot projects involving biology as I do physics. One can sit down with many of these ideas - as most of us in the physics community did in those days - and start slogging through the details. It turns out that most of these ideas are effectively crackpot because, while they may seem doable in principle, they are not possible in practice.

The most embarrassing part of many of these ideas is that they came from some well-recognized names in physics and engineering, and a lot of money was poured into them before repeated cost overruns and reality began to alert funding agencies that they were “egg-headed” from the start.

My own estimation of the effect of these kinds of projects is that they were pounced on by those hostile to science as examples of the stupidity of scientists. The entire community of scientists then got smeared by a broad-brush attack used to make scientists look “impractical” and out of touch with reality.

And the grandiose, political nature of these projects also drowned out the voices of those scientists who offered far less expensive and far more effective approaches to the exploration of space.

No doubt at some point, research would reach the point of wanting to answer the question of whether humans can travel to other planets and work in space. The moon landing project addressed many of these issues. I don’t discount what came of that program and the subsequent follow-on that led to things like the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope after the really stupid screw-up on the grinding of its mirror.

Big science has been a mixed bag because of all the money and politics involved. Against the background of that, and the wars we have fought, and the political turmoil in the world, a lot of extremely important science about the planet and its population got buried intentionally and unintentionally in the noise.

Yet we wouldn’t have the information we do have without those big projects. Maybe we could have done it more efficiently and with less cost; but that’s politics. And my concern with the current political and economic environment is that even such efficient and cost-effective science will be tossed out as well.

Atheistoclast said:

DS said:

You are the one who claimed that phylogenetics was worthless. You are the one who claimed that it was a waste of money. I have supplied exactly what you requested, a perfect example of an important real world application of phylogenetics. You were wrong again, just admit it.

It is a waste of money. You cited using phylogenetic techniques to trace the origin of a particular virus. That isn’t good enough to justify supporting such a science in general. And the phylogeny of HIV doesn’t help us find a cure for it. So it is greatly limited. All funding must be cut off at once.

More importantly, phylogenetics is central to the study of evolution. The first step in studying the evolution of a trait is to determine the phylogeny of the relevant groups. The next step is to trace the evolution of the trait mapped onto that phylogeny. The third step is to then use the information regarding the trajectory of evolution to infer the processes responsible. The next step is to identify the genes and mutations responsible. In other words, knowledge of pattern informs knowledge of process. That’s how evolution is studied. But you wouldn’t know anything about that I guess, not being an expert or a scientist.

So, you van use phylogenetic techniques to learn how the liver “evolved”? is that what you are saying? Is that science or is it speculatve historical recreation?

My response is on the bathroom wall. Go there if you dare. No one wants your off topic nonsense trashing up a thread about NSF funding.

Atheistoclast said:

Btw, if you know of a fundie site offering research grants for anti-evolutionary science please inform me.

The Templeton Foundation once tried to offer such a grant. They gave up because no creationist could put together anything that even vaguely looked like a workable grant proposal. Your cult has had its chance. And failed miserably. Just as you always will.

Atheistoclast said:

DS said:

You are the one who claimed that phylogenetics was worthless. You are the one who claimed that it was a waste of money. I have supplied exactly what you requested, a perfect example of an important real world application of phylogenetics. You were wrong again, just admit it.

It is a waste of money. You cited using phylogenetic techniques to trace the origin of a particular virus. That isn’t good enough to justify supporting such a science in general. And the phylogeny of HIV doesn’t help us find a cure for it. So it is greatly limited. All funding must be cut off at once.

So, researching disease is a waste of money to you? You’re openly opposed to medicine? Not at all surprising coming from a member of the same cult as the two sociopathic trolls that claim praying can bring about miraculous healing, but refuse to pray for sick people.

Everyone please remember that Joseph Bozorgmehr’s attitude is typical creationists.

Science contradicts their narcissistic fantasy, so they literally want to destroy and censor it.

They can’t stop life from evolving, but they certainly can bring a lot of suffering onto human society if given the chance.

His single paper, if it is technically accurate, has NOTHING to do with any of his magical claims or denial - if it did, it would have never been published. His point in generating the paper, however he managed to do it, was to gain a credential.

harold said:

Everyone please remember that Joseph Bozorgmehr’s attitude is typical creationists.

Hey, do you think his name may be part of the problem? After all, it must be humiliating having “Bozo” as part of your name! So if he murders someone, his lawyer could tell the judge and jury at his trial “He’s been teased all his life, your honor.” And then he’d be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

dalehusband said:

harold said:

Everyone please remember that Joseph Bozorgmehr’s attitude is typical creationists.

Hey, do you think his name may be part of the problem? After all, it must be humiliating having “Bozo” as part of your name! So if he murders someone, his lawyer could tell the judge and jury at his trial “He’s been teased all his life, your honor.” And then he’d be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

It’s a fairly common Iranian name. It’s the name of a legendary “wise” figure, so Atheistoclast may actually have that surname, or it could be a chosen name referring to his self-perceived brilliance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozorgmehr

http://www.iranian.com/main/blog/m-[…]r-backgammon (This is highly unlikely but mildly interesting.)

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on August 17, 2011 3:12 PM.

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