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What's up with US science these days??
July 5, 2005 5:56 PM   Subscribe

So yesterday I posted the story about how researchers had discovered that both sexes cared about appearance when selecting dates. Today Stanford (!!) releases the startling discovery that cars get hot when parked in the sun. Meanwhile K State learns that women feel better about their bodies when complemented, and the other shocker story is that problem gamblers share traits with substance abusers. And how about that New Scientist story about the fact we're entering a dark age? So what's up with science lately, particularly in America?
posted by Fozzie (108 comments total)

 
Just because things seem obvious is no reason not to verify them anyway. It seemed obvious the earth was flat.
posted by fvw at 6:00 PM on July 5, 2005


All of these studies have interesting/surprising twists. Like the finding that on a cool day a car can heat up to dangerous levels, or the finding that women tended to be more influenced by appearance than men were.

So, thanks for collecting a few of these interesting "obvious" studies.
posted by breath at 6:05 PM on July 5, 2005


Truly, you are educated stupid.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:06 PM on July 5, 2005


I found this of particular amusement for any programmers out there;

"Null said he would like to investigate other variables."

Stay the hell away from mine!
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:08 PM on July 5, 2005


For the "women feel better" study, the finding is that when you compliment college-age girls about anything, they feel better about their bodies. How wack is that? Saying, "you're pretty nice" leads to her thinking, "I have a sexy body"??

This study perhaps reveals why I am such a hit with the ladies.
posted by breath at 6:10 PM on July 5, 2005


I suspect that a lot of these "studies" are one-offs, sometimes by people who aren't actual researcher researchers and it just gets picked up by the media. There're dinky little projects going on all the time.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 6:13 PM on July 5, 2005


For the "women feel better" study, the finding is that when you compliment college-age girls about anything, they feel better about their bodies. How wack is that? Saying, "you're pretty nice" leads to her thinking, "I have a sexy body"??
posted by breath at 6:10 PM PST on July 5 [!]

You, know. I think i do to. If a pretty lady compliments anything about me a little light goes off in my head that says "maybe she's interested in me sexually." So that kind of makes sense, and I don't think it's necessarily a female thing.
posted by es_de_bah at 6:20 PM on July 5, 2005


Sometimes when I need a reason to post to Metafilter I just make up stuff.
posted by angry modem at 6:21 PM on July 5, 2005


Just because things seem obvious is no reason not to verify them anyway.

I'd agree, except that:

1. There's a limited amount of money to be had for scientific research. Did we really have to spend money to confirm that cars get hot in the sun?

2. There are a lot of really important things out there that need more attention.

3. While we're messing about with studies on the obvious, South Korea is forging ahead in stem cell research, the Japanese are making huge leaps in robotics, China is pushing forward with its space program...
posted by Fozzie at 6:21 PM on July 5, 2005


breath writes "the finding that women tended to be more influenced by appearance than men were."

And that would surprising how?.. women generally spend a lot more time and money on their appearance, because appearance is important to them, more than it is to men.
posted by clevershark at 6:24 PM on July 5, 2005


Whatever, Fozzie. I feel like these are the exception that proves the rule. You hear about them because they're accessible and easily understood, unlike the morass of highly technical science that goes on. I hardly think that the Japanese are going to be kicking our asses with giant mechatronics because every scientist in America is busy confirming that the sky is blue.

Also, great leaps in robotics are coming from right here in the US.

And that would surprising how?.. women generally spend a lot more time and money on their appearance, because appearance is important to them, more than it is to men.

I dunno, I always thought that women weren't as influenced by men's appearance. That they cared about their own appearance because they know that the only selection criteria that men have are appearance-based. All those studies about how men are more "visually-oriented" or whatever. Clearly, it's the opposite, and probably the seed of a very interesting discussion on sexual selection. Not obvious to me.
posted by breath at 6:33 PM on July 5, 2005


i hate the term 'substance abuser'. it's so judgmental. people drink and people smoke, and i would say most don't 'abuse.' this buzz word is used to intentionally alter the behavior of people.
posted by brandz at 6:39 PM on July 5, 2005


So what's up with science lately, particularly in America?

Beg the question much?
posted by teece at 6:39 PM on July 5, 2005


So what's up with science lately, particularly in America?

want to point to a time and place where the entire scientific community was engaged in useful, well-though-out, unbiased, non-superfluous research?
posted by es_de_bah at 6:44 PM on July 5, 2005


I'm with fvw.

Fozzie, the people who did the hot car study were: a clinical instructor in emergency medicine, an associate professor in emergency medicine, and a meteorologist.

This is exactly the kind of research that these people do. They aren't interested in or qualified to study stem cell research or robotics, nor should they really have to be. Come on, not everyone gets an MD to cure cancer. (And still, "One reviewer made the comment that this paper will save lives," Null said. What a shame they wasted the grant money.)

And for every "obvious" "money-wasting" study you come up with in the US, you could probably find one in South Korea, Japan, and China too.
posted by sellout at 6:47 PM on July 5, 2005


It wouldn't be such a big deal if people weren't paying for this crap.
posted by nightchrome at 6:48 PM on July 5, 2005


Also, great leaps in robotics are coming from right here in the US

You're kidding right? This as compared to this and this, and this, and this ?

I hardly think that the Japanese are going to be kicking our asses with giant mechatronics

They already are.
posted by Fozzie at 6:55 PM on July 5, 2005


want to point to a time and place where the entire scientific community was engaged in useful, well-though-out, unbiased, non-superfluous research?

Mmm...when there was just one guy trying to figure out how to keep the fire going? That was probably the last time.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:00 PM on July 5, 2005


For the "women feel better" study, the finding is that when you compliment college-age girls about anything, they feel better about their bodies. How wack is that? Saying, "you're pretty nice" leads to her thinking, "I have a sexy body"??

That's because it's a known fact (and guys feel free to confirm or deny) that when a guy says "Nice shoes" he means "Nice shoes you wanna have sex?"
posted by missbossy at 7:01 PM on July 5, 2005


Saying, "you're pretty nice" leads to her thinking, "I have a sexy body"??

Their brains stop working after they hear "you're pretty".
posted by Space Coyote at 7:08 PM on July 5, 2005


missbossy, yes this is true unless it is your sister, well at least usually, unless I have been drinking, oh wait.

Seriously even my S.O. won't give it up, so to speak, unless I begin with some complimentary conversation. Like, "Oh, you really make that dress work!" or "Jesus, I love that way-too-small baby doll t-shirt you are wearing!" It works every time, unless I have to feed the babies. Not to say that she is bossy too or anything.
posted by snsranch at 7:10 PM on July 5, 2005


You've drastically oversimplified the conclusions of the studies and then claimed that the studies are too simplistic.

The car in the sun study is potentially important in preventing children's deaths, and could have policy implications for parental neglect / animal cruelty laws.

The compliment story has really interesting implications: that by encouraging girls to value their skills as well as their bodies, you could help treat/prevent eating disorders. Again of potential interst to parents who want to deal with their daughter's budding eating disorder in a non-confrontational manner.

The fact that people with a non-physical addiction share traits with people with a physical addiction could have important implications for the treatments of both types of addiction.

The mindset that funding should only go to "useful" science a dangerous one. Lots of math that was "useless" at the turn of the 20th century is driving computing at the turn of the 21st (there's 2500 year old number theory that only found application 30 years ago). You can't predict what information it will be useful to know and/or have ruled out at some future point. You can't predict that one particular discipline will come up with the answer for one particular problem. Great leaps in science are often made by people who gather up bits of things lying around in various disciplines and figures out how they all fit together (like Darwin). Science is a process of accumulating knowledge, and the small, boring steps are sometimes necessary before we can get to the big exciting ones.
posted by carmen at 7:12 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie: The difference may appear to be alarming. But to be fair, you're comparing el-cheapo robots designed and built as educational excercises with ultra-complex mega-buck projects designed as corporate billboards.

And the really interesting stuff most often happens at the low end of the economic scale anyway; from ball-point pens to hypodermic needles to TVs to PCs to personal robots, the really big piles of money are earned, and the really interesting social consequences occur, when an invention becomes cheap and ubiquitous.
posted by Western Infidels at 7:13 PM on July 5, 2005


everytime someone says something nice about me, my penis shrinks an inch.
posted by quonsar at 7:16 PM on July 5, 2005


q I'm curious. Does it stop at zero or if I say a bunch of nice things about you do you end up reaming yourself?
posted by arse_hat at 7:29 PM on July 5, 2005


The car in the sun study is potentially important in preventing children's deaths, and could have policy implications for parental neglect / animal cruelty laws.

Except that we already know it's not a good idea to leave kids and pets in the car, period. Heat issues aside, kids and pets can get into all sorts of trouble in vehicles - throwing them into drive, getting carjacked, etc.

that by encouraging girls to value their skills as well as their bodies, you could help treat/prevent eating disorders

Except that a lot of the girls who have eating disorders come from "good" middle class families whose parents do encourage that sort of thing...

The fact that people with a non-physical addiction share traits with people with a physical addiction could have important implications for the treatments of both types of addiction.

I concede this one, although I'm not sure gambling is in fact non-physical.

The mindset that funding should only go to "useful" science a dangerous one.

That's not my point. I'm quite happy to see "non useful" science taking place - after all, it can be argued that there's no immediate benefit to knowing the composition of that comet we just smacked. The thing is, there's a huge difference between studying the patently obvious and taking a risk on novel research.

And to Sellout:

Fozzie, the people who did the hot car study were: a clinical instructor in emergency medicine, an associate professor in emergency medicine, and a meteorologist.
This is exactly the kind of research that these people do.


Well no... these people are qualified to do much better research than this. Like... how to save an infant who's suffered from heat exhaustion.
posted by Fozzie at 7:31 PM on July 5, 2005


Nowdays, scientists are encouraged to get their stories out in the media. Unfortunately, in the current climate, continued funding depends on it. It's quite common to have to undergo "media training" as a scientist, nowdays.

This, however, is coupled with an almost complete lack of scientific understanding by the journalistic community. There's barely a "science" story I see on the news that doesn't (a) get facts plain wrong (b) oversimpify parts (c) make other parts unnecessarily complex (d) come to inappropriate conclusions. This is often assisted by the scientist, who is forced to distill years of research down into a 10-second sound bite to get his work noticed. In fact, I find myself doing this as well. I'm researching in a fairly obscure, minor, uninteresting area, but I still think to myself , "Hey, if a TV crew turned up in my lab tomorrow, what could I tell them to make my work appear interesting?".

Put these two facts together, and you get the media reporting only the most simple, popular, and infact obvious science that's being done. In fact, it appears that's pretty much what Eurekalert is doing here. I'm not sure how they get their stories - whether researchers send them papers with the hope of getting featured, or whether Eurekalert goes out looking for them. But really, if you want to get a broader picture of what cutting edge scientific research is going on, pick up an edition of Nature instead.
posted by Jimbob at 7:36 PM on July 5, 2005


Good point, arse! Maybe he switches gender entirely if you're particularly flattering.
posted by mystyk at 7:37 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie, I guess (to distill my above post down a bit) what I'm trying to say is, these scientists might not have set out exclusively to prove that women like to receive compliments. They're probably involved in a much broader, wide ranging study, looking at all kinds of things from many different angles. The "women like compliments" part is just the catch phrase they decided would look best to the public.
posted by Jimbob at 7:42 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie, I think you just don't get how small-scale, how granular, most real science is, or the lines along which science works. This is fine, because you can tell great jokes and have a cute little hat.

When you see reports like this, there are a few things that are usually going on.

First, it ain't what the headline says. Take the car example. Nobody was trying to figure out whether things heated up or cooled off when put into the sun. The question was not, as you implied, do cars heat up in the sun? The question was how much do cars heat up, and how quickly, in the sun on a cool day, and how well do standard relief methods work?

Second, the research isn't testing whether something happens, but a particular theory about why or how something happens. Arguably, the research on compliments fits here, since it highlights a particular way in which compliments might influence body image. That also fits into the first category, since the research is also on how much complimenting is necessary to shift internal self-image.

Third, the research is really about something else and happens to show something common-sensical or banal as an ancillary result.

Last, the writer/printer has an axe to grind and is describing things in the most damning way that is, in a narrow, lawyerly sense, not actionably inaccurate. Lots of things fit here.

Well no... these people are qualified to do much better research than this. Like... how to save an infant who's suffered from heat exhaustion.

The best way to save an infant from heat exposure is to not expose them to unsafe heat in the first place, and their research showed that even on cool days, temperatures could easily ride to dangerous levels inside half an hour, even if you crack a window, and even if you chilled the car beforehand with the a/c. Snicker all you want, but this research can save lives.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:45 PM on July 5, 2005



And the really interesting stuff most often happens at the low end of the economic scale anyway


Funny, that's not what we said about Russian/Soviet accomplishments when we were 'kicking their butts' with ultra-complex mega-buck projects.

But hey, if y'all are happy with the fact that we're still having to fight the Scopes monkey trial over and over again, that we're researching hot cars and old news about dating habits, fine. Just don't be shocked when the Nobel prizes are swept by Chinese and Indian researchers in, say, 5-10 years time. You heard it here first.
posted by Fozzie at 7:53 PM on July 5, 2005


" Snicker all you want, but this research can save lives." It can also change the path of court cases. Sure we all know cars heat up in the sun but it was cool that day and my lawyer has a guy who will say it was not my fault. Proving the mundane has impact on many areas of life.
posted by arse_hat at 7:53 PM on July 5, 2005


as for science in this country, so I go here. Basically we spend our days designing nanomachines that will fight tumors. You don't think that's cool I don't know what you will.

As far as this post goes, I think it's kind of silly to misrepresent a few studies and say science in this country is going down the crapper. Just because the cool stuff is harder to make sound bites out of doesn't mean our research institutions aren't the best in the world.

and Fozzie: Just for future reference, can you give me some more hints for what scientists should study? Because we don't have any experience to base our ideas on or any ideas of our own. We usually just sit around all day looking on match.com and trying to think of ways to waste money.

on preview: what ROU_Xenophobe said
posted by slapshot57 at 7:55 PM on July 5, 2005


What's up with US science these days?? I mean, research like this, and this and this and this and this. So what's up with science lately, particularly in America?
posted by event at 7:56 PM on July 5, 2005


Just don't be shocked when the Nobel prizes are swept by Chinese and Indian researchers in, say, 5-10 years time.

Fozzie, please explain to me where you get this deep insight into how current research is done. I would love to hear it. Where did you get your PhD from? Which Journals do you currently read? Where have you been published?

I'll be over here making you a pirate hat out of newpaper so you can keep playing make believe
posted by slapshot57 at 8:02 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie, I think you just don't get how small-scale, how granular, most real science is, or the lines along which science works.

I get it just fine. Look, even the scientist involved said:

"Cars get hot, we know this intuitively," Null said.

Trouble is, anyone who owns a car also knows what he goes on to say:


"But this study tells us that cars get hot very fast."


And further he says:

he would like to investigate other variables, such as the car's color, the shape and size of the interior, or the effect of tinted windows.

This isn't granular science. This is publish or perish. The world does not need to know that it turns out that there's .02 % less risk of heat exhaustion in infants left alone in cars that are white with tinted windows.

The best way to save an infant

is not to leave them alone in a car under any circumstances. We knew that already, and I said that already.
posted by Fozzie at 8:03 PM on July 5, 2005


If a pretty lady compliments anything about me a little light goes off in my head that says "maybe she's interested in me sexually."

While I think there's a twist or a catch or even sarcasm in there somewhere, and distrust it immediately. It's anti-arousing.

A much better reaction can be gained by an offer of coffee before 5pm, beer after then, or a free blowjob any time.

And hey event, thanks for the real science links.
posted by davy at 8:05 PM on July 5, 2005


quonsar: "everytime someone says something nice about me, my penis shrinks an inch."

Oh quonsar, I'm so glad you again displayed your erudite wit on this website You are truly the most cogent and perceptive poster around here; when I must go a day without your brilliance I die a little inside. It's even better that I know you're also a truly wonderful human being, and a hell of a hunk as well.
posted by davy at 8:10 PM on July 5, 2005


"is not to leave them alone in a car under any circumstances. We knew that already" Yes we all know that but without a study like this any PhD willing to spend a day a court for 5K can muddy the water. Even the things we "know" need to be quantified.
posted by arse_hat at 8:12 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie:

Except that we already know it's not a good idea to leave kids and pets in the car, period.

Well, "Null said a substantial number of caretakers intentionally leave children behind because they mistakenly think conditions are safe." So unfortunately, not everyone's common sense is as well-developed as yours. If it's a cool day, a lot of people might assume it's safe. Others might assume that window-cracking is fine, too. It isn't important to establish that these caretakers are wrong?

It says in the article that this was the first time anyone had ever studied temperature spikes in cars on cool days. If no one's ever looked into it before and a little extra knowledge could help save lives, someone should investigate.
posted by sellout at 8:14 PM on July 5, 2005


Where did you get your PhD from? Which Journals do you currently read? Where have you been published?

Currently working on the PhD at Open. Read Public Understanding of Science, International Journal of Science Communication, Technology and Culture, Nature, among others. Haven't yet, only just started the PhD.
posted by Fozzie at 8:15 PM on July 5, 2005


Hasn't it been a long running joke about the scientific community that they sometimes study things that are common sense or useless, such as how fast ketchup moves out of a newly opened bottle. Or is the joke just new to some of us?
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:24 PM on July 5, 2005


This Place?

looks adorable. not exactly hard hitting in terms of science though, is it?
posted by slapshot57 at 8:28 PM on July 5, 2005


So, Fozzie, what do you see in your weekly readings of Nature?

Pointless busywork? I doubt it. More likely you'll see the bread-and-butter of most scientists: step-by-step progress at a small scale.

It's not all about robots and space-travel. Most times it's about enzyme reaction sites, and multivariate analysis of ecological data sets, and metastudies of historical climate variables, and electron spin, and minor physiological reactions to drugs.

This stuff rarely makes the New York Times, though.
posted by Jimbob at 8:32 PM on July 5, 2005


Oh, not at all.
posted by Fozzie at 8:34 PM on July 5, 2005


How did this get sidetracked from "stupid science" to "small-scale science"?
posted by nightchrome at 8:34 PM on July 5, 2005


The car heating article is good public education, if nothing else. The stories of infants strapped in hot cars are heartbreaking. Many parents forget that a car parked in the shade may be in full sun within a short time. It can take less than an hour for a child to die, and thirty to forty children die this way every year in the USA alone.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:35 PM on July 5, 2005


Fascinating topic, at root. I vote with the granularity defense to begin with. And also to the way the media participates in the dumbing down of the public scientific mind. I remember a conference at Texas in the 90s on ritual lament around the world. The 6 or 7 top anthropogists who work on this were there and gave brilliant papers on ritualized and performed crying in a range of cultures, laying out both universal and particular meanings of the genre (among other things, if a culture has a stylized lament genre at all, it will be performed by women universally; it may also be performed by men, but a strong case exists that there are no cultures that have a males-only restriction on ritual lament, and many with a females-only custom, as I recall. Amazing data for a lot of discussions about culture and gender.) A week later, the National Enquirer somehow picked up on this (it was partially funded by NSF or NEH money, I think) and struck the *shocked, shocked* pose with a cover headline: "Bigshot Professors Spend Federal Money to Prove People Cry . . . Because They Are SAD!"

I think there's a lot of that in the media reports you cite. Good on you for doing the PhD. That these questions seem important to you is a good sign you've chosen the right path. But since you've just started, take it from a now-geezerly social scientist. Your understanding of these issues will become much more complex in a few short years. I don't mean to sound patronizing (and I realize I do). But in early grad school, most of us think we see the shortest route to radical progress as leading through the overthrow of conventional wisdom within our fields. Disciplinary conventional wisdom has a lot of scientific value. Have you read Kuhn yet? "Normal science" is a necessary part of the process of scientific discovery.

The really interesting thing is how much ambitious looking and complex theorizing is often much junkier science than plodding refinement of key variables through the production of entirely predictable results, as witness the gymnastics practiced by the perpetually cornered advocates of "intelligent design theory."
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:37 PM on July 5, 2005


The post asserts that a) the studies are trivial, when upon closer inspection some of them appear to be more complex and worthy; and b) that supposedly trivial studies like these are representative of scientific inquiry in the States today, which is false. To make the sweeping generalization that scientific research in the US is doomed based on a couple of misrepresented cases seems like poor form.
posted by chrominance at 8:38 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie member since June 10. I will be kind to newbies. I will be kind to newbies. Serenity now.
posted by stbalbach at 8:38 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie

ummmmmm......you try and rebut my point that it's not a top tier research institution by pointing to something whipped up by the PR department where every article basically says "Hey, some people are doing amazing stuff somewhere and they let researchers from OU help".

again, adorable. anyways, this has been swell, have fun over there
posted by slapshot57 at 8:43 PM on July 5, 2005


This post contains information about dangers of leaving children in cars. These dangers are a theory, not a fact, regarding whether your child might die due to negligence. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

/derail
posted by mystyk at 8:43 PM on July 5, 2005


Scientific American Frontiers did a couple episodes on "life's little questions." Questions like, why are peppers hot? Why does traffic jam? Can you tickle yourself? Cute stuff.

They also did about 140 other episodes on things like smart cars, hydrogen power, the inner workings of memory, dark matter, and so on.
posted by event at 8:45 PM on July 5, 2005


This stuff rarely makes the New York Times, though

Agreed. The thing is I'm seeing more and more of the stuff that I posted coming from the US, and fewer and fewer of the things being discussed in Nature or more populist mags like New Scientist etc. It's a disturbing trend. Knee-jerk "we're still great!" reactions don't really help illuminate the causes of the problem.

Part of it IS the dumbing down of US science media (compare even SciAm these days to New Scientist and you'll see what I mean), in that the cutting edge stuff doesn't get much air play. (Although that in itself should be cause for alarm.)

But part of it is that the quality of US science is dropping. I haven't been able to find it again but there was a recent article about how Europe and Asia was starting to outpace the US in terms of research production, citations, etc.

The question is, is this because funding is harder to come by for some of the stuff mentioned by Jimbob - goodness knows the present administration isn't exactly pro-science. Or is it because we're not producing enough of (or at least as many of) the right people (skills, abilities) to do the higher quality work? Or is it both, or something else again?
posted by Fozzie at 8:45 PM on July 5, 2005


slapshot57

Well as you'd clearly done a lot of deep background research about the place and what it's done so far, before coming up with the "adorable" comment, I figured you'd want the light and fluffy version.
posted by Fozzie at 8:50 PM on July 5, 2005


Your obvious agendafilter post would be greatly strengthened, Fozzie, by even the slightest bit of comparative data about the ratio of "useful" to "non-useful" research in other countries, as sellout mentions above.

That is, if you want to get, um, scientific about this.
posted by mediareport at 8:53 PM on July 5, 2005


OK, Fozzie, if you're working towards a PhD, you don't deserve kid gloves.

You misrepresent "science" with a handful of (arguably misrepresented) studies that you find trivial. You hand wave the "problem" with science with nary a moment's consideration to if there is a problem at all.

Your sample sucks. Your definition of junk science sucks. Your logic sucks (question begging, or petitio principii if you prefer dead Latinate logicians).

Don't continue to do it this way, please. If you'd actually like to contribute in this area, you first need to start with "is there a problem with science today?" as an honest question, rather than using confirmation bias with several (possibly biased) non-scientific stories to "prove" something you didn't investigate. We will talk about what any problem you find might be once (if) you give credible evidence that there is a problem.
posted by teece at 8:55 PM on July 5, 2005


is it because we're not producing enough of (or at least as many of) the right people (skills, abilities) to do the higher quality work

While this is obviously and deeply related to the funding situation, which is in a cyclic relation to what the public thinks is important (hence the feeding of the maw of the media with dumbed down press releases), except that our current government has added a rich dollop of ideology and a serving of massive budget defecits to the table, the real horror is the state of public primary and secondary science education in the US, which is abominable for a society dependent on scientifically literate workers and a civic culture in which citizens must make informed judgments about scientific subjects. I will ride this horse all night if I say another thing. But the work you criticize ("stupid science" or as some have understood it, "small scale science" -- often conducted in large-scale institutions, by the way) is not a direct result of this, even if it is relatively trivial (which like most here, I think it is not in most cases). The measure of US science's health is in part the existence of a diverse range of scientific enterprises, and the application of science to problems of everyday life as a public good. I'm not worried about competing for Nobel prizes. Science is global now. I'm talking about how we have a good society. That's where the real concerns lie: the extent to which anti-science, pseudo-science, and just plain ignorance are allowed to shape public debates about life and death issues is truly stunning, and a direct result of a creeping coup d'etat, the last stand of the anti-Enlightenment traditionalists, and it's freaking working. Until they all die from the effects of global warming. Just wish they could find their own planet to wreck, though. America will lead or compete in elite science for the foreseeable future (exception for genetics and biology, perhaps). But our society will become more barbaric and premodern at the same time.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:55 PM on July 5, 2005


Full disclosure, I'm Australian, although I feel I can participate because I see the same kinds of research being done here, I see the same kind of media climate as you describe, and I also see a hell of a lot of good science being done as well.

I can't speak that much for other fields, but within my field (plant ecology), if I ignore papers that aren't Australian, probably a good 75% to 80% of rest of the papers I cite are from the US. A large proportion are actually from Israel, who have done some great work in arid ecology. A few are from Britain (those based on Grime's legacy). Very few are from continental Europe, where they often have, in my mind, a fairly outdated Clementisan outlook.
posted by Jimbob at 8:56 PM on July 5, 2005


Hi there Fozzie, you adorable little bear you. Though I haven't bothered to take part in this discussion - nor care to any more after this point - I have some rather terrifying news for you: you've lost.

Also, linking to a post you made the previous day in your FPP is bad, ugly form. Your attention grabbing is at such a vile point that you might as well wear a python around your neck or own a ferret.
posted by item at 8:56 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie,

you do not indicate what's your PhD on. In order to popularize science you must have a very good understanding of the topic (the science of it) and have read A WHOLE LOT before you start chatting about it... From the previous discussion, it seems to me you have barely understood the articles you link to. Not a good start for a PhD. There is a lot of nice work for you in the paradigm/geographical shift and gender-targetting studies. But do stay away from easy conclusions. It's you who is going to fall in the trap of too-easy, too-sloppy research.
posted by carmina at 8:57 PM on July 5, 2005


RealCountryMusic - Actually this particular thread isn't the topic of my PhD, although it's tangentially related. But yes, I've read Kuhn, Popper etc. But like I said above, there's a difference between granular science - systematically eliminating or investigating variables, and publish or perish/junk science.

MediarReport

your obvious agendafilter post

Perhaps not quite so obvious as you'd think. Took nearly sixty posts before someone called flamebait. Got everyone talking though.
posted by Fozzie at 9:00 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie uses faulty reasoning and bad research to criticize other people's research.
posted by event at 9:07 PM on July 5, 2005


Fozzie,

I say this as someone who spent the fall applying to and getting accepted to some of the best pharmacaology programs in the US (UPenn/Yale/Cornell/Columbia) as well as having a masters from Hopkins.

It doesn't take me long to sniff out a trade school
posted by slapshot57 at 9:08 PM on July 5, 2005


Agreed. The thing is I'm seeing more and more of the stuff that I posted coming from the US, and fewer and fewer of the things being discussed in Nature or more populist mags like New Scientist etc. It's a disturbing trend. Knee-jerk "we're still great!" reactions don't really help illuminate the causes of the problem.

Oh. You're seeing it. Great. I guess the rest of us can go home now.

...or perhaps the fact that virtually all the other posters in this thread don't see it could be an indication that either (a) you're wrong or (b) your qualitative judgments are a lousy way to come to conclusions about the state of science? How about some hard data?

Part of it IS the dumbing down of US science media (compare even SciAm these days to New Scientist and you'll see what I mean), in that the cutting edge stuff doesn't get much air play. (Although that in itself should be cause for alarm.)

Nonsense. The cutting-edge stuff gets plenty of play, when it's of potential interest to the broad audience and can be explained with reasonable lucidity.

But part of it is that the quality of US science is dropping. I haven't been able to find it again but there was a recent article about how Europe and Asia was starting to outpace the US in terms of research production, citations, etc.

Well, it's certainly true that the proportion of citations of US research is dropping relative to other parts of the world. But why you conclude from this that the quality of US science is dropping is unclear. Those parts of the world that are now making large gains relative to the US have seen dramatic infrastructure improvements in the last few years (Eastern Europe, China, India, etc.) Surely that's the more parsimonious explanation.
posted by heavy water at 9:12 PM on July 5, 2005


The problem, Fozzie, is that you don't know when to shut up. If your intention was to stir up a little controversy and start a debate, you succeeded with your first few comments. Now, 63 comments in, and you're still nattering on, it's narcissism. When everyone is commenting just to correct you, you're being a dick.
posted by breath at 9:13 PM on July 5, 2005


Took nearly sixty posts before someone called flamebait. Got everyone talking though.

Oh I see, you were just trolling us along and were never serious. Thats ok then we dont mind be tricked and fooled.
posted by stbalbach at 9:15 PM on July 5, 2005


That's where the real concerns lie: the extent to which anti-science, pseudo-science, and just plain ignorance are allowed to shape public debates about life and death issues is truly stunning, and a direct result of a creeping coup d'etat, the last stand of the anti-Enlightenment traditionalists, and it's freaking working.

Yes, and that's what truly worries me, and the reason why I started this thread. I pointed to these studies to indicate what could well be the thin end of the wedge. No one picked up on my comment about Scopes monkey trial, but in addition to having to fight the whole creationist thing over and over again, are we also seeing a gradual degradation in the quality of science conducted in the US?

The preponderance of stories about studies like those cited here could indicate one of two things: Yes, US science is starting to go downhill or no, US science is still doing okay, but the media is choosing, consciously or unconsciously, to make scientists look bad. Either one is a serious problem that needs to be discussed because the latter will contribute to the former in a hurry. And if science quality is starting to suffer, then we need to investigate why - politics/funding? Educational system?

The US remains at the forefront in many fields, but will only remain so as long as we watch for potential warning signs.
posted by Fozzie at 9:21 PM on July 5, 2005


Oh dear god let this thread not descend into flamery. There's quite enough of that around here lately . Those of us interested in this thread have some committment to science, and as members of the community of science we must be able to distinguish substantive from ad hominem debate.

Fozzie, you've got just a bit of a chip on your shoulder. Apparently, a lot of posters here with some knowledge of the issue think you're using a very blunt instrument, and your best defense of it has been repetition of a distinction that your post does not truly bring into clear and unambigous evidence. All of us can agree some truly "junk" science happens, some of it funded by the state (thus the people). All of us can agree that university-based science, at least, is driven by a publish or perish mentality. All of us can agree that public science literacy is concerning (in the US, these days), public distrust of science is alarming (in the US, these days), etc. There is defnitely some statistical reason to be concerned about the fate of elite, American Big Science if one holds nationalist views on the issue of honor and competition, but notice how many Nobel prizes are now shared among researchers from different countries? Science is hardly defined as a national enterprise any longer at elite levels. All of us can see the deleterious effects of lowest-common-denominator marketing on the representation of science in the media. And maybe even a few of the studies you cite might not have been the best or most innovative use of scientists' time or public capital. But it was ever thus, and the argument is that you throw a lot of mud on the wall before it starts to look like an adobe house. There are a million good reasons to confirm even the most "obvious" observations, to quantify processes that are elements in more complex chains of cause and effect, and even to know how fast a car heats up on a sunny day exactly. You can't presume to replace your judgment for the larger collective conscience of the scientific community as a whole. We have a process whereby good science produces more science, and weak science atrophies. It's a rational, but nearly stochastically complex social process. Cherry picking a few examples filtered through an already jaundiced media to make a rhetorical point about the health of American science is . . . bad science. You're committing a basic error in your sampling technique, introducing bias and working with the most unrefined and tiny sample of examples to claim that they represent "American science."

You may have read Popper and Kuhn, but as someone who teaches these authors every year (for a decade now) I tend to think you've barely begun to understand what the history and philosophy of science has to teach you. My guess is your PhD is not in an experimental science field, but in some kind of policy or social science (of science) area, which is not an insult (since mine is too, except I already have one). If that is the case, just trust me please that you are suffering from early-PhD-program-syndrome. If you're in an experimental field, then it matters less, I suppose. But you'll be frustrated for sure at some points in your education by the kinds of "research" you end up reviewing, or practicing, because it will seem stupid to you. And that can lead to doing it badly.

You do see my point about your sampling error, right? If not, you need methods 101 again. We can move on to more complex issues after you admit 5 examples do not American science describe. Cheers.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:23 PM on July 5, 2005


Took nearly sixty posts before someone called flamebait. Got everyone talking though.

Um, fuck you. The site's not your personal playpen; the front page isn't your little experiment. It's called community, look into it.

are we also seeing a gradual degradation in the quality of science conducted in the US?

Sure would've been nice to see a post that linked to something that actually helped answer that question, instead of offering unscientific, inflammatory bullshit. Oh well, maybe someone else will do it better.
posted by mediareport at 9:25 PM on July 5, 2005


No "on the internet everyone's a Ph.D" yet?
posted by clevershark at 9:42 PM on July 5, 2005


Uh, put succinctly, the existence of trivial research (allowing for for argument's sake that it is trivial) in the U.S. doesn't imply the absence of important research in the U.S, nor the absence of trivial research in, say, China and India.

Can you show either? Because if not, then you have absolutely no point, even if we stipulate to your basic assertion. And even to do that is generous -- others here have effectively rebutted that the research is trivial.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:09 PM on July 5, 2005


This thread ought to be prescribed reading to each $5 punter.
It's a credit to particpants that there was little in the way of abuse.
I ? the MeFi brains trust.
posted by peacay at 10:15 PM on July 5, 2005


I ♥ the MeFi brains trust
posted by peacay at 10:16 PM on July 5, 2005


Metafilter: ? the $5 punter.
posted by nightchrome at 10:35 PM on July 5, 2005


Crap.
posted by nightchrome at 10:35 PM on July 5, 2005


Sorry for calling Fozzie a dick. That didn't contribute anything to the discussion.

On a broader note, I agree that the colloquialization of science into sound bites has had delitrious effects on our society. As an example, oversimplification of the theory of evolution has directly led to intelligent design getting a toehold. The sound-bite version of evolution anthromorphizes genes, giving them intent, and turning biological features into tools to accomplish some goal. One says "giraffes evolved long necks so they could get at higher leaves" as though the giraffes somehow invented long necks and agreed to grow them at their annual species meeting. I saw on CSI once, they were looking at some insect that had a "highly evolved" reproductive system, so high on the evolution scale that it must have been artificially evolved. As if adaptations can be ordered on a scale from "lame" to "kick-ass". Appendix: lame. Bones stronger than steel: kick-ass.

It's into these ridiculousnesses that those jokers can slam the wedge of the "half an eye" argument. "The amoeba is the perfect organism in evolutionary terms, because it can live anywhere, and there are billions and billions of them," they say, "so there must be an intelligent designer to make us more advanced than a single-celled organism." It's pretty bad if a retaded argument like that can gain any intellectual ground.

People take science for granted even as they misunderstand its basic principles. Wired ran an article about this dude who believed that we didn't need to think about global warming or pollution because science would eventually fix those problems for us. This is actually a pretty mainstream position. I've heard it repeated here. People seem to believe that scientific advancement is some sort of inexorable natural force, to be tolerated mostly and cursed when it's inconvenient. But it's really quite delicate, and science advocates need to be better about educating the people.
posted by breath at 11:19 PM on July 5, 2005


I'm sure a lot of people felt the sameway when naturalist decided the officially name the dandilion a dandilion. That whole system seems pretty smart today, ya know?
posted by trinarian at 11:22 PM on July 5, 2005


I'm sure a lot of people felt the sameway when naturalist decided the officially name the dandilion a dandilion. That whole system seems pretty smart today, ya know?
posted by trinarian at 11:22 PM on July 5, 2005


breath writes:
Also, great leaps in robotics are coming from right here in the US.

You mean this?


I'm sure Qrio is pissing his pants.
posted by spazzm at 11:35 PM on July 5, 2005


Western Infidels: But to be fair, you're comparing el-cheapo robots designed and built as educational excercises with ultra-complex mega-buck projects designed as corporate billboards.

Are you saying that the problem with robotics research in the US is that it's wastly underfunded?

Gee, I wonder what the money is being spent on...
posted by spazzm at 11:52 PM on July 5, 2005


And kudos to Fozzie for staying focused despite the pile-on.
I'll shut up now.
posted by spazzm at 11:55 PM on July 5, 2005


No, he's saying that you're comparing homemade robots to corporate-backed robots. It should be pretty obvious to anyone without a chip on their shoulder.
posted by puke & cry at 11:57 PM on July 5, 2005 [1 favorite]


Okay, so I can't shut up.

puke&cry: Those robots are from MIT.
posted by spazzm at 12:00 AM on July 6, 2005


o/t: nightchrome, as I discovered, you need to add the special character code in preview and simply hit post.
posted by peacay at 12:25 AM on July 6, 2005


fvw: come up with a deterministic test for triviality, then do a metastudy of all published scientific literature over the last century, showing conclusively that the trend of trivial research over non-trivial stuff is actually going up.

until then, please shut up.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 AM on July 6, 2005


To further elaborate: You people who think science is "down the crapper" in this country are idiots. Yes, science is being attacked by the right, but just because some stuff that you think is trivial is being done is simply not evidence of anything at all

Would it kill you to learn at least a tiny bit of scientific theory before criticizing it?

The method used to construct the post is itself bad science and would never have been made by anyone with a basic understanding of the scientific method. Cherry picking anecdotes is not science. it never would have been posted if fvw knew anything about science in the first place.
posted by delmoi at 12:42 AM on July 6, 2005


delmoi: You mean Fozzie, right?
posted by sellout at 12:47 AM on July 6, 2005


Yes, and that's what truly worries me, and the reason why I started this thread. I pointed to these studies to indicate what could well be the thin end of the wedge.

Well, it might be, or it might not be. But you don't know and you don't even know what the underlying probability distribution is. Because you're a fucking idiot. What you've done in the post is far, far worse in terms of science then what you criticize others for. I'm sorry nothing gets under my skin worse then bad science. And "bad" means poorly done, not "unimportant" or "obvious" for every obvious result once in a while you get one that's not obvious. It dosn't hurt anything to check these out once in a while.
posted by delmoi at 12:48 AM on July 6, 2005


sellout: yes, of course. I'm very tired, it's 2:49 AM here.
posted by delmoi at 12:49 AM on July 6, 2005


I'm sorry. I'm practicaly asleep, I shouldn't really be posting in this state, especialy about something so subtle.
posted by delmoi at 12:57 AM on July 6, 2005


If you want to sell products to simple consumers -- half of all people have below average intelligence -- you have to make safe products with simple warnings and failsafe mechanisms, and you have to make laws to protect consumers from themselves. Research like the car overheating study is a necessary part of such a system.

And in cases such as the car overheating study, where there was a new (or newly noted) safety concern for consumers, the government should instruct manufacturers to fund the research and work with the research team. The cost would be relatively low to manufacturers if spread over the top five or ten manufacturers. The government could then review the results and the research team's recommendations and could issue guidelines for automobile manufacture and use.
posted by pracowity at 1:59 AM on July 6, 2005


Nope. No PhD here, BTW. I do have a Master's in Medieval Metaphysics from Miskatonic, though... (Seriously, it's on my wall and everything.)
posted by Samizdata at 2:01 AM on July 6, 2005


If you want to get upset about wasted scientific potential consider the issue of military research. If the situation in the US is anyhting like the situation in the UK, which I think it is, that is where the bulk of research money is wasted.
Trying to prevent war is a much wiser use of time than making war 'more efficient', and I would include non-lethal weaponry in that.
posted by asok at 2:34 AM on July 6, 2005


And yet, a huge number of our major technological advancements in the not-so-recent past were due to research for war...
posted by nightchrome at 2:40 AM on July 6, 2005


a huge number of our major technological advancements in the not-so-recent past were due to research for war

Some technology developed for the military is useful, with modifications, in peacetime, but that doesn't mean that the development process is efficient.

If you want to develop peaceful, useful, wonderful system X, don't spread your money over several secretive, inefficient, bureaucracy-bound military services that want to develop an X-like system whose prime purpose is to kill people, put it into a university or private industry effort (with competitive bids and no national boundaries) to actually develop peaceful, useful, wonderful system X.
posted by pracowity at 3:47 AM on July 6, 2005


Fozzie: This isn't granular science. This is publish or perish. The world does not need to know that it turns out that there's .02 % less risk of heat exhaustion in infants left alone in cars that are white with tinted windows.

It's funny really. There are others who see a dark age ahead. For very different reasons, I think.

The world does need to know in exact detail how hot it gets in cars and how every detail of their design effects the rate. It is kind of troubling that you don't seem to appreciate this. Nonetheless, I think your example does point to a problem. What is missing is that information about heating in cars should be widely available in the engineering community.

The problems I see here are:
a) engineering/medical researchers aren't listening to each other to learn what should be studied.
b) engineering/medical researchers aren't looking at existing work in the other field to help assist their own work.
c) engineering/medical researchers aren't helping each other to improve the accuracy and usefulness of their work.

My guess is that this is related to credentialism, specialization, and poorly thought out division of labour. If the medical/engineering researchers could talk to the engineering/medical researchers about the other field and if they invited the other field to talk to them they would be able to understand and solve problems like heating in cars far more effectively.

Credentialism because I think researchers believe that people from other fields don't have the knowledge to understand their problems and specialization because researchers don't bother to learn anything about other fields. The result is that division of labour occurs at the top level planning instead of at the bottom level 'real work' stage.

Finally, it is entirely possible that exactly 'the right kind of work' on the topic of heating in cars has been done, but that the information is proprietary. It seems very likely that automobile manufacturers have a lot of interest in, and information about, heating in their products. Abuse of the notion of intellectual property is another area I think might be related to our coming dark age...

Anyway, that is a theory I am working on - purely as an interested amateur I assure you (heh, I think that is part of the problem right there :P).
posted by Chuckles at 5:02 AM on July 6, 2005


So what's up with science lately, particularly in America?

for starters, science in america is being defunded.

between the "mission to mars" completely hoarding all the money which used to go to terrestrial observations from space and the right wing quoting silly research anecdotes in mass media, the u.s. is systematically being dumbed down.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:52 AM on July 6, 2005


After reading this thread, I was thinking: what is the most lame and obvious-sounding media headline I could come up with for my research. I came up with "Children Upset When Genitals Removed." Which seems like a pretty obvious no-brainer to me. Of course, I started the research because there are doctors who argue strenuously that certain children want and need their genitals removed and that the naysayers are just deluded spoilsports ruining life for innocents.

Whether or not you would agree, given a better description of what I'm doing, that it's a worthwhile study, it is worth noting that this is a masters study. That means a few things. One, not a heck of a lot of "taxpayers" money has gone into the study. Two, I am required to do an original analysis, but not ground-breaking research. The point of the masters is to gain experience in the academic process, and schools don't expect us to be up to post-PhD standards of originality. That said, at least one of the studies you linked is a master student's study (the compliment one). Arguing that a masters study represents American science and/or that it takes up a disproportionate amount of research funding thus leaving "good" science underfunded misconstrues not just the scientific process, but also the scientific education and funding process.
posted by carmen at 6:45 AM on July 6, 2005


The preponderance of stories about studies like those cited here could indicate one of two things: Yes, US science is starting to go downhill or no, US science is still doing okay, but the media is choosing, consciously or unconsciously, to make scientists look bad.

Sure, some radio commentators and sarcastic editorial writers may make light of these studies. When it comes down to it though, we live in a world where lots of people thinking hot water freezes faster than cold water and that you can die from sleeping in a room with a fan! I don't see where studies that do in-depth research on topics relevant to everyday life are useless when they can quantify and qualify harmful/useful effects of common phenomena. This shouldn't be at the expense of more complex scientific discovery, and I don't believe it is.

You can find "trivial" or "useless" science anywhere. Why, inside that OU brochure Fozzie linked to, there's a short piece on age discrimination studies and the elderly. Did you know that old people who have a creative outlet and engage their environment are likely to live better lives? Who'd have thought it! Apparently, they also are able to make better housing choices when they are fully informed of their options! I would imagine there is some excellent research being done, but it's easy to see where scientific research can be trivialized by a casual reader.
posted by mikeh at 7:06 AM on July 6, 2005


When it comes down to it though, we live in a world where lots of people thinking hot water freezes faster than cold water

Um, hot water does freeze faster then cold water.
posted by delmoi at 7:29 AM on July 6, 2005


spazzm: Those robots are from MIT.

You're using the same erroneous reasoning as Fozzie.
posted by event at 7:44 AM on July 6, 2005


Um, hot water does freeze faster then cold water.

..under some conditions. It's another one of those cases where reading the whole article definitely helps with the understanding and trivializing it as "dumb science" leaves out a lot.

But yeah, I completely forgot about the Mpemba effect when writing that, thanks for covering me, delmoi.
posted by mikeh at 7:46 AM on July 6, 2005


This reminds me of the flap a number of years ago about a federally funded study of bovine flatulence. It became a poster child for government waste and so-called "junk science"and even spawned an attack ad showing men in white coats chasing around cows in a field.

What the attackers failed to appreciate is that they were investigating said flatulence as a potentially major contributor to global warming. How major? About a quarter of the UK's methane emissions, for example.

Alarmism about junk science is nothing new. Usually it turns out not to be junk science after all. This shouldn't be surprising - the scientific community weeds out bad researchers. Publishing is necessary for survival but not sufficient.
posted by Meromorphic at 8:25 AM on July 6, 2005


That's because it's a known fact (and guys feel free to confirm or deny) that when a guy says "Nice shoes" he means "Nice shoes you wanna have sex?"

I just thought I'd weigh in as a guy who frequently doesn't compliment people on their appearance solely because I assume they'll take it as a come-on when it's not, possibly leading to an awkward response such as, "Oh! You thought I was interested in you!? I really did just like your shoes..."

Hasn't it been a long running joke about the scientific community that they sometimes study things that are common sense or useless, such as how fast ketchup moves out of a newly opened bottle.

There is a journal dedicated to it that puts out yearly awards, so I'm going to have to concur.

Maybe I'll forever regret suggesting this, but if pigs are really releasing that much methane gas, isn't there a way to trap it and use it as fuel?
posted by nTeleKy at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2005


On the robots, I didn't intend to make a direct comparison with Asimo, though by linking to the pictures page I probably invited such superficial analyses. What I meant was that original, meaningful, and very exciting robotics research goes on in the U.S. right now, even if it doesn't look quite as nice on a stage.

Here's what those robots have that Asmio doesn't: extremely low power consumption, and the ability to adapt to new environments. They are constructed in such a way that they walk on their own pretty much. Spazzm linked to an image of an unactuated walker (not a robot) that can walk for several minutes on the energy contained in a light push from your hand. The robot version uses very little energy to keep walking, on the order of 10 watts. By contrast, Asimo's locomotion system probably consumes hundreds or thousands of watts. That's why it has that big backpack -- needs a jillion batteries. If we're ever likely to see robots in our day-to-day lives, they will have to be much more efficient than that.

The other thing about Asimo that these MIT robots address is that Asimo takes a ton of work to get it to do anything. Every motion requires coordination of tens of actuators, and they can fuck up if the environment isn't just right. This is why they only show it on a stage, and why when Sony puts its robot in a school it will have several handlers. Everything it does is basically a prerecorded performance. The MIT robot can adapt itself to new terrain, and change its gait to accomodate the unexpected. This is very important -- if we're ever to have practical robots walking around on the streets, they need to be able to accomodate novel experiences.

The purpose of Asimo and Qrio isn't to contribute to scientific knowledge. They're essentially technology demos, positive PR for their companies. They are incredible engineering feats, but I would argue that their construction hasn't advanced robotic science very much. They're extremely cool, and extremely expensive, and that's about all you can say about them.

So yeah, the MIT robots can't kick Asimo's ass, but I believe that they embody more advanced and potentially more useful principles.

And if you were ever wondering if the Japanese ever research something completely stupid, I have three words for you: trumpet-playing robot.
posted by breath at 11:30 AM on July 6, 2005


This is a pretty weak post. The problem isn't that Americans aren't producing enough useful science. The problem is that Americans, as a whole, seem to be losing respect for science. Remember the 90s? Back then, science was cool. It would solve all our problems, make us tons of money, and keep our dicks hard well into old age. Now, it's the big bad bogeyman that gives us a bunch of "unsubstantiated theories" like evolution and global warming, when all we want to do is curl up with our [insert_religious_book_of_choice] and worry about how people who are different from us want us to be dead.

Fozzie's post is actually part of the problem. It unfairly diminishes people's respect for science. It's odd that Fozzie is a man of science, since this sort of anecdotal evidence is usually the sole property of small-government conservatives.
posted by afroblanca at 11:38 AM on July 6, 2005


Hey, I want to get back to discussing quonsar's amazing shrinking penis. Now that's worth a study.
posted by davy at 9:33 PM on July 7, 2005


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