Representative Lamar Smith has been waging a controversial investigation into science that is funded by the NSF and the science review process at NSF. This week, Smith fires back at a recent article in Nature about his investigation.
As chairman of the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I do not believe that you do justice to the committee’s efforts to better understand how the US National Science Foundation (NSF) spends US$7 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money (Nature 519, 138–139; 2015).
The NSF is not “caught between the scientists it serves and the lawmakers it answers to”. The money is not the NSF’s or the scientists’: it is the people’s. Congress has a responsibility to ensure that the money is spent wisely and in the national interest.
Smith’s weak defense of his witch hunt highlights that taxpayers can’t trust politicians to judge what qualifies as wise spending when it comes to science. And I certainly doubt their ability to judge what science is in the national interest. At a time when many politicians prove their complete lack of understanding of science, or openly ignore, deny, or refute science, how can anyone trust them to judge science in an unbiased, or even semi-educated way????