Taxpayers Shouldn't Fund Political Science Research

Greg Ferenstein: Research has little real-world relevance
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2013 1:34 PM CST
In this Dec. 21, 2012 file photo, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – Last week, Eric Cantor called for the government to stop funding political science research—and today a former political scientist explains why Cantor is absolutely right. The National Science Foundation has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars recently on studies covering such hugely important topics as "why congressmen make 'vague' statements," Greg Ferenstein writes for the Atlantic. "That money could have gone toward life-saving cancer research." Sure, some political science studies have actual relevance, but for the most part, political scientists are up in their "Ivory Tower" doing little to actually "make the world a better place," Ferenstein writes.

That's because modern-day political science would rather tackle "the hyper-analytic mathematical, psychological, and anthropological study of civic behavior" than things that have "real-world impact," like public policy and diplomacy. Ferenstein doesn't go so far as to say political science research is useless; on the contrary, he believes it could play a crucial role in the Middle East's ongoing shift toward democracy, among other areas. But "the discipline of political science lacks a system for turning abstract research into practical outcomes." His recommendation: Force researchers "to seek funding from organizations that directly benefit from their research." Click for Ferenstein's full column. (Read more political science stories.)

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