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Friday, February 16, 2007

Washington DC

I was traveling today to Washington, DC to attend a proposal review panel. These meetings bring together a number of diverse scientists to review and critique research proposals submitted for possible funding. When writing a proposal, the goal is to outline in detail the scientific plan of the proposal, the problems that will be addressed in the proposal and the expected outcomes of that research. The sums of money (especially taxpayer money) are low relative to the overall budget of the US, but still not exactly chump change. So, I think each of the panel members involved take a responsibility to make sure that projects that are funded are good scientific investments. There will be a lot of back and forth and some debate about each proposal and hopefully we will be able to produce a ranking based on merit and potential for success. Ultimately, when the projects are awarded, it is up to the investigator to make wise use of the funding and to publish the research results in normal scientific venues. In brief, that’s how the system works and yet some good projects may not be funded whilst some projects will be funded that won’t live up to the hype.
Why bring this up? Well, I was reviewing the web pages of Answers in Genesis and he Institute of Creation Research. For example, the RATE Group is asking for love donations to support nonsensical 'research'. The good news is that it's simply a case of a fool and his money being quickly parted. Whereas many real scientists must rely on their ingenuity and scientific instincts to garner research funds, creationists merely have to tug at the heart of the gullible. Furthermore, what exactly is the purpose of doing 'creation research'? The answer is known so the research is simply about providing scientific confirmation of their religious beliefs. I actually spent some time reviewing the original RATE proposal for scientific content. You can read my comments by following this link.


Joe Meert


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