Republicans: Better for Science than Democrats?

According to Neil deGrasse Tyson circa 2009, republicans politicize science more, but also provide more funding overall. Democrats allocate less funding, but lack fundamentalist biases in how they allocate funding.

Which is worse: less funding overall, or overt irrational bias pulling funding from a few key fields? We'd have to look into the details, but if Neil deGrasse Tyson is to be believed, we might want a more subtle treatment of the politics of science. I, personally, am infuriated more by the Republican's political bias in funding more than I am by cuts, since funding biases feel like an attempt to manipulate the truth to me. However, is this a rational, or an emotional, reaction? Do historic trends in science funding still apply to what the republican party has become over the last few years?


  1. I want to like Neil deGrasse Tyson, I really do, but he is completely wrong here. According to AAAS numbers, non-defense R&D has remained essentially constant as a percentage of the federal non-defense discretionary budget (source). If Republicans fund science more, it's because they're more favorable towards high-tech military boondoggles like missile defense and counter-terrorism data mining.

    Really, neither party is particularly good for science. Republicans try and subvert science when it challenges their pre-existing policy beliefs. Global warming is a lie because dealing with it would require govt intervention in the free market. Opposition to stem cells and evolution is patently linked to religious beliefs.

    Conversely, Democrats has a nasty tendency to elevate scientific knowledge to a decisive factor in controversies that are really proxies for values (Wish I had a quick example here, but I don't). While this might lead to better results in the short term, it results in science becoming a politically contested area, delegitimating both expertise and local knowledge, and leading to the kind of aggressive right wing post-modernism we see today.

    History may not be much of a guide. There is a hell of a difference between the Party of Eisenhower, the Party of George W Bush, and the Party of Perry & Palin. Tyson is fine for talking about science, but for science policy, I'd recommend Dan Sarewitz.

  2. eh.. feel free to place a little edit to this effect in the original post, if the information is just completely false.

  3. So, who wants to tell the biggest public figure in science outreach that his views on science policy are wrong?

  4. Hey, someone needs to kick Tyson off that pedestal he's on

  5. Eh..maybe thats going to far. Tyson is doing really great work with science outreach, and I'm not in a position to critique his opinions on science policy, though it looks like Biff might be?

  6. he just rubs me the wrong way for some reason.