March for Science

March for Science: R&D Funding Is Not Falling—It's at an All Time High

See also some photos of rally signs that I found funny and interesting

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MyTribeSMrightsized
Ronald Bailey

On Saturday I wandered down to the National Mall to hang out with the folks who were participating in the March for Science. Despite the rain, the crowd was mostly in a celebratory and not too overtly partisan mood. The event's kick-off on the grounds of the Washington Monument was a series of short speeches punctuated by musical interludes. For instance, the crowd was amused by Thomas Dolby performing his hit "She Blinded Me With Science." Several of the speakers mentioned their worries about proposed cuts in federal R&D funding, and a couple even suggested that R&D funding had been falling for decades. "Federal support has been dropping since the 1960s," declared Lydia Villa-Komaroff, former CEO of a cell biology company called Cytonome and a co-chair of the March to NBC News.

Villa-Komaroff's claim is at best misleading. It is true that the percentage of the federal budget devoted to R&D has been falling since the space race with Soviet Union abated, but the amounts in real dollars that the Feds have spent on R&D have risen more or less steadily over the past four decades. In November 2016, the National Science Foundation reported that U.S. R&D spending is at an all time high of $499 billion in 2015. As the American Institute of Physics noted, "Businesses funded $355 billion, or 69 percent, continuing a long-term trend of private enterprise financing an increasingly large majority of R&D nationwide. The federal government, the second-largest funder of U.S. R&D, sponsored an estimated $113 billion, or 23 percent of the total."

"Those private sector efforts are now the dominant form of research activity in the United States, with business spending $3 on research for every $1 invested by the U.S. government. In the 1960s the federal government outspent industry by a two-to-one margin, but the balance tipped in 1980," noted Science in its report on the NSF's R&D funding study.

FederalRDFundingAAAS
AAAS

Of course, many of the Marchers for Science are concerned that President Trump's "skinny budget" that aims to cut federal R&D funding to support his military buildup might actually happen. This seems unlikely.

That being said, I share below some of the signs at the March for Science rally that I rather liked.

MakeGMOSsmall
Ronald Bailey
ConstitutionSMsmall
Ronald Bailey
EditGenesSmall
Ronald Bailey
GotPlagueSmall
Ronald Bailey
SmartEinsteinSmall
Ronald Bailey

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  1. For instance, the crowd was amused by Thomas Dolby performing his hit “She Blinded Me With Science.”

    Oh my God.

    1. CJ: You would have had to have been there. 🙂

    2. What Crusty wants to know, but is afraid to ask, is did you get lucky at the march, Bailey?

      1. A gentleman never tells, and Ron Bailey is nothing but a gentleman.

        Also, duh.

        1. I heard he was close, but his “have you had all your vaccinations?” question killed the mood.

      2. Nah-science chicks don’t put out that easily…

    3. Fact: nobody has ever been amused by that song.

      1. Scientists are easily amused

  2. This march seemed absolutely pointless, so I haven’t paid much attention to any of it, but I wonder how many of these super-duper science folks either dislike capitalism, and/or desire universal health care?

    1. Yes.

    2. I wonder how many of these super-duper science folks either dislike capitalism, and/or desire universal health care?

      Probably most of them. I suspect this was nothing but a big circle jerk for the “I fucking love science” crowd.

    3. since most of the so called scientist that did march have been with in school government systems their entire life and have no clue that with out capitalism there would be no taxes paid to keep them in their jobs.

  3. ” It is true that the percentage of the federal budget devoted to R&D has been falling since the space race with Soviet Union abated, but the amounts in real dollars that the Feds have spent on R&D have risen more or less steadily over the past four decades.”

    Almost entirely due to the explosive growth of entitlement spending.

    So, why does Villa-Komaroff want to throw grandma off a cliff? (sarc)

  4. The Glibs already covered this like 5 times.
    SPOILER: Bill Nye did it.

    1. Ugh. It’s not even irritating – it’s creepy, like you broke into a middle school boy’s locker room and are sniffing all the soiled underpants.

  5. See Progs can’t be honest. They always lie —- all of their marches or for things like “science”, “equality”, “justice”, etc, even though the things they talk about have nothing to do with that. They should have called it “a march against global warming (oh I mean Climate Change) skeptics (I mean Deniers)”

    March for XXXXX = March to give our pet interests more money

    1. March for XXXXX = March to give our pet interests more money

      Pretty much.

    2. That’s next week’s march.

    3. The Protect our Pork Parade.

  6. Was this really a march for science, or was it more of a march for weird science?

    1. I don’t think Kelly LaBrock was there.

  7. Ron, how popular was that ‘Make GMOs not War’ dude?

    1. Things were tense at first, but after he punched the “More spending on regulatory capture research” guy in the face, it was cool.

  8. The march seemed to be a massive, multi-player jerk off of virtue signaling. What did it accomplish?

    It’s a COEXIST bumper sticker on a Prius of marches.

  9. March all they want. Until things like this are addressed they will be shouting at the tides.

    http://tinyurl.com/mdgv283

    http://tinyurl.com/n7ze3hd

  10. I do rather enjoy that first sign. Good for them for sticking up for GMOs, but I wonder if they realize that factions in the left are the opposition on that front

    1. Gonna go out on a limb and suggest that that guy was something of an agent provocateur.

      1. I know a bunch of doctors and scientists that participated. In no way do they support the antiGMO and anti vaccine groups on the left despite being mostly liberty-leaning.

  11. “Businesses funded $355 billion, or 69 percent, continuing a long-term trend of private enterprise financing an increasingly large majority of R&D nationwide…”

    Something tells me that may be the real reason why some people are complaining. A lot of people seem to think that the government funding R&D makes it pure and good while private businesses funding R&D makes it icky and gross because profits.

    1. I really think you’re onto something here. I saw a post this weekend saying we can’t afford to lose the scientific process? I can only assume they understand that Trump can’t take away the whole scientific method, but I guess the implication was that if the altruistic government funding for R&D is cut, the corrupt private funding will just conduct sham studies without the scientific method to promote their own biases? It just felt a little ironic to me, since the person who posted it is also pursuing her PhD in astronomy, so the cynical part of me wonders if this has less to do with altruistic reasons and more to do with her own funding. Of course, I can’t read minds or judge motives, but I wonder the same thing about a lot of the scientists at this march, because they have access to the same data and information Ron just provided and know that a lot of them will still have funding regardless.

    2. ‘Cynical’, I have o say you are not so cynical but a realist.

      I have such scientists in my family. Whilst they spend a lot of their time traveling to fund raising presentations in Europe, Israel, China, Japan and coincidentally, arranging vacations. They are successful in pursuing their fields but, as you say, rant about commercialization of their science.

      Their view is that society should recognize the good of their work and increase funding to, e.g. the NIS.

  12. “Those private sector efforts are now the dominant form of research activity in the United States, with business spending $3 on research for every $1 invested by the U.S. government.”

    Why is R&D that is funded by the federal government an “investment” but R&D funded by private sector merely “spending”?

  13. March for Science? Or March for Anti-GMO, Anti-Vaxx, Anti-NuclearPowah?

    1. Anti-Vaxx is an alt-right subgroup according to those who fucking love science. But these people are also mostly anti-GMO because that’s what they see at Whole Foods.

      1. To be fair, some candidates on the right entertained it this past year, which allowed some people to opportunistically say the right was rejecting science yet again. But it really took off among left-wing celebrities and the upper class, suburban, and (typically though not exclusively) leftist soccer mom types

      2. Times be a changing, because I remember when anti-flouride was Right wing, but anti-vaxx (ala Playboy bunnies and Jim Carrey) was solidly Left wing kook.

        Are anti-science crystal healing aromatherapy hippie types now Right wing as well? So hard to stay on script.

  14. Number of times a word appears in the Constitution:

    1. God … 0
    2. Science … 1 ?
    3. Piracy … 1 ?

    I think it’s plain to see where this is going… the Founding Fathers clearly intended greater funding for space pirate research.

    1. Aye aye.

    2. Can’t argue with logic like that.

  15. It’s really awful how many people on here are making the march out to be a liberal thing. The march was for science. Yes science is PRO GMO, that should not come as a surprise. Science is also shown the safety of vaccines, as well as the overwhelming evidence for global warming, evolution, and more. My biggest fear with the march as a scientist is that people will start to think as science as a liberal thing. It is most definitely not. Science is a way of evaluating evidence to try to find the truth. I wish people would stop caring about their political orientation and look for the truth. Whether this is progressives accepting the safety and environmental benefits of GMOs or conservatives accepting human cause climate change/global warming, we need to stop treating science as something political and just accept what the data is showing to be true.

    1. the march was a political act by scientist they chose to make it political not the public. In reality though how many actual scientist were there vs SJW’s of any strip who just love to hate.

    2. I mostly agree with you Justin, but it did not help the cause that the idea for a march was hatched on the heels of the Women’s March and blatantly to send a message to Trump and the GOP.

    3. There is one fundamental difference between GMOs and “global warming” (your words, not mine). Research has been done to demonstrate that GMOs (at least the ones primarily being discussed) are generally beneficial.
      However, even if the evidence points to human activity being the main cause of climate change, what has not been demonstrated AT ALL is why this is the great calamity that the left tells us it is.

      1. I was gonna say, I haven’t seem much on the “right” saying “the climate doesn’t change!” or “human beings have no effect on climate!”.

        I’ve seen them say that they have no reason to believe that the human effect is as large as proponents want it to be (because the models keep not predicting, and the “forcing factors” never seem to be there).

        I’m absolutely sure the human race has non-zero effect on global climate.

        I’m also unaware of any compelling reasons to believe the effect is imminently catastrophic despite (because of?) having been told that for most of my adult life.

        (In other words, I see a lot, from the right, denying global warming alarmism, which is different.

        Sometimes it’s expressed as a flat denial, and without knowing their context one can’t easily tell that “global warming is a hoax!” is an effective if inaccurate way of saying “global warming hysteria is baseless and political!”)

    4. My biggest fear with the march as a scientist is that people will start to think as science as a liberal thing. It is most definitely not.

      Yeah, so maybe “the march” was where all this went wrong.

      They have to ask themselves, who would march against science. No one? Yes, that is the right answer.

      So why march for science. And why lend your apparent support to the politically motivated agents who were fronting the whole activity.

      It was indeed a very bad day for science and its objectivity.

    5. My biggest fear with the march as a scientist is that people will start to think as science as a liberal thing. It is most definitely not

      No, but there are those on the left who want to make it one Team vs the other, hence the march.

    6. No, the march was for Federal Funding for scienc-y programs. NASA funding yes, NIH funding yes, Federal Stem Cell research funding yes. Get rid of Federal roadblocks on building more carbon-free nuclear power plants? Cricket chirps.

    7. It’s really awful how many people on here are making the march out to be a liberal thing. The march was for science.

      You mean like a 5K to raise money for breast cancer research? Yeah, those things have been shown to actually contribute very little actual money to breast cancer research.

      Oh, wait, you mean it wasn’t even that economically oriented? Then it was more political that an 5K run to raise money for breast cancer research wasn’t it?

    8. The elevation of scientists to policymakers is what’s so polarizing and the left is the only side that does it. Scientists really like central planning, something that one side of the aisle embraces far more than the other, and something that a large portion of the populace is skeptical of. So when scientists are elevated by the left as experts to be trusted in all things (which we’re not), then venture outside of their area of expertise and begin to talk about policy in a one-sided manner (thereby blurring the line between scientific consensus and their personal belief), it’s no wonder it inspires doubt in so many people as to whether or not science is politicized. I think we need to avoid the flattery of the left and try much harder to be neutral in our public discourse, as well as avoid discussing things we aren’t experts on. Climate scientists aren’t necessarily experts on economics or even environmental policy

      I personally think the celebrity scientists (e.g. Bill Nye and NGT) do real damage to how we’re perceived. They change no minds on the right and give the left the feeling that they have the intellectual superiority of being backed by all of science

  16. I don’t know where Bailey was but I watched some of it on Link TV. Talk about self absorbed people that like to hear themselves speak and with many of their complaints having nothing at all to do with Trump but they claim its his fault anyway.

  17. For a certain class of person, only government spending can count.

  18. RE: March for Science: R&D Funding Is Not Falling – It’s at an All Time High
    See also some photos of rally signs that I found funny and interesting

    We should all give more of our tax dollars for The State’s R&D programs since so many of them have proven to be so successful.
    Just look at how the CDC has found a cure for cancer, diabetes, AIDS, MS, MD, and bad television viewing.
    Look at how NASA has colonized Pluto in record time.
    Look at how the Agricultural Department has produced the perfect food with little or no calories, turned ice cream into a wonder drug and made scotch harmless for infant consumption.
    Yes, only through giving The State more of our hard earned dollars will we be able to live forever, have world peace and the perfect vegetarian burrito.
    It only takes money.

  19. Bailey, was attending this as much fun as attending THIS rally? http://www.zombietime.com/clim…..st_agenda/

  20. That chick with the “edit genes not the truth” sign? Totally would

  21. I doubt that most of the participants were actually “scientists” or have made any real contribution to the field – unless the organizers screened participants.

    While I don’t doubt that most scientists dislike Trump and lean left on social issues, the people who would bother to go to these rallies are probably partisan libs who worship at the very unscientific altar of identity politics, Let’s not forget how quickly the left bought into the “Jackie” fiasco, without a single trace of DNA evidence presented by anyone despite the allegedly graphic rape.

    In the days of yore scientists had to contend with the church. Now some scientists are part of the system. There’s so much junk out there that goes unchecked. Steve Jobs was reduced to a skeleton because he thought alternative treatments would save him.

    1. Most people I know who went were public school teachers. Just the scum of the earth if you ask me. Everyone told them on derpbook how brave they were to stand up to trump. I just can’t even right now…

  22. Ever notice how the word “science” is one of these dead giveaways? Sit next to someone on the plane, ask what they do. Molecular biologist? Solid-state materials researcher? Astronomer? Even climatologist! No seatmate would ever say, “Oh, I’m a scientist.”

    Well, except when there’s a need for a talking head to pronounce on how great government funding is, or an invitation to mob up for a march on how great government funding is. Then they’re all scientists.

  23. Here is a great article that the climate change alarmists will never read. This article does a good job of explaining why there is such growing skepticism and why we should be skeptical of any “consensus’ that is so politicized and fantasticized.

    https://mises.org/blog/neil-ty-scientism-guy

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