The Great Immensity aka The Great Stonewall

What does The Great Immensity, a play about Climate change have to do with the NSF and it stated mission? Not much apparently.

Guest essay by Dennis Kuzara

What does The Great Immensity, a play about Climate change have to do with the NSF and it stated mission? Not much apparently, and the self described “most transparent administration in history” isn’t as transparent as they would have you believe.

greatimmensity

NSF AT A GLANCE  The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” With an annual budget of $7.2 billion (FY 2014), we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.  —We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system.”

The connection between the play and the NSF will eventually become clear, but to set the stage, let me present the back and forth emails between the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and the NSF over the course of 17 months – 524 days. This snapshot of correspondence was released to the public by the Democratic minority on the committee, so one can assume it would be seen as detrimental to the Republicans and favorable to the NSF. To make things more difficult, all the documents are scanned images – no searching or copying here.

I have paraphrased all of the correspondence, reducing what was being said to a manageable size as well as changing the politically correct jargon into plainspeak, thus making for more enjoyable reading. If instead, you prefer being bored, read the actual documents in the links at the end. The Dialogue runs from day 1 to day 524 with each day noted in the header, and the number in ( ) being the interval between letters. Also note that there are huge time gaps between some of the letters.

Cast of characters (in order of appearance):

Lamar S. Smith, Chairman, Committee on Science, Space and Technology
Dr. Cora B. Marrett, Acting Director National Science Foundation
Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member, Committee on Science, Space and Technology
Dr. Dan E. Arvisu, Chairman, National Science Board
Larry Bucshon, Chairman, Subcommittee on Research and Technology
Dr. France Cordova, Director National Science Foundation
Fox News
The Civilians
Thegreatimmensity.org

Day 1
April 25, 2013
From: Lamar Smith
To: Dr Cora Marrett
In reviewing the President’s budget for FY 2014, I have concerns regarding some grants approved by the NSF and how closely they adhere to the” intellectual Merit” guideline, so I would like to understand how the NSF makes decisions to approve and fund grants. Please provide me with access to the scientific/technical reviews and the Program Officer’s Review Analysis for the following 5 grants within 2 weeks:
1. Picturing Animals in National Geographic ($227,437)
2. Comparative Histories of Scientific Conservation ($195,761)
3. The International Criminal Court and the Pursuit of Justice ($260,001)
4. Comparative network Analysis: Mapping Global Social Interactions ($435,000)
5. Regulating Accountability and transparency in China’s Dairy Industry ($152,464)

Day 2 (1)
April 26, 2013
From: Eddie Johnson
To: Lamar Smith
I think the peer review process is the gold standard and I am appalled that you would have the audacity to question it. By making this request you are sending a chilling message to the entire scientific community. You are not a scientist and therefore you have no right to question whatever it is they do or how they do it. i realize that the taxpayers are footing the bill to the tune of $7.6 billion, but you shouldn’t intrude politically into how they spend the taxpayer’s money. I demand you withdraw your letter to Dr. Marrett.

Day 13 (11)
May 7, 2013
From Dr. Dan  Arvisu
To: Dr Cora Marrett
Thanks for sharing Chairman Smith’s letter which requested that information be sent to him 2 days from now. Could you stall him for 3 days until the board has a chance to discuss this important topic?

Day 15 (2)
May 9, 2013
From Dr. Cora Marrett
To: Lamar Smith
The NSB has asked to review this request, so we will get back to you by May 16th.

Day 21 (6)
May 15, 2013
From Dr. Cora Marrett
To: Lamar Smith
The NSF policies on merit review dictate that decisions to recommend funding for each award are outsourced to several experts on the subject matter and sometimes by internal experts. Once that is done a Program Officer generates their summary and analysis of the proposal with recommendations. At this point it is kicked upstairs to the division Directors for final determination. But here is the kicker: we can’t tell you who the reviewers are because it is all secret and if we were let you see it there will be irreparable harm done to our reviewer community and to the merit review process. Surely there must be some other way to do this, For example, I will gladly sit down with you and tell you how robust our review process is. In closing, the NSF has the world’s most successful merit-based model for funding research and expanding the frontiers of knowledge.

Day 29 (8)
May 23, 2013
From Dr. Cora Marrett
To: Lamar Smith
Thanks for taking my call yesterday and we can talk more when I get back from Europe.

Day 162 (133)
October 3, 2013
From Dr Cora Marrett
To: Lamar Smith
To: Eddie Johnson
Thanks for you and Larry Bucshon taking the time to meet with me and Dr. Arvizu so that we could share our plan for enhancing transparency and accountability at NSF, which we are now implementing. We are confident that this plan will “ensure that our research investments represent wise stewardship of the public trust”.

Day 167 (5)
October 8, 2013
From: Lamar Smith
To: Dr. Cora Marrett
Thanks for the follow up letter. your plan for enhancing transparency and accountability at NSF is a good first step, but we want to see what it is, since we wish to implement it with authorizing legislation. Lets keep in touch.

Day 282 (115)
February 4, 2014
From: Lamar Smith
To: Dr. Dan Arvisu
Since the NSB is meeting at the end of the month, I though it would be useful to review last November and my growing concerns about the slow pace and backsliding by the NSB. The plan submitted at the September meeting claimed that the NSF Program Officers and their supervisors  would be responsible for explaining, in writing, how each approved grant was intellectually and scientifically meritorious and how each would further the national interest. So far this is not happening. At the January meeting my staff heard two things: (1) The NSF staff will deliberate slowly – maybe getting something out in 6 months, and (2) the NSF is opposed to any increase in transparency and accountability. This isn’t what we discussed last September. We need to get back on track.

Day 319 (37)
March 9, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. Dan  Arvisu
Thanks for the letter of Feb 4th. We strongly agree with you that Blah, Blah Blah and we are doing all kinds of wonderful things here at the NSF. We appreciate your interest and support for the NSF mission.

Day 337 (18)
March 27, 2014
From Dr. Cora Marrett
To: Lamar Smith
I heard that your committee’s opening statement earlier this week claimed that “NSF refused to provide a response” to the request you made last year. I was surprised to hear this because I told you it was secret, plus, since you did not bring it  again, I though we were off the hook. If you really want this information maybe we can mutually agree on some way to retain reviewer confidentiality. We can resolve this issue and I can continue to show you just what a great organization the NSF is.
Dr. France Cordova, was sworn in as director of the National Science Foundation on March 31, 2014.

Day 341 (4)
April 7, 2014
To: Dr. France Cordova
From: Lamar Smith
Congress’ authority to obtain information from federal agencies is broad. (Cites chapter and verse.) I am requesting paper copies of the following public records or documents of any kind that pertain to  the NSF’s consideration and approval (i.e. pretty much everything) of the following 20 grants:
3/4/2013 The Great Immensity ($697,177)
8/25/2010 Picturing Animals in National Geographic ($227,437)
11/22/14 culture, change and Chronic Stress in Lowland Bolivia ($19,684)
8/16/2009  Investigating Social Transformation in Late Bronze Age Cyprus. (($107.570)
10/1/2010 Does Community-Based Rangeland Ecosystem Management Increase the Resilience of Coupled Systems to Climate Change in Mongolia? ($1,499,718)
3/15/2011 The reciprocal Dynamics of Family Transformation Through International Marriage Migration ($147,460)
6/21/2011 The Prehistory of Chiapas Mexico ($276,586)
9/21/2012 Ecological Consequences of Human-Set Fires in New Zealand ($339,958)
7/10/2013 Analysis of Disturbance Interactions and Ecosystem resilience in the Northern Forests of New England ($235,494)
8/13/2013 Transnational Adoptees and Migrants: from Peru to Spain ($246,454)
7/21/2009 Human Control of Bicycle dynamics with Experimental Validation and Implications for Bike Handling and Design ($300,000)
8/7/2007 The Veil-Fashion Industry: Transnational Geographies of Islamism, Capitalism, and Identity ($199,088)
7/28/2006 After the JD iii: The Trajectories of Legal Careers ($735,228)
9/26/2010 Metallurgical Practice, Technology and Social Organization during the Middle to Late Bronze Age in the Southern Urals, Russia ($134,354)
5/30/2012 Rags to Riches: An Archaeological Study of Textiles and Gender in Iceland ($487,049)
8/21/2013 Weaving Islands of Cloth: Gender, Textiles and trade Across the North Atlantic from the Viking Age to the Early Modern Period ($217,957)
11/16/2011 The Study of Social Impacts of Tourism in Finnmark, Norway ($275,135)
4/23/2008 Automated Support for Novice Authoring of Interactive Drama ($516,000)
9/16/2005 Constructal Theory of Social Dynamics ($79,988)
5/6/2010 Izapa Regional Settlement Project ($280,588)
Please get this information to me as soon as possible.

Day 371 (30)
May 1, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. France Cordova
We will provide two of the requests, redacted or course, which took 26 hours to compile and edit. Based on that, it will take 18 weeks for the other 18 grants. Before we go any further, see if these two meet your needs. We cannot send you these important documents, but we could let your staff come here and look at them, since we really do not trust you.
In regards to transparency and accountability, we just implemented the recommendations that the working group started on last December. I have appointed Dr Arzberger, co-leader of the Transparency and Accountability Working Group as the permanent leader for this activity.

Day 377 (6)
May 6, 2014
To: Dr. France Cordova
From: Lamar Smith
Thanks for your effort, but it isn’t sufficient. I basically asked for everything related to the grant awards and decisions by the Supreme Court say you must comply. You allude to “pre-decisional” information that you are withholding from us, ostensibly because you do not trust that we will keep it confidential. The Federal Courts have held that releasing information to us is not considered disclosure to the general public and the Courts have said that they presume the committees of Congress will exercise their powers responsibly. I want immediate confirmation that you will fully comply with our request.

Day 390 (13)
May 19, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. France Cordova
We are dedicated to Blah Blah Blah. You have asked for documents that reflect internal pre-decisional and deliberative communications including personally identifiable information, including reviewer’s names. i take back what i said about not trusting you, but nonetheless it will harm the very foundation of merit review and chill the candid advice offered by the reviewers. For over a year and prior to my appointment, we have offered to negotiate this issue. As Dr. Marrett said in April 2013 “”hope there is some other way to to help the committee understand how NSF makes decisions … short of the approach outlined in your letter.” Since we had ongoing conversations, we figured you did not want the information on the original 5 grants. However in our first meeting as the new Director of the NSF, you doubled down and now want information on 20 grants. Oddly, despite our stonewalling, you still really want this information. Sorry, but we can’t do that because we have confidentiality agreements with the reviewers. Perhaps we can find some other mutually beneficial way to accomplish this.

Day 401 (11)
May 30, 2014
To: Dr. France Cordova
From: Lamar Smith
This is a follow up on recent discussions between our staffs, which seem to be productive. You will provide all the information we need, but you can redact the reviewer’s personal information. We will go to your office next week for a preliminary review of the information.

Day 404 (3)
June 2, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. France Cordova
We will make the material you requested available to your staff. I hope this will stand as a strong basis for reinstating the robust, productive relationship we once had.

Day 428 (24)
June 26, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. France Cordova
I appreciate you accommodating our redaction of sensitive peer reviewer material and since I haven’t heard from you lately, I presume that this is the end of this matter.

Day 428
June 26, 2014
To: Dr. France Cordova
From: Lamar Smith
Please send me the material I requested on April 7, 2014. you have had ample time to compile this information. You will recall I agreed for you to remove external reviewer’s identities and I agreed to a preliminary review of the material to exclude superfluous items. On June 5th we spent about 15 minutes per file and my staff indicated which form letters were not necessary. A confirming email from your staff said we would be sent all the materials covered by my April 7th request within 2 weeks.

Day 443 (15)
July 11, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. France Cordova
I have decided that we will not send the documents you requested as our grant proposals contain highly sensitive and sometimes personal information and as such, letting you have it might have a detrimental effect on their lives and careers. Not only that, but the reviewers themselves are up in arms about the possibility of congress being able to see what they said. (Not sure how the reviewers found out about congress wanting this information, though.) If you did not have enough time during the preliminary review, by all means come back over here and take whatever time you need to look at the documents. You know, we share your intense commitment “to ensuring the precious American tax dollars are managed with care.”

Day 460 (17)
July 28, 2014
To: Dr. France Cordova
From: Lamar Smith
I regret you do not acknowledge the committee’s authority to receive information from the NSF. NSF spends over $7 billion a year and unimpeded access to NSF information is critical to our oversight function, but this is impossible if an agency like you unilaterally determines to limit access to information and permits review of official documents only at its offices. This is legally unsupportable and you should reconsider your decision. In any case, we are pressing forward.
In the brief time staff had to review the grant proposals, a few initial impressions were made:
1. the amount and detail of the project jackets varied widely. A few of them contained fairly detailed information, while others had almost no information on the peer review that resulted in funding the grant proposal
2. The reviewers comments varied significantly, from detailed and substantive to no insight whatsoever into the scientific merit of the proposals. There were no minutes or notes from the NSF staff.
3. In one case, the applicant was notified that their low competitive standing would not allow funding of the proposal, however the project was funded anyway and yet there was no additional information as to how or why this happened.
Committee staff will be contacting your staff and we will need (A) grant applications that competed with the 20 requested (B) the written evaluations of these competing grants and (C) competitive rankings of all these grant applications.

Day 462 (2)
July 30, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. France Cordova
OK, but that would be 2400 proposals and 12,000 reviewer evaluations totaling 100,000 pages. Let me know what you want to do.

Day 490 (28)
August 27, 2014
To: Dr. France Cordova
From: Lamar Smith
[The first several pages were a rehash everything that happened over the previous 16 months, plus a page of legal precedents.]
You have continued to disobey the law and continue to withhold the requested materials. What you are doing is in keeping with the Obama Administration’s aggressive withholding of information from Congress, the media and taxpayers. You and the Administration “have decided that scientific research is political, that information about the Administration’s politicized science policies are to be kept secret at all costs, and that the NSF and NSB are not bound by the constitution to be accountable to congress or taxpayers.
My staff has noted numerous inconsistencies in the files and have been informed it is not available or will need to be researched, all while by appointment, under supervision and with NSF redactions.
Due to your stalling and intransigence, we are only 5% complete so far. We have the law on our side and we intend to use it, so I urge you to reconsider your decision to withhold these documents from us.

Day 503 (13)
September 9, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. France Cordova
I have repeatedly told you we recognize your authority and we have given you lots of documents – just not the ones you want. Contrary to what you stated, we have bent over backwards by letting your staff come here and look at the records and have not hidden anything, except of course the reviewer’s personal information. As far as transparency goes, we implemented a new process that makes sure the titles and abstracts more clearly convey the potential societal impact to the public. Your staff can still come over anytime to look at our records.

Day 505 (2)
September 11, 2014
To: Dr. France Cordova
From: Lamar Smith
I am requesting paper copies of everything related to the approval of 30 grants. [List provided: 1 from the first grant request list, 5 from the second grant request list and 24 new ones.] Please make these available by September 22, 2014.

Day 509 (4)
September 15, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Dr. France Cordova
I will have the first files for your review at our place by September 22.

Day 514
September 20, 2014
FoxNews.com
“The Great Immensity,”
The curtain has come down on Climate Change: The Musical and reviews of the taxpayer-funded play about global warming are downright icy.
The play, which is actually entitled “The Great Immensity,” and was produced by Brooklyn-based theater company The Civilians, Inc. with a $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, ended its run early amid a storm of criticism from reviewers and lawmakers alike. It opened a year late, reached just five percent of its anticipated audience and likely fell short of its ambitious goal of informing a new generation about the perceived dangers of man-caused climate change.
Plus, it apparently wasn’t very good.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, said the dramatic debacle was a waste of public money.
“There is no doubt that the Great Immensity was a great mistake,” Smith told FoxNews.com. “The NSF used taxpayer dollars to underwrite political advocacy dressed up as a musical. And the project clearly failed to achieve any of its objectives.”
In a statement to FoxNews.com, the NSF said it is too soon to tell if the grant funds were wasted.
“This particular project just concluded in August and the final report has not yet been submitted to NSF,” the statement said. “Final reports are due to NSF within 90 days following expiration of the grant. The final report will contain information about project outcomes, impacts and other data.”
But Smith and others in Congress said the foundation owes an explanation to lawmakers – and taxpayers.
“The NSF has offered no comment, neither a defense of the project nor an acknowledgement that funding was a waste of money,” Smith said. “The NSF must be held accountable for how they choose to spend taxpayer dollars.”

Day 524 (15)
September 30, 2014
To: Lamar Smith
From: Eddie Bernice Johnson

Why have you been hounding the NSF for the last 18 months?  I think it is because you are on a witch hunt. Like I said before, you are no expert and just because you think some of the titles are strange or weird gives you no right to question their value. Just because Diane Feinstein  created the banned “assault weapons” list from pictures of how evil they looked (they eventually dropped the BB gun once that was pointed out) it is not a precedent for you to adopt the same selection criteria based on how weird the titles are. (Editor’s Note: MS Johnson did not actually say that last part about the gun ban, but it seemed apropos.)

When my staff reviewed the 20 files, we did not see anything wrong, so what is your point? The NSF kept saying they did not trust you and guess what, they were right. The worst possible outcome of your witch hunt has happened: somebody  leaked very secret and proprietary NSF grant information to Fox News. How else would they have found out that the ” Great Immensity” opened a year late, closed early – after a 4 week run, only reached 5% of its target audience, or wasted $700,000 of taxpayer’s money?

Since it wasn’t Me or the Democratic staff – and most certainly not the NSF – that leaked this highly classified information, by default it had to be you or your staff. Do you realize what a chilling effect this will have on future grants? Besides the fact that the Civilians Theater Group is about as non political as they come, how could you allow politics to intrude into a non political musical about climate change and how we are all going to die if we don’t all wake up?
————————————————————————–
Is it any wonder why congress seems to take so much time to accomplish so little?

To continue, about The Great Immensity:

About The Civilians: it “is a company that creates new theater from creative investigations into the most vital questions of the present.” The company’s recent work, The Great Immensity received its world premiere production at Kansas City Rep in February 2012 and its New York premiere at the Public Theatre in April 2014. http://thegreatimmensity.org/

Thegreatimmensity.org website was last updated a year ago. From their home page: COMING TOGETHER TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE – With the climate crisis worsening every day, people everywhere are stepping up to take action.

And here are their links:
Climate Central
350.org
Sierra Club
Climate Reality Project
Green Peace
Climate Action Programme
Natural Resources Defense Council
Citizens Climate Lobby
Campaign Against Climate Change
Environmental Defense Fund
Earth Justice

Judging from their links, (they left out Watts Up With That for some reason), it is obvious that they are completely nonpolitical. I can’t imagine why they haven’t updated their webpage in over a year and for the last 10 months all news about The Great Immensity has gone dark. There isn’t even a  video for this play available on YouTube. (The Civilians have 6 private videos under the heading of The Great Immensity, so it might exist.)

I wanted to get a copy of the final report from the NSF on the grant that funded the play, so I sent an email to them and got back this reply:

We cannot provide copies of reports; however, this information is available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

So, I asked for the final report via the FOIA from the NSF. it only took 5 weeks but I did get a scanned copy of the final report, so I am again stuck with images. No searching or cut and paste available.  Apparently it must be policy to use scanned documents to make it as hard as possible to use. First they had to print it as evidenced to the file location (https://www.ejacket.nsf.gov/ej/showprojectreportprint.do?reportID=10200709), then scan the 14 pages and then email it to me. It would have been easier to just send me the PDF file.

Within the report were (obviously) nonworking links to files, so I requested a PDF with working links, but instead was sent links to just three PDF files that expire in 30 days. The person I dealt with at the NSF was very courteous, helpful and accommodating, which I do appreciate.

There isn’t anything noteworthy in the final report, except that one gets the impression that the entire exercise was a resounding success and as it states: “We hope to continue touring The Great immensity in the years to come and are currently speaking with potential university and theater partners ..”

If their dream was to be a world tour in the lead-up to COP21 – its not going to happen. This is surely the last we will ever see of The Great Immensity and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will probably never find out if the taxpayer’s 697,177 dollars were spent wisely or not.

Links:
http://tinyurl.com/psuxmnu
http://tinyurl.com/qjg4sxy
http://www.nsf.gov/about/
http://thegreatimmensity.org/
http://www.thecivilians.org/

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104 thoughts on “The Great Immensity aka The Great Stonewall

  1. “The Great Immensity”? I like the title, but think it would be better suited, in terms of educating the public on the perils of “climate-change”, to a play that explored Al Gore’s post-Tipper evolution into a grotesque, humongous, flab-sump, blubber-impaired, lard-whopper, jumbo-tubby behemoth-fatso.

    • Respectfully ask that my above comment be deleted. On reflection, I can see that it tastelessly distracts from an important article about the NSF’s appalling conduct.

      • I applaud Congressman Smith’s efforts to provide oversight of an NSF that obviously views itself as autonomous. If they spend the taxpayer’s money, they should answer to the taxpayers.We’re not dealing with military secrets.
        I would very much like to see a breakdown of how much funding goes to pro-AGW groups vs. skeptical groups.

    • You forgot masseuse-masher. At least Prince Albert isn’t a lip-biting rapist like Slick Willie.

      • “The Great Immensity” and the fine art of stonewalling.
        Even Rep. Lamar Smith, Didn’t stand a chance against the Great wall of hide, delay, lie, cheat and BS from the The National Science Foundation (NSF) – they have become money sucking, blood sucking, lead weight on the backs of the American people. DEFUND THEM!

    • Try looking at any country’s foreign aid program, that’s where you will see real waste, bureaucracy and corruption.

    • Only a couple of days ago, I saw a report on the news (probably BBC) that India was greatly expanding its Solar PV programme between now and 2020. I think that there were claims of a 20billion dollar investment scheme.

      So no doubt much more money being wasted there, although at least in India, unlike Northern Europe, solar irradiance is strong and there ought to be much demand for energy/air con during the day whereas in Northern Europe peak demand is early evening when the sun even in summer is very weak, and in winter it has set a long time before peak demand.

    • Pointman, the Defense Department can’t tell you where up to 7 trillion dollars was spent for sure since 1998 and you actually think that any other money spent by the government and can’t be accounted for is significant by comparison? Before 9/11 then couldn’t account for 2.3 trillion, over the course of the next 2 years they lost track of 1.2 trillion more, and they can’t verify if contracts were actually fulfilled since then for another 4 trillion, and we worry about $700,000 for a politically motivated play or a the billions wasted on solar. Nearly half of the national debt, spent by DoD and unaccounted for, and we complain about raising the Social Security benefits by the true cost of living so we don’t count the cost of food and energy when we figure it. It’s a strange world we live in and a stranger world the Defense industry lives in.

      • Since DOD spending for FY’s 2002 and 2003 were 328.7 and 464.9 billion respectively, less about a total of 150 billion for Iran and Afghanistan, it’s difficult to imagine how they could have no idea where 1.2 trillion went since that’s about 250 billion more than they were given. A neat trick if you can pull it off. Rant, much?

    • The problem really is that there is no solution to bureaucratic incompetence except an “off with there heads” approach. You can’t shame a hooker in a whorehouse!

    • Like it — but at the risk of making a “poetic enemy” I would change the word “convincing” to “conniving”. Actually, come to think of it, a word meaning “over-the-top” would fit even better. “Overacted”?

      Taking the lead role
      Overacted performances
      Have taken a heavy toll

      Deliberate exaggeration is the hallmark of a “climate scientist”.

      Eugene WR Gallun

  2. A classic example of the Empire of Expensive, Pointless, Obstructive Bureaucrats.

    How dare you question their workings?

  3. Great article. I say bye bye taxpayer dollars…but…no doubt someone will advance a Keynesian argument that this is good for the economy.

  4. From: Eddie Johnson
    To: Lamar Smith

    How dare you question how the bureaucracy spends the people’s money. Eff off!

    /paraphrase

  5. They could get DiCaprio to play the lead in the movie version: “The Unbearable Boringness of Global Warming”.

  6. Cut all funding to the Organisation. Scrap the Organisation entirely. It the only way to make beaureacrats accountable to their employers the tax payers.

    • SF: How do you get the bureaucracy to be more cooperative?

      BN: Oh, that’s one of my big pleasures in public life, slashing the bureaucracy. We had to fight big bureaucratic battles to get this cyber park and to get our military to move all their key units here. But eventually, you know, we got it done. It’s a continual battle–and it’s an opportunity.

      You asked me about our growth areas. One is technology, especially cyber. Two is new markets, especially in Asia. Third is bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is a great growth opportunity. Because if we’ve grown an average of 5% a year with the amount of bureaucracy we have, that tells you how much more we could grow if we removed that bureaucracy. So this is one of our missions: to constantly trim the bureaucracy. It’s like weeding; it never ends. You just have to keep weeding it out. But the trees grow, you know? And give fruit; you just have to keep weeding out the bureaucracy. It’s a great growth area.

      From Forbes interview of Benjamin Netanyahu at http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2015/07/22/how-the-small-state-of-israel-is-becoming-a-high-tech-superpower/4/

    • LOL Much better use of the title! Maybe even more accurately named: ‘The Huge Hubrisity’?

    • Tom J

      Haha! Love it. Did you see that in Kenya he just said that he would win a third term if he could run?

      Eugene WR Gallun

    • jinghis

      If you want to read disgusting read some of the things said about Willie Soon.

      Eugene WR Gallun

    • I thougth that it was something from Yes minister (UK 70’s comedey)
      “There are certain items of confidential information which while they are in theory susceptible of innocent interpretation do nevertheless contain a sufficient element of ambiguity, so that, should they be presented in a less than generous manner to an uncharitable mind, they might be a source of considerable embarrassment.”
      But no this seems to be reality???

      • or my favourite
        “The fact that you needed to know was not known at the time that the now known need to know was known and therefore those who needed to advise and inform him perhaps felt that the information that he needed as to whether or not to inform you of the known information was not yet known and therefore there was no authority for the authority to be informed because the need to know was not at this time known. Or needed
        We only tell you when you know you need to know, Or when you need to know that you need to know ,Or when we know that you need to know.”

  7. Does Lamar Smith’s committee actually have anything to do with funding the organization? If so, I would suggest they use their power and cut the funding drastically, together with imposing restrictions on use of the money, such as far greater and more immediate oversight. I know–they will whimper.

  8. “The Great Immensity” is about as redundant a phrase as can be conjured, which considering the repetitive nature of so much self reinforcing bad climate science is apropos.

  9. Please tell me that the “Blah Blah Blah” was your addition, not the original?

    1t: Given the nature of this as a quote, while it’s amusing, an elipsis would be more accurate or at least putting that bit in brackets. In no small part because:
    2: Given the outright disrespect shown for Congressional oversight in what should be an extremely simple if not routine request, I wouldn’t be suprised if they did mouth off like an undisciplined teenager.

    • Finally, if I spoke like that to an EPA agent or a police officer, I would be hauled off in handcuffs, and an acocunting speaking to the IRS or a trader speaking to the SEC could expect the same. How does the NSF get by with thumbing their nose at an oversight committee?

    • “I have paraphrased all of the correspondence, ….. changing the politically correct jargon into plainspeak,…” My intention was to put into words what was actually meant. “Blah Blah Blah” is just paraphrasing several pages of unimportant self-congratulatory filler. “If instead, you prefer being bored, read the actual documents in the links at the end.”

      Dennis

    • I must say the more I think about it the worse it gets. This needs to be completely rewritten with nothing but quotations using elipses for brevity and brackets when needed. The basis of this disussion, with the NSF stalling to avoid congressional oversight, is bad enough.

      A paraphrase is to rephrase “This is an illegal action under …[large list of items]…”. Or to replace a 30 word description with “this is unnacceptable”. This isn’t paraphrasing. It is a complete and prejudicial rewrite.

      Putting words into their mouths undermines the point of this whole excercise. Let them hang themselves. Don’t try and do it for them

      • It could easily be touted as a possible libelous re-write of communication between congressional committee members and NSF staff. Whether or not it would be determined so in a court of law is immaterial in the current debate. Given this example of poor performance, I would say skeptics have lost this round.

      • I had assumed that even a person on the left side of the bell curve would get that the satire and sarcasm of paraphrasing all of the correspondence from politically correct jargon into plainspeak (see H.G. Wells’ 1984) would be obvious. I tried to get not only the intent but also the tone of the back and forth between the NSF and Congress. Next time I will add a more prominent disclaimer for the literalist reader and those that tend to skim read.

      • Let’s hope there is no next time. Your approach misses by a mile what are our best tools for effective debate, including the use of satire. In addition, I find sarcasm less effective the more it is used to the exclusion of reason. Indeed, the only thing for me that comes across with such a sickening dose of sarcasm is bitterness.

      • Ms. Gray. This clearly falls under the broad category for commentary and also falls under the “truth” defense. After careful reading, a reader cannot believe that these are original words. I originally made my post only a fraction of the way through, when I thought that it was a mix of satire and quotes. .I didn’t realize the extent of the rewriting until later.

        However, I must agree with her in principle, Mr. Kuzara. By rewriting so thoroughly, you have undermined your entire point. The translation of the Senator into a polite professional while turning the NSF into a snarky and arrogant twit makes this unable to convince people. They see the translation, see the original, and then think they have been decieved. We have gotten as far as we have by being better than the alarmists. Despite having a miniscule fraction of the resources, effectively no public support, and outright vilification in the public media, skepticism is growing because we are BETTER. We have better arguments, more reasonable science, and don’t have to create lies or ludicrous scenariosto advance our goals. If we give up that high ground, then we lose everything.

  10. “…you are sending a chilling message to the entire scientific community”.

    Yes, we are. It is entirely intentional. Stop screwing the U.S. taxpayers and we will stop sending chilling messages.

    Actually, we will stop sending chilling messages now, by disbanding your bureaucracy No need to send chilling messages to a non-existent bureaucracy.

    In my dreams.

  11. How about funding novel ideas for treating Multiple Sclerosis which my first wife suffered from until her premature death at the age of 60?

    • Sorry for your loss, but do you really want those people to be in charge of anything concerning the health of a loved one?

    • I will let you in on a dirty little secret. Congress doesn’t have the tools to force the Bureaucracy to do anything, not in practice anyway.

      It is just kabuki theater.

      • Actually they do. The problem is this, we are seeing this circus act in a few moments time frame. For Rep. Lamar Smith it took place over a period of 18 months. When he made his first request he had no knowledge as to how the NSF would react.
        Contrary to how Lamar Smith has been portrayed by the Media, he has acted with great restraint .
        Yes, congress has the power to force the issue but tries to use that power only as a last resort. You do not use a wrecking ball when when a simple door bell should have sufficed.
        I don’t think this is over, not by a long shot. I think it has been filed under “retribution….pending”
        michael

  12. 10/1/2010 Does Community-Based Rangeland Ecosystem Management Increase the Resilience of Coupled Systems to Climate Change in Mongolia? ($1,499,718)

    The warmists at NSF really do want us to move into yurts! It’s the largest grant on the list.

    • “This is the most transparent administration in history,”
      Obama Feb 14, 2013

      Yeah. You’re not allowed to see anything they claim are doing,
      what they do claim to be doing is invisible and has no structure and no mass and will have no effect,
      but what they are actually doing is not helpful and has no value and is not useful and is not visible.

  13. I see pointless, overpaid, egotistical, politically correct, tax-funded, unaccountable, waste of space bureaucraps aren’t just found on our side of the Atlantic. I am sure there are more adjectives that could be used, but my English grammar was being greatly exceeded by my blood pressure.

  14. ““The Great Immensity,”
    The curtain has come down on Climate Change: The Musical and reviews of the taxpayer-funded play about global warming are downright icy.
    The play, which is actually entitled “The Great Immensity,” and was produced by Brooklyn-based theater company The Civilians, Inc. with a $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, ended its run early amid a storm of criticism from reviewers and lawmakers alike. It opened a year late, reached just five percent of its anticipated audience and likely fell short of its ambitious goal of informing a new generation about the perceived dangers of man-caused climate change.
    Plus, it apparently wasn’t very good”.

    Well there’s a surprise, please show me something that is politically correct and is good!

    • puppies, dolphins, and unicorns are all PC and good
      (BTW: dolphins taste the best… oh sorry … that was not PC)

  15. Cut funding to the NSF and you are labeled “anti-science”, a position democrats have effectively labeled republicans with already. A tricky political position to be in even with loads of evidence to the arrogant incompetence demonstrated by the organization.

    Eddie Johnson and his ilk severely abuses the concept of appeal to authority. I am not going to tell a brain surgeon how to perform brain surgery. However it is reasonable and prudent to ask what are the risks, what is their success rate, what are the complications with the procedure and what are alternatives to this particular surgical procedure, etc. I don’t need to know how to perform brain surgery to ask these questions and prudent to tell the brain surgeon to f-Off if he is not open and forthright with answers.

    Science does not automatically make all scientists free from the human foibles, of greed, dishonesty, stupidity, immorality, fanaticism, bias, incompetence, etc. It long past time we told the Eddie Johnsons and Cora Marretts at the NSF to f-off. Their arrogance and incompetent services are no longer needed.

  16. This post was very difficult to read, with regard to who said what, what is paraphrased, what parts were the author’s words etc, etc, etc. Proper citation is a key component of this kind of writing and care should be taken to use fonts, quotes, citations, and spacing that clearly, CLEARLY indicate what are quoted words, what are paraphrased words, and what are your words. Epic fail as far as I am concerned. Edit your work properly.

    Aside from these important failures above in presenting this work which I think should be corrected, I noticed that the NSF correspondents keep complaining about steps taken by the oversight committee that would provide a “chilling” affect on NSF’s reviewers and their reviews, granting decisions, and the flow of incoming proposals. This is a bad thing how? To chill the process such that only highly meritorious reviews and projects get sent in and get through is what oversight committees are SUPPOSED to impose on tax payer supported and tax dollar spending organizations.

    • If we are nit picking the play, then insert/delete/change as the case may be, the following corrections in square brackets:

      If we were [to] let you see
      I though[t] we were off the hook
      [C]ulture, [C]hange and
      redacted o[f] course
      appointed Dr[.] Arzberger
      [I] take back what [I] said
      other way to [to] help the
      ensuring [that] the precious
      [T]he amount and detail
      funding the grant proposal[.]
      a rehash [of] everything
      all [the] while by appointment

    • “I have paraphrased all of the correspondence, reducing what was being said to a manageable size as well as changing the politically correct jargon into plainspeak, thus making for more enjoyable reading. If instead, you prefer being bored, read the actual documents in the links at the end.”

      I also had to write every word from scratch: “To make things more difficult, all the documents are scanned images – no searching or copying here.”

      If you want the author’s actual words, check the links.

      Dennis

      • Are you saying you paraphrased the entire source? Every sentence? And shortened it? Then you have left yourself entirely open, and rightly so, to being accused of taking conversations out of context. Worse, using paraphrasing as your overwhelmingly evident tool, leaves you open to much criticism related to the acumen necessary to be a reporting author. Trust me, if this had been the tool used by the climate alarmists reporting on skeptic emails, we would be crying foul to the high heavens.

        A better form would have been to editorialize while quoting from the documents to support your thoughts. Otherwise this is no better than a high school student’s procrastinated paraphrased report from a single source in order to get it turned in on time. I wouldn’t accept this from such a student. And now you, an adult who has presumably taken a college freshman Writing 101 course, have subjected readers to this low level post. Sorry but I expect better when reading accepted submissions on a blog of purported high quality musings about everything related to science. I want the time back I spent reading and responding to this low level report submission.

      • Dennis Kuzara; I must agree with Pamela Gray We are not here for “a manageable size as well as changing the politically correct jargon into plainspeak, thus making for more enjoyable reading”.
        Use primary sources properly, the people here tend to have high standards. And thank you for addressing this NSF issue I found it if informative and helpful
        michael

    • Pamela Gray

      Farce — “A comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.”

      The author clearly states that if you wish to bore yourself you can read the actual exchanges using the links at the bottom. Have at it girl, go bore yourself. But the message is far more purposefully conveyed in Kuzara’s “summation”.

      The actual exchanges provided by the government are truly “bureaucratic farce”. {“Chilling the process” is wild exaggeration! So are all the other reasons for not complying.) The bureaucrats have no intention of doing what the law requires them to do. Their replies are actually very insulting — deliberately so. The authors undoubtedly took great pleasure in their writing. ALL their exchanges are FARCE.

      Kuzara unmasks the farce by “farcing the farce”. This type of writing has a long history since bureaucrats have been around for centuries writing such letters and writers, for centuries, have had at them.

      Eugene WR Gallun

      • In today’s desire to communicate accurately, the author should have clearly titled this piece as a farce, meant to put words into people’s mouths to poke fun at the niceties and vagaries of communication between political bodies and possibly guess at ulterior motives behind such formal language as is witnessed in the original documents. But that is called editorializing. The post, as it is, does not rise to any such level and is just plain sloppy technique that borders on I think a legal gray area that will likely come to Anthony’s attention by the other side. As written it should never have seen the light of day.

  17. “and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will probably never find out if the taxpayer’s 697,177 dollars were spent wisely or not.”

    Well public policy is not particle physics where a 6 to 10 sigma significance is needed for proof. A preponderance of the evidence standard is what works in civil law cases in the US.

    The preponderance of the evidence demonstrates the NSF wasted the money on a political stunt (and abused their fiduciary responsibility to the tax payers.).

  18. Arrogance….trust us.

    Its not your money. Government funding is always ‘political’ in a democracy/republic. Don’t scream ‘politics’ if the gov wants to know how you spend their government money. Else get your own private money if you want it to stay private.

  19. NSFW means Not Safe For Work i.e. viewing pornography instead of working. Is it not ironic this 7.6 billion dollar “pigswill trough” uses the same initials?

  20. At the heart of this fiasco is the sacred anonymity of reviewers in the peer-review process. I have had personal experience with that, and the occasion to comment to the government (OMB), back in 2003, in which I wrote:

    Harry Dale Huffman
    12/19/2003, 10:31:24

    Comments on AAAS letter of 12/03/03

    Dr. Margo Schwab
    Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
    Office of Management and Budget
    725 Seventeenth Street N.W.

    Dr. Schwab:
    I have just read the letter sent to your office by AAAS officers Floyd E. Bloom and Alan I. Leshner. The letter is published on the aaas.org web site. Perhaps you would like to hear another view on peer review, from one who has seen the darker side of it.
    Between October 1991 and March 1994, I worked as a research associate at CIRA, the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins Colorado. I analyzed atmospheric aerosol data from the federally funded IMPROVE network, under William C. Malm of the National Park Service. I and the other research associates were encouraged to investigate any idea that promised a fuller understanding of the IMPROVE data, and how it could enlighten the research of others in the field of aerosol research around the world. We were expected to write and publish papers in peer-reviewed journals on a regular basis.

    While seeking to learn the source of nagging uncertainties and doubts about some of the aerosol measurements performed in the IMPROVE protocol, I found that, although I had followed up on paths previously recognized by Dr. Malm, he and his colleagues were not open to my findings and were set in contrary views that were opposed to the evidence; for example, he tended to emphasize forest fires as the major visibility pollutant, while my analyses–and as I learned, the research of others in this field of study–indicated black carbon, largely from diesel fuel use, was a major, and largely unrecognized factor. When I wanted to publish my work, Dr. Malm threatened my job, and said he would determine what papers could be published by people in his group, from analyzing the IMPROVE data. Knowing the importance of my work–it agreed with the scattered reports of others around the world, but seemed to be denied by a major faction of principle researchers–I persisted, and in March 1994 my position was terminated, due to “funding cuts” (although others were being hired to fill my position even as I was leaving).

    This is not a tirade against IMPROVE or Dr. Malm, or even CIRA, who let me be terminated improperly; it is about the roots of abuse in peer review. I had already submitted my papers when I was terminated, and I fought for two years to get them published, which I finally did, in January 1996. During that two years, I did not see even one competent scientific critique of my work, merely repeated, unsupported assertions by nameless people who obviously felt they did not have to address the evidence, but only the current “consensus” or, more insidiously, their own interpretations, which were frequently irrelevant, often incompetent, and entirely opposed to open and honest debate. In short, I found that the suppressive character of my immediate superior’s views and actions were just the tip of an iceberg, an iceberg of widespread lack of sure knowledge about aerosol measurement problems and common standards for evaluating them, not to mention prejudices and blind spots against recognizing the real explanations for the many nagging problems and endless debates that marked the aerosol field. The peer review system, when it is a system akin to that of independent feudal lords or warring tribal chiefs, is simply an empty process that guarantees no one will ever learn anything, until someone gets to be a chief who will put truth above his own self-interest. When I read the comment from the AAAS that reviewers should not be identified, I knew the authors of that letter were incompetent to advise you on such an important matter, and I had to write this.

    Thank you for your consideration,
    Harry Dale Huffman

    • I too felt the sting of biased peer review and the intrusions of higher ups into my original research. I learned quickly that the Chief department in which the lab is located severely restricts what gets researched and who gets credited. That’s the first shock. The second came with peer review when my final product was submitted to an internationally recognized journal. Gate keeping was thriving even back then. My work eventually made it into a different journal but the entire process sullied the ideals I had mistakenly held about research. I was clearly a square peg being forced to fit in a round hole. But this one-hit-wonder is not sad she left. Not one damn bit.

  21. April 26, 2013
    From: Eddie Johnson
    To: Lamar Smith
    I think the peer review process is the gold standard and I am appalled that you would have the audacity to question it. By making this request you are sending a chilling message to the entire scientific community. You are not a scientist and therefore you have no right to question whatever it is they do or how they do it. i realize that the taxpayers are footing the bill to the tune of $7.6 billion, but you shouldn’t intrude politically into how they spend the taxpayer’s money. I demand you withdraw your letter to Dr. Marrett.
    ====
    From: Eddie Bernice Johnson
    Why have you been hounding the NSF for the last 18 months? I think it is because you are on a witch hunt.
    ====
    well duh……

  22. Of course I had to look at the greatimmensity website after such a buildup (or put down) . The plot seemed vaguely familiar:
    “PLOT
    In a thrilling and timely production, presented in association with the celebrated investigative theater company, The Civilians, The Great Immensity is a continent-hopping thriller following a woman, Phyllis, as she pursues someone close to her who disappeared from a tropical island while on an assignment for a nature show.
    Through her search, Phyllis uncovers a mysterious plot surrounding the upcoming international climate summit in Auckland. As the days count down to the Auckland Summit, Phyllis must decipher the plan and possibly stop it in time. With arresting projected film and video and a wide-ranging score of songs, The Great Immensity is a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: how can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?

    Could this have been the inspiration for a certain distinguished scientist’s latest fantasy? Money well spent then.

  23. It seems like some anarchy is happening in our government. I think some enforceable rules would be appropriate. I also think that what stops congress from actually doing something like reducing funding for government agencies is the fear of the outcry of losing jobs and the loss of funding welfare for stupid science/political studies approved by the NSF. also, government employees have to be able to be fired if we want an accountable, efficient and workable government

  24. Dennis, I’m puzzle by your inability to search or cut/paste. Judging from the links you include, you’ve turned the scans into PDFs, right? You only need to OCR the PDFs to make them searchable/copyable. Maybe that’s not available in the free acrobat reader — I don’t use it. I use PDF X-Change Viewer, which is free and feature rich. You only need go the Document menu and click OCR. Here’s the installer. http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer

  25. Revealing but discouraging. Just another example of the ongoing emasculation of the U.S. Congress by a thousand cuts, administered by arrogant executive department toadies who know from experience that senate and house committees make threats and draw lines in the muck of Washington, D.C. but never actually DO anything but raise and spend money.

  26. I did as the author of this post suggested after my criticism of his work, I read the original documents he has paraphrased. I am more appalled than before that this post has been allowed to be presented. It should be retracted with all due haste. It is a shameful example of what we SHOULD NOT be as a skeptic community.

    Retract it.

    • Here is one of the less egregious paraphrased changes made by the author of the above post:

      The original: “It is my hope that you could delay your formal response to the Committee until after the board has been able to discuss this important topic.”

      The paraphrased version: “Could you stall him for 3 days until the board has a chance to discuss this important topic?”

      The emotive intent has clearly been changed by your ratcheted up paraphrase and I think designed to communicate YOUR bias, not accurately communicate the exchange.

      I could go on with multiple examples of this shady reporting technique that I think requires attention by the owner of this blog. Immediately.

      • Really? You think there’s a big difference between “delay” and “stall”? He was paraphrasing for brevity, and translating bureaucrat speech into common language. Surely, you can come up with a better example of “bias” than this, or YOUR bias is showing.

      • Sure. Here you go. From Eddie Bernice Johnson in a letter to Lamar Smith dated April 26, 2013 :

        Paraphrased: “You are not a scientist and therefore you have no right to question whatever it is they do or how they do it. i realize that the taxpayers are footing the bill to the tune of $7.6 billion, but you shouldn’t intrude politically into how they spend the taxpayer’s money.”

        Now go the link http://tinyurl.com/psuxmnu and read the letter. No where does it say, “you have no right to question whatever it is they do or how they do it.”

        So I put the ball into your court for you to show, based on that letter, that as a member of the same committee they both sit on, Eddie believes the committee has no right to question whatever goes on at the NSF.

      • Louis Hunt; ‘You think there’s a big difference between “delay” and “stall”? yes there is. The Director and staff of the NSF could have some legitimate, concerns. Congress also leaks like a sieve.
        If someone agreed to preform reviews with the understanding that their names be with held then some good faith redress should be made to accommodate them.
        michael

      • I read the links also Pamela. I agree with you. Someone else can have a field day with this.
        mike

      • Exactly. Climate alarmism haralders can now trot out before the public just how (warning: I am making stuff up as a conjecture) underhanded we skeptics are in presenting our side which proves that we are the bad guys leading us all to hell and damnation on a ball of fire that used to be Earth. And they will use this post as evidence of our lack of honest and reasoned disagreement with publicly funded research organizations of any kind, which of course would include climate research. Anthony? This is gonna bite us in the arse and is as bad as made up stuff from Gleick’s poisoned pen https://www.heartland.org/press-releases/2012/03/14/study-gleick-forged-fakegate-memo.

      • I’m with Pamela, this is unacceptable, and I’m sorry I wasted my time on this Post. I don’t need someone to change words and pass them off as real, including changing ‘delay’ to ‘stall’ or any other word they think I am incapable of understanding. Words have meaning, and the proof is that the Poster changed the words to convey a message, then passed them off in quotations as actual quotes. There isn’t a reader on this board that needs to have the word ‘delay’ explained in another word. Cardinal rule in law, journalism, etc., is NOT to use double quotes when paraphrasing. The changed words were a characterization, not the actual words. Single quotes at best. Its incredibly disengenous writing.

      • Pamela Gray, as you know, a paraphrase is not an exact quote. But when Eddie Bernice Johnson writes the following, isn’t it clear that she is telling Lamar Smith to butt out because he doesn’t have the scientific expertise to intervene in any way?

        “…no chairman has ever put themselves forward as an expert in the science that underlies specific grant proposals funded by NSF. … Interventions in grant awards by political figures with agendas, biases, and no expertise is the antithesis of the peer review processes. By making this request, you are sending a chilling message to the entire scientific community…”

        There are similar passages elsewhere in the letter. When she tells him that his questions are a “political intrusion” and asks him to “withdraw” his letter, it is certainly her way of saying, “you have no right to question whatever it is they do or how they do it.” What else could she be saying?

        Politicians like to talk in general about the value of “transparency” and “openness in government,” but when it comes to actual specifics, they always have an excuse for avoiding it. In this case, openness is a threat to “anonymity,” and would “undermine NSF’s core mission.” Lamar Smith was only asking for information, even agreeing that they could redact the reviewer’s personal information. But they still didn’t want to give it to him out of fear that he might find something wrong with it. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Obviously, they have something to hide.

        The people elect representatives to make sure their money is spent wisely or not at all. If doing that duty shines a light on what is going on and causes some experts to stop participating, so be it. If the grants are handed out in secrecy, there is no way to prevent vested interests or outright bribery influencing how the grant money is dispersed. Cronyism and bribery cannot help but become common practice when such large sums are controlled in secrecy and without accountability. If the experts involved can defend their decisions, there is no need for secrecy. But even when there is a good reason for secrecy, they should have to account to the elected representatives of the people at the very least. Certain committees have the right to demand access to national security information. So I just can’t see why the funding of science has to have more secrecy than national security. Do you?

      • Louis, you must have missed the part in the letter about recent Committee oversight issues that when fully expressed, resulted in an improvement in peer review and reporting policies by the NSF. That does not sound like Eddie, a ranking member of that same committee that helped forge that previous recommendation that then became a part of NSF policies and procedures, believes the committee has no right to interfere in the workings of the NSF or its policies.

        Based on your comment and the inclusion of only part of the letter that seems to suit your purpose, both you and the author of this unfortunate post appear to want to take snippets out of context and then think it okay to re-write those snippets in your own voice and with your own word choices. In political jargon, that is called spin. And your comment above is full of it.

      • Pamela, she did not say there was an “improvement in peer review and reporting policies by the NSF.” She said that in 2010 “this Committee enacted a requirement for NSF to clarify and strengthen the Broader Impacts criterion.” It took until January of 2013 for the Director to implement new policy guidance. Later in the letter, she said, “I encourage you to let this new policy take hold and then return to this area in a year or two with an appropriate oversight effort.” She made no determination that it was an “improvement.” It was a “new” policy and needed a couple of years before that could be determined. I’m sure, in her mind, she hoped Democrats would be back in power by then. She is OK with Democrats interfering with NSF, she just doesn’t want Republicans to do so. And she clearly doesn’t want Republicans to mess with what Democrats had previously done. She doesn’t even want them to see how their policies were being implemented.

        Now, why did you complain that I quoted “only part of the letter.” Did you want me to quote the whole thing? You already have it. I was responding to your challenge to show where the letter said he was not a scientist and therefore had no right to ask questions. I showed two parts of the letter where she does say that (not in those exact words of course) but the meaning is clear. She asked him to “withdraw” his letter to Dr. Marrett because of its “destructive” nature. But his letter did not demand that they change their policies. All it did was request information on specific grants so they could review whether policies were properly being followed. What is wrong with that? What is “destructive” about that? She tells him to back off and wait a year or two, and then she will “stand ready to work with you.” It’s not clear if he will be allowed to ask questions or request specific information then, or whether he will just have to take NSF’s word on it.

        I just don’t get why you would support such delaying tactics and lack of transparency. The oversight committee has the right and the duty to ask questions and get answers. It shouldn’t depend on whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge.

      • Louis, not only do you put thoughts and meanings into someone else, “I’m sure, in her mind, she hoped Democrats would be back in power by then. She is OK with Democrats interfering with NSF, she just doesn’t want Republicans to do so. And she clearly doesn’t want Republicans to mess with what Democrats had previously done. She doesn’t even want them to see how their policies were being implemented…”, you put words into my mouth, “I just don’t get why you would support such delaying tactics and lack of transparency…” that bear no resemblance to what the letters say or what I have said. And it is so obvious that you have done so with your latest comment that the most ardent skeptic could see it with a blindfold on.

        Based on what you have posted, you have not supported your thesis with sufficient evidence. Instead you have told us what you believe is evidence in spite of having non-existent evidence. You are among many people so ardent about their own thoughts and words, that you easily convince yourself that people have thought or said only what you THINK they have thought or said.

        In this debate about the science of climate change, we are at our best when we stick to the facts and debate the merits of research being presented, not on belief. Otherwise we are doing what politicians do best, and that is spin.

    • It’s pretty clear in context (and in parenthetical notes) that the verbiage has been wildly altered. I didn’t need to check the original to realize that “paraphrase” was a euphemism for “made stuff up.” Unfortunately, the fact remains, if not from the words themselves, but rather from the length of the correspondence and obvious stone-walling therein, that we have serious problems in the “most transparent ever” Federal (read Monster) government.

  27. “the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will probably never find out if the taxpayer’s 697,177 dollars were spent wisely or not.”

    You don’t need a biased report from the people who wasted the money to figure that out. Should we tell them, or leave them hanging?

  28. The late Senator William Proxmire used to name a regular “Golden Fleece” award for the biggest waste of taxpayer money. It was frequently given for research studies of dubious value. Amazingly every recipient so named indignantly insisted their work was vital. Some actually did turn out to have useful results.

    However the predicted verses eventually validity of a federal expenditure is one issue; keeping sufficient audit trail to be able to at least state why a given project was funded and who made the judgement is an absolute bare minimum standard every federal agency should be able to meet.

    Some of the 168 “Golden Fleece” awards named by Senator Proxmire:

    The Federal Aviation Administration was named for spending $57,800 on a study of the physical measurements of 432 airline stewardesses, paying special attention to the “length of the buttocks” and how their knees were arranged when they were seated.[17] He gave the award to a study of the sex life of the screw-worm fly. The results were used to create sterile screw-worms that were released into the wild and eliminated this major cattle parasite from the US and reducing the cost of beef across the globe.[18]

    He also gave the award to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for their Search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) program, supporting the scientific search for extraterrestrial civilizations.[19] Proxmire later withdrew his opposition to the SETI program.[20]

    Other award winners included:

    Paul Ekman’s research that led to the development of the Facial Action Coding System[21]
    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded project by psychologist Harris Rubin for $121,000, on developing “some objective evidence concerning marijuana’s effect on sexual arousal by exposing groups of male pot-smokers to pornographic films and measuring their responses by means of sensors attached to their penises[22][23]

    The NSF for spending $103,000 to compare aggressiveness in sun fish that drink tequila as opposed to gin[24]
    National Institute for Mental Health for spending $97,000 to study, among other things, what went on in a Peruvian brothel; the researchers said they made repeated visits in the interests of accuracy[1]
    Office of Education for spending $219,592 in a “curriculum package” to teach college students how to watch television[4]
    United States Department of the Army for a 1981 study on how to buy Worcestershire sauce[4]
    United States Department of Commerce (Economic Development Administration) for spending $500,000 to build a 10-story replica of the Great Pyramid in Bedford, Indiana.[25] Begun in 1979, the money proved insufficient and the site is currently abandoned.[26]
    United States Department of Defense for a $3,000 study to determine if people in the military should carry umbrellas in the rain[1]
    United States Department of Justice for conducting a study on why prisoners want to escape[4]
    United States Postal Service for spending over $4 million on an advertisement campaign to make Americans write more letters to one another[27]
    Executive Office of the President of the United States, for spending $611,623 to restore a room in the Old Executive Office Building with gold trim[28]
    Ronald Reagan’s 1985 inaugural committee, for spending $15.5 million of taxpayer money on the Second inauguration of Ronald Reagan[29]

  29. Regardless of the interpretation of the paraphrasing, the results speak for themselves.
    No information forthcoming to the politicians blessed with financial oversight.
    There was an outfit, forget the comedians name just now, who made great hay out of translating bureaucratize.
    I’m with the author of this post, the kleptocrats are telling the politician to “Get stuffed”.
    The cure for our parasitic overload is simple.
    For thieves,fools and bandits who break their oaths flogging is a good start, then run out of the parasitic paradise, I mean public service and banished from all welfare or government largess.
    Nevermind time limits for elected folks, no person should be permitted to serve more than 5 years on the public payroll in every 50.
    It is a matter of human dignity, look what happens to people who are allowed to wallow in the trough of public treasure for decades, what a waste of human potential.
    They could have been productive members of society.
    Instead of becoming the blind worms gnawing at the foundations of civilization.

  30. I have no issue with the Chairman Committee seeking more information. I think she has good reason to. And I do have an issue with the NSF respondent not wanting to give that information as requested. I only have issue with this post and the author’s use of taking phrases out of context then rewriting them using his own voice and word choice. It is NOT paraphrasing, it is making stuff up to spin it. Except in this case it is not very good unless he was targeting low hanging fruit. It is still, in my opinion a base effort not worthy of a widely read science blog. Granted, it ain’t my blog. But it is my reasoned opinion.

  31. Back when I was employed by a research institute, we were dissuaded from writing proposals to NSF, since NSF did not cover all expenses and got a lower overhead rate than standard. My question is, who else contributed funds for these “studies”? .

    • Interesting question. Most studies do indeed have several funding sources. Especially the little ones. And most labs have their own funded budget from within the institution they belong to just to keep the light on and other such basics.

  32. I dont know about “The Great Immensity” but I found Kuzura’s article about it highly dramatic, tragic, comic, and very entertaining. Might be worthy of a theater play in itself.

  33. Why would they be stonewalling unless they (NSF) themselves realised how politicised the process around the applications in question was?

    Shakespeare already knew it: Mr & Mrs NSF protest too much.

  34. As someone that has spent almost his entire professional life in the technology side of litigation support (and that spans over a quarter century now), I have to say that I disapprove of the communication summaries being presented. “Blah blah blah” I’m quite sure is not a direct quote from the correspondence. As an internal case building communication amongst the reviewing legal team it could be acceptable (and, in fact, is common). You would never want the judge to see what’s been posted here.

    I have done, or supervised, the OCR of millions of documents. OK, make that hundreds of millions. And I mean documents, not pages. The idea of OCR’ing a measly 50-100k pages doesn’t phase me in the least. I consider that to be tiny.

    I understand the rush to publish, but passing this by a few other eyes before posting might not have been a bad idea.

    Having said that, I appreciate the time and effort that went into this analysis and I am grateful.

    This snapshot of correspondence was released to the public…

    Where?

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