Skip to comments.UMass-Amherst professor defends her gov't-funded duck genitalia research
Posted on 04/05/2013 12:21:26 PM PDT by matt04
he past few days, the Internet has been filled with commentary on whether the National Science Foundation should have paid for my study on duck genitalia, and 88.7 percent of respondents to a Fox news online poll agreed that studying duck genitalia is wasteful government spending.
The commentary supporting and decrying the study continues to grow. As the lead investigator in this research, I would like to weigh in on the controversy and offer some insights into the process of research funding by the NSF.
My research on bird genitalia was originally funded in 2005, during the Bush administration. Thus federal support for this research cannot be connected exclusively to sequestration or the Obama presidency, as many of the conservative websites have claimed.
Since Sen. William Proxmires Golden Fleece awards in the 1970s and 1980s, basic science projects are periodically singled out by people with political agendas to highlight how government wastes taxpayer money on seemingly foolish research.
These arguments misrepresent the distinction between and the roles of basic and applied science. Basic science is not aimed at solving an immediate practical problem. Basic science is an integral part of scientific progress, but individual projects may sound meaningless when taken out of context.
Basic science often ends up solving problems anyway, but it is just not designed for this purpose. Applied science builds upon basic science, so they are inextricably linked.
As an example, Geckskin is a new adhesive product with myriad applications developed by my colleagues at the University of Massachusetts. Their work is based on several decades of basic research on gecko locomotion.
Whether the government should fund basic research in times of economic crisis is a valid question that deserves well-informed discourse comparing all governmental expenses.
(Excerpt) Read more at masslive.com ...
If it was worthwhile a private company would fund it. I wouldn’t fund anything done by a university because academics never have to produce a product. They expend the funds, often without producing results. I’ve seen dummied data and data that didn’t support the conclusions. But, the buyer is always told what they want to hear.
If some marvelous development was expected a company would fund it. If a company isn’t interested then why should the taxpayer pay to let this woman indulge her hobby?
If this leads to more and cheaper Peking Duck meals, I’m all for it.
So, given that there is intense competition for research funds, one wonders whose research lost out to the duck genitalia work.
Show me the line on Article 1 Section 8 that authorizes duck genitalia research, and you can have the tax dollars it requires. Otherwise, take your ducks genitalia and stick it where your sun don’t shine.
“whose research lost out”
“The Efficacy of Colonoscopies in Young Male Fruit Flies”
Rachel Maddow was defending this woman. Draw your own conclusions.
Ducks don’t pek - chickens do ....
Wonder why she gives a duck?
What crap. This was a waste of funds if it was funded under Obama, Bush, Reagan or even Goerge Washington. Proxmire was a dolt about basic research, I agree, but THIS rubbish is not basic science; its an extremely minute study with no apparent collateral value. The scientist knows it, and is throwing out strawman arguments about Bush to defend it.
This brings us back to the ducks. Male ducks force copulations on females, and males and females are engaged in a genital arms race with surprising consequences.
Male ducks have elaborate corkscrew-shaped penises, the length of which correlates with the degree of forced copulation males impose on female ducks. Females are often unable to escape male coercion, but they have evolved vaginal morphology that makes it difficult for males to inseminate females close to the sites of fertilization and sperm storage.
Males have counterclockwise spiraling penises, while females have clockwise spiraling vaginas and blind pockets that prevent full eversion of the male penis.
Our latest study examined how the presence of other males influences genital morphology.
My colleagues and I found that it does so to an amazing degree, demonstrating that male competition is a driving force behind these male traits that can be harmful to females.
More information than I needed to know.
Can’t see spending my money on it but I’m sure someone
somewhere would find it worth while.
Of course if you’re spending other peoples money.....
Another professor who doesn’t understand the concept of “Opportunity Costs”.
Any animal that can grow a huge penis seasonally and then have it fall off deserves careful study. If we could weaponize a “your pecker falls off” bomb we might never have to go to war again!
The commentary and headlines in some of the recent articles reflect outrage that the study was about duck genitals, as if there is something inherently wrong or perverse with this line of research. Imagine if medical research drew the line at the belt! “Genitalia, dear readers, are where the rubber meets the road, evolutionarily.”
I guess that is what Sandra Fluke is all about...
“To fully understand why some individuals are more successful than others during reproduction, there may be no better place to look..... Generating new knowledge of what factors affect genital morphology in ducks, one of the few vertebrate species other than humans that form pair bonds and exhibit violent sexual coercion
This is the money quote from someone writing to Slate wearing a NY Times windbreaker. “violent sexual coercion”. See, in these minds, all sex is rape.
“Brennan has a doctorate in behavioral ecology from New York’s Cornell University. She began her studies of avian genitalia at Yale University and Sheffield University in the United Kingdom. She is currently a research professor in the department of biology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she continues her research on the evolutionary consequences of sexual conflict.”
Sexual conflict? It never ends with these people.
Not just theory but solid theory. I want a grant to study duck belly buttons.
“........As a scientist, my view is that supporting basic and applied research is essential to keep the United States ahead in the global economy. The government cannot afford not to make that investment........”
My God... if we don’t fund this duck genitalia research, the Chinese will expend their resources financing it. And we’ll quickly fall behind in the duck genitalia arms race with all that entails. Next thing we know, American students will have to go to study in China if they want to specialize in duck genitalia.
But I suspect that Patricia Brennan doesn’t need to worry—if she loses federal funding she can always seek to be financed by Ford Foundation grants. That tax exempt foundation is always searching for worthwhile projects such as this.
I have no idea why the post above didn’t have proper paragraphing or spacing. It did when I pasted it.
Oh, well, it is interesting if somewhat biased toward her own research as important for reasons that most of us won’t agree with.
MY TAKE: SO BOTH SEXES OF DUCKS HAVE GENITALIA IN THE FORM OF COMPETING CORKSCREWS AND MALE DUCKS INDULGE IN RAPE WHILE FEMALE DUCKS APPARENTLY HAVE THE MUSCLE ABILITY TO CUT MALES OFF AT THE PASS. WHO KNEW THIS WAS IMPORTANT IN UNDERSTANDING MALE/FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS IN HUMAN REPRODUCTION? I ONLY HOPE THE GAY COMMUNITY DOESN’T FIND OUT ABOUT THIS AFTER THE AWFUL WAY THEY’VE TREATED HARMLESS HAMSTERS.
Now that you have explained your research, perfessor, it’s more ridiculous than I had imagined.