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Memo to Congress: Stop Fighting Scientific Research

The social and behavioral sciences seem to have been painted with a big bull’s-eye, given the escalating number of attacks against National Institutes of Health-supported research grants during the 2014 election season. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., invoked several during his stump speech in support of Republican candidates. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., cited a few more in his latest “Wastebook.” Readers interested in federal support for science might well wonder: Has the NIH, renowned worldwide for high-quality science, lost its collective mind by funding grants of questionable utility, as some Republicans claim? Or have these congressmen merely misunderstood what the social and behavioral sciences have to offer NIH’s health mission?

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