Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Private Life of the Duck, Exposed

I'm not sure I have all that much to say in terms of context and commentary (except that basic research really is important, and even the most apparently absurd has its uses -- if only to enable us to wonder at the glories and oddities of the universe ), but I'm hoping the powers that be (aka the RGM) will forgive me, since the article excerpted below is about ducks, penises, and conservative attacks on NSF-funded research. If that doesn't belong on CM, what does?

Why I Study Duck Genitalia

Fox News and other conservative sites miss the point of basic science.


  1. My only quibble with the article is the statement that NSF funding rates have recently dropped below 10%. That's a bit of an overstatement. They have declined to 10 - 20%. Some programs, perhaps her's, might be 8 - 10%.

    Although I am generally conservative, I don't put up with this stupid shit that right wingers say about science funding. I cringe when I read stories like this. Even the basic science is relevant and interesting. The review panels, which I've participated in, are a hell of a lot of work for not much money.

    We are all intrinsically better off now that we know ducks have screwy penises and vaginas. That's money well spent.

  2. If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.
    For it is not easy to find by search or by trail.


    The missed point, in general, has something to do with unintended consequences. I am not a science person, but scientific investigation need not have a clear and immediate payoff to end up being extremely useful. Who can judge now what will be important later?

    Oh, duck penises and vaginas are important. We need to be sure the duck can be reproduced, right?

  3. Well, not quite as idiotic as when Sarah Palin talked about the uselessness of fruit fly genetics - THAT was 100% stupidity.

  4. I never thought about ducks screwing before, and I will never look at ducks the same again.

  5. They gotta keep the research grants coming somehow!

  6. It all happens underwater, which is why we never knew.


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