Tom Coburn further demonstrates his idiocy

If you follow the Senate, you know that Tom Coburn dramatically proves you do not need to be the least bit intelligent to be a Senator– nor a medical doctor for that matter.  Anyway, he's apparently taken on a crusade to stop the National Science Foundation, which funds all sorts of excellent (and not-so-excellent) social science research from specifically stripping out Political Science for funding.  As you might imagine, the political science world is quite atwitter (especially on facebook!).  Coburn attacks some projects that I probably would have never voted to fund, but here, he shows just how little he understands (via Crooked Timber):  Coburn:

The largest award over the last 10 years under the political science
program has been $5.4 million for the University of Michigan for the
“American National Election Studies” grant. The grant is to “inform
explanations of election outcomes.” The University of Michigan may have
some interesting theories about recent elections, but Americans who
have an interest in electoral politics can turn to CNN, FOX News, MSNBC,
the print media, and a seemingly endless number of political
commentators on the internet who pour over this data and provide a
myriad of viewpoints to answer the same questions.

Truth is, I basically wouldn't have a career without the ANES, so I'm admittedly biased.  But, I can also tell you that those pundits prattling on wouldn't know half of what they do without the ANES, which has been surveying voters in American elections for over half a century.  What is accepted as conventional wisdom about how elections work has become conventional wisdom because its in every Intro to American textbook, but the data for these understandings would not exist without the ANES.  The ANES creates an incredibly rich data source which would not otherwise exist and of which exit polls are an incredibly poor substitute (trust me, I've used them both).  So, in short, in attacking the single biggest expenditure on Political Science, Coburn shows, not too surprisingly, he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about.

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