Now, evidently, biomedical research is beginning to confront replication problems of their own (click here and here for discussions). One factor that likely distinguishes biomedical research involves the magnitude of financial incentives and their influence.
My Cornell colleague and leading constitutional law scholar, Mike Dorf, has an interesting and provocative post (here) that speaks to the array (and growing number) of state quarantine measures responding to the Ebola crisis.
The ELS angle, of course, is Mike's point (drawn from CDC data) that: "the log(viral load) just before symptoms develop is 4.6. A day later, the log(viral load) is 7.2. Thus, (assuming linearity to first order) 12 hours after symptoms develop, the log(viral load) is 5.8. That's a change of 1.2 in log(viral load), meaning that the change in viral load more than triples (because e to the 1.2 power is 3.32.)."
Late last night, on a nearly party-line 218-208 vote, the U.S. House passed an amendment (by Rep. Flake, R-AZ) to HR 5326 to "prohibit the use of funds to be used to carry out the functions of the Political Science Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences of the National Science Foundation." The Monkey Cage has some of the relevant links. Efforts like this have been mounted before -- most recently in 2009, by Sen. Tom Coburn -- but none have gotten this far.
The actual debate on the defunding amendment (all five minutes of it!) is here, in the CR. I am not enough of a student of the appropriations process (or of legislative politics in general) to speculate on what might happen next. But I do think that if I were Subra Suresh, Myron Gutmann, or the SBE Advisory Committee -- or, for that matter, the directors of the NIJ, any of the NIH agencies, etc. -- I would be very concerned about the precedent that this would set. For Congress to begin micromanaging the NSF at the program level raises some serious concerns about the politicization of science.