Intrepid government watcher Elizabeth Harrington at The Washington Free Beacon reports that the National Science Foundation has spent more than $40,000 on a study about the “relationship between gender and glaciers.” We kid you not. From the paper: “Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.” Huh? [Bolding and italics in Original]Let me first say that the Trib is (nominally) a news organization. And as a news organization it has the obligation to get its facts right.
So let's take a look at Harrington's piece at the Washington Free Beacon. Here's the first paragraph:
The National Science Foundation has spent more than $400,000 on a study that published scientific results on the “relationship between gender and glaciers.”Notice something? Somehow $360,000 went missing between the Free Beacon and the Trib Braintrust.
That's embarrassment number one.
Opinions aside on the validity of "feminist postcolonial science" that's just sloppy.
But what about the story itself? DID the NSF actually do what the Free Beacon said it did?
According to Gawker, the answer is, well, no:
The Free Beacon seems to have grabbed its astonishing figure from a webpage documenting the National Science Foundation grant that funded the study. And it’s true, the figure is right there. Awarded amount to date: $412,930.00. But even as someone who’s inclined to see government glut around every corner, don’t you think that’s a little much to spend on a single academic paper?That's embarrassment number two.
According to the webpage, the grant was awarded under the NSF’s “Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program,” which is described as an award in support of “the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.” It is not, in other words, a paycheck for writing one paper about intersectional post-colonialism in arugula farming, or whatever.
The grant seems to have funded the professor Mark Carey’s entire body of research on glaciers. It was awarded in 2013, three years before the publication of the gender paper. Since then, his research has also focused on “the formation of glaciology and theories of ice dynamics,” “the establishment of theories about catastrophic glacial lake megafloods,” “glacier retreat and hydrology,” and a bunch of other stuff neither you nor I understand. [Emphases added.]
Geez guys, if you're gonna be snarky, you're going to have to do your homework much much better than this. If not, some guy sitting at his kitchen table doing 40 minutes of actual research is going to embarrass you yet again in front of the whole world (or at least in front of your friends in the Pittsburgh news media).
I'd like to say, "You're better than this" but after fact checking you for a few years, I am not so sure.