Friday, October 12, 2012

Thought for the day

Political scientists want the public to support, through their elected representatives, National Science Foundation and other funding for their research. That research, as reported for example on The Monkey Cage blog, seems to suggest that the public is, generally speaking, largely incapable of forming independent judgments, ignorant, ill-informed, and inattentive. So political scientists (at least those who study American politics) are in the position of wanting the public to support research that reveals and emphasizes the public's shortcomings. Political scientists want the public to support research that almost never flatters it but usually does the reverse. Of course the public presumably does not know that the research does not flatter it, but if it did, I think it would probably not be inclined to rush to the barricades in support of federal funding of political science research.


Anonymous said...

If the public wised up, then they would be flattered by subsequent studies.

LFC said...

This comment could be read in two ways, depending on whether you mean that the public becomes more knowledgeable about politics generally or only about political scientists' research.

If you mean the latter and are suggesting that political scientists would consciously and deliberately flatter the public if they knew it was starting to pay attention to their research, well, that is (arguably) a rather unflattering view of political scientists -- even more unflattering than my view.