Worst. Question. Ever.

I’ve been reluctant to answer the latest question from the Head Office, because it sucks. Nothing personal, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Assuming that time and money were not obstacles, what area of scientific research, outside of your own discipline, would you most like to explore? Why?

I’m sorry, but there is no interesting scientific research outside of my discipline. The evo and the devo are the way to go. If I were starting over, there are things I would do differently and skill sets I’d try to acquire that would give me a better handle on the research, but do something else? What? This is where the exciting questions are!

I suppose if I were cast out of Eden and forced to do something else, I’d…aw, heck. Nothing comes to mind. My father wanted me to do an apprenticeship in refrigerator repair, so I might as well do that. Good money, reasonable hours, paid vacations…I could use my free time after work to read the journals and sigh.

Ask me a question!

Or rather, don’t. Here’s this week’s “ask a science blogger” question:

Do you think there is a brain drain going on (i.e. foreign scientists not coming to work and study in the U.S. like they used to, because of new immigration rules and the general unpopularity of the U.S.) If so, what are its implications? Is there anything we can do about it?

Just read Mark. His answer is perfect.

The one thing we could do about it is kick a lot of Republicans out of Washington, and a lot of spineless Democrats, too. I don’t see it happening.

(Oh, and do go say hello to Good Math, Bad Math, a member of the new cohort of sciencebloggers here.)

Ask me a question!

The new “Ask a Science Blogger” question of the week is…

“Since they’re funded by taxpayer dollars (through the NIH, NSF, and so on), should scientists have to justify their research agendas to the public, rather than just grant-making bodies?

NO. No way.

The public has no context in which to understand most research programs and aren’t at all qualified to assess a grant proposal. This would be an invitation to the ignorant to proxmire good research. Can you imagine how the creationists would react to proposals in evolutionary biology? Or cat lovers to experimentation on animals?

On the other hand, I do think that researchers have an obligation to educate the public about how they are using federal funds. They don’t have to justify, but they should explain. It might be a useful condition of a grant to require that the recipient give an open lecture summarizing in terms a non-specialist can understand the results of their work, at the end of the grant period.