The NSF, whose mission is to ensure U.S. leadership in areas of science and technology that are essential to economic growth and national security, frequently funds politically correct but low-value research projects. A few doozies include the veiling-fashion industry in Turkey, Viking textiles in Iceland, the “social impacts” of tourism in the northern tip of Norway, and whether hunger causes couples to fight (using the number of pins stuck in voodoo dolls as a measure of aggressive feelings). Research funding in the geosciences, including climate change, is certainly legitimate, but not when it goes to ludicrous boondoggles such as a climate-change musical that cost $697,177 to produce.
The primary culprit is the NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, known as SBE. Underlying its ability to dispense grants is the wrongheaded notion that social-science projects such as a study of animal depictions in National Geographic and a climate change musical are as important as research to identify early markers for Alzheimer’s disease or pancreatic cancer.