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Psychologists urged to "stand for science" in the face of congressional attacks on social and behavioral sciences

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Visit the APA Stand for Science website for ways you can take action.

Threats to social and behavioral science funding and to peer review are very real. On Sept. 30, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. and Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Lamar Smith, R-Texas, co-authored an opinion piece for USA Today on “Rethinking science funding.” In the article, Reps. Cantor and Smith noted their general support for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the research that it supports, but also stated that they “have recently seen far too many questionable grants, especially in the social, behavioral and economic sciences.” They listed nine NSF grants which had been merit-reviewed and funded, and questioned why “money is being used on such research instead of on higher priorities.”

Because Rep. Smith chairs the House committee with jurisdiction over NSF, it is very likely that a new bill reauthorizing NSF could contain language attacking the merit review system and/or individual grants and entire research portfolios in the social, behavioral and economic sciences. This bill, likely titled by the acronyms COMPETES or FIRST, was drafted prior to the federal government shutdown and could be introduced at any time when Congress is in session.  

Psychologists and all other supporters of science can take preventive action by urging their members of Congress to vote against any amendments or bills containing language threatening merit review or social and behavioral research at NSF or other federal agencies. Visit the APA Stand for Science website to watch our three-minute advocacy video and to read about how to call your congressional delegation and what to say.  

If you are signed up for APA’s Public Policy Advocacy Network, you may also receive science advocacy action alerts in the coming weeks to urge the newly created budget conference committee to repeal sequestration. Please take a stand for science on these important issues.

For more information on this issue contact Heather O’Beirne Kelly.