The Twisted Cultural Conflict of Duck Genitalia Research
What happens when a conservative website “discovers” a study that studies the explosive corkscrew nature of duck genitalia and how it relates to sexual evolution? Their commenters completely lose their minds at the idea that the government would fund such basic science research (srsly, read the comments … or actually maybe don’t).
Except that basic science research like this is the cornerstone of innovation and discovery. Carl Zimmer stands up for this kind of science in this must-read article, and I stand behind him. Besides, xkcd’s money chart reminds us that this isn’t why the budget is in trouble, maybe?
Science is a journey of unknowns, a slow and careful march into uncharted territories of human knowledge. We can not predict how research will benefit humanity, because those benefits might be years, or even decades down the road. Or they might not materialize at all.
You can’t fund the invention of an MRI machine, instead you fund basic research in the physics of magnetic resonance on living tissues. Likewise, studies of sexual conflict in ducks can unlock the secrets of our own evolution, and might even help us understand mysterious conditions like preeclampsia (which killed Sybil on Downton Abbey, an event I have not fully recovered from).
This is why it is so important to share science with your friends, and to make sure that scientists and science folks everywhere are connecting with the public. Because if you don’t communicate your science, then someone else will do it for you, and nefariously.
By this point, you probably want to see the slo-mo videos of those explosive corkscrew genitalia, right? Here ya go.
Perhaps most tragically, the critics seem to be missing the easy opportunity to make “stimulus package” jokes … which is funny, I don’t care who ya are.