Shell shocked politician publishes a Mean Girl's style burn book in response to what he see's as wasteful spending on science projects.
Crustacean fight clubs. Helping 'fat' teens get laid. Five million on parties to help hipsters stop smoking. And cardio for shrimps. As snappy one-line summations, the research of several American scientists would make you wonder just what's smoking on their bunsen burners.
But, according to the Huffington Post, all the above work has resulted in substantial scientific discoveries that have been implemented by several departments of the American government.
So when their work was included in a Republican Senator's 'burn book', they decided to take off their white coats and take to that nation's capitol to defend their honour, and that of their students.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is the Regina George figure in this political pissing match, sticking his bureaucratic oar into scientific matters, by creating- what he calls, a 'wastebook' of research that has cost the tax payers millions, with little to show for it.
Politico also report that Flake targeted the $17,500 spent so people could wear fat suits as part of weight sensitivity training, $276,194 to figure out how 167 people nabbed considerably better looking spouses and $1.3 million spent studying how koozies keep cans of beer cool, in a pun laced document titled The Farce Awakens.
When the scientists rocked up to Washington to mount a presentation that proved the money was not a waste, however, Flake crashed the party, meeting with those he burned so publicly.
He described the experience as 'enlightening'. The scientists, themselves, resisted the temptation to chase him out in front of a passing bus and instead wondered if he would now become 'more open-minded, having seen the research up close.'
As a Republican he may well have been impressed by the fact that the so-called “shrimp fight club” -where 68 Panamanian mantis shrimp were pitted against each other, had resulted in information that has “changed the way the military and engineers look at defence systems.”
A roundly mocked study that looked at why obese teenagers are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour- even though they are less likely than other adolescents to date, could help create smart intervention strategies, that could decrease the number of pre-teen pregnancies.
While the creation of a treadmill for shrimp to run on has revealed that warming oceans are causing a growth in certain bacteria in their gills, and that the damage of that buildup, to humans, is far greater than previously known.
Flake's willingness to meet those he critiqued is admirable, but the long term effects of his practices concerned those present.
"This wastebook targeted a short paper that was the first paper in my young graduate student’s career," says Sheila Patek, an associate professor of biology at Duke University (she of the Crustacean fight club). "He is from a long line of firefighters. There aren’t any other scientists in his family. They are very proud of him. He is extremely civic-minded. And this has been crushing for him.”
“I tell him this is not personal. This is a game. But when you’re that young and you’re getting started and you are not sure if you want to do this hardcore competitive game… that kind of thing is tough.”