Op-Ed: NSF fails to defend Federal funding for 'Duck Penis' study

Posted Apr 3, 2013 by Stan Rezaee
Activists of fiscal responsibility have been outraged over the allocation of funds by the National Science Foundation to the study of "duck penis".
Yes its true, the NSF has used money to study "duck penis". For conservatives politicians and pundits, this has become an excellent example of government wasting tax payer money on a pointless research.
In response to this public outcry; Dr. Patricia Brennan, lead investigator in the Sexual Conflict, Social Behavior and the Evolution of Waterfowl Genitalia study, has penned an Op-Ed for defending her research.
Dr. Brennan starts her argument with: Whether the government should fund basic research in times of economic crisis is a valid question that deserves well-informed discourse comparing all governmental expenses. As a scientist, my view is that supporting basic and applied research is essential to keep the United States ahead in the global economy. The government cannot afford not to make that investment. In fact, I argue that research spending should increase dramatically for the United States to continue to lead the world in scientific discovery.
At first she makes an excellent case for why the US Government needs to fund scientific research, however she takes so long to get to the point of studying "duck penis" that the typical reader with an ADD attention spam has most likely returned to their Facebook page.
When she finally dose explain the purposes of her study, this is what she had to say: Male ducks force copulations on females, and males and females are engaged in a genital arms race with surprising consequences. Male ducks have elaborate corkscrew-shaped penises, the length of which correlates with the degree of forced copulation males impose on female ducks. Females are often unable to escape male coercion, but they have evolved vaginal morphology that makes it difficult for males to inseminate females close to the sites of fertilization and sperm storage.
Sadly all this research is not about something important like finding a cure for cancer.
To summarize; its not a study of duck penis but a study of duck rape. The end result has been what every Sociologist and Psychologist have known for years regarding rape. The difference is Sociologist and Psychologist used data collected on rapes across communities along with a verity of social experiments while Dr. Brennan has wasted tax payer money on watching ducks rape.
Wasting tax payer money on having scientists watch duck rape in an social behavior experiments would be the equivalent of the NSF funding Michael Vick's dog fights in an attempt to understand the competitive nature with in physical combat.
Yes; rape is a serious issue that has traumatized many women and devastated communities but To fight this crime will require laws to be rewritten to take the issue more seriously, law enforcement properly trained to handle such a sensitive issue and for society needs to stop demonizing the victims. I just found the answer that this research group was seeking without wasting tax payer money to watch ducks rape.
Its true that the US Government needs to fund research to keep our edge in leading the world in scientific research. Yet it has to be a scientific pursuit that has a real purpose to society. Tax payer money wasted on frivolous science is really just a theft from research regarding the cure for AIDS or cancer.
In an attempt to defend her work all Dr. Brennan did was strength the case against her research. Her argument presented is the equivalent of a spoiled rich kid trying to defend his $30K a month cocaine expenditure to his father.