Okay. . . I know that bioephemera is not the most compartmentalized, well-defined example of “science blogging.” Many of the subjects I blog about aren’t science at all – which begs the question, what exactly is “science”? In my defense, I’m not the only one that’s confused. Check out this story from today’s NYT Arts section:
Eager to embrace eggheads and ideas, the Pentagon has started an ambitious and unusual program to recruit social scientists and direct the nation’s brainpower to combating security threats like the Chinese military, Iraq, terrorism and religious fundamentalism.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has compared the initiative — named Minerva, after the Roman goddess of wisdom (and warriors) — to the government’s effort to pump up its intellectual capital during the cold war after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957.
Although the Pentagon regularly finances science and engineering research, systematic support for the social sciences and humanities has been rare. Minerva is the first systematic effort in this area since the Vietnam War, said Thomas G. Mahnken, deputy assistant secretary of defense for policy planning, whose office will be overseeing the project.
But if the uncustomary push to engage the nation’s evolutionary psychologists, demographers, sociologists, historians and anthropologists in security research — as well as the prospect of new financial support in lean times — has generated excitement among some scholars, it has also aroused opposition from others, who worry that the Defense Department and the academy are getting too cozy.
Why is this story placed in the Arts section, rather than Science or Technology. . . ? Apparently the combination of eggheads, ideas and a Roman goddess was just too out there. Either that, or the NYT is making some sort of subtly snarky comment on how the Pentagon/”hard” science has traditionally viewed social (“cozy”?) science. I’m not sure.
By the way, I’m posting this in Scienceblogs’ “Humanities & Social Science” channel. The existence of this channel implies kinship between the humanities and social sciences, more so than with the life or physical sciences, which have their own channels – but the ampersand insists on a distinction. It’s just not clear what distinction that might be. (Scienceblogs doesn’t have an “Arts” channel, or I’d just set all my posts to go directly there. It would be so easier than trying to decide what I’m actually talking about.)