Live Apartment Fire throws a punch at WSB-TV’s Justin Farmer for his questionable news report regarding wasteful government spending. While reading the scathing review, this nugget catches the eye:

Farmer concludes the piece on familiar ground:  Bashing academic research.  “This one may take the cake,” Farmer tells his audience.  He reports on a government grant for “a Detroit professor to study drinking and AIDS among prostitutes in China.”   It’s a one-line dismissal, presuming that there’s no value in this kind of research.

Which is reminiscent of the Georgia State Legislature’s bashing of “sex experts” at Georgia State University a few months ago.

It’s hard to understand why research on alcohol/sex/AIDS whatever is so easy to mock. Does the general public not understand that research into these areas often leads to better understanding of STD’s? Or of the socio-economic factors that can be controlled in order to prevent such risky behavior?

For example, in the 80’s, AIDS was simply the Gay Man’s Disease. Through research, discoveries on its transmission and life span allowed us to identify at-risk groups, develop preventative measures, and create a set of medications that have now made the disease somewhat controlled. Exhibit A?  Magic Johnson, who has lived with the death-sentence disease for nearly 20 years.

And through research it became clear that HIV was not simply for gay men, but for anyone who participated in risky sexual practices, or unclean needle usage, or sometimes birth. At times, exposure to tainted blood can transmit the disease- a worthy fact that research provided.

What about Greg Louganis, who hit his head on the diving board in the ’88 Olympics? He received a ton of criticism after revealing that he had HIV and might have infected other divers in the pool. Through research, we learned that there was no threat to the other athletes, and this criticism was unfounded.

So, yeah, researchers investigate oral sex and drinking and prostitution and a number of seemly things at our state universities. It’s part of the universities’ mission- to gain knowledge on a variety of issues needed to improve the state of mankind.

Right this moment, there’s someone getting a federal grant to investigate boll weevils, or iron ore, or nuclear particles- or maybe oral sex amongst aboriginal tribes. Presumably this research might lead to future leaps in understanding, and future solutions to critical problems.

Mocking the intellectuals amongst us might be politically popular, but it’s poor public policy (alliteration, bitches!).

Advertisements