Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after media reports highlighted a one million dollar research project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2011 to analyze political messages and discussion on Twitter. The goal of the project is to analyze and detect ‘subversive propaganda’ in order to mitigate ‘misleading ideas’ on social media.
Chairman Smith: “The government has no business using taxpayer dollars to support limiting free speech on Twitter and other social media. While the Science Committee has recently looked into a number of other questionable NSF grants, this one appears to be worse than a simple misuse of public funds. The NSF is out of touch and out of control. The Science Committee is investigating how this grant came to be awarded taxpayer dollars. The NSF must be held accountable for its funding decisions.”
ICYMI: Additional Media Coverage:
Washington Post: The government wants to study ‘social pollution’ on Twitter
By Ajit Pai October 17, 2014 - Ajit Pai is a member of the Federal Communications Commission.
If you take to Twitter to express your views on a hot-button issue, does the government have an interest in deciding whether you are spreading “misinformation’’? If you tweet your support for a candidate in the November elections, should taxpayer money be used to monitor your speech and evaluate your “partisanship’’?
My guess is that most Americans would answer those questions with a resounding no. But the federal government seems to disagree. The National Science Foundation , a federal agency whose mission is to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; and to secure the national defense,” is funding a project to collect and analyze your Twitter data.
The project is being developed by researchers at Indiana University, and its purported aim is to detect what they deem “social pollution” and to study what they call “social epidemics,” including how memes — ideas that spread throughout pop culture — propagate. What types of social pollution are they targeting? “Political smears,” so-called “astroturfing” and other forms of “misinformation.” READ MORE
Fox News: '1984' in 2014? Fed Gov't Funds 'Truthy' Database to Monitor Hate Speech, Suspicious Memes
The federal government is spending close to $1 million of your money on an online tracking program that will supposedly search for so-called “hate speech” or “misinformation” on Twitter.
On Fox and Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. brought us more details on the “Truthy” database, which intends to monitor suspicious Internet memes as well as false or misleading ideas spreading around social media. READ MORE
Washington Free Beacon: Feds Creating Database to Track ‘Hate Speech’ on Twitter
$1 Million study focuses on internet memes, ‘misinformation’ in political campaigns
By Elizabeth Harrington
The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.
The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online. READ MORERead More
Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a second letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy demanding transparency from the agency regarding the costs and benefits of proposed electricity regulations.
“EPA’s sweeping mandate requires a fundamental restructuring of our nation’s energy system; it transforms how electricity is both produced and used,” Chairman Smith wrote. “The broad new authority EPA claims raises critical questions about our ability to meet demand for reliable, affordable electricity.”
However, Chairman Smith wrote that “Systematic biases and major omissions in EPA’s limited evaluation produced a cost-benefit analysis divorced from reality. Consequently, EPA’s Regulatory Impact Assessment fails to assess whether the proposed rule will achieve meaningful benefits and, more importantly, whether the benefits are worth the heavy cost.”
Last week, a report released by NERA Economic Consulting projected that EPA’s proposed regulations will cause double digit electricity price increases in 43 states. It also found that over 15 years, compliance costs could total more than $400 billion.
Chairman Smith’s letter demands that EPA conduct comprehensive energy and economic modeling before moving forward with the rulemaking.
“The American people deserve the facts. This is impossible without a comprehensive, real-world analysis of your proposed regulations. We cannot afford to ignore inconvenient details when the truth hangs in the balance.”
Chairman Smith’s full letter can be found here.
The August 13, 2014 letter can be found here.
Washington, D.C. – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement today after the comet known as Siding Spring passed within 87,000 miles of Mars.
Chairman Smith: “The passing of Comet Siding Spring near the surface of Mars provides an unusual opportunity for us to observe a comet up close and learn about its effects on nearby planets. NASA’s Planetary Science assets – including the MAVEN spacecraft which just entered Mars’ orbit last month – are in prime positions to gather data and record this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. These are the events that inspire our imaginations and remind us why we must continue investing in planetary science and NASA’s primary mission of space exploration.”
Chairman Smith has consistently voiced support for robust funding of planetary science missions within NASA’s budgets. Congress recently approved funding above the president’s budget request for FY2015.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today submitted the following statement for the record during debate on the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act (H.R. 2).
Chairman Smith: “Today we consider H.R. 2, “the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act.” I thank the gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Terry, for his initiative on this bill.
Title III of this bill includes H.R. 2850, “the Hydraulic Fracturing Study Improvement Act” that was reported out of the Science Committee last year.
The EPA has been conducting a “Study of the Potential Impact of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources” since 2010.
Unfortunately, the EPA’s track record of sloppy and secret science and rushed conclusions suggest this study will be yet another attempt to justify new regulations to derail our shale gas revolution and the manufacturing renaissance.
The Science Committee language in Title III of this bill addresses a fundamental flaw in EPA’s hydraulic fracturing study design. Specifically, the current study is focused on a search for possible problems with hydraulic fracturing instead of identifying what is likely or probable.
EPA’s own Science Advisory Board has repeatedly recommended that the Agency focus on probabilities and uncertainties in its work.
The Science Committee provision addresses those concerns, and requires EPA to follow basic, objective scientific processes in carrying out its study. It also requires peer-review of any final or interim report before its release.
Problems with this study underscore EPA’s lack of transparency and serious flaws in its peer review process. EPA’s conclusions are used to justify billions of dollars in regulations. Science that supports public regulations should be public, not secret.
The Science Advisory Board was created to provide independent scientific advice to Congress and the EPA. However, EPA has hijacked this process.
EPA cherry-picked the reviewers. Among the 22 member Advisory Board panel that the EPA created to look at EPA’s hydraulic fracturing research, no member had experience in hydraulic fracturing or had an understanding of current industry practices.
The scientific panel that reviews EPA studies should be balanced and unbiased. And the data behind EPA regulations should be available for independent scientific review. These principles cannot be compromised.
I hope to bring H.R. 4012, “the Secret Science Reform Act,” and H.R. 1422, “the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013,” to the floor this fall to address these systemic problems.
The provisions in H.R. 2 are an important first step in ensuring the EPA adheres to these principles in their report on hydraulic fracturing.
More comprehensive EPA scientific reform is the next step we must take in the public’s interest. We cannot afford to wait.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill and I yield back the balance of my time.
Washington, D.C. - The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today held a hearing to examine the latest scientific research on dyslexia, the most common reading disability affecting one out of every five people. The hearing reviewed promising future research directions and treatments for people with dyslexia to overcome challenges they face, and explored educational opportunities for students with dyslexia in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “People with dyslexia think in a way that others do not. But typically in our school systems today there is not recognition, early detection, or enough teachers who are trained to spot symptoms of dyslexia early enough to get the students the intervention they need. That is why we have recently seen grass roots groups, like Decoding Dyslexia, form nationwide, and more specialized schools started to fill the gap. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these types of schools and the learning strategies they instill in their students to help them become successful. For most people, dyslexia is a disability. But if we change the way we approach it, we can turn disability into possibility and give millions of individuals a brighter and more productive future.”
Dyslexia is a developmental reading disorder characterized by difficulty with learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal or above-average intelligence. The exact causes of dyslexia are not completely understood, but brain imaging studies show differences in the structure and function of the brains of people with dyslexia.
Witnesses today provided impassioned testimony about personal experiences with dyslexia and how they have helped others overcome this challenge through innovative and creative problem-solving. While dyslexia is considered a learning disability, many talented people—especially in science, engineering, and the creative arts—have been diagnosed with dyslexia, including Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems.
The National Science Foundation, an agency under the Science Committee’s jurisdiction, funds studies on dyslexia, and particularly, how dyslexic individuals view the universe differently due to visual-spatial skills. The lead astronomer and director of the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute has dyslexia. The National Institute of Health also studies the neuroscience of dyslexia, as well as funding studies on how dyslexic students can best learn.
Witnesses today emphasized that despite common misunderstandings, dyslexia is not due to either a lack of intelligence or desire to learn, and with appropriate teaching methods, people with dyslexia can learn successfully. They also praised progress that has been made in the science behind dyslexia, saying that we don’t have a knowledge gap but gap in action. In other words, our current understanding of dyslexia is not fully utilized in either policy or practice.
Over 80 members of Congress have joined the bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Bill Cassidy and Julia Brownley. The caucus helps educate the public about dyslexia and advocates for policies that support those individuals who have dyslexia.
The following witnesses testified today: Panel I:Hon. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Member, U.S. House of RepresentativesHon. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Member, U.S. House of Representatives Panel II:Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and CreativityMs. Stacy Antie, parent and advocate of a child with dyslexia from Louisiana Key AcademyMr. Max Brooks, author and screenwriter who has dyslexiaDr. Peter Eden, Ph.D., President of Landmark CollegeDr. Guinevere Eden, Director of the Center for the Study of Learning
For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.Read More
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