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GOP Science Transforms Shrimp On A Treadmill Into Political Football

Science is hard for Republicans, but maybe they'll understand free enterprise!

Science is very, very hard for Republicans to understand. It's far easier to just deny science than understand it, but even for them, this reaches to the height of absurdity.

With budget time upon us again, expect to see more stupid stories like the one above, where Mike Huckabee rails on about shrimp on treadmills and what a boondoggle it is.

Then read what David Scholnick, the scientist who put those shrimp on a tiny treadmill, had to say about why he did and what it means for our national spending.

Over the past few years numerous media stories have surfaced about how hard-earned taxpayer dollars are supporting scientists who run shrimp on treadmills: Forbes.com listed shrimp-treadmill research as wasting $3-million in taxpayer dollars, AARP produced a nationally distributed commercial of lab-coat-wearing scientists running shrimp on treadmills to equate the lack of federal support for retiree health-care services to money spent on shrimp-treadmill research, and Mike Huckabee linked the National Science Foundation’s funding of shrimp-treadmill studies to limited military spending.

A video clip of a shrimp running on a treadmill has somehow become the nation’s poster child for wasteful spending and grounds for the Republican-led House of Representatives science committee to recently investigate wasteful spending of NSF-funded research projects across the country.

My name is David, and I am the marine biologist who put a shrimp on a treadmill—a burden I will forever carry. To be clear, the treadmill did not cost millions of taxpayer dollars, the goal of the research was not to exercise shrimp, and the government did not pay me—or anyone else—to work out shrimp on treadmills.

Oh yeah, sure he didn't. How do we know he's not some secret sadist who just wanted to witness shrimp running their little legs off on a treadmill close up?

Simply put, my colleagues and I were studying how recent changes in the oceans could potentially affect the ability of marine organisms to fight infections—an important question, given that the amount of bacteria a shrimp is able remove from its body is directly related to how much bacteria could potentially end up on seafood-filled plates. And since shrimp are active animals in nature, it was logical to study the immune response of shrimp during activity.


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Wait. That sounds way too much like science. Bacteria, activity and immune responses? Hold up, he's getting into areas where Republicans don't go.

It is disingenuous for the Republican-controlled House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to promote the idea that scientists are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to run shrimp on treadmills based on a 30-second video clip. Given that every teaspoon of seawater can contain millions of bacteria, it does not take a mental giant to understand that the health of marine organisms and the safety of the seafood we eat are closely related.

Well maybe not, but then, disingenuous is synonymous with Republicans.

Take heart, GOP, because this researcher has discovered the joys of free enterprise. After doing that thing we call innovation and creating a tiny treadmill for about 47 bucks, Scholnick is willing to let it go for the greater good.

In an effort to put an end to the erroneous media reports of wasteful government sponsored shrimp-treadmill research, I am willing to put my infamous treadmill up for sale. All profits will go toward supporting marine-biology research so that grandmothers across the country will no longer be denied medication, our heroic soldiers fighting abroad might be able to get the military equipment they need, and the House science committee can rest easy knowing that they can once again eat fat juicy shrimp—free of bacteria—without using up government funds. For the bargain price of $1-million (shrimp not included)—that’s 67 percent off the price listed by Forbes.com—a lucky individual, perhaps Rep. Lamar Smith (the Texas Republican and chairman of the House science committee), can literally put their money and their shrimp where their mouth is.

Now THAT's something Republicans should be able to understand!

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