Well that was a freebie….

This is way too easy.  Sometimes the comedy writes itself.

The IG is often involved in important research projects.  I don’t dispute this.  I know my alma mater, the North Avenue Trade School, has benefited from IG research dollars.  Here’s the crux, the result of the research should be greater in knowledge value than the money spent.  Meaning, something useful should be the result of spent research dollars.

In 1962, J.C.R. Licklider described a “Galactic Network” while at MIT (the North Avenue Trade School of the North) and then made his vision a reality while at DARPA (http://www.darpa.mil/).  By the way, DARPA is really cool. This Galactic Network became what we refer to as the “Internet.”  Or WWW,  or interwebs, or net, or Skynet.

Chalk one up for Uncle Sam.  Well played, sir.

Now, this type of successful research project doesn’t happen by accident.  Someone, Mr. Licklinder in this case, had a vision for something that would be greater than the value of the resources required to fulfill the idea. He put together a plan, executed the plan, and now we have instantaneous worldwide communication.  Pretty cool.

J.C.R. “Lick” Licklider

For the record, I would have petitioned for a different nickname.  Just saying.

I know what you are thinking, “Why are you talking about a smashing success on a blog about IG waste?”

Great question…..  An equally great answer is that I want it to be clear that not all IG spending is wasteful.  Especially in research.  Government backed research has added considerably to our lives, health, and technology.  So I am not against government backed research.  

What I am against is stupid government backed research.  So how can you tell the difference?  Simple, you just can…  No one can quantify or explain what makes the Pontiac Aztec hideous looking, it just is.  The same logic can be applied to stupid government research.  Some research projects make you scratch your head and question the sanity of the people making the decisions on who gets money and who doesn’t.

So here’s my example.

In my home city, Atlanta, GA, there are two colleges that got together and formed a research group.  The schools in question were Agnes Scott (an all girls school) and Emory University (pretty much an all girls school).  Some rocket surgeon at Emory put together a research plan, submitted it for an IG grant, and received $592,597 for this ground breaking research.

And apparently someone at the IG decided that the knowledge would at least generate $592,598 worth of value in knowledge and/or innovation.  Because to quote the great philosopher, Navin R. Johnson, “It’s a profit thing.”

So what earth-shattering, ground-breaking research was funded?  To answer that with a straight face, I have to copy from the research abstract:

It has been hypothesized that neurological adaptations associated with evolutionary selection for throwing may have served as a precursor for the emergence of language and speech in early hominins.”

The title of this research translated into English reads:

“Why do chimps throw poop.”


Almost $600,000 of your money was confiscated by the IG because they thought it would be better for the world if they spent that money on trying to decide if chimps throwing poop was a sign of higher intellect than on you spending your own money on things like a mortgage, or food, or gas…

Because think about it.  The IG does not earn money, they confiscate it from the American taxpayers.    When they spend the money they confiscated from you, they are really saying, “We, the IG, believe that your money is better spent on this project then you spending your own money on things you want.”

$592,597 to determine if chimps flinging poo is a sign of higher intellect.  I can’t make this up.  If you think I am, visit this link.  It’s the full abstract of the program:

Regardless of what results $592,597 worth of research quantified, I can easily sum up the answer to the question with a simple observation…  If chimps slinging poo was a sign of intellect, then the group of chimps pictured below would be the smartest people in the history of humankind.

Like I said.  It writes itself.

What would you do with $592,597?