Youcut Review: A way to engage the public in science or a witchhunt?

So have you heard about this?  You too can be a grant panel reviewer with zero specialized scientific knowledge! discusses it here and I’d like to know what you think.  Basically you can review NSF grants and tell congressman Eric Cantor what grant is not deserving of our tax money.

Personally, I’m a little torn on this…it is nice to see people trying to be involved in government and policy making.  Just because I may not agree with their worldview about a small government, I’m not sure the scientific community should try to hide behind some sort of “we know best how to spend research money” ivory tower sort of attitude.  At the same time, it sounds like a witchhunt and people probably wouldn’t do more than read the titles.  Imagine what the original grant proposal for DARPA that eventually turned into the internet would have looked like?  I doubt it would have made the cut, and where would we be now if it wasn’t funded?

I wonder if there is a way we can use the internet to get people more engaged in deciding what we as a country define as research directions.  Things like this make me wonder if we can cut out the representative government and interact directly with the public, and if we would want to?

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