National ‘Science’ Foundation?

When I first heard about this, I thought it was a joke. I wish. The National Science Foundation funding a study in erotic nouns? The title of the ‘scientific’ paper in question:

That’s What She Said: Double Entendre Identification

From the paper’s abstract:

Humor identification is a hard natural lan- 
guage understanding problem. We identify 
a subproblem — the “that’s what she said” 
problem — with two distinguishing character- 
istics: (1) use of nouns that are euphemisms 
for sexually explicit nouns and (2) structure 
common in the erotic domain.

You get the idea, there are other items that are not appropriate for a family blog.

Here is the NSF grant information:

Thismaterial isbasedupon worksupported 
by the National Science Foundation Graduate Re- 
search Fellowship under Grant #DGE-0718124 and 
under Grant #0937060

This has nothing to do with basic science (the charter of NSF) and it is especially galling in an era of huge federal budget deficits.

Recently, an NSF-funded scientist objected to me using the phrase “beauty contest” to describe NSF’s grant process. When you see this sort of thing being funded (and there are many other examples), I’d say the description is becoming literally true, in addition to the figurative sense in which I originally meant it.

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