The National Academy of Sciences’ recent report on the behavioral and social sciences reveals that federal support of this domain of science has declined over the past 16 years, even though support for other areas of science has grown substantially. The report makes a good case for the public benefits of research in behavioral and social sciences and argues for increased funding. This argument, however, is likely to fall on deafened ears, as almost every segment of the scientific community has pleaded for more funds in recent years.

What can behavioral and social scientists—or, for that matter, any other scientific disciplines in similar straits—do to promote their case better? The answer lies in recognizing the political realities of science funding. We cannot escape the fact that conducting research, however pioneering and important, is simply not enough to ensure fiscal health. Scientists must also play a political game to win friends...

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