Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who is a leading advocate of reduced government spending, discussed fish research Thursday night on Fox News. "In the military they have $5.2 million they spent on goldfish — studying goldfish to see how democratic they were and if we could learn about democracy from goldfish,” Paul said. "I would give the president the authority to go ahead and cut all $5 million in goldfish studies."
But Iain Couzin, who does research in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, and who is among those doing the work in question, said that Paul misrepresented it. For starters, Couzin told Politico that the study involves golden shiner fish, not goldfish. Further, Couzin said that Paul incorrectly described the point of the research. “Our work aims to understand the principles of collective control in animal groups and what this can inform us about collective robotics. It has nothing at all to do with human politics,” Couzin said.