Tuesday, April 14

Science Funding Response

After reading the comments on my last post concerning public science, I recognize the problems associated with letting an “ignorant” public have power in the decision process of funding allocation. It is inefficient; it could very well lead to the support of science hype like “electric pants” and could interfere with the academic freedom of researchers to pursue what they wish. While reading the selections for this week’s class though, it seems like giving industry power in the resource allocation process is even more dubious. If those who have a direct financial stake in certain outcome of research are the major funding of that research, there is a high likelihood of misleading if no false results.

At this point, it seems that we are left with a predicament. As a certain person or demographic group’s interest and knowledge of a particular area of science increases, their neutrality in regards to an issue decreases. The more someone invests in a particular research program in time or money, the more they will hold a polarized view in regards to that particular program. This works both directions. Those who study and are engaged in issues such as drug company advertising will sooner or later come out for or against such practices. In most cases, I would guess the camp that the person ends up in is due to some amount of personal benefit. We are left with this tradeoff it seems between a lack of interest and neutrality one side and increased interest and a degree of bias on the other. The more someone is engaged in an issue the more likely that they will be taking a self-serving position on that issue. What side of this equation do we want to power to rest? Which is the most efficient side for science? Which is most just?


  1. I think that the power should still be in the power of the people or the ignorant. However, I think that we need to find ways to educate the ignorant in order to help make better educated decisions about science and our future pursuits. I would like to answer your questions to what I believe is true.
    1) What side of this equation do we want to power to rest?
    I think we need to find a balance of power between people and government. This will allow us to have an authority figure to enforce what we the people deem fair and just in the pursuit of science.
    2) Which is the most efficient side for science?
    Here I would have to argue that private science is the most efficient side as far as results go. This about this, if government was a business, they would have gone out of business years ago. Given that the private side does rush things. I think that the government side limps slowly along wasting large amounts of tax dollars along the way.
    3) Which is most just?
    Which is the most just? Unfortunately at this point I believe that none are very just, however if I had to pick one I would say that governmental science is the most just. Private Science has shown that they are really interested in the bottom line (profit) and for the most part are not interested in the well being of their customers.

  2. I really agree with your points, especially the first. After listening to the presentation today, it seems like the best idea is to work for the education of the people and yet somehow ensure safeguards against ulterior, self-serving motives which arise in the funding process. I do hope that a greater understanding of the issues can occur without a deepening polarization. How to work toward that goal... I'm not sure.


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