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?