Free science
Posted by aogWednesday, 19 December 2007 at 19:58 TrackBack Ping URL

Normally Instapundit has his head on straight, but calling funding cuts for government science a war against science is just silly. It’s no more a war against science than welfare reform was a war against poor people. I am not at all convinced that government funded science is, in the long term, of net benefit. I don’t see any good reasons to think it works better than other government functions, i.e. not very well.

It’s particularly depressing to see some one who understands the corruptive effects of government pork not see that the same dynamic is at work in government funded science. It may start out well, but over time it crowds out non-government science and leads to the corruption of the academy and science itself we are seeing. Science is far too important and necessary to our society to allow it to be de facto controlled by the government.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Bret Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 00:06

Well, instapundit as an academic, and so as far as his colleagues are concerned, it is a war against them.

In the realm of robotics, the balance of university (government funded) research and commercial development is actually pretty good in my opinion. I’m not sure it needs to be changed.

Are they actually cuts, or are they just not increasing their budgets as fast as everyone else?

Bret Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 00:11

Actually, I just followed the link. They’re not cuts at all. They’re “meager increases”. Life’s tough all over, isn’t it?

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 07:59

Yeah, everyone’s a pork-buster until it’s their friends pork not getting heaped high enough.

Ali Choudhury Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 12:11

Would private funding make up the shortfall if government spending was ended?

I’d be surprised if there weren’t at least some projects that would go begging because of a lack of commercial focus.

cjm Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 12:43

99% of grant funded research is bogus, just a patronage scheme dressed up a little bit. i like Instapundit but he is just human as far as trying to help those close to him (like his wife’s otherwise forgettable blog). i bet that you would get more results for your money, by awarding grants at random, rather than to the well oiled machine that consumes them today.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 14:15

I think it highly unlikely that private funds would make up the shortfall. The question is, would that have any real impact? I am not quite as cynical as cjm, but I suspect quite a lot of government funded science could end tomorrow with no impact.

The other thing to keep in mind, which is frequently forgotten, is that the money that would have funded those projects doesn’t evaporate because the government didn’t spend it. It gets spent on something else, and any justification of science funding must show that not only does the research have a positive return, but a positive return greater than the likely alternative uses.

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