10 September 2014

The solution to the research funding problem is simultaneously obvious and nigh impossible

American National Public Radio has been running a series about the state of funding for basic medical research. Today’s entry was When scientists give up.

Scientists hear these sorts of stories routinely. What bugs me about them is their faux simplicity.

  1. American federal government reduces money for research.
  2. Scientists issue dire warnings of bad effects of cuts.

Most articles stop there. The implication always seems to be, “More money will fix everything! So give us more!” I am pleased that one article goes one step further:

Many scientists hold out hope for a simple solution: more money. But the current U.S. Congress has no appetite to spend more — even on health research that has broad, bipartisan public support.

I’m surprised that so few articles about science funding never discuss issues like, “Should there be new taxes to support research? Should other discretionary programs be cut to support research funding? Should there be incentives to get industry back into the research game?”

Ignoring that people have vastly different ideas about how to spend federal dollars, not to mention the role of government, is not helpful in solving this problem.

External links

When Scientists Give Up
U.S. Science Suffering From Booms And Busts In Funding
Built In Better Times, University Labs Now Lack Research Funding

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