Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

The New York Times says something is missing from comments by President Obama on how government has funded scientific research. What is it? The fact that the research can be, has been, and increasingly is funded privately.

Sometimes private efforts have immediate application, as is often true in the firms of electronics, pharmaceutical and other innovative industries.

But scientific research is also funded by wealthy individuals — James Simons, David Koch, Bill Gates, and Eric Schmidt come to mind immediately — without prospect of immediate financial payoff. Such wealthy men have financed investigations of disease, “hunts for dinosaur bones and giant sea creatures,” and “innovative ships, undersea craft and giant telescopes — as well as the first private mission to deep space.”

Good thing or bad thing, these privately inquiring minds?

In light of the billions too often splurged on wasteful or bad (but politically faddish) research programs, all without the assent of the source of those billions — us taxpayers — I see private inquiry into Nature and Nature’s laws as only a good thing.

We needn’t agree about the value of any particular private project. Maybe if you and I were funding research, we’d have different priorities from Bloomberg, Gates or whomever. But when they waste their money, it’s their money being wasted, not ours. And if the research we prefer is important enough to us, what’s to stop us from raising funds from like-minded others to enable the inquiries we want scientists to pursue?

In a free society, nothing.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. JFB says:

    The allocation of research dollars, like everything else, is most efficiently allocated by the market. I though you would understand that on principle.

  2. Jay says:

    President Eisenhower, when leaving office (now this was/would have been Jan 1961) in his speech-often quoted, warned about the “military-industrial” combine. BUT USUALLY OVERLOOKED, AND/OR IGNORED, IN THAT SAME SPEECH, HE WARNED AGAINST GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF SCIENCE/SCIENTISTS. SAYING, IF THE GOVERNMENT FUNDS, THE RESULTS WILL BE WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS ( THE RESULTS TO BE).

    Wonder why, in areas like the so-called ” global warming” the government scientists all have statistics that say it is happening.

  3. Steve says:

    I dislike the use of taxes for charitable causes. I may not like your charity. I may have another charity that I like better.

    I also like the accountability. If my charity disappoints me, then I cut off my funding.

    It seems that too many people forget that government money was TAKEN from someone.

  4. Kenneth H. Fleischer says:

    This article needs to be in the hands of members of AAAS, publishers of Science. I’m on their E-mailing list, and they are always treating government funding as the vital pure essence of science sponsorship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2018 Common Sense with Paul Jacob, All Rights Reserved. Back to top