Dubious research

tivol at tethys.ph.albany.edu tivol at tethys.ph.albany.edu
Tue Aug 16 14:08:34 EST 1994

	Several posters have commented on whether "science" should spend time
on projects such as bigfoot when the money could go to projects of more per-
ceived value, such as cancer research.  IMHO, there should be a certain am-
ount of oddball research in science.  First, the researchers who wish to 
study bigfoot may not wish to study cancer and may not be very adept at that
field.  Second, they may learn ancillary information in the course of their
investigations which may be of use, e.g. in saving an ecological niche.
Third, given the public interest in bigfoot (here, as before, "bigfoot" is
meant to serve as a shorthand for "oddball topics of research, with no nega-
meant to serve as a shorthand for "oddball topics of research", with no nega-
tive connotations intended) a scientific investigation could even increase
the public's willingness to fund all scientific research.  Finally, I would
remind the readers that investigations into odd enzyme systems in an obscure
bacterium led to the discovery of endonucleases.  If all science funding is
based solely on criteria which are too conservative, less breakthrough work
will be funded.  There should be a balance between plodding projects which
add the next detail to an already well-studied field and speculative projects
intended to open up uncharted territory.  I leave it to others to decide the
appropriate fraction of oddball research and whether bigfoot research belongs
in the mix.
					Bill Tivol

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