TRUTH about US R&D SPENDING from BRITISH NATURE

Gregory R. Harriman gregoryh at bcm.tmc.edu
Sat Apr 27 12:32:01 EST 1996


In article
<Pine.SOL.3.91.960427102743.12853A-100000 at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA>,
berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA (Alexander Berezin) wrote:

> > > Introduce funding caps for the total per researcher.
> > > I think, $ 200,000 per prof per year is a very
> > > generous cap in ANY area (those who need more must 
> > > cooperate with others).  
> > [...]
> > 
> > And scientific advancement would slow to a crawl.  I work in a small lab 
> > with 3 grad students and 1 postdoc.  $200,000 doesn't go very far.  
> > Cappechi (Mr Knockout mouse) wouldn't get much REAL work done on a 
> > measely $200,000 a year.
> 
> Nonsense. Michael Faraday had only one lifetime technician
> and did what his biographers count as at least equivalent
> to 4 Nobel Prizes. In modern science building up big teams
> is the most efficient cover up of shortage of ideas.
> 
> You can do wonderful work with very small teams and 
> economical budget if you have ideas and abilities.
> The team you descibe above sounds optimal. Anything
> (significantly) larger is likely a copycat shop.

     To the contrary, you're ideas are nonsensical.  Your use of an
example of how research was done in the past to justify how you think
research should be done today is fundamentally flawed.  It is like saying
Wilbur and Orville Wright didn't need a large manufacturing plant with
expensive equipment to produce an airplane, so why do we need them to
produce a Boeing 757.  While what Michael Faraday did in his day with
limited resources may have been remarkable for that time period and worthy
of more than one Nobel Prize, if he were living today he would not be able
to do state of the art science in physics, electromagnetism or whatever
with equipment from the distant past.  For example, if he wanted to do
applied research on high energy physics he would have to have access to
expensive particle accelerators.  Likewise in biomedical science, state of
the art research requires use of expensive equipment and reagents.  If
you're going to argue against the present day high costs of scientific
research, try using a more valid analogy.

Greg Harriman



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