TRUTH about US R&D SPENDING from BRITISH NATURE

Gregory R. Harriman gregoryh at bcm.tmc.edu
Sat Apr 27 18:22:39 EST 1996


In article
<Pine.SOL.3.91.960427160649.6899A-100000 at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA>,
berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA (Alexander Berezin) wrote:

> One of the obvious results of the so called progress
> is that the things are getting EASIER AND EASIER to do.
> You (above) try to argue the opposite and it does not
> work. Your whole arguments breaks down. Things are
> EASIER (and almost invariably are LESS expensive now)
> then they used to be.

Try reading my reply again.  I said nothing about whether research is
easier or harder now than in the past.  Even if progress has made things
easier to do (and that is certainly debatable in some respects), the ease
of doing something has little to do with the cost of doing something.  My
comments supported the position that in many fields of science today the
equipment and reagents needed to perform research are more expensive. 
Notwithstanding your suggestion that things are "almost invariably LESS
expensive now", I stand by that statement.

> What 50 years ago required multi-million dollar mainfarme, 
> 20 workers and several weeks of work now can be done on 
> a laptop in a few minutes. 

This is irrelevant to the point of discussion.  Scientists who need state
of the art computers to do cutting edge research (eg. in your field of
physics) nowadays are not using labtop computers to do complex
mathematical modelling.  They are using supercomputers or massively
parallel computers to do such calculations.  Those computers cost lots of
money!  Simlilar circumstances pertain in biomedical and other areas of
science.

>  Contrary to what you attempt to say,
> there is NOTHING  which makes yours' (biomedicals)
> situation inherently more complicated that of Faraday 
> Paster. It is lack (or at best a SERIOUS SHORTAGE) of
> IDEAS and IMAGINATION which present establishes from the
> above people.  Therefore, to all there imagination is
> 'give us more money': an extensive  build up of 
> fighting research empires screaming for more and more 
> and more money instead of improving on the side of ideas, 
> sharing and cooperation.

You seem more intent of disparaging scientists, and especially
"biomedicals", who you believe are only interested in getting more money. 
Your arguments betray what appears to be simply anger and resentment at
the establishment rather than a desire to address real issues.
 
> Fortunately, the fact that it (the establishement) does
> not really deliver (or rather delivers far much less 
> than it promises) is getting more and more clear to 
> the public, i.e. those taxpayers who fund it all. 
> You can fool some peopel all the time or all people
> some of the time, but you can't fool all the people
> all the time.

This is the same type of comment you've made many times before.  Let's
agree to disagree.  You feel little or no progress has been made by
science in the last 50 years (ever since the great scientists, such as
Faraday died).  Convincing evidence exists to refute this and time will
tell who is right.

> Unless the way things are done presently (draconian 
> competition, peer review censorship, selectivity, etc)
> are not FUNDAMENTALLTY revised, the funding sources are 
> going to get dryer and dryer and (deservingly) there 
> will be less and less sympathy to this whole cause.  

With such a negative opinion of science and such a bleak perspective on
research funding and the research enterprise in general, one can only hope
that you find some other sources of enjoyment.

Greg Harriman



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