Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Mon Apr 29 10:42:21 EST 1996

On 29 Apr 1996, Gregory R. Harriman wrote:

> You seem to want to have it both ways.  Previously you argued that current
> day scientists don't need a lot of money to do research because equipment
> and resources for doing science "almost invariably are LESS expensive
> now".  Now you want to argue that the high costs of these resources are
> due to the exploitation of scientists by the companies that sell these
> products.  Which of your arguments do you really believe? 

> Even if the latter is true, it is not the scientist's fault that 
> resources are so expensive.  

That's right. It is not the fault of ordinary scientists
as such. It is the fault of funding system which does 
provide them (or at least some of them) OVERfunding, so 
they can pay outrageous prices. Reduce the funding 
(especially, introduce caps for total per reserarher)
and prices will go down. 

> Scientists don't have the power to dictate to the suppliers
> how much they will pay for the equipment and reagents they need to do the
> research.  They still have to obtain sufficient funds if they want to do
> research.  If you really believe the above statements, then how about
> focusing your criticism on why it costs so much to do the research rather
> than accusing scientists of being greedy.

This argument is circular by the reasons indicated
in the above comment 

> I guess I misinterpreted your previous post below:
> > 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 doesn't seem to pertain simply to the difficulties which SCIENTISTS
> are experiencing.  Rather, it sounds to me like an indictment of the whole
> research enterprise.

No, your interpretation is overstatement. I don't deny
the 'whole research enterprise'. But I am indicating 
serious flaws which ar pretty real, including highly
inflated promises relative to the costs involved.

I maintain that case that there is a heavy OVERfunding 
of priveleged old boy networkers in science is very strong
and funding system needs reform towords far greater
equitability. This is the ONLY way to increase the
overall efficiency. 

And I am ready to give you another example. As a matter
of courtesy I am taking it from my side (physics) rather 
than yours (biomedicine):

after 50 years of work and about HALF-A-TRILLION spend
on thermo-nuclear fussion (NOT 'cold fussion') the 
results are dismal: now most thermonuclear mega-programs
are wrapping up as the consensus emergies that it won't
reach commercial stage, at least not during the present 
generation (and very few care after that). Of course, 
there are some spinoffs (e.g. in plasma and laser physics), 
but they can't offset the fact that the major promiss was 
not delivered.

Alex Berezin

> Greg Harriman

More information about the Bioforum mailing list