Science: Funding and Morals

William Tivol tivol at news.wadsworth.org
Mon Jan 29 14:37:30 EST 1996


Gregory R. Harriman (gregoryh at bcm.tmc.edu) wrote:
[snip]
: The only way I can see
: things changing is for a fundamental reevaluation and reawakening at the
: grassroots level of our society as to what's important.

	I agree, but given the anti-intellectual bias (which has been present
since the USA was founded) I am not optimistic that the grassroots re-evalua-
tion will be easy or will come soon.  More likely, IMHO, is that economic de-
cline due to other countries' technological advances will be the first sign
recognized by the grass roots, and that the re-evaluation will strongly favor
technology and applied research, not basic research.  Furthermore, by that
time the country will probably be in such bad shape that the funding crisis
of today will look more like the golden age.

:      No doubt this is true.  But then there is no basic law that says you
: and your family won't have a worthwhile experience at the ballgame unless
: the baseball players are each paid $5 million dollars.  I readily admit
: they are paid that much because that's what people are willing to pay. 
: However, to some extent the media, advertising and mass marketing have
: manipulated the public's demand and encouraged the belief and expectation
: that they should be willing to pay that much.

	No doubt because the owners of the teams have enough money to buy
the ads and do the other marketing.  Actually, recent experience with the
baseball strike showed many families that the minor league games were in
many ways a more enjoyable experience.  Alas, most of the expensive seats
are purchased by corporations, so this experience does not translate into
lower average major league salaries.

:      Looking at this from the scientist's perspective, perhaps we should
: be trying to convince the public that science and scientific research is
: as important as the game of baseball.  I wonder if we should even consider
: using the media, paid advertising, etc. to do this? :)

	The professional societies (AAAS and AIP that I know of) have been
doing this for several years, but the day of the 30 sec TV spot promoting
research will not happen soon.
				Yours,
				Bill Tivol



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