How billionaires became the benefactors of science
— By Janet Fang on March 20, 2014, 12:55 AM PST
"Helping" third world markets take off means helping them consume, and that means more profit for those who swim in profit. But yeah... I'm sure it is out of kindness and they will donate away all their money and live off of just a couple hundred thousand dollars a year.... sure...
I am amazed at what just Bill Gates hopes to accomplish with his philanthropy. It's not just diseases, he wants to solve the world's energy problems.
Actually government funded research is more likely to become institutionalized than is private. What becomes a problem is when institutions with a particular research purpose morph into where their purpose is getting funding. It used to be more common and is very common among charities, where some huge percentage of their funding goes to fund raising and little to solving the problem that they raise funds for.
Then you have the 800 pound gorilla of the art world, the Getty museum. They have so much money that they distort the price of art.
As for leaving the decision about what science to fund in private hands, that decision is almost always in one person's hands anyway. Rarely is an initiative created by a committee. Just hope those individuals use good judgement. Usually they do. The trouble then is that research philanthropy institutions can get like the Getty Museum. They must spend the money, and their judgement may not be great. They focus on the obvious or on projects with very good grant proposal writers.
Funny, I've a few times tried to get some funding help for my work. Success at my work would probably be on the order of the value to humanity of curing AIDs or maybe even more. The problem is that if you come up with something really original, they don't understand it. Also, the groups with a lot of money want to fund big expensive projects. My project is relatively cheap, but incomparable for bang for the buck.
"But not everyone is a fan of privatized science. For one thing, this system leaves the decision about what science really matters in the hands those who write the checks."
That's a problem? On the contrary. It's the single best feature. People tend to spend money much more wisely when it's coming out of their own pockets. There's nothing more reckless that vast amounts of money at the disposal of those who didn't have to work for it.
"Those investors tend to favor "trendy" fields such as infectious diseases as opposed to, say, physics. And within those fields, biases emerge."
Is this to say that there are not "biases" in government science? Seriously?
"Philanthropy is no substitute for government funding. You can't say that loud enough."
There is no such thing as "government funding". The government has no money, per se. The government has tax revenues, which come from the people, and government "leaders" decide who and what gets funded, on behalf of the taxpayers. Yet, the taxpayers have no real say in what and who gets funded. And funding is often directed towards projects that have some political agenda issue behind them. A lot of green energy projects were politically motivated, and a lot of that funding went to waste.Government is often not a good decision maker for the people.
Aren't you ignoring history where rich benefactors, often assorted monarchy's, sponsored assorted science/discovery - like say when Ferdinand V and Isabella (of Spain) sponsored Christopher Columbus's mission, which discovered the America's.
@JohnMcGrewI think it's probably true that private funding is less likely to fund science that doesn't have a clear and relatively short term benefit. But some times it's those things that don't have that clear benefit that will have the most value in the long run and you won't find out about them unless you're willing to accept a lot of dead ends too.
There may be biases in what research that governments fund but that shouldn't produce unscientific bias in the results of the science. Most scientists are way to smart to think they can get away with producing dishonestly biased science and keep a career.
@Neil Postlethwaite Where did those monarchs get their money?
@JohnMcGrew If you're expecting better "accuracy" out of them than the scientists are expecting then your expectations are unrealistic.
@JohnMcGrew From what I've seen the models do a decent job of predicting the past. I think your expectations of what they should be able to do are probably unrealistic. The Medieval Warming Period and "hide the decline" have nothing to do with climate models.
@JohnMcGrew Hah! I figured you might come back with that. It's just not tenable that so many climate scientists have been maintaining a conspiracy to bias the science for so long (over 60 years) without being discovered yet. They may be wrong about some things but they're honestly wrong, not manipulating the science for non-scientific purposes.
@copracr "Technologically primitive"? I'll bet that those "conquered and subjugated" populations had no idea that they were technologically primitive.
However, what about the populations of the "conquering" countries where the monarchs lived? Weren't they also subjugated and "forced" to pay for the monarchs' riches?