More Funding Won’t Fix Science

Uncommon Descent, Policy analyst: More funding is not going to solve current science problems

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Funding has increased but so have systemic problems:

With some notable exceptions, current proposals to stimulate American science and innovation focus almost exclusively on the need for more federal money. Yet, there are several other problems that beset the U.S. R&D system besides inadequate federal funding. Foremost among them are the unequal distribution of federal science funding; mounting concerns about the integrity of scientific research, and the increasing bureaucratization of the scientific enterprise. Increasing federal funding will not solve these problems, and could even make them worse. But if left unresolved, these problems could undermine the express purpose of calls to increase federal R&D funding.

It has long been the case that federal R&D funding is highly concentrated, being clustered around a handful of geographic regions and their prominent institutions, such as Harvard University, Duke University, and Johns Hopkins University on the East Coast and Stanford University, the University of California San Diego, and the University of Washington on the West Coast.6 Meanwhile, worries about scientific integrity have been growing over the past decade in light of the so-called “replication crisis,” exacerbated by high-profile incidents of scientific misconduct. As for bureaucratization: Scientists have been complaining for years about an increasing number of federal rules and regulations that hamper research productivity, requiring scientists to spend nearly as much time on paperwork as they do research. Unfortunately, current proposals to increase R&D spending do little, if anything, to address these problems.

M. Anthony Mills, “Fix Science, Don’t Just Fund It” at Innovation Frontier Project (September 16, 2021)

Two thoughts: Unclear what Dr. Mills means by a “so-called” “replication crisis.” There IS a replication crisis. They can call it an ice cream cone if they want.

Second, more funding, under the circumstances, not only “could” make the problems worse; they almost certainly WILL do so. If systemic issues are not addressed, more funding helps magnify the problem.

It’s like giving a gambling addict more money.

You may also wish to read: When people claim that “the science” says this or that… Discussing the recent essay by medical statistician John Ioannidis on the was politicization and shoddy research around COVID-19 are corrupting science, philosopher Edward Feser focuses on a couple of his points, including this one, “the deleterious role that social media have played”

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The money shot:

If systemic issues are not addressed, more funding helps magnify the problem.

It is not possible for the systemic issues to be addressed by our current political, economic, academic, or even military leadership.1

“Church leadership? What’s that?”2

The Great Default is going to reveal a lot of the rotten underbelly of the West.

And, with no more new money – and few new children – the West will be rapidly disappearing physically, as well as economically.

But with the money gone, the system gone, and much of the competition gone, believing Christians who are willing to bet their lives and futures on God’s victory have a real shot at owning the future.

Times are difficult, yes.

But the Beast, by its very nature, is going down.

Time for the Kingdom of God to raise its banner. First on the small scale, and in an increasingly larger scale as we prove our worth as useful Servants of the Most High.

The Era of the Worthless Servant is coming to an end.

Amen, and Amen!


1A nice description of the moral cowardice of Our Leaders is provided by William S. Lind. The description focuses on the Afghanistan debacle, but it’s much the same at all the other High Places and Palaces of the West.

A cut-n-past of the article The View From Olympus: Afghanistan

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The astonishing thing is that we went [to Afghanistan] in the first place.  I was a Senate staffer on Capitol Hill when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.  Everyone was glum, expecting the Red Army to win a quick and easy victory.  I was exultant, because I knew the Soviets had just joined the tar baby in the briar patch.  I found it hard to believe Moscow would do anything so foolish and I was confident it would end badly for them.  And then, with the Soviet example staring us in the face, we made the same obvious blunder!  Why?

The first answer is that the Washington foreign policy establishment is willfully ignorant.  They know the history of places such as Afghanistan and the Balkans, but they don’t think it applies to them.  So they behave like bad children, doing whatever they want and leaving adults, in the form of the U.S. military, to clean up the mess.  Unfortunately, the senior military is also willfully ignorant, in their case of the fact that they lead a Second Generation military that is doomed to defeat in Fourth Generation wars.  So thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later, we accept our inevitable defeat and go home with another loss on the board.

Why does it take us so long–twenty years in the case of Afghanistan–to admit defeat and go home?  Because both the civilian and senior military Washington establishment is made up almost exclusively of moral cowards.  Their focus is their personal careers, they got to the senior positions they occupy by avoiding decisions and passing every buck, and they don’t want to be the ones holding the bag for losing another war.  So they kick the can down the road, letting a lost war continue at vast human and financial cost.  Twenty years is a long time to be kicking the can.

We should have gotten out of Afghanistan no more than 90 days after we went in.  By that point, we had done all a foreign invader can do.  We had taken Kabul, thrown out the government we didn’t like, put a puppet government in its place and given it some money and weapons.  After that, if an invader stays he becomes everyone’s target.  Within those first three months we had also botched the chance we had to grab bin Laden, so that mission offered no justification to stay.  Again, the only reason we did so is moral cowardice in high places. 

[Snipped the military failure in Afghanistan, which is more tied to obsolete tactics and strategy than cowardice, moral or otherwise.]

Dealing with these three causes of our repeated defeats in Fourth Generation war requires replacement of the existing Establishments, civilians and military.  They cannot be reformed; they are too far gone for that.  Replacement will come only from a national catastrophe severe enough to grab the public’s attention.  I suspect that lies just over the horizon.

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Note the money shot of this article:

Dealing with these three causes of our repeated defeats in Fourth Generation war requires replacement of the existing Establishments, civilians and military.  They cannot be reformed; they are too far gone for that.  Replacement will come only from a national catastrophe severe enough to grab the public’s attention.  I suspect that lies just over the horizon.

This applies to our medical, scientific, and religious establishments, too.

2The Christian clergyman is simply nowhere to be found in the public eye.
Of course: that’s they way he, his seminary professors, and denominational leadership likes it: very safe and very irrelevant.

Busted wineskins, drying up on the ground.
Soon to just blow away, forgotten.

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