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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”

3 Replies to “Policy analyst: More funding is not going to solve current science problems

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    The only solution is PRECISELY ZERO government funding and VERY SMALL corporate funding. Let worthy projects gather their own patrons and crowdfunders. That’s how science worked for 1000 years, and it produced the best results that way.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    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

    What they’re missing here is that the replication crisis put a bright light on something that is more significant than fraudulent papers. When results can’t be replicated it means that the research project was useless. It’s falsification changed nothing at all.
    How many research dollars are spent on evolutionary speculations that end the same way? There is already more funding available than needed – if someone would merely cut the wasteful research on stupid ideas.

  3. 3
    Querius says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    Is it possible that the research money isn’t being spent on stupid ideas, but it’s actually being spent for the purpose of funding favored researchers?

    Science or promising directions of research is not a requirement. But if the properly vetted researcher submits a grant proposal for a multi-million dollar study on Racism as a causal factor in Global Warming and Covid-19 in the Hawaiian Islands, there’s no question of it being funded, just a question of how much compared with Critical Race Theory and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse.

    -Q

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