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Will billionaire donors change how science is funded?

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Maybe. Worth a read:

In Washington, budget cuts have left the nation’s research complex reeling. Labs are closing. Scientists are being laid off. Projects are being put on the shelf, especially in the risky, freewheeling realm of basic research. Yet from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research.

The result is a new calculus of influence and priorities that the scientific community views with a mix of gratitude and trepidation.

“For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

Smart people, basically, who don’t want to wreck their families by leaving them far more money than anyone knows what to do with and still live a normal life are aiming their philanthropy at science. Scientists are being schooled in how to approach them:

The availability of so much well-financed ambition has created a new kind of dating game. In what is becoming a common narrative, researchers like to describe how they begged the federal science establishment for funds, were brushed aside and turned instead to the welcoming arms of philanthropists. To help scientists bond quickly with potential benefactors, a cottage industry has emerged, offering workshops, personal coaching, role-playing exercises and the production of video appeals. More.

Design in nature (biomimetics) seems like a good bet to interest them, because the nearly impossibly hard work’s already been done.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

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One Reply to “Will billionaire donors change how science is funded?

  1. 1
    LynnSm says:

    I wish these rich folks would understand that none of this will matter if global warming continues unchecked. Their billions are at risk from the destabilizing of the global economy that will result in the decades to come. I wish they would really do some good and research the how to change our technology. It is the biggest problem we face and we are doing it to ourselves. We can solve this, but nothing is happening. We need those money fast to save our global society because it will surely unravel down the road if we do nothing.

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