[ExI] Private and government R&D

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Thu Jul 2 08:17:56 UTC 2009

On Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 5:20 PM, Dan<dan_ust at yahoo.com> wrote:

> But isn't this the model, mostly, in the US and many other countries?  Yes, they do have public agencies carrying out research, but a lot of research is carried out by public funds being doled out to private firms that actually do the research.

### You mean the SBIR program? This is a drop in the bucket, 2% of
total NIH budget and Obama has essentially cut it off from funding
increases. There are of course massive multi-deca-billion dollar
government contracts to develop new killing machines at the Raytheons
or Lockheeds but way too little in support of useful stuff.

The big problem with government funding is that it amplifies the herd
instincts of scientists: once a theory gains sufficient popularity at
the single-source funding agency (e.g. the amyloid hypothesis of
Alzheimer's disease), only applications in support of this theory are
funded, and research that fails to disprove it is produced in huge
volumes, drowning out voices of skepticism. As a result, even such
manifest bullshit as the amyloid hypothesis can survive for decades
despite decisive evidence against it being available in peer-reviewed
journals. With a polycentric system of funding this herding behavior
would be less pronounced. There would be more completely idiotic
pseudoresearch (like the Intelligent Design, or homeopathy stuff) but
at least there would be also fewer massive all-encompassing failures
that can lock up a field (like AD research) for decades.


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