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The Budget for Science

A bit off-topic for C&C, but the always insightful Tom Smith at The Right Coast has a reflective commentary on public funding for science.  Professor Smith states:

But anyway, I'm not all that sympathetic to the moans and groans of physicists who say, we must have more billions of dollars, else we shall not come to understand the deep nature of universe.  Even as to astronomers, though I am enthusiastic about astronomy, I feel the same way.  The problem is in the coercive taxation of people to pay for Big Science.  Sure, it's less of a waste than other things government wastes our money on.  In Libertarian Paradise, I might even donate some money to the Big Science Fund so they could look for bosons.  But honestly, my current budget doesn't allow for a lot of pure research on stuff I don't understand and is unlikely to benefit me.  Yeah, I admit that makes me a limited sort of altruist.

I agree with the professor's sentiment in many ways.  On the one hand, of all things we spend public money on, science seems worthy, particularly health science.  After all, spending money on health science has a great public benefit.  Yet it is also true that given the fiscal realities of our time, some adventures in science just might need to wait.  Perhaps all of those studies on postmodern addictions could wait a bit.

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