Science, Private Interests, Troubling Trend

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Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times. Wendy Schmidt and her husband are advancing ocean studies.

Click the image at left to go to the story, in the Science section of the New York Times, about what seems a troubling trend. There is something unsettling about science being increasingly influenced by individuals’ private interests rather than society as a whole. It has nothing to do with their being billionaires, but with the fact that science historically has advanced along with civilizations, not along with private interests. Wendy Schmidt is not to blame, as far as we can tell from the story. She is pursuing her interests, and we have no objection to that. And she may lead science to a critical breakthrough. But with this type of approach are we on to something new, or headed down a dead end path scientifically with publicly funded science diminishing? This story raises questions but offers few answers. It is a starting point:

As government financing of basic research has fallen off precipitously, philanthropists have stepped in, setting priorities and drawing both gratitude and trepidation from scientists.

One thought on “Science, Private Interests, Troubling Trend

  1. My phone won’t go to the article but I just want to point out that in medieval and renaissance Europe science like the arts moved forward thru either wealthy individuals like Newton following their personal interests or thru patrons funding others based on their own interests and goals.DaVinci for instance had a patron for whom he designed military equipment. Not saying this is good-only that it is far from original or new.

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