Science and Public Funding
| Peter Klein |
As discussed previously on these pages, the relationship between scientific research (basic and applied) and public funding is more subtle and complex than is usually assumed. The current issue of the Independent Review features an article by William N. Butos and Thomas J. McQuade, “Government and Science: A Dangerous Liaison?”, exploring this relationship in detail. Write Butos and McQuade:
There are serious reasons . . . for thinking that the liaison between government and science carries with it unrecognized dangers for the functioning and integrity of science as a reliable generator of knowledge. It is not so much that government seeks to exert a blatant and crude control over the content and direction of scientific inquiry — although such heavy-handed intrusion has precedents, most notably in the USSR — but that the structure and conduct of seemingly benign and generous government funding of science has side effects that generate instabilities in scientific activity in the short run and corrode the structure and adaptability of the system of science itself in the long run.
Dan Klein’s fine EconJournalWatch has published two recent pieces on the effects of public funding on research in two branches of applied economics, by Larry White on monetary economics and E. C. Pasour, Jr., on agricultural economics.