Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Problem of Government Grants

Money or other items of value given by a government to non-government individual or group to enable their activities is called a government grant.
The funding of science by government produces many good results but it has the down side of politicizing science and the politicization of science harms the scientific process. It provides a source of funding for research making it easier for research to be funded allowing some research to be done that probably could not get funded other wise.

The problem is that  science has become too dependent on government grants as is evident by the fact that 90% of scientific research is funded by government. To get funding from any source requires that you appease that source. So to get government funding you need to appease government officials. Now grant requests do go through peer review but altimetry the money comes from politicians and this has a chilling affect on science because some areas of research are funded while others are not. The fact that about 1 in 10 unsolicited grant applications are approved proves that some legitimate research is rejected. Also some paradigms are favored by government over competing ones.  For example research in to manned caused global warming gets funded while opposing research does not get funded.

The reason for this it that politics is about acquiring and holding on to power not knowledge and as a result politicians are often not really interested is the science but sending money to their districts and pushing a political agenda.

In conclusion science needs to reduce its dependence on Government funding. Priority needs to be given to private funding which can take several forms, foundations, universities, and other nonprofit organizations and for profit organizations while these are already used to some degree, private funding should be encouraged more. It is less corrupting because there is more than one source of funding. This does not mean that Government funding should be eliminated just reduced. Science should be as independent of government as possible to reduce these problems. 


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