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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Darwinism: The myth that Darwin matters

In "These men would've stopped Darwin" (The Guardian, Tuesday May 12 2009), George Monbiot writes, "Science research in Britain is now all about turning knowledge into business, rather than the beauty of exploration," complaining,
Even judged by its own objectives, this policy makes no sense. The long-term health of the knowledge economy depends on blue skies research that answers only to itself: when scientists are free to pursue their passions they are more likely to make those serendipitous discoveries whose impacts on society and the economy are both vast and impossible to predict. Forced to collaborate with industry, they are more likely to pursue applications of existing knowledge than to seek to extend the frontiers of the known world.
Oh yes? If they had stopped Darwin, they might have spared the world "scientific" eugenics.

I could live with that just fine. I don’t think Darwin made any important contribution to science, only to atheist ideology.

But the critical question – at least to me – is this: In times of great economic hardship, what should the taxpayer be expected to fund? Obviously, the taxpayer is thinking about his (/her) job or business, or home or groceries or health care or ...

“Blue skies” research is fine. I love it - and I agree it is the fount of innovations in the long run. But it should be funded by eccentric billionaires, not by Joe Schmeazle and Jane Schmoe who are losing their job and/or their home, and can't afford groceries. To think otherwise is like Marie Antoinette telling the poor to eat cake if they can’t afford bread – a dangerous form of arrogance.
(But I doubt Marie Antoinette really said that anyway. She was a bubblehead, but even a bubblehead had to be more realistic in those days than many people have to be today.)

And while we are here: Darwin married into the enormous Wedgwood fortune and did not need public funding.

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