Saturday, October 25, 2008

Basic Research

Quite a bit of hay was made early in the Presidential campaign over certain earmarks for the State of Alaska that included basic scientific research funding. These are often topics for laughter among Washington politicians, the press, and the public, and it is a bi-partisan thing. Liberals do it as much as conservatives.

Yet, as this post over at Science Blogs makes clear, there are very good reasons for the state to fund basic research, a case Sarah Palin completely screwed up when she made a policy speech proposing increasing funding for assisting children with special needs.

While hardly a high priority for the American people, and even less so as it becomes clear the economy is sliding in to a recession, it is nevertheless imperative that the basics of this issue are clear - basic research is the most important part of moving health and medical science forward. State funding for basic research is necessary to ensure that American science does not end up like Soviet science did. Ours is a mostly scientifically illiterate society, and some funding needs to go towards educating people in what science really is, and really does. If more people knew what science really is, we wouldn't have to deal with "intelligent design", "creationism", or the kind of idiocy that leads people to deride basic research funding. It is all part of a much larger project of making our country better, recovering from far too many years of our public discourse shaped by ignoramuses.

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