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Location: United States

4/09/2007

On Scientific Funding

An "ex" scientist explains how funding and Global Warming relate ... :

This is how the funding process works:
1. You determine what the latest ‘hot’ topic is (global warming, ceramic superconductivity, stealth technology).
2. You write your proposal to fund the work you’ve been doing for years in your area but you slant it towards the hot topic.
3. You almost “prove” that the above hot topic is effected in a way that is positive toward your research.
4. You write a follow-on proposal where you state that the really big break-through will occur in the next funding cycle.
5. Oh, and you try to partner with entities that always get government funding.

It works like this: You study frogs in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Nobody wants to fund the study of frogs. Why would they? So in the early 80’s you write your proposal to study the effect of the hole in the ozone layer on the frogs. The mid 80’s your try to figure out how to write a proposal on frogs and missile defense but give up. In the 90’s you write proposals on how frog pee can help certain forms of cancer. You partner with NIH on this because they are getting lots of funding, being the ‘hot’ agency. You both know that the results are useless from the get go but you do it anyway. In the late 90’s you write proposals on how frogs from South Dakota can be used to detect nerve gas as part of the Global War on Terrorism. You routinely reject papers to the Journal of Herpetology that claim that five lined skinks can detect nerve gas by their tails falling off. In the 2000’s you are awarded grants to study the decline of frog populations in the Black Hills due to global warming, despite the fact the frogs were there through the last dozen ice ages and that they’ve survived eight periods since the last ice age where the temperature was much warmer than now. You know that the frog population is declining because the government is leasing the land to cattle ranchers and the cows are crapping in the water but you don’t really care because you’re now just a few years away from retirement and you don’t want to work at Burger King.


Found by way of Mark Shea's blog.

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