Ockham's Cafe: Wednesdays in Cordova

  • May 22, 2013 · 6:30 PM
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TOPIC:

Pure (aka, Basic) Scientific Research: How many billions of dollars should our government devote to creating a playground for scientific researchers with no specified goal except for "advancing science".

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  • David

    I'll be there late

    May 22, 2013

  • Jason

    To follow up with the prostrate cancer discussion last week, I read part of the CDC report, which does not recommend against future prostrate screening but warns that there is no reliable way to detect lethal prostate cancer. For most men who have prostrate cancer, only about 10 percent will have an aggressive growth during their lifetime and only a small percent of them will die from cancer. The CDC would like to see a test developed that can differentiate between lethal and nonlethal prostrate cancer. Until that happens, the recommendation is against prostrate cancer screening but not against screening in the future if such a test can be developed. The HSPH also has a good article on this.

    May 16, 2013

    • Gordon P.

      I'm in favor of screening if it accomplishes something positive. But what we have now doesn't. So I'm opposed. Until there is a useful test.

      1 · May 20, 2013

    • Jason

      I think that everyone (emphasis on everyone) agrees. The hard problem is predicting what unchartered waters will produce "something positive" and sometimes positive is different for different people. The articles that Charles posted are some food for thought. This is going to be a good discussion.

      May 21, 2013

  • Charles B.

    And for the flip side, an article speaking against goverment funded research in areas.
    http://www.policymic.com/debates/3169

    May 21, 2013

  • Charles B.

    May 21, 2013

  • Gordon P.

    I think one of the interesting issues that relates to this topic is whether much new science is actually developed this way. Or whether the most important finds are usually made by amateurs. In which case most of the $ being directed to "pure science research" may be wasted. One of the side effects of being a "professional" with "credentials" is that you "know" why a lot of things can't happen, therefore limit yourself from following up on them when they do. So we are mostly waiting around to see what emerges from the many amateurs who are out there tinkering with things that professionals all know can't be made to happen.

    There has been a push for energy independence via solar & wind power generation. Meanwhile some engineers figured out how to extract previously unrecoverable gas and oil from domestic sources. No one can predict what will the next game changing breakthrough. Probably from an amateur.

    May 21, 2013

    • Jason

      Many governments and corporations (including the military) will often provide research grants to universities to sort of get a hybrid of amateurish and profession research completed.

      May 21, 2013

  • Dan L.

    All the billions.

    May 21, 2013

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