The mothership recently began asking us a question each week and then linking to our answers each Wednesday in a blog carnival-like format from the staff blog, Stochastic. (more about the rules here). This week’s question is;
Since they’re funded by taxpayer dollars (through the NIH, NSF, and so on), should scientists have to justify their research agendas to the public, rather than just grant-making bodies?
“Justify?” No. The public does not have a clear and precise understanding of scientific research so the public is not qualified to make decisions about how research money should be spent.
As it is, the public already has input into this decision-making process because our elected congresscritters allocate funds to NSF, NIH and several other government granting agencies, funds that are then distributed to their peers in research, typically on a competitive basis.