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As a former scientist, current startup person: please stop. This is crass. Startups that sell services to scientists aren't helping with the fundamental problem (i.e. there aren't many jobs, and there isn't enough funding once you have a job). Crowdfunding is nice in theory, but just makes the problem of vanity science worse than it is right now. Crowds don't know shit about science.

If you want to help researchers, vote for people who will increase scientific funding. Much of this crunch is directly attributable to congressional budgetary cutbacks since the early 2000s:


(Oh also: encourage your local billionaire(s) to stop funding ridiculous vanity projects, and do scientific good by giving grants to researchers who are already doing peer-reviewed work. Or just encourage them to give their money to the organizations that exist and do a great job of this, like HHMI, or the Gates Foundation. How refreshing it would be to hear a nouveau riche Silicon Valley dudebro stand up and say: "I want my money to have the tiniest chance of curing cancer in my lifetime -- a task so impossibly large that even my vast wealth and gigantic ego cannot possibly tackle it alone -- so I'm making a massive charitable donation to the National Cancer Institute!" Alas...)

Frankly, crowdfunded science scares the hell out of me.

Pretty much every time I've seen it, it consists of some fringe researcher promising one weird trick to cure A, B, and C. They don't get funding through traditional channels, because actual experts recognize the subtle-but-inescapable reasons they won't succeed, so instead they go to crowdfunding to squander a bunch of public money.

I'm sure this could work, genuinely viable projects lack funding all the time, but it's generally because they weren't sexy enough for the grant committee. If the NIH thought it wasn't exciting enough, what are the chances the general public will choose it over some guy promising to cure cancer with nanomachines?


The problem with funding science is simply the size of the pot; the way it's dolled out is actually quite reasonable given all the problems it could have.

Sure, you'll have cases of grants not getting funded because it runs contrary to the prevailing wisdom, and that is bad, but the magnitude of this problem is often overblown. You can swim against the current if you're careful about it and make a compelling case, absolutely.

Compare this to the issues of having anyone other than scientific peers judging the merits of work, and you'll see the easy advantage.

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