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Re: [ontolog-forum] Time representation

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Wacek Kusnierczyk <Waclaw.Marcin.Kusnierczyk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2008 20:42:02 +0100
Message-id: <4798EA0A.2000603@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat Hayes wrote:
> At 4:35 PM +0700 1/24/08, paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
>> RANT/
>> The important role of speculative enquiry is accepted to some extent,
>> but a lot of effort imho is spent on research (done with public money)
>> that is not useful (enough) nor applied , or  only benefits the
>> researchers and their private clients.
>> Research funded with public money should benefit the public at large
> Bullshit. This is like the standard American right-wing fantasy that 
> the government is "spending our money". The purpose of research is to 
> investigate new areas of knowledge. The benefits, if any, to this 
> mythical entity called "the public at large" may or may not accrue 
> downstream, but to demand immediate 'relevance' (to what, exactly?) 
> is to cripple research. Experience suggests that it is worth 
> investing a substantial fraction of a group's or society's available 
> effort into pure research, undertaken for no other reason than to 
> find something out. For technology companies, the ideal fraction 
> seems to be about 20%, for example (Xerox, Google, HP); for a nation 
> Im not sure of the appropriate figure, but right now the USA is way 
> below par, and its economy is suffering in large part because of that.
> Pat
Pat,    (01)

while what you say seems reasonable from one perspective, I think that 
quite a lot of what is called 'research' is done just because this has 
became a way of making the living.  There are sufficiently many 
publications which do not document much more than the urge of their 
authors to publish (presumably, to get further funding).     (02)

*Ideally* research should, i think, be conducted in order to find 
answers to particular questions, be they (the questions and answers) 
immediately relevant for the wide public and easily implementable pro 
bono publico or not;  i am not to judge how close to (or far from) that 
ideal the actual research is, but i have no doubt that quite a lot of 
pubic money is wasted for funding activities which do not answer any 
question at all, rather than answer questions which do not seem to have 
any direct consequence for many.  (I do have specific examples, but 
don't ask me to spell them out.)    (03)

To paraphrase an old joke, it is not researchers that are called 
'researchers' because they do research, but rather what they do is 
called 'research' because it is researchers that do it.   (by no means 
am i trying to generalize.)    (04)

In brief, I agree with you that immediate applicability, measurable 
financial benefit, etc., should not be one of the major criteria for 
funding, particularly in the case of basic research (pure research, 
fundamental research);  however, I do not think that  public money 
should be used on all activities that just happen to be called 'research'.    (05)

vQ    (06)

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