modern scientific institutions (was Robert Anton Wilson)

Eric Watt Forste (
Fri, 04 Jul 1997 14:12:23 -0700

The Low Golden Willow writes:
> But the history of the "Establishment" can also be told as a sequence
> of running off in very strange directions. Saying scientists are too
> hidebound to do so isn't satire, it's wrong.

Sturgeon's Law applies to the population of "scientists" just as
it does to everything else.

Modern scientific institutions are curious beasts. Personally, I
think modern science has been dreadfully weakened by the heavy
government funding it has received in most nations this century.
Nothing like modern levels of tax funding for scientific research
can be found in earlier centuries, AFAIK. So most current scientific
institutions (especially those of the scientific "Establishment")
cannot be defended by appeals to the history of science, but only
by appeals to the history of science in this century (which is
still damn impressive).

If I had to give a cite supporting this opinion, I'd cite Freeman
Dyson's many essays contrasting bloated, politically-motivated,
and relatively sterile scientific projects with small, cheap,
experimental, apolitical, and relatively fertile scientific projects.
There are a few such essays in the collection FROM GAIA TO EROS,
and I think there are some in INFINITE IN ALL DIRECTIONS as well.
But I don't know of any real studies that have been done... it's
a very difficult area to study, at the intersection of scientific
epistemology, political economy, and even pedagogical theory.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd