Reply to Bonnie Blackwell

Douglas B Hanson (dhanson@WORLD.STD.COM)
Wed, 8 Jun 1994 12:29:28 -0400

Bonnie Blackwell writes:

> It is a sad day when we have to justify the quest for knowledge in terms
> of what it can provide for the industrial marketplace. Who can say
> from what study the next great piece of knowledge will come. To
> attempt to limit humankind's quest for knowledge is to attempt to
> limit the growth of future generations.

Unfortunate but true. So much of the U.S. economy is currently based on
providing services. Witness the vast numbers of small businesses devoted to
consulting. You name it and someone probably provides a service for it. I
am not putting consulting down since it is "bread and butter" to many of
us, but who does basic research anymore? The computer industry? God knows
that basic research in biomedicine has fallen on hard times - everyone is
looking for the magic bullet to cure AIDS, osteoporosis, breast cancer,
etc. Yet I would hazard to guess that nearly 75% of all fundamental
knowledge in the sciences is derived from basic research. As scientists, I
think we all have the responsibility of justifying our research in terms of
who it will ultimately benefit. However I decry (sp?) the whittling away of
dollars for basic research whether it be in anthropology or any other
scientific discipline.

Douglas B. Hanson, Ph.D.
Bioengineering Department
Forsyth Dental Center
140 Fenway
Boston, MA 02115