Mike White (@genologos) is a very creative person. We already covered his paper to refute ENCODE claim by showing that random DNA sequence mimicked similar binding behavior, or rather ENCODE experiments did not have a proper control. Apart from science, he expressed his creativity by building the beautiful ‘The Finch and Pea’ blog, and also writes informative columns at the Pacific Standard site.
If we had a billion dollars to spare (say from building and selling houses made on bomb-testing sites), we would definitely make him the head of a research center. Unfortunately we do not. The only other option is to give him a shoutout so that many people join together to pay for his research. That is where we face a problem under the existing model of centralized funding.
A few days back, Mike wrote an article titled -
and we exchanged several tweets on our disagreement about debt saturation. However, those topics should not even be the part of the discussion. We presume Mike’s primary interest is to get good scientists like him funded and most ordinary Americans will be happy to sponsor his research. In the current model, those people pay taxes to the government and the government allocates small part of its budget to NIH. Then NIH may or may not choose to pay Mike for his research.
What do we have to do sponsor Mike’s research under the current model?
(i) We have to convince everyone that NIH should be funded more heavily. So, no criticism of NIH director will be allowed here.
(ii) In the bigger picture of things, we do not have any say over the NIH budget. Only US Congress does. The only thing we can do is to vote for one of the two ineffective war parties and pray that they will take money away from war budget to fund research. So, we have to be intensely politicized about unscientific issues.
Even after we diligently do (i) and (ii), there is no guarantee that Mike’s research will be funded from the taxes we pay. NIH Director Francis Collins made every suggestion that he will increase funding for grandiose and wasteful ‘big science’ ventures such as human brain activity map.
We have no idea, why scientists continue to wrote supportive articles to continue such an ineffective model, when the internet offers everyone to build a more direct method. We encourage Mike and others to consider the alternative, where smaller NIH and retired Francis Collins is not a curse but a blessing.
What do you prefer? This -
or this -