[FoRK] Harvard University approves undergrad program in human regenerative biology

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Fri Mar 20 11:27:34 PDT 2009

On Mar 20, 2009, at 4:58 AM, Russell Turpin wrote:
> Take a gander at this listing of the ten most and least religious  
> states:
> http://www.gallup.com/poll/114022/State-States-Importance- 
> Religion.aspx
> All the least religious are blue, except for Alaska (#5), and a purple
> Nevada (#9).

I was looking at Pew Research, which breaks it down several different  
ways. What metric is the best proxy for religiousness in a policy  
context could be debated.

> All of the ten most religious states are red, except arguably a North
> Carolina that is becoming purplish.

By many measures, the Great Lakes region is the second most religious  
part of the country after the deep south, states like Illinois and  

> Yes, most liberals are religious. But they are not religious in the
> way most conservatives are religious.

I think you are conflating culture and political affiliation with  
religion. If you can make the argument that "liberal religiousness"  
and "conservative religiousness" are fundamentally different in some  
important way, then I can make the argument that "southern  
religiousness" and "western religiousness" are fundamentally different  
when restricted to Republicans. Which they are in fact.

Political affiliation tells me nothing, the desire of the culture to  
legislate religious belief into State law tells me everything I need  
to know.  A survey of *actual* state laws tells a different kind of  
story than the argument you are trying to make.

(An inductive model of religiosity using State law as a data source  
would be interesting, and probably tell us much more than surveys that  
are incapable of adequately discriminating differences in self- 
description across cultural contexts.)

The Gulf Coast culture is not the only political mode of religiousness  
in the United States.  I'm not interested in the "right kind" of  
religiosity informing policy, that is a false dichotomy and pretty  
much a policy fail ipso facto.

> All those complexities recognized, I think it is silly to see someone
> argue that the religious right has no influence in American politics
> or that that influence didn't extend to a stupid hiatus on the funding
> of embryonic stem-cell research.

No one was making this argument, nor do I disagree with the conclusion.

> I'd like to see some numbers on this. I doubt your claim. I see very
> little private funding of basic research. (There has always been a lot
> of private funding of applied research, when it starts to have a
> visible commercial potential. But basic? Not much.)

I might have gotten the numbers off of aaas.org or similar, it took  
some digging.  I googled around for this very recently because I was  
curious, and was kind of surprised by the result.

Commercial funding of "basic" research is only about 20%, and has not  
changed much as a percentage over time, which is what most people  
think of when they think of "private funding of basic research".  The  
usual NIH, NSF, DoD, and similar sources of public funding account for  
just over half; it used to be over 70% a few decades ago.

Academic and other non-commercial, non-government basic research  
funding sources are now a significant and growing part of the pie,  
whereas they were not a few decades ago. Diversity is a good thing,  
and allows politically unpopular science research to occur.

> An interesting
> exercise might be to go through the papers published in some science
> journal, and identify who funded the research behind them. I suspect
> basic research is still more than 95% government funded. I fully
> expect that to be the case twenty years from now, also.

You "suspect" basic research is still more than 95% government funded?  
Most accepted definitions of "basic research", which is indeed a  
somewhat nebulous concept, do not put the figure nearly that high.   
Government funds the majority of basic research in the US, but not as  
much as you might think.

Non-government sources of funding have been growing over time.  A half  
century ago, the US government funded more than half of *all* R&D,  
today the US private sector alone funds more research than the entire  
EU from all sources.  These things shift and change with time.


J. Andrew Rogers

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