Progress and the Science of Destruction
You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. The world was meant to be wooed and won by youth.
—WINSTON S. CHURCHILL
The Conspiracy of Unhappiness
In the science community you hear a lot about “pure research,” that Grail of exploration in which money is no object and the marketable endpoint–weaponry, biotech, anything that can be bought and sold–is removed from the equation. Of course, scientists and medical researchers are not useful for their daydreaming, and the simple fact of capitalism means pure research is purely fantasy.
Because scientific experimentation requires training, materials, and space to work, funding must come from somewhere: the academic community, the government, big business. All of which come with their strings attached, their red-tape bureaucracy, and all of which frequently cross over into each other a bit more than we might like.
Conspiracy theorists will tell you we are being blocked–from the transhumanist singularity, from curing cancer and AIDS, from saving the oceans and skies–by this profit motive. It is not in the interests of Big Pharma, for example, to cure the diseases they profit from treating. No more sick patients means no more pharmaceutical industry, and then where would we be? Preventative medicine is another pure research goal with no financial means of support: without sick patients, the insurance industry would die on the vine, and then where would we be? They’re too big to fail, as we …