Government funding of basic science has long been regarded as the foundation of the technological economy and thus an investment that returns far more in economic growth and other benefits than it consumes. Mr. Ridley says no, this is all wrong. The returns on publicly funded R&D are negligible. Patents and Nobel Prizes are “fundamentally unfair things.” When a government pays for scientific research, it actually harms science itself by crowding out the “good” science that corporations and philanthropists would otherwise fund on their own.
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