The peanut gallery

October 21, 2012

Last week, scientist/atheist/blogger PZ Myers (@pzmyers) mentioned our crowdfunding project on his blog, Pharyngula. It was a short post; here’s a screenshot of what he wrote:

I thanked PZ Myers on Twitter but he’s a busy, famous guy who probably gets tweeted at all the live long day. So in the off chance he ever sees this post: thank you, PZ! I thought his depiction of our project and our intent was fair. But I strongly disagree with his characterization of crowdfunding basic research as having to “sing and dance.” Jarrett Byrnes, co-founder of the SciFund Challenge and a professor of ecology at UMass Boston, made a stirring, well-articulated defense of crowdfunding in the comment thread (#14 to be precise), so I won’t belabor the point. Rafael Najmanovich, a professor of biochemistry in Canada, also contributed thoughtfully to the debate (he’s comment #37).


Alas, with a few other exceptions, the rest of the comment thread left something to be desired. For better or worse, the comments do represent the breadth of the ideological spectrum. Some comments were downright hilarious, and I mean double over in uncontrollable convulsions of laughter.


I took the liberty of reproducing here on my lab website nine of representative selections. Enjoy!



The Perfectionist



One problem I can see is that people may not know what they’re supporting. I can imagine gullible woo-believers giving money to hacks attempting to discover the miraculous power of water that’s somehow not just water, and exposing the horrors of how the government created HIV to control the population.





The Kvetcher

Let me guess: You haven’t been to a university committee meeting yet, right? Scientists, especially when they are trying to run anything as a “collective”, are no better at cooperating than any other group of people with similar interests but competing individual goals.

In my experience, that means a lot of bickering and power games, then some half-assed solution is quickly agreed upon when participants realise that they need a result to show, and then it’s back to power games and trying to use/change/re-interpret/sabotage the agreed plan to one’s own advantage.

Oh, and as a lot of others pointed out, for basic working, a business needs an actual business concept (i.e. what to sell to whom), appropriate marketing (i.e. actually selling the stuff) and strategic planning (i.e. knowing what to sell tomorrow), as well as starting capital as well as ongoing resources to generate whatever it’s trying to sell. And then we haven’t even talked about how many expensive-to-run branches of research have no commercial applications for decades, and obviously it’s exactly these that are in need of funding.



The Canadian


Man, if only there were some way to have a peer-reviewed crowd-sourced funding mechanism for supporting robust scientific research, where everyone giving just a little money would add up to a lot… if only…


Oh wait, we HAD THAT before our governments decided that science wasn’t a worthwhile investment. It’s called TAX REVENUE and the NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, or here in Canada, NSERC. *headdesk*





The Self-hating Libertarian


Sigh… Back in my benighted days as a libertarian, I read L. Neil Smith’s series of propaganda science fiction novels that took place in an anarcho-capitalist utopia. In the first novel, the series’ main character discovers that his wife has a fatal disease that is incurable even with the magical technology that a world with an absolute free market and no regulations is supposed to produce. Since the woman was on borrowed time and there were none of those evil, freedom-destroying governments to steal the productive capacity of the achievers, they put her in suspended animation and started up a charity fund to find a cure.

This was considered by the author (and, admittedly, myself at the time) a GOOD idea.





The PETA person





Great news. Now we don’t have to have our tax dollars taken from us, forced to support the torture of sentient animals. I appreciate that.







The PETA hater

The vast majority of animal torture research is privately funded. Except for the research into killing bipedal animals that wear clothing and organize themselves into groups — one of which we call “the enemy”. The government’s 100% behind that.

Seriously, have you any idea how much HUMAN suffering animal research prevents. Please go fuck yourself sideways with a rusty porcupine for suggesting that researchers conduct experiments with animals merely to get their jollies.



The Seemingly Reasonable Person with a Well-Concealed Bloodlust

I’m well aware that a lot of research isn’t profitable, especially in the early phases. It may not be ideal for the pace of research some may want, but at least it a) employs researchers and engineers and gives them something to do and b) gives them some control on what they want to research or engineer.

With problems of peer review, simply don’t have peer reviewers with a conflict of interest. This should be obvious.

As for factory workers, technicians, and who ever else are needed for the operation, hire them. It creates jobs; which even politicians can’t figure out how to do, apart from pleading to capitalists. Buy the supplies. After all, it is the sale of goods that bring in money. At least then scientists wont have to beg the government or private business, which incidentally is what I mean by “self-sufficient”.

@Rutee Katreya

Don’t even compare me to such lowly creatures. As a socialist, I hate capitalism. To compare me to an ultra-capitalist is a grave insult to my person. I spit on the grave of Ayn.

But as to who is going to build it: builders of course.



The Daily Kossack

Keith is a Randroid or Looneytarian obviously. With nonsensical answers to simple questions. Try these.

1. Hey Keith!!! Why don’t you find a Libertarian paradise somewhere and join it and stop wasting electrons and photons on the internet? There are 220 countries in the world, some you can buy cheap, and they are always looking for an edge. The current leader is Somalia. I’m sure they can use a new body. The old ones keep getting shot full of holes.

2. What is stopping you and John Galt from setting up a Gibbertarian paradise in the USA? There are huge areas that are emptying out as people move away, east of the Cascades and Sierras, the Midwest. Could it be that you and John Galt are just babbling idiots? My guess is that you would miss your mommy, get lonely, and get real hungry in a hurry.



The Ayn Rand Fetishist


That’s cute and all, Kevin, but I ask you the same thing I ask Randroids who think they can make a Galt’s Gulch:

Who’s going to fucking build it?





  • Don Reba

    Haha. The Canadian. Well-put.