In defense of fundamental science

29 09 2008

In his inaugural lecture (.pdf, in Dutch), University of Leiden microvariationist Marc Van Oostendorp talks about how linguistics, or many other forms of fundamental research, is not socially relevant. He lists a number of basic answers.

1. The outcomes of fundamental research are difficult to predict (cf. mathematics => computer science => Facebook => B4-4);
2. Acquiring knowledge is a fundamentally human trait and science is a highly (if not the highest) developed form of cultural expression;
3. Researching seemingly irrelevant subjects bears directly on a demand that many hold to be the first step in making sense of this life of ours: know thyself.

Dr. Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov by dbking

Dr. Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov by dbking

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