Fruitful Research or Foolishness:
How Can We Determine
(Investigator 171, 2016 November)
How much research should governments or private foundations support? A
major problem in deciding which research to support is that it is
difficult to discern if a given project will be fruitful in the future.
A researcher could spend years on a project and come up with few
significant results. If a researcher knew for certain that a project
would be fruitful, he would not need to waste time on fruitless
research that could never produce meaningful results.
But as research always involves many unknowns, the results of some
research is often very difficult to predict. The results may turn out
to be worthless, or incredibly important. Many major discoveries that
have revolutionized our world at first appeared to be useless. The only
way to adequately assess the usefulness of some research area is to
allow enough time to pass so that its value becomes clear, even if this
seemed to be obvious from the start.
Even then there may still be disagreement in some cases because no one
knows how much time is needed
to determine the value of some research. Often, though, forty years is
sufficient, and the usefulness of certain research is usually apparent
long before this. It took only a few years to learn that home
computers, the internet, and digital photography were all major
advances, even though all of these technology examples were seen by
those who should know better as a worthless, waste of effort.
Unfortunately, ideology is a key determinate if research is funded.
Billions of dollars have been awarded to researchers to prove Darwinian
evolution, and most of their money was wasted. Grants awarded to
document creation, or even evidence against Darwinism are close to zero
unless the purpose of the research can be disguised.
Many research projects seem foolish, and the fact that it is difficult
to assess the value of research on a short term basis, has caused many
pundits to publicly criticize certain research. Some newspapers even
carry out campaigns against the large money grants that the
government awards some re-searchers. Past Congressmen
and Senators, such as Senator
William Proxmire, have spent much time criticizing research that
appears to be a waste of time and resources.
Some headlines that illustrate this public protest include, “The
National Science Foundation is wasting Tens of Millions of Your Tax
Dollars a Year,” “Government Wastes $50,000 on Tape Recordings of
Babbling Babies,” and “Government Jackasses Wasting Thousands of Tax
Payers’ $$ to Find Out What Wild Burros Eat.” Many other examples could
be cited, but these suffice to illustrate the flavor of these attacks.
These critiques could cause a reduction in research, which may have the
advantage of saving tax money, but could also prove to have enormous
tragic implications in the future. One example is research that
supports, or could support, creationism, has, as noted above, very
close to a zero chance of being funded. The reason is evolution is
widely taught in our government schools and information counter to this
worldview is rarely taught. As a result, it has the firm backing of
consensus science, so support of research critical of Darwinism is
viewed by the scientific establishment as an obvious waste of money.
Examples of creation research that creationists were unable to get
funded that turned out to be proven include the claim that over 90
percent of DNA is useless, thus was called junk DNA for over a decade.
This junk DNA is now known to have very important functions in the
cell, mostly related to genetic regulation. Another of many examples is
the 98% myth of genetic similarity between humans and chimps, which was
eventually proven false by research that has documented the chasm
existing between chimps and humans. Specifically, there are about 0.9
billion base pair differences between the two creatures. The over 100
useless or worse human organs touted by Darwinists as proof of
evolution have all been proven to be useful, if not critical, for human
health. If in these cases researchers were open about its implications
for Darwinism, funding would no doubt have been denied. Most of the
research was done by evolutionists with no hint of disproving major
evolution claims, yet that was the result. I have often said the only
way evolution will be vilified is by evolutionists themselves. Work by
creationists will be ignored, even if it is published in peer-reviewed
journal, which is very unlikely.
I have chosen three examples from 50 and 100 years ago to illustrate
the fact that time has altered our judgment about
what research is worthwhile. Imagine a tirade on “the foolishness of
research” being directed at Dr. Alexander Fleming. Fleming discovered
penicillin, one of the most important medical drugs today which has
saved the lives of countless millions of people. Penicillin is actually
produced by a type of common bread mold that has bothered homemakers
Scientists Receives 10,000-dollar Grant to
Study Bread Mold!
The State Department has announced that Dr. Alexander
Fleming, who as a well-educated doctor should know better, has been
awarded a grant of $10,000 to study, if you can believe it, common
bread mold! This newspaper has reported on government abuses in giving
grant money to study worthless, even foolish things, but this one takes
the cake! One might wonder, why would anyone want to study slimy bread
molds? They are troublesome enough without someone trying to grow them.
This grant is a flagrant waste of our government’s money—which is our
money. And this example has been one of the greatest abuses to date.
What possible benefit could an understanding of bread mold be for
This reporter could understand researching methods of
trying to get rid of it, but Fleming is researching his particular
notion that this bothersome bread mold can be used to fight disease!
One might wonder if the recipient is supposed to eat it (sound
appetizing?), smear it on the infected area, or what? When this
reporter asked the Doctor about the purpose of his research, he stated
that “preliminary investigations indicate that penicillin is
bactericidal. If the mold does not harm the human system, it could be a
great bacteria fighting agent without the toxic effect that most
poisons have. Many molds are not poisonous to humans, but kills
bacteria without harming most other organisms.”
This reporter thinks that Dr. Fleming is spending too
much time in his laboratory and not enough time looking at the real
world. Scientists have dreamed up such foolishness in the past, and
will probably continue to dream up other foolishness in the future, but
why support this foolishness with our tax dollars? One might think that
Fleming could use a little
more common sense. Obviously bread mold lives
on bread. One might wonder about someone who cannot tell the difference
between bread and bacteria. But then maybe Fleming has been looking
through his microscope too long and can’t tell the difference. This
isn’t the only case of major nearsightedness that I’m aware of; I know
of several government agencies that have a case almost as bad.
Many inventions seem useless when they are first developed. The
telephone, for example, was not seen as practicable for some time — but
today most of us realize that we would have a difficult time living
without our cell phones. Imagine, again, a newspaper story reporting
the story of Alexander Graham Bell receiving a grant to perfect his
Grant for $60,000 Given to Perfect a
Alexander Graham Bell, a man with no scientific or
academic credentials, was awarded a grant today by the government to
perfect an instrument he calls “the telephone.” This “telephone” is
supposed to carry one’s voice through a wire. This sounds like a very
silly thing to do. The air carries my voice quite well—who needs a
wire? Bell, with no professional qualifications, believes it works.
Even if it does work, which this writer has his doubts, why would one
ever want to talk to wires? Why not just look at a person and talk to
him? Even when talking to someone who is next door—one just has to talk
through an open window or walk over to see him. Why should we give
someone $60,000 to encourage laziness? Some people, though, evidently
need fancy inventions. If Bell’s idea were possible, other than as a
toy I would be hard pressed to dream up a useful purpose for it. Grow
up, Mr. Bell, and go play with someone else’s $60,000. I don’t want you
playing with my tax money!!!
The third example is a true case that occurred in the 1960s before
science had documented the human appendix has several important
functions. The name of the researcher has been changed, as he is still
an active PhD level scientist, although in the closet.
Researcher Thinks Appendix has a Use!
Will Smith has applied for a grant to research the
appendix because he thinks it may have an important
use in humans! Evolution has proved that it has no function in humans
and is clear evidence that we evolved from primates in which it does
have a function. Furthermore, creationism is religion, so the grant
was, for good reason, not awarded because of valid separation of church
reasons. The appendix has been long known to be a vestigial organ and
is still one of the most commonly cited examples of a useless organ in
humans. Because of evolutionary science, doctors “don’t worry about
removing an appendix, because they have a framework in which to
understand that it’s a vestigial organ — that, it served a purpose in
our evolutionary past, but that purpose is long gone, even though the
organ isn’t. The appendix is often given as one of the “strongest
evidences” to disprove creationism. This argument was first made by
Charles Darwin in his The Descent of
Man (1871) where he presented evidence for human animal ancestry
including what he called rudiments. Remove the appendix, and no
evidence whatsoever exists that it causes any harm. Millions have been
removed and these persons are all doing fine. So spending money on
research is a waste!
Notice in these examples, Fleming, who was professionally and
academically qualified, was criticized due to these qualifications.
Conversely, Bell, who lacked qualifications, was criticized because he
lacked academic and professional qualifications for his research.
Clever writing can damn someone if he does, and damn him if he doesn’t.
Also, note the writer’s appeal to “common sense.”
It is easy for an outsider to criticize research — and much of the
criticism may be valid. The tragedy, though, is that we usually do not
know what areas of research
will turn out to be useful in the future. To insure we don’t discard a
useful idea, all feasible ideas, or as many as possible, should be
developed. Those with experience in this area tell us that eventually a
large number of valid discoveries and inventions turn out to be useful,
or even important. It may take years, sometimes decades, but in time
they are found to be useful in some way. Few discoveries sit on the
But even if a use for an invention or discovery never develops, the
work on it may not be wasted because all research is a learning
experience. Billions are spent on recreation, and those few
discoveries that are not yet useful could be seen as recreation, or, at
the least, the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake that adds to
our knowledge about the universe. We employ professional baseball
players, actors, singers, etc. for our enjoyment. Millions of us read
books and magazines for the same reason. Discoveries such as these can,
at least, be written up to inform readers.
articles by Dr Bergman on this website: