Documenting Impacts of Sequestration on Innovation

Business IdeasPublic Works often reports on the role of the public sector in science and innovation. This month we appreciated this piece from the San Diego Free Press that makes a strong case for public investment in research. The author, Andy Cohen, writes: “Our economy cannot grow and thrive without a willingness on the part of the government to invest in its own people and its own economic interests. Continued government investment is the key to reestablishing America’s previous economic prowess globally. Locally, where San Diego ranks as the second most innovative city in the world, continued government investment in basic research and development is the key to our own growth and stability.”

Recent budget cuts are undermining the federal government’s long-standing role as a positive force in research. This article from the Huffington Post discusses one related impact of the ongoing sequestration spending cuts – more scientists are looking to move overseas.

These articles and others like them actually have the potential to influence public opinion on the issues. New research summarized in this mind-boggling piece from Pacific Standard will make you question what arguments you’ll deploy at your next dinner with extended family. Not only is it important to document the lesser-known ripple effects of public policies, like scientists moving away, but this research suggests that presenting subtler, less well-known arguments may be more effective than stances that are already mapped out in the public landscape. These types of arguments can generate the “hmmm, I hadn’t thought about it that way” response that is hard to illicit with more common, if more powerful, arguments. Here’s a teaser:

The arguments people make are those that appear the strongest to themselves and the people who already agree with them. But such arguments tend to be meaningless to people who disagree.

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