[T]he National Research Council—the Canadian scientific research and development agency—has now said that they will only perform research that has “social or economic gain”.
John MacDougal, President of the NRC, literally said, “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value”.
I’m incredibly sad to read this. I worked at TRIUMF in Vancouver for about 2.5 years as a postdoc, and I did witness some bureaucratic beancounter nonsense, but nothing like this.
Phil’s take on this is spot-on. But beyond saying that research pays off, making this policy short-sighted, is the fact that in basic research, you don’t truly know what you’re going to find! That’s what this research is — an attempt at discovering the unknown. There is no way to guarantee some kind of specific commercial benefit from the undiscovered, but the point of funding discovery is that someone will eventually think of ways to exploit newly-found knowledge! Overall, there will be economic gain as a result — that’s the way it has been for a long time. There’s no reason to think this has suddenly stopped.