November 28, 2011

I don't understand this...

Ok, so one of the things climate change deniers do is to claim that the scientists are only in it for the money. (First mention in the third paragraph) This doesn't make any sense. Has anyone ever seen a scientist on MTV Cribs? No, and it's not just because science isn't seen as cool enough or whatever. It's because scientists, by and large, are not rich. Those few who are did not make their money from grants, either. They wrote best selling books after and during a successful career in science.

The mad scientist is one character type freque...
Image via Wikipedia

Lets say we give a scientist a million dollars. We tell them to do whatever they want with it. Sure, they'll buy tools for their shop, maybe something nice for the spouse, but they won't go nuts. You give a scientist a bunch of money and they are more likely to by an electron microscope than a Ferrari. A scientist is interested in research, experimentation, learning about the world and being enthralled by its beauty. About the only reason your average scientist has to buy a big screen TV is so that they can properly render their high speed, data collecting footage.  So I'm not sure where these deniers are coming from, thinking scientists are money grubbing bastards. But whatever, they are allowed their opinion (despite the fact that they get their talking points from oil company billionaires)

But that's not the oddest thing. I could see how someone might be cautious about signing over a massive amount of cash to someone, with no idea what they are going to do with it. But the money the deniers are talking about is grant money. It's not a personal check. It's a highly sought after, discrete amount of money that is only for a specific purpose - Grant money goes to the school they do their research at more than the scientists themselves. What does go to the scientist is their salary. Unless you don't think people shouldn't get paid for the work they do, there isn't much of a problem with this. And of course, that salary comes from more than just grants. Things like tuition and stuff also goes into their salary. Because research scientists at universities are also (gasp!) teachers.

I just don't understand the money angle. Scientists aren't in it for the money. If they were it would be obvious. They'd drive better cars, have bigger apartments, not waste their time teaching people, things like that. If you want to be rich, strike oil. If you want to learn about the world, be a scientist. Money is not a motivation for a scientist to undermine science.

While it was hard to find any sources that actually said where they got their figures from, I did find that most were in a similar range, and matched well with those from either: Reputable sources; or sources which detailed their data collecting technique. Here are a few, just to show that most scientists don't make much money.

Sorry for the quick and dirty linkage, but I don't feel like cleaning them up right now. I used CNN, Simply Hired, and for my sources.
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