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Should We Privatize Science?23:35

This article is more than 8 years old.
A contrast microscope (tncountryfan/Flickr)
A contrast microscope (tncountryfan/Flickr)

While the nation's economy sputters, Massachusetts can consider itself relatively fortunate, with an unemployment rate well below the national average. Around Boston, the local job market gets a big boost from a concentration of universities, a steady stream of research grants and spinoff corporations in fields such as biotech, robotics and computer software.

Just take a walk around Kendall Square in Cambridge, and you can't avoid concluding that investment in science is paying off in a big way in the form of new companies and jobs. A lot of that is due to tight partnerships between university labs, the hi-tech sector and venture capitalists.

The state's biotech companies alone employed 48,000 people last year, paying out $4.6 billion in payroll. So everybody wins. Right?

Well, maybe not. Phillip Mirowski says American science is actually declining, in large part because of the way scientific research is being funded these days. The system may be producing jobs now, but is it developing great science for tomorrow?

Mirowski is a professor of economics and the history and philosophy of science at the University of Notre Dame. His new book is called "Science Mart — Privatizing American Science." In it, he argues the quest for profits is leading the country away from important scientific discoveries, pushing scientific research overseas and threatening America's technological and industrial dominance.


This segment aired on September 28, 2011.

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