Stealing money from cancer research
Back in 2003 Miranda Devine accused me of stealing funds from cancer research. No, really.
It was one of those periodic, and predictable, attacks on those she saw as left-wing academics, mounted by the then-powerful demagogs on the right. My sin—along with several others—was to have had a bio on the M/C contributors page when Devine went looking for a soft target to illustrate her vacuous point, and the fact that my APA (Australian Postgraduate Award) was funded, and someone else’s wasn’t. She finishes the rant with the point:
But all research is not of equal value. There are presumably PhD students in Australia finding the cure for cancer or solving Fermat’s second last theorem or investigating the worth of superannuation, as Zaffar Subedar is doing. Maybe there should be an inverse proportionality formula applied. The more “fun” a topic, the less chance of funding.
Now this report was characterised by all the sloppy research that the divine Miranda is renowned for: she reveals no knowledge of the ranking procedures for APAs, or an understanding of the way higher education funding works. She even confuses the roles of the ARC and the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council). But not to worry: we are used to this sort of thing from Devine and her ilk, and this, of course, is really old news.
But in the News Ltd press this weekend comes the report of New Zealand scientists producing a no-tear onion. Now, assuming funding works the same way in New Zealand as it does in Australia, the source of funding for bio-technology is the same as that for cancer research. I’m not going to indulge in the sorts of simplistic arguments that say that any research must be at the expense of another, or to try and rank the relative value of different type of research.
I’m merely wondering, where’s Miranda now? Hello! Hello, Miranda, you still out there?