An interesting explanation

for the triumph of American conservatism comes from “this (from Calpundit)”: interview with “Eric Alterman”:

bq. There are some good liberal funders, but it’s a very complicated question. The genius of what Scaife and Coors and those people did is, they just threw manure onto a field and decided to see what grew. What Scaife did is, he just gave everybody money, he said, fine, let’s see what grows, whereas liberals are much more focused on programmatic money. They don’t fund things that might turn into something useful that you can’t predict.
You have to able to fund things where you can’t predict how they’re going to work, and liberals don’t do that. They want control, they want reports; they don?t fund basic research, they don’t fund operating expenses. All of the liberal organizations are always begging to keep going, they don’t pay their people very well, and so they’re never going to let a thousand flowers bloom and see which of them is the prettiest.

I like this partly because it is exactly the explanation for why the MRC funding model has been so successful, and the Wellcome Trust one relatively less so. When you’re trying to find out things you don’t know, whether these are the facts of helminthology or the most effective way to tell lies, you should start from a recognition that you probably don’t know how to find out what you don’t know, either.

But it also does something to explain the hatred of the Right for real universities. These are meant to be places where research is conducted on exactly these free-wheeling lnes, by people who don’t know what they are going to find out, nor how to discover it. Yet, unlike the stuff that’s funded by interest groups, this is not filtered at the end to ensure that only the right results are published, and only the right-thinking people get the money.

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