Ok, overly provocative title perhaps?
My point is that, the milkman* doesn’t ask for £20 with the promise that he will deliver milk in 20 years time. The normal state of transactions is that, you pay for something, you get something in return.
Not for one second am I saying that I don’t think academic science is worthwhile. I fully, whole heartedly, 100%, shout from the mother fucking rooftops, value science and knowledge for their own sake. That’s before I think of how implausible my job would be without it, and the innumerable fruits of ‘knowledge for it’s own sake’. The only thing I want to say here, and it’s not original or clever, is that science needs to take special care to sell itself. Because, try paying someone with a cheque that won’t be valid for 20 years. Not going to be easy.
Perhaps one way of selling it, is to show people random shit which has limited scientific value, but which they find amusing? I’m looking at you ferro magnetic fluids. Other suggestions welcome in the comments.
* If like me, you live in the 21st century, replace ‘milkman’ with ‘netflix’ and ‘milk’ with ‘netflix subscription’