The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Science should be privatized

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/29/2012 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,799 times Debate No: 25912
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)




I will argue that scientific progress is better without government intervention. My opponent will argue that scientific progress is made better by government intervention.
First round is for acceptance.


My thanks to my opponent for presenting this challenge, and I look forward to an interesting debate with him.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting this debate.

1. Competition
Competition is a good thing. It leads to progress and innovation. With government control of science, huge advantages are given to the government science programs. The government has already picked who is going to win. And with a government monopoly, it is almost impossible to make any real progress.

2. Ansari X-Prize/Scaled Composites
The Ansari X-Prize was a 10 million dollar competition launched in 1996, to launch a manned spacecraft into space twice in two weeks. It was based off of the Orteig Prize It was completely private. In 2004, Scaled Composites won the competition with their SpaceShipOne and White Knight spacecraft. The Ansari X-Prize was shown to be a huge success, proving that private science and competition are very good for progress (1).

3. Political motivations vs. private motivations
You are probably thinking of all the good things that have come out of government science. You are likely thinking of the Apollo program, among other things. However, most of our greatest developments in the world of space travel were during the Cold War: a time where the governments of the U.S. and the Soviet Union looked for superiority over the other in almost every way. One of these ways was space travel, and this era is known as the Space Race. Things like Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin, the Gemini program, the Apollo program, etc... were all primarily done to outdo other countries. It was more about politics than the search for truth (2).

4. NASA and Islam
In 2010, NASA said that it wanted to reach out to the Muslim world, to "help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering" (3). In no way does this benefit science or the American people. NASA is not about diplomacy or therapy. It is about science, and lately it has been failing. No human has even been to the Moon since 1972, and no human has ever been to Mars. This is not progress.

One thing to add, I notice my arguments mostly view science from the perspective of space exploration, but if my opponent wants to discuss other branches of science, I encourage him to do so.



O1. My opponent brings up the issue of competition. However, competition can exist in government-funded science as well. Namely, competition for grants. If not every single science project can be approved, scientists are forced to explain why their project should receive a grant and others should not.

O2. I will concede the efficiency of the X-Prize.

O3. I will also concede that political motivations (and security concerns, albeit rather misguided ones) were responsible for the space race. However, I fail to see how this could be applied to corporations. We got good things out of the space race, and from military research in general (for instance, radar)[1]; can similar this be said for companies trying to get rid or outdo each other?

O4. I will also concede this point.

I would like to bring up biomedics.

C1. Industry-sponsored studies tend to be friendly to industries. Examples:
* Studies that were funded by the group P&G were more likely to support the safety of an additive known as 'olestra' than other studies.[2]
* Support for calcium channel antagonists were tied to funding from industry, with 96% of authors of favorable studies having financial relations and only 37% of authors of unfavorable studies having such relations..[3]
* For six oncology drugs, 38% of studies funded by non-profits were unfavorable in terms of cost-effectiveness while only 5% of industry studies were unfavorable in that area.[3]

Given that companies have a vested interest in the trials of new drugs, this is rather unsurprising. Nor are these uncommon or isolated cases. A 2007 study examined 37 such meta-studies, and concluded that, and I quote:

Strong and consistent evidence shows that industry-sponsored research tends to draw pro-industry conclusions. By combining data from articles examining 1140 studies, we found that industry-sponsored studies were significantly more likely to reach conclusions that were favorable to the sponsor than were nonindustry studies (Bekelman, Li, and Gross 2003, 463).[3]

I have seen little evidence to suggest that non-profit, private industry watchdog groups can, by themselves, counter this, without relying on donations from the government, or from corporations (which would represent a conflict of interest). To the best of my knowledge, they simply don't have the fund available. The government does.

Debate Round No. 2


1. Competition
The problem with government grants is simple. First, one must ask where the money comes from. The answer is taxation. Let's say two scientist compete for a government grant. Both are citizens, and thus pay taxes. Scientist 1 is able to beat Scientist 2 for the grant, and receives a donation from the government. Since the donation is coming from the government, it is coming from taxation, and thus part of the grant to Scientist 1 is coming from Scientist 2's tax money. This is not fair competition. This is stealing.

2. Ansari X-Prize/Scaled Composites

3. Political motivations vs. private motivations
Another concession? But to address my opponent's question, the difference between the government and corporations is that corporations do not receive public funding. If a corporation fails to make any scientific progress, the people do not have to answer for it, as they must with the government. Also, in general, corporations compete for profit, but in the Space Race the two governments were trying to prove that their country was more cool and awesome than the other.

4. NASA and Islam
Wow. I was not expecting so much coolness...

O1. Industry-sponsored studies tend to be friendly to industries
While it is unsurprising that industry-sponsored research tends to support industry, it would follow that government-sponsored research would draw pro-government conclusions.
In some cases, this can be considered fraud, which is and should be illegal. However, this debate is not about fraud, and the same fraud would exist with the government
Next, my opponent says that the government has the money to fund science. I would like to point out we are currently in a recession, and the government is in debt. $16 trillion dollars in debt (1). My opponent suggests that the government has the fund to put itself in even more debt. The government be trying to fix the debt problem, not add to it, as they do when they fund science.



1. The same argument could be made if corporations funded science--Scientist 1 got profits from Scientist's 2 purchase of a product, which he may well have had no choice but to purchase (for instance, if Scientist 2 had an illness that, due to intellectual property laws, only one corporation had access to). Moreover, under current laws, there is a high possibility Scientist 2 might not even know where his money went.

3. Pro has not answered my question: How will corporations end up putting money into things that don't gain them money, and in fact cost vast amounts of it, but make them look cool and awesome?

O1: Yes, it would. Which is why one would not trust research on the effectiveness of government programs solely to the government. I fail to see, however, what application any pro-government bias would have on safety trials of experimental drugs.

I argue that the government has a moral responsibility to make sure that new drugs on the market are safe, so that they may promote the general welfare. If the government relies solely on industry to do the research, then that runs an unacceptable risk of making it seem like a drug is safe, or more effective than a placebo, when in fact it is not.

As far as monetary problems, science and medical research represents 2% of the budget[1]; this is hardly a bloated section in need of drastic cutting. Even if one were to cut funding in that area, it seems like making sure people aren't taking unsafe drugs would be something to keep.

Debate Round No. 3


1. Competition
This is far from being the same argument. Scientist 2 is not legally obligated to buy from this hypothetical corporation.
People not knowing where their tax money goes is not a good thing. If the government is to represent us, we must know where our money is going.
My opponent has not shown how stealing from people to fund their competitors is morally justifiable.

3. Political motivations vs. private motivations
Basically, advertising. If Organization 1 gives Organization 2 a grant, Organization 2 repays the debt by putting Organization 1's name into public eye.

O1. Industry-sponsored studies tend to be friendly to industries
A pro-government bias would be extremely relevant if the government funded the creation of the drug in the first place. Facts unfavorable to the government would likely be excluded, as was the case with the corporations my opponent mentioned earlier.
My opponent states that he would not trust research on the effectiveness of government programs solely to the government, but then says that the government cannot rely solely on industry to do the research. What he has failed to do, however, is provide what would be a balance between the two, how responsibilities would be divided, etc... Without this, these statements are contradictory.
My opponent says that 2% of the budget is "hardly a bloated section in need of drastic cutting." So then what is? Also, 2% of $16 trillion is $320 billion. That is still a lot of money. And what about the compounding effect of the supposedly small, irrelevant percentages of the budget? If the number of irrelevance is as low as 7%, and all programs with a percentage of 7% or lower on the chart my opponent has supplied are added together, the result is 26% of the budget, or $4.16 trillion. That is certainly quite a lot for sections that at first seem irrelevant.

Thank you to Citrakayah for a fun, smart debate. This was a very good debate on the issues my opponent chose to debate. But 3 of my original 4 arguments were conceded to begin with. Those arguments strongly prove my point, and were accepted as such by my opponent. Vote Pro.


1. Indeed, they are not legally obligated. But they are nevertheless forced to buy from this hypothetical corporation or experience very nasty consequences--possibly death. The end results are the same.

Correct, people not knowing where their tax money goes is not a good thing. The fact that, for the most part, we do know where tax money goes is actually a reason to support the government funding science; at least we know exactly where money is going.

That assumes taxes are theft. They are not. Taxes are a way to fund things that benefit society at large. Scientific research benefits society at large; and the same process that rejected Scientist 2 for funding also has almost certainly helped Scientist 2 often.

3. That, however, does not make Organization 2 look cool and awesome.

O1. This would be a valid objection if I was proposing that the government fund all scientific research into medicine. I am not proposing that; I am merely stating that we cannot rely solely on industry to evaluate the safety of their own products, by extension, we cannot rely solely on scientific reports that have a conflict of interest. If the government funds a drug, then federal scientists would have a conflict of interest, if a corporation does, then corporate scientists have a conflict of interest.

As far as the process involved, I would make it an adversarial one, a detailed in section six of my second source for round two.

Military spending, mostly. Besides, ensuring drug safety is arguably something that should be preserved, simply because doing away with is so incredibly risk.

My thanks to JorgeLucas for the debate; he raised some very good points. However, his arguments in favor of privatization failed to prove that the government should get out of science, it merely proved that private entities should also fund science. Pro has also failed to show how we would deal with the conflict of interest inherent in corporations funding studies that evaluate the effectiveness/safety of their own drugs. Vote con.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by daniel.droege5 4 years ago
We would have never made it to the moon with out the number 0.
Posted by One_Winged_Rook 4 years ago
CON was certainly politer. Outside of that... PRO didn't effectively respond to CON's arguments, whereas CON conceded PRO's arguments (as he should have) and argued that PROs arguments weren't the point that directs to whether science should be privatized. CONs arguments about the societal benefits of taxation were never refuted (I'm not sure they were understood by PRO) and if for nothing else, that gets CON the win
Posted by Joyishere 4 years ago
Both were great yet I do not think the Pro gave a comprehensive insight to support his argument. His argument came out as Who was better, the government or private corporations rather than who should take over. Plus, I think that science should be for all and the government is for all, don't you think? People will benefit more from the scientific "production" especially in the medicine field. How about bureaucratic procedures private companies should go through? the government would not need to
Posted by 16kadams 4 years ago
I usually support provitization, but the goverment trumps here
Posted by Citrakayah 4 years ago
I'll take this. Your BOP?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by One_Winged_Rook 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by Smithereens 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: even in my opinion