Pure Research, I Remember

It's weird that the notion of, "Pure Research," seems to have literally disappeared from the internet. Any search query on YouTube yields no results on the subject; rather, all that seems to be available on YouTube is a small selection of videos that attempt to explain the difference between, 'applied research,' and, 'basic research.' Search engines didn't offer anything better either.

So, as some one who remembers the concept of Pure Research, I'll explain it in my own words.

Pure Research is the idea and practice of, research for research's sake. For example, a person may learn an instrument, such as the guitar. One reason they may do this, is so they can impress people, or, perhaps get some attention, or perhaps to make some money, or perhaps because they enjoy playing. Pure Research is like the last reason.

The person who plays guitar because they want to play guitar and enjoys doing so, is like the Pure Researcher. They don't do it for money, fame, attention, to impress people, etc.. They would be happy playing the guitar if no one heard them at all, or if millions heard them (unless millions of people hearing them, meant that they would be distracted by fame and money which would take away from their enjoyment of playing the guitar).

If however, you were to hire a researcher, and promise them funding up to a certain limit, to do whatever the hell they wanted, in the hopes of discovering something; that would be Pure Research. Perhaps nothing will be discovered at all, and thousands of dollars will have been spent in vain; but, that's what Pure Research is.

I suspect, or theorize, that, the reason Pure Research, doesn't even have a good definition available on the internet anymore, or at least, seems a bit of a phantom term, is because the societies we live in, do not want us to engage in Pure Research. Why? Well, let's say a drug company hires a team to conduct two years worth of pure research, and they discover five cures, for the five leading causes of death in the world. That drug company could go out of business, because the cures, once administered, no longer need to be administered; and with the disease gone, there is no more money to be made.

Another example would be: let's say a light bulb manufacturer hires a team of researchers to do some exploratory Pure Research; and they subsequently discover a new light bulb that doesn't burn out, or lasts for 100+ years. The light bulb manufacturer would want to, bury, this discovery, because it would put them out of business. A: they produce the 100+ years light bulb, and once everyone has enough light bulbs that will last 100 years, they won't buy light bulbs anymore, and the company will go out of business. B: if their competitors produce the 100+ years light bulb, everyone will buy from their competitors, and they will all still go out of business.

I personally, however, don't think the above is any reason to bury discoveries, and try to prevent not only the types of activities that could lead to them, like Pure Research, but the very idea of Pure Research itself.

I suspect this is why the term, 'Pure Research,' has been displaced by the concepts of, 'Basic Research,' and, 'Applied Research.' From what it sounds like, 'Basic Research,' is the new replacement term, for, 'Pure Research.' It's a nice neutered term that places heavy emphasis on it's counter-part: 'Applied Research.' I suppose it makes, 'Applied Research,' sound somehow, more important, more, 'grown-up,' more mature, more useful, and less, 'basic'. 'Basic' Research, just sounds so, basic, doesn't it? What's the point of research if you aren't going to get something out of it ($$$), anyway, right? I call false dichotomy.

The pursuit of Science is the pursuit of Truth. Science is exploration and discovery, period, end of sentence. There's nothing practical about it; it's failure after failure after failure, until you find the gemstone of Discovery, the gold vein of Truth. The world of practical pursuits may benefit from scientific discovery, sure; but, that's practicality applied to Science (*heh*). Perhaps some people find error in the fact that Science is often impractical. They may as well complain that water is wet!

If that all sounds a bit too conspiratorial for your taste, well, perhaps it is; it might be. In my more formative years, however, I had never heard about, 'Basic vs. Applied,' research. I had heard about Pure Research in the odd corners of the early Internet, and in films like, "Contact (1999)." And even back then, when the concept was new to me, it had this rebellious kick to it. The status quo was only interested in dollar signs. Meanwhile there was the odd scientist, out to make a discovery, and do actual Science, regardless of whether the pursuit would or wouldn't yield something profitable and exploitable to the business types.

So, there you have it. That's Pure Research, as explained by me. And, as far as I can tell, in my own experience, it seems some people have gone to a lot of trouble to try and erase the concept itself; or, at least to put some effort into dumbing down the idea, and trying to help people forget about it. Meanwhile, research papers are often still behind pay-walls. Funding is probably still difficult to secure, unless you're interests align with who's who. That's another topic in of itself. Suffice it to say that it probably isn't difficult to secure funding from oil companies into research against the theory of Climate change due to CO2 emissions. Which is again another topic, entirely.

Pure Research. I remember. I haven't forgotten.