Should money for scientific research be diverted to a humanitarian cause?

I was discussing science and religion with a family member last night, and our conversation drifted to the Large Hadron Collider. This family member, whom I love dearly, mentioned that they thought the LHC costs entirely too much and that the money would be so much better used for humanitarian purposes. I replied that defense spending could be cut; the military-industrial complex should be the first thing to lose funds, not a scientific endeavor. My family member pressed that because this was unlikely to happen, the money to fund CERN should still be used to help Haiti instead.

I still stood firm in my conviction that scientific spending is in no way to blame for a lack of humanitarian relief funds, and that cutting research funds would be the most backward step to take. But is there something here? If defense spending was eradicated and there was still a need for disaster relief funds, should money be diverted from scientific research to a humanitarian cause? Should human welfare trump our quest for knowledge? Or ultimately, is human welfare the goal of our quest for knowledge?

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But Doone, wouldn't you also agree that the advancement of these scientific breakthroughs , including medical , are a factor in INCREASING overpopulation?


So it seems to me that the more science advances itself - the longer humans will live - and babies will survive birth at higher %'s due to medical advancements.


Isn't this just a sort of arms race of a kind?  Science increases higher population - Higher population demands more science?

The Pope has a big ass would think he could scale down to a really nice condo and use some of that extra money to help Haiti, and we wouldn't have to sacrifice our future's scientific capabilities in the process. But that's just me.
Love it. I think a "really nice condo" sounds just perfect for the pope.
One question that needs to be asked is do we want to improve the overall condition of the planet (and specifically, humanity), or do we just want to maintain the status quo? Funding ongoing research is the only way that we're going to continue to garner a deeper and fuller understanding of our universe, and how to better work with and manipulate our universe to improve things.

Moreover, cutting research funding would not even maintain the status quo. Cut research, and there will be reason to cut education (after all, it's not like anyone is doing anything with those fancy degrees anymore). Eventually, we'd be a civilization that cannot even understand how our own machines work, using what we have by rote and ritual, helpless if it should break.
We in the US could free up a whole lot of funding for humanitarian relief by simply pulling out of Afghanistan, where we're currently flushing billions of dollars down the toilet to hunt down a handful of al Qaeda members and prop up a corrupt government that's really no better than the Taliban was. In any event, money shouldn't be diverted from useful science projects like the LHC when so much is wasted propping up the military-industrial complex.
By doing that Interested parties in the US would loose control of opium production. I cant see them pulling out soon.
"Or ultimately, is human welfare the goal of our quest for knowledge? "

I think you've got it right there. Without our "quest for knowledge" we would still be in the dark ages executing people who insisted the earth revolved around the sun. We would also likely be starving without the advances in agriculture, lots more people would have died in Katrina without advances in engineering, we wouldn't have the technology to dig people out of the rubble in Haiti or transport food and water to them in a timely manner and in containers that will prevent the food from spoiling and the water from being contaminated. Without technological innovation we will drain our natural resources dry and/or destroy our planet inside of a few decades. That doesn't help anyone. Those are just a few examples.

We have to strike a balance between science, humanitarian projects, defense, education, child welfare, etc., etc., etc. to both work toward a more highly developed tomorrow and provide for today. It's like bitching at non-profit organizations for their administrative costs when, without the administration, there would be no organization, there would be no fundraising, there would be no guidance for spending. And while sometimes people can get caught up in spending tons of money on limited, narrow projects or causes in general we're working out a decent balance. Though, if we can raise $22m for Haiti from football fans through text messages I have to wonder if we can't also pay our teachers what they're worth. Maybe we have some work to do on the balance, but there has to be a balance.
Excellent responses, I am heartened to see that I am not alone in thinking that our grossly extravagant military expenditures trump the comparatively paltry amount of money used for scientific research. (Although I suspected as much, sometimes I feel like a pro-science/anti-military pariah in central Texas.)

Also, great points that in many instances, scientific research is a humanitarian effort. Countless lives are saved by better medicine, engineering, and technology.

Last night, I was watching Cosmos on Hulu, and Sagan addressed this very question in an update to episode four: (Hulu doesn't want to embed for me, so here is a link that will hopefully show the clip that I am referencing.)

Sagan cites the international military budget at $1 trillion (in ~1990); I wonder what it is today in the wake of the War on Terror.
Iam sure we could make a right good argument for the LHC and other projects as humanitarian
Superbowl Ad revenue - $206M
NBA Net receipts $828,985 per game
Conan O'Brien Gets $45 Million to Leave The Tonight Show

Higgs Boson? Priceless...
That is just FUN! If only it could actually be everywhere.....


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