Grant Lotteries to Nurture Innovation
Wouldn't it make much more sense if scientific/development/other kinds of grants would be partially allocated via an open-to-everybody lottery?
I am talking about setting aside, say, 10% of the yearly budget and get it assigned on the basis of a lottery, instead than around policy guidelines
Such a lottery would be open to any applicant for whatever project, no matter how "logical" or "mainstream". I would only make restrictions against past winners that obviously mishandled the money
Why that? On the one hand, current "rational", "impersonal" committee-based decision-making processes can only encourage conformism.
And naturally so: if every decision must be carefully weighed and justified, committees will prefer to finance stuff that is well-accepted, and almost sure to show something in return for the expenditure
In other words, anything that is solidly within the limits of our collective knowledge.
Current grant application selections are also too biased in favour of those good at writing them, rather than good at conducting the research
One should finally not forget that a considerable percentage of the work financed, turns up to be a waste of time and money, either as it is a mere repeat of previous research/activity or simply a failure
Hopefully nobody in their right mind really believes that a Government's every expenditure is completely justified?
By setting up a Grant Lottery, we can recognize that an uncertain potential for discovery is better than a certain waste.
Otherwise, we will keep missing the possibility to courageously innovate beyond the boundaries of the tried-and-tested.