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Welkin Johnson

I am a middle-grounder. Under conditions where there are plenty of resources to go around, both have value (what would Kepler have done without Tycho Brahe?). However, if one were forced to choose, I would argue that lab-oriented research can stand alone, while megaprojects simply don't make sense without a constituency of hypothesis-driven end-users (would history remember Brahe, if not for Kepler?).

I'll take this opportunity to raise another, admittedly nitpicky, issue (perfect for blogging). The term "hypothesis driven" is also used in another sense - as the moral superior to "fishing expeditions", the latter referring to things like mutant hunts, library screens, selection/enrichment schemes, shots-in-the-dark guesses, and so on. I happen to like fishing, the real kind and the experimental kind. It requires faith, a sense of adventure, a certain level of comfort with risk. Many great hypotheses were born from fishing expeditions (in some cases quite literally - after all, what would Darwin have become without the HMS Beagle?) This is the organic, fuzzy logic, artistic, novelty seeking, right-brained complement to hypothesis testing, and nothing to be ashamed of. Go fishing!
Come to think of it, did the Voyage of the Beagle constitute a megaproject?

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