GP Science Essay: ‘We should only fund scientific research that improves our quality of life.’

This is a GP Science and Technology essay question that our First Class GP team has prepared. As knowledge of Science and Technology is a must-have for many, we will prepare you for any questions on this topic.

Scientific research is the basis for technological innovation. It has been and will continue providing solutions to the problems we face. Together with the machines and algorithms we have created, scientific research helps us to answer the biggest questions of life.

As mentioned, many students place a heavy emphasis on Science and Technology in H1 GP. It is definitely a good move, as we often see questions on it in A-Levels.

In 2019, we saw two questions on this topic. Similarly, in 2018, there were two questions which were rather obscure in nature.

Before we move on to the Cheat Sheet for this question, let us dissect this question first.

‘We should only fund scientific research that improves our quality of life.’ Discuss.

We can classify this question as an “absolute” question. Why?

Because of the word “only“.

Typically, the question will present a very extreme stand. The tactic here is to disagree with the stand as there are always two sides to a coin. It also helps to expand the scope of your arguments, which is very important for a well-argued essay.

Also, a potential pitfall for many students is the over-emphasis on technology rather than scientific research. As mentioned earlier, scientific research is the basis for technology.

Therefore, your answer should revolve around research instead.

When supporting the argument that we should only fund scientific research that improves quality of life, we need to explain a few things.

What will be forgone when prioritising this kind of research? Is it worth it to forgo such research?

If we argue that we should not only fund scientific research for this sole purpose, we also have to explain the benefits of funding research for comparatively impractical purposes e.g. space exploration.

Now, let’s head to our First Class GP Cheat Sheet for this GP Science essay!

woman in laboratory attire operating machine

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on whether we should only fund scientific research that improves our quality of life

Firstly, let’s explain why we should even fund scientific research.

Point: Scientific research is expensive. 

  • In a 2014 Forbes report , pharmaceutical companies like Bayer AG and GSK spend an average of US$5 billion per drug that is finally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America for marketing. This accounts for the fact that after successfully passing the animal trials, only a meagre 4% of drugs actually make it to the pharmacy shelves successfully.
  • Under the Budget 2017, a S$19 billion Research Innovation Enterprise 2020 Plan (RIE2020) was unveiled. It aims to support and translate research into solutions that address national challenges, build up innovation and technology adoption in companies, and drive economic growth through value creation.

Now, we can move on to arguing why we should only fund scientific research that improves our quality of life.

Point 1: On the surface, funding only life-improving research seems justified.

  • Upon India’s successful Mars mission, commentators sarcastically remarked that India would be better off spending money to address the poverty and sanitation problems within its borders than “for a ten-kilogram hunk of metal making its lazy way to a far-off planet.”

Point 2: Some research appears to have very limited or no application considering the physical reality that we live in.

  • Research into theoretical Higgs-Boson particles are too far from the realm that we live in. In 2016, scientific facilities on Earth detected the sound of two black holes colliding, proving Einstein’s gravitational wave theory. Hardly any of these findings would ever affect our daily lives

We can evaluate one of the points here.

In response to Point 2: There are no fields of research with no practical application. At the most fundamental level, it extends human knowledge, a basic human desire.

  • Discovering the Higgs Boson particle may have seemed like a colossal waste of money. But, the mathematical breakthrough required for the discovery may be applied in future technology that can improve our lives.

Next, let’s talk about why we should not only fund scientific research that improves our quality of life.

Point 1: It is hard to determine what is or is not beneficial to humanity’s quality of life.

  • While the exploration of space itself has no apparent benefits to our lives, the process that NASA undertook to make space exploration possible in the first place has developed several beneficial technologies we get to enjoy now. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology was designed as a tool to scrutinise spacecraft for structural defects. It is now widely used in hospitals to detect health problems such as tumours.

Point 2: Funding research only for practical purposes can warp the motivation of scientific discovery. This encourages the scientific community to only pursue what is worthwhile, in demand and probably profitable.

  • Gilead, a pharmaceutical company that developed the first Hepatitis C cure, Sovaldi, charged patients a whopping $84,000 for a single course of Hepatitis C medication.

Point 3: Scientific research is not purely dedicated to material improvement of our lives and to force it to do so is to stifle an important part of human culture.

  • When the first caveman started fire, they probably did not consider how it would be able to light their homes, cook their food and scare away predators. In all likelihood, they got bored and decided to smash pieces of flint and iron together, thereby inventing the tool with which man would conquer the world.

If you have learned a lot from this GP Science Cheat Sheet, take a look at our other GP Essay Cheat Sheets. We will be uploading regularly, so stay tuned for more!

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