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Innumeracy and the Fires of the Inquisition V. I. Arnol'd

Summary: Innumeracy and the Fires of the Inquisition
V. I. Arnol'd
28 January 1998
We live in an insane world, in which most governments behave like the
pigs under an oak tree in the fable by Krylov, both eating the acorns and
digging up its roots, thus destroying the source of their very sustenance.
With the (temporary?) cessation of military confrontation between east
and West, the funding of science in Russia has been virtually discontinued.
Experts say that during the last 10 years it has decreased seventeen-fold
and stands now at one-fourth of the level required for its mere survival. The
spending on education decreased from 7% of the GDP in 1970 to 0.6% in
1997 (with further reductions planned for 1998).
These madmen, who are literally chopping o the branch they are sitting
on, nance, if at all, only \applied" sciences, whose bene ts can be imme-
diately seen. As the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS)
Y. S. Osipov put it, they think it will be easier to gather apples by cutting
down the apple tree.
Louis Pasteur (who can hardly be accused of conducting studies of no
use to humanity) taught that there is no \applied science", but only appli-
cations of science. Experiments with amber and cat fur must have seemed


Source: Arnold, Vladimir Igorevich - Steklov Mathematical Institute


Collections: Mathematics