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Pioneering Research: A Risk Worth Taking



Pioneering Research: A Risk Worth Taking

Donald W. Braben

ISBN: 978-0-471-48852-1 May 2004 216 Pages


Ask questions not on the agenda
Explore ideas wherever they lead
Pursue goals because they're important

Create options not yet perceived

According to premier researcher Don Braben, these are the vital intellectual processes that underlie all human achievement, the kinds of risk-taking activities that have made our civilization what it is today. Yet, warns Braben, the same pioneer spirit that fueled our meteoric industrial and scientific growth is now being undermined by a growing climate of corporate caution and conformity.

In this groundbreaking manifesto on the importance of scientific freedom, Braben asserts that the greatest long-term risks facing humanity will not come from weapons of mass destruction, prolonged global war, devastating disease or famine, or even from extinction by a huge wayward meteor. Rather they will come from the debilitating attrition caused by the rising tides of bureaucracy and control that are steadily strangling human ingenuity and undermining our future.

Addressing this serious and growing problem, Pioneering Research: A Risk Worth Taking explains the urgent need to maintain both the originality and freedom of expression that is so vital to our economic growth and scientific development. Citing global trends and attitudes that currently threaten these conditions, Braben details some bold new initiatives that may offer a possible solution.

A compelling read for today's scientists, policy makers, and concerned laypeople, Braben's book will change our understanding of the politics of scientific achievement and expose the threat to our future from bureaucracy, paper trails, political correctness, lowest common denominator solutions, and accountability-the invisible chains that bind the imagination and damage our society irreparably.



Chapter 1: Dissent and Research: The Supreme Stimulants.

Chapter 2: The Power of Dissent: From Primates to Superpower.

Chapter 3: The Rise from Oblivion.

Chapter 4: Taming Research: The Problems of Success.

Chapter 5: The Bureaucratic Jungle.

Chapter 6: Prospects for Economic Growth.

Chapter 7: Re-Creating the Golden Age.

Chapter 8: Venture Research.

Appendix 1: Some Results from the Venture Research Initiative Sponspored by British Petroleum.

Appendix 2: The Venture Research Group.



“…I undeservedly recommend this book to anyone who has puzzled over the growing malaise of contemporary scientific research…Braben is literate, pithy and personable...” (Nature, Vol.433, 27th January 2005)

“Braben lays out his thesis effectively in the introduction, drawing the reader to commit to the book…a stimulating read” (, 2004)

“…(I) recommend this book to anyone involved in or worried about science.” (Chemistry World, October 2004)