Scientific Research and Patriotism

Posted on Sep 14, 2020
Raleigh, NC

Today I read an article[1] from Xinhua news’ special report collection on Xi Jinping. Yesterday, September 13th, Xi Jinping attended a scientific forum. In the forum he encouraged the scientists and researchers to cultivate their curiousity and spirit and not to pursue fame in order to obtain scientific breakthroughs. “We want to encourage science and technology workers to concentrate on their own areas of research, to tirelessly dig deeper, without vanity or plans for fame,” he said[2].

In counterpoint, the attendee researchers emphasized their patriotism and devotion to their country. “You can’t do good research if you’re not patriotic,” said material scientist and assistant director of Hefei’s branch of the Chinese Academy of Science, Song Yuntao[3]. He cited the example of how China’s entry into the group of nations conducting nuclear fusion for energy was met by other countrys with skepticism, but the effort of a few generations of patriotic and creative researchers made substantial accomplishments.

Personally, my opinion is that while patriotism can motivate people to work harder than they might otherwise, it’s really curiousity and the urge to uncover the truth that provides fuel for the most important scientific discoveries. At least that’s my impression of what motivates those scientists generally revered–Einstein, Galileo, Newton, for example. None of them are known for being particularly patriotic.

[1] Entitled “胸怀祖国服务人民 淡泊名利敢于创造——习近平总书记在科学家座谈会上的重要讲话为科技工作者提供强大精神动力” and published on 新华网,2020-09-13.

[2] ”要鼓励科技工作者专注于自己的科研事业,勤奋钻研,不慕虚荣,不计名利。“

[3] “不爱国是做不好科研的。”