Giving Thanks

Thanks to all the far-seeing individuals, like Mr. James S. McDonnell, who established private foundations and dedicated their personal wealth to advance the common good. I have mentioned numerous times that one truly wonderful aspect of the strong American tradition of philanthropy is that it provides for distributed decision making rather than having all support derive from a central government or a state- established religion. In the sciences this is particularly important as philanthropic dollars can provide support for those with ideas departing from the scientific orthodoxy and for individuals who may want to revisit common wisdom assumptions (particularly those based on limited data).
The individuals and families establishing private foundations did not have to dedicate large portions of their wealth to charitiable purposes. That they did so is an act we should all be grateful for – because we all have benefited, even if we may not be aware of how. Again, when it comes to the philanthropic support of science – two great traditions were essentially born and came of age together — american science and american philanthropy. I sincerely hope the great tradition continues to flourish!