Several on-line commenters agreed with Gilbert’s critique. “[Swanson] writes a long letter without any real justification for why the money is needed. How about some results?” Anonymous commented.
But Larry Goldstein, a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of California, San Diego, disagrees. “I thought Swanson’s letter was fine,” he says. “Thoughtful, constructive, and optimistic. If we want to see long-term support of scientific initiatives, I think this is the kind of tone that will make the most difference with those who pay the bills, that is, taxpayers.”
Today, Swanson himself told Nature: “My point in the letter was that this project — still very much in its early formative stages — represents a remarkable and perhaps fleeting opportunity… . It is my continuing hope that we all reserve judgment on the merits of the broader project until we first learn more about what it will prioritize and fund, and that is going to take some time. If we condemn such a promising investment in neuroscience prematurely, before its focus is known and without engaging scientifically, I firmly believe we will have missed a tremendous chance to advance the field.”