There are a million reasons I back this project. The cost vs payout ratio (100k per year) to observe this star (KIC 8462852 / Tabby’s Star) makes it a worth while project. It comes down to three possible outcomes. The first and most likely being a comet storm of never seen before proportions. We’re talking a comet storm that can and has blocked a Star even larger than our sun by 22%. It could be a combination of events or thirdly it could be Aliens building a Dyson Sphere. A Dyson Sphere can take many forms, bubbles or rings, swarms or even shells, but the most common “feasible” variation is a collection of Earth to Moon sized satellites that collect or redirect light from their star for various purposes but primary for power generation, Each of these structures are near the star, blocking large amounts of light from it. If it is Aliens building a Dyson Sphere of that magnitude it would be safe to assume that we are roughly in the same position relative to them as a snail is to us. If that doesn’t change our viewpoint of each other and our position in this universe nothing will.
The point being that Tabetha Boyajian outlined exactly what is wrong with current science funding on the kickstarter project page. Some really worthy science may never see the day of light without a Kickstarter type funding project. This science most likely will be funded, due to the low risk / high payout nature of it. However I bet for every worthy cause we hear about, we miss hundreds because funding or resources are never allocated to worthy research. This case was special as it has some strong international media attention and the story makes it pretty amazing.
However not all science has such luck. Crowdfunding is a difficult thing, especially when the majority of people on those crowdfunding sites really don’t understand the very technical science.
This might (and appears to be) a valid way to get projects funded. Now since we mostly admit that crowdfunding can work for science, the question becomes how can it make the most sense. Not every project really should get funding and resources at the expense of more worthy projects. However opening up crowdfunding to the mix allows for more chances at less guaranteed returns. So those longshots do get funded (As in Tabby’s Star) something where if that longshot does pay off you’re talking a planet wide change in our stance and position in the universe. If there is even a 1 in a trillion chance I’ll buy it.
The problem is how to you validate science like this. How do you make sure that the crowdfunded idea doesn’t get killed before it starts (IE: Money lost on one project makes people less likely to invest in another). I think we might work on a website with many of the same attributes as Kickster but has a voting option, like reddit that allows other peers to vote (thumbs up or down) on a project. That’s done keeping the identity of the peers a secret (or public should that be the consensus) but the combined results are public for the users.
Basically a peer reviewed system for KickStarter. So if I stumble upon a science kickstarter with a 1 star rating saying that my investment into this project will make little value, whereas another one has a 4 star rating making the science and investment more sound.
The most hyper simplistic version of it would be if you could restrict a subreddit to .edu emails that only link to Science Kickstarters might even work as the rating system for kickstarter projects. We can’t use money invested figures because for example above I pointed out I really like the low cost high risk nature of this.
The 1 in a million shot of a detection of a possible extraterrestrial civilization with real science. Total cost $100,000? Sure count me in. The science is sound. This should have a pretty high rating on our voting system.
Another project to see if a daisy would grow exposed in space. Total Cost 1 million and because of a social media campaign it reaches its goals. I would hope that our rating system would clearly let the investors know that this isn’t real science and they most likely wasted a million dollars.
All the projects should include their rating on their description. Live pulled from the organization’s servers So the layman at least has guidance from the ones that have the education surrounding it yet at the same time have zero direct influence over if a project gets funded or not.