Just a few comments on the whole bunch of French relationship with science stuff just published in Nature this week. I still wonder why France would deserve so much attention, beside its obviously painfully long divorce between science and politics, even if candidates now play a charming prince game [1, 2, 3].
Lurking throughout the texts, a few things appear as pretty funny, such as one candidate running for presidency claiming a 5% increase of science budget over the 10 next years, while a second opponent is claiming a 10% increase over the 5 next years . Good laugh. Then there is a link which begins into French propensity to “navel gazing” . Probably some truth in here, and you can add the fact that the only science guy to write something positive  on the subject is not French, you have somewhat defined an inherent point about Frenchiness (though no pollination is involved): they are indeed used to spot what’s wrong and do it more frequently than sticking on positive aspects. (OK, I never did write the post about cultural differences between American and French people, even if I was aiming to… Maybe one day if anyone is interested).
I’m not sure any of these texts are dealing correctly with this question. I feel, nevertheless, that there is something obviously true with Mr Rutherford’s opinion for that matter : for advantages or inconvenients, there are many of both and a little bit of each. But, beyond the obsession with money from all the other guys, at least France offers positions where, being secured enough in the long term, we can express scientific creativity over seeking safe data through un-risky experiments. Well, I don’t know if it’s completely true, that’s just the way I feel about it. That’s also why I am still looking for a position there.
- French election special. April 2007. Nature 446: 847-850.
- Is French science in decline… ? April 2007. Nature 446: 854.
- Let science speak for itself. April 2007. Nature 446: 850-853.
N.B. There’s still one point to be made. Sorry if I don’t have any further reference about the graph below, since the one used in  is somewhat incomplete. I would need further investigation about it, though I don’t have much time right now. But here it is: conservatives have less consideration about science than their “socialist” counterparts have, as illustrated below. One of the few positive things to admit about the French socialists, beyond the obvious betrayal of their ancestral wing, which they left to turn right and wrong.