The Institute for Venture Science, Q&A with Gerald Pollack

The Institute for Venture Science, Dr. Gerald Pollack, Gerald Pollack

The Institute for Venture Science, Dr. Gerald Pollack and many others have arrived at the base of a great mountain. Their objective is to bring everybody to the mountaintop. To accomplish this task, they require selfless institution with an honest passion that ensures each next step taken is anchored to the scientific truth as currently understood and without regard for old and outdated theories.

This article and interview with Dr. Gerald Pollack is dedicated to the discussion of his groundbreaking re-discovery of structured water, conceptual revolutions and the Institute for Venture Science (IVS). First let’s take a look at critical issues that impact scientific funding today. Check out the website at 

Dr. Gerald Pollack is a professor of bioengineering from the University of Washington faculty and is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal WATER. He is best known for pioneering work on the new science of water presented in Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life and in his most recent book, The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor. Both are available for purchase. [1] For a complete list of his publications, please visit the Pollack Laboratory website. [2]

Of note, Dr. Pollack received the highest honor the University of Washington in Seattle can confer on its faculty for the discovery of structured water. [3]

Conceptual revolutions

Before we began the interview, Dr. Pollack noted, that over recent decades, scientific breakthroughs that support conceptual revolutions have been few and far between. He’s not talking about technological revolutions such as the Internet and the cell phone, which are supported by the private sector for profit. He’s talking about conceptual revolutions that significantly change our outlook on the world.

Take, for example, the problem of cancer. More than 40 years ago, President Nixon declared war on cancer. Yet, today’s therapies show only incremental improvement over that period of time. It seems, winning the war on cancer cannot be legislated simply by declaring that it is important. Nurturing revolutions demand the scientific freedom to challenge authority, the ability to revisit old paradigms and the encouragement to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

Why does our modern system work for incremental science but struggle with breakthrough scientific investigation? According to Dr Pollack, “This is because current grant agencies are not set up to deal with the most critical obstacle to realization: the reluctance of the scientific community to entertain ideas that challenge their long-held views.”

The science funding mechanisms favour publications

Since the time when federal granting agencies were created, more than half a century ago, the outpouring of scientific data has been staggering. The number of papers published over the past three decades exceeds the number of papers ever published in history. For example, in the United States the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation receive ~US $40 billion dollars and Defense budgets, receive US $60 billion dollars annually for various research projects. As such, you have almost US $100 billion dollars invested in scientific research. Nevertheless, there are far fewer conceptually revolutionary scientific discoveries as compared to a hundred years ago when Einstein and others were around. Why? Dr. Pollack further explains:

“Scientists of a hundred years ago were driven by passion. Their compelling desire to understand nature propelled them toward discovery. Today’s scientists differ. Science no longer comprises a passion for few, but a profession for many, much like law, medicine, etc. Some scientists retain passion to understand, but many are driven principally by the desire to succeed in their professions. That’s a different kind of goal. We now measure success less in terms of discovery but more in terms of the numbers of publications, the size of laboratories, the amount of grant money received, etc. Those “achievements” are the modern carrots dangling from the ends of sticks. Hungry scientists competitively seek those carrots of recognition. Those appetites differ from the hunger for truth.”

Well-funded scientists are given power to suppress opposing views

During the review of grant proposals, science administrators seek the most established scientific leaders – the leading proponents of the status quo. Any applicant challenging the views of those leaders rarely succeed and therefore, existing paradigms persist even if inadequate. Risk aversion has become the norm. Therefore breakthroughs can rarely and barely emerge. According to Dr. Pollack, “most scientists with revolutionary ideas keep it secret because of the risk of developing a reputation as being the kind of person to stay away from.”

Furthermore, it is no longer a matter of convincing a few, but of convincing huge masses whose collective specialized influence in maintaining the status quo have control over the funds available.

As a result, only a few meaningful scientific breakthrough ideas ever come to realization.

The bold new proposal: The Institute for Venture Science

Even the funding agencies themselves recognize the breakthrough problem and, that something needs to be done to truly pursue transformational science. However, pursuing such a bold investment strategy for scientific progress requires a vehicle designed specifically to meet the terrain.

This vehicle needs to differ from that of traditional science-funding organizations and push towards more relevant models that offer greater flexibility and the ability to revise old paradigms in the pursuit of scientific truth. As such, The Pollack Laboratory and others are proposing a ~$US10 billion dollar endowment to fully fund an independent scientific institution, unencumbered by past philosophies and procedures called the Institute for Venture Science (IVS).

After a ramp-up period, the Institute is expected to operate on a $1B per year budget, drawn from a permanent endowment. Dr. Pollack is confident that within the first 10 years, the Institute for Venture Science can make meaningful and revolutionary discoveries in all sciences.

With success of the Institute, that endowment could be increased.

Funding promising ideas that challenge conventional thinking

The Institute for Venture Science (IVS) is conceived to fund high-risk non-traditional scientific inquiries that are likely to yield important breakthroughs. To achieve the needed action, they’ll invest in promising ideas that challenge tired, worn-out paradigms.

The number of unconventional schools of thought around today is surprisingly large. According to Dr. Pollack “Those who take the trouble to look will find meaningful alternatives distributed throughout practically all domains of science, many of them rich with promise. All but a few are ignored or repressed by the prevailing orthodoxy. These unconventional schools of thought represent potentially ripe fruit, waiting to be plucked.”

The IVS will receive proposals worldwide from all realms of science. Scientists from outside the respective proposals’ area will judge their merit, thereby minimizing biases or self-interest. A pool of the most highly rated plans would then receive funding.

The IVS will fund the idea, not just the person 

The IVS will invest in groups of scientists who independently pursue the same unconventional approach to an entrenched way of thinking or an intractable problem. The Challengers and the status-quo position will then compete on equal footing and, the better of the two approaches will prevail.

Culturally, the institute will nurture the actions of challenge and review of old paradigms to enable a more open, coherent and broad scientific debate.

According to the IVS website “Evaluation of these challenge proposals will involve debates in which proponents of alternative schools of thought argue their cases against the respective orthodoxies. A panel of scientists will judge the outcome. Panel members would be close enough to the field to be able to evaluate the material, yet removed enough from the field in order to avoid conflict of interest. New paradigms judged to be the most plausible and most potentially far-reaching will be selected competitively for funding.”

“Funding should be enough for, say, a dozen groups to carry forth on the same theme. Duration will need to be sufficient for building traction; yet it should be short enough to avert wasteful spending. With such a funding program in place, promising new paradigms should be quickly elevated to competitive status (a process begun with the initial web debate). Argued in a civilized manner, each paradigm’s strengths and weaknesses will soon become obvious, and the superior one should quickly emerge as a realized revolution. Instead of hanging on the vine to wither, the low-hanging fruit will have been expediently harvested.”

The funding campaign

The IVS is now seeking private sources for funding from the many billionaires who have signed the Giving Pledge by Bill Gates. Many of them are likely to be soon donating substantial amounts to various charities. As of 2011, 69 billionaires had joined the campaign to give 50% or more of their wealth to charity.

The Institute will provide an opportunity for donors to leave a lasting mark. The scientific revolutions anticipated from this new structure will enrich the world in ways that cannot yet be conceived.

Check out the website for The Institute for Venture Science and help by sharing this information to create global awareness about this crucial project.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
– Socrates

Q&A with Dr. Gerald Pollack

Q1. Is authority respected for the wrong reasons? Have we marginalized scientific authority to a fancy title and language … instead of the quality of solutions provided? As such, does authority take advantage of this position to pursue self-interests and avoids solutions that challenge status-quo understandings?

A: Yes. Today’s culture emphasizes self-interest, and science has come to subscribe to those cultural norms. Recall the expression, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Authoritarian power increasingly dominates the scientific culture.

Those who challenge prevailing views commonly suffer ostracism. Some of them acquire labels as “denialists”, implying that their positions are as outrageously extreme as those who deny the Holocaust.

Such abuses of power are hardly new. What’s new is that those in power dominate the grant-review bodies. They have the power to choke the funds from challengers, which effectively suppresses challenges. Without allowable challenges to prevailing views, science runs the risk of stagnation.

Q2. From our viewpoint it seems that past imaginative geniuses all considered diverse interests, broad knowledge, to their outlook and gave little consideration to technical mechanics “specializations” which are often emphasized to preserve the status-quo structures. What is your feeling towards specialization? Does a deficiency in broad knowledge and interests prevent scientist from facing new realities?

Defining the boundary between physics, chemistry and biology is practically impossible. What is biology without chemistry? Does atomic structure lie within the discipline of chemistry, or physics? And, don’t atoms play roles in biology? By contrast, today’s scientists specialize — actually, they super-specialize. Scientists become world experts in the narrowest of fields. By so doing, they lose sight of potential contributions from other spheres of understanding. Today’s scientists dwell on the tiny peripheral branchlets of the tree of knowledge. They haven’t the time to consider whether the limbs supporting those branches are sound. Sometimes fresh new growth requires major pruning.

Q3. You’ve revealed the ‘ill of society” where modern educational programs produce narrow super-specialists. As such, what is your thought of a better educational system? Can the Institute for Venture Science play a role in keeping educational programs up to speed?

Our long-term plan emphasizes educational breadth. One famous scientist remarked that the ONLY courses that taught him how to think were his courses in art and philosophy. Science courses merely dumped information, the students treated as empty vessels waiting to be filled. A better plan educates students to think. It provides broad underpinnings and confers the confidence to build on those underpinnings and the willingness to challenge even long-standing views that don’t make sense. 

Q4. From our view, we seem to live in world where the majority of the world’s citizen’s wake up determined to maintain their social economic standing by making others less competitive and offering dishonest and/or misleading information – Can this institute help to create an environment of more honest observations by better scrutinizing both the mainstream and challenging views?

Absolutely. By funding promising ideas that challenge mainstream thinking, the IVS creates an environment that emphasizes truth seeking. If we succeed, then that truth-seeking ethic could begin permeating the rest of the culture. Those who may consider donating funds to the Institute will be endowing a cultural movement oriented toward honest truth seeking and away from self-aggrandizing. They’ll be funding a cultural shift.

Q5. In light of the phenomena called epigenetics – and the knowledge that a gene for “X” is false and dangerously misleading – did mainstream media and science create a highly profitable but false conceptual revolution around genetics? If so, how can the IVS minimize such false conceptual revolutions?

Yes, mainstream media surely bears some responsibility for perpetuating the illusion that genetics will solve all problems. That revolution seems to be sputtering out of gas. Even some in the genetics community are coming to realize that genetics research receives a disproportionate fraction of scientific resources. Whether the IVS can turn the tide on that and other such illusory revolutions depends on how successful we can become. If we can precipitate genuine revolutions – our main goal – then the public may begin shifting focus from what the media tells them, to what’s real. Who knows? The excitement of genuine revolution may one day permeate the media.

Q6. Water is very prevalent in all life forms. To the Hindu‑Yogi, water is Nature’s colossal Remedy which contains prana- the “Vital Force”. With that, would you suggest that structured water (EZ) contains more of this Vital force?

Yes. That’s quite possible. EZ (fourth phase) water contains potential energy. Ample evidence shows that this energy gets put to use in our bodies. One colleague from Saudi Arabia was so taken by this possibility that he suggested EZ water as the basis of the “human soul”, citing the Koran as basis. When he went so far as to suggest that we write a joint paper on that revelation, I told him that I had enough trouble convincing dyed-in-the-wool colleagues about water’s fourth phase (it was early on), that espousing any connection with prana, vital energy, religion, or the human soul might prove fatal to our attempts. On the other hand, more and more I come to realize the wisdom of the ancients. I’ve seen evidence that waters taken from the Ganges, from Lourdes, and from similar sites bear clear physico-chemical differences from run-of-the-mill water. We’ve begun experimental tests to determine whether some of those waters can actually reverse pathologies, as touted.

Q7. Rising water – The conventional views as to the significant mechanism behind the ascent drawing force of water against gravity through the trunk of trees is still widely controversial. What does this imply with regards to the organized structure and electrical potential (negative charged) of EZ water?

Electrical potentials pervade nature. My recent book, “The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid and Vapor”, explains how and why. Of particular note with regard to water’s ascent in trees is our laboratory’s finding of “spontaneous” flow through hollow tubes. We found that the flow is powered ultimately by energy received from the environment, e.g., electromagnetic energy including sunlight. Extra incident light produces faster flow. That same energy-driven flow is a good candidate for driving the flow in plants and tall trees – something definitely worth testing.

Q8. Many people practice natural ways to purify water even offering prayer/intention directed to possibly alter its structure. Are these ways beneficial?

Abundant evidence shows that water absorbs energy from the environment. If that energy contains information, then water can theoretically receive information, perhaps store it, and possibly even re-radiate that information. Published, peer-reviewed evidence supports all of those notions, although most scientists remain unaware of the evidence. This is a frontier issue, crying out for serious study.

Q9. The discovery of structured water is likely to hold many applications and touch many aspects of our lives but which application most fascinates you?

The applications do seem countless. This creates a problem akin to eating dessert: having one hot-fudge sundae after a meal can be wonderful, but 15 can be an overdose. My attention shifts continually from one application to another. Right now, two dominate. The prospect of information storage, as mentioned above, could have immense implications for nature, especially for biomedicine. The EZ’s semi-crystalline nature provides a potential substrate for storage, much like other information-storing crystals.

The second application that fascinates me is health: EZ water fills our cells. Deficiencies of EZ water lead to dysfunction, i.e., proteins cannot fold properly when sub-normal amounts of EZ water envelop them. The mere act of rebuilding EZ water, by simple, even traditional mechanisms, can possibly heal. That’s an exciting prospect that we’re gearing up to test.

Q10. You have said that meaningful paradigm-challenging ideas in diverse fields exist in abundance – Other than your current work – which discovery intrigues you most?

The reason I’m reluctant to answer that question is that a mere mention of a topic with potential paradigm shifting character will inevitably invoke reflexive negative responses. No proposal can be taken seriously in the absence of rationale, and this venue offers no opportunity to elaborate. If I were to suggest, for example, that electrical charge powers bird flight, you’d probably conclude incipient lunacy. If I mentioned a radically new model of the atom that better explains nature, you might be tempted to ring up the psychiatric rescue squad. I’ve seen dozens of meaningful proposals in diverse fields. Unless the underlying rationale can be properly presented, these proposals will make no sense at all. For this reason, I’m unwilling to detail any specifics. On the other hand, the IVS website will contain a representative list of potential paradigm-shifting ideas collected over the full scientific spectrum.

Check out their website at

If you love the content in this blog, we invite you to check out our extremely well-reviewed book, Conceptual Revolutions in Science by Adam B. Dorfman.



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    By: DorfmanAdam

    Curiosity is something that drives us to find answers along our unique life paths. For me, Adam B. Dorfman, that path began with an MBA at the University of Toronto and with several years in the capital markets before he began to explore emerging sciences. Adam then founded the website Concept Evolution to explore these new scientific concepts, with a healthy skepticism, and has since added an exceptional team of writers, with strong scientific backgrounds, to help him. The team at Concept Evolution is extremely passionate to follow these emerging studies, while exploring the philosophy of science, as these immature sciences, become mature scientific fields.

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  • Shaunna P

    Great interview.

  • amyyoungmiller

    What an accomplished fellow! Fascinating interview! I found this line especially interesting, since I have a bachelor’s degree in fine art:

    “One famous scientist remarked that the ONLY courses that taught him how to think were his courses in art and philosophy.” I’ve never heard anybody say that before, but it’s always been my belief about my education, too.

  • Lancelot Quadras

    A great interview taken of an astounding individual.

  • Francene Stanley

    This is a deep and meaningful discussion, far too complicated for me. However, I agree that declaring war on something won’t make the problem disappear. Cancer. How many years have specialists been trying to find a cure? Still nothing.

    • I agree … this is so critical to understand. “Nurturing revolutions or progress demands the scientific freedom to challenge authority, the ability to revisit old paradigm and the encouragement to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.”

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