The last edition of Macroscience focused on the curious fact that many scientists and industry insiders considered mRNA vaccines, ex ante, to be a dead end for addressing the coronavirus pandemic. There was a substantial gap between what was believed to be
Agree that its interesting to see how fields come to consensus on path-dependent decisions. Rickover arguably forced the entire field of nuclear reactors into pressure water reactors over some of the more exotic reactors being explored at the time (I'm certainly not in a position to judge if that was right or not, but simply the observation that at least one agentic government official was in a position to make such path-dependent funding). I've written previously about other examples of how government funding leads to different path-dependent technology develop, notably for quantum computing(https://charlesyang.substack.com/p/real-life-examples-of-path-criticality) but it would be interesting to find more examples
Perhaps making grants to people (as HHMI does) rather than for ideas solves this pretty well.
Make some grants based on a smaller pool of Yes votes. One way to do this is give committees a stack of grants and a number of Yes votes, then allow them to allocate more than one vote to a given grant.