Sir Paul Nurse is president of the Royal Society. Here is his thinking about impact:
In what will be taken as a reference to the [UK] research councils’ “pathways to impact” statements, which all grant applications are obliged to complete, he said: “To demand a statement in every research proposal or assessment about impact for societal or economic benefit will often simply result in unhelpful flights of fantasy of no value.”
So this is the reasoning:
Grant proposal writers will respond to ‘demands for impact statements’ with a ‘worthless supply of fantasy’.
It would be better, therefore, to judge the researchers than their research proposals.
Well, here is my judgment regarding researchers who respond to the issue of impact with a load of baloney: you don’t deserve funding.