Disclaimer : Here a just a few broad ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only, or best, answer to the question.
Stand : I find the claim true except for a few specific situations
This claim is defensible if the recognition is measured in terms of :
1) the money artists make despite not making critical contributions scientists
– Scientists make less money because many are employees. Many do not get to enjoy the monetary benefits of their patented work. Once their discovery or invention is patented, the production process and corporate machinery take over. The effectiveness of their work is its selling point.
– Artists, on the other hand, get to earn more because their talent is their selling point. Rewarding the artist is an inherent part of getting access to that talent.
– Moreover, science is regarded as a discipline, and knowledge and skills pertaining to the discipline are seen as more easily transferred to another person compared to raw, inimitable artistic talent. On this note, the artist appears to be deserving of recognition even if his work has little benefit simply because his contribution cannot be replicated.
2) the artists’ popularity and fame despite their work being less important than the work done by scientists
– Most scientists work in teams for universities, hospitals, private labs or companies. So, as individuals, they may not be as recognised even though their work could improve or save lives.
– For many artists, their work alone is enough for them to go solo as dramatists, writers, poets, composers, painters, sculptors, dancers or photographers. They need not share the limelight. Even if they do work in teams, the stars of the performance will stand out for their contribution to the entire performance.
HOWEVER, THIS CLAIM IS NOT TRUE …
3) …WHEN scientists can combine a few approaches in order to get greater and more deserving recognition than artists
– use patents to their advantage >> do not just create something to sell it away (it seems that one of the targets of many scientists is get their work to be bought over by a bigger company), but this does rich them in the long run
– products of science must also have aesthetic appeal & effective marketing and branding strategies >> e.g. be the face of their product, instead of hide and remain unknown
– in short, scientists need to have business acumen
4) …WHEN artists are actually deserving of the recognition they get.
– Artists appeal to people’s feelings, can make people think, can make people feel more connected with themselves and with other people. Fulfilling such fundamental human needs makes the arts priceless (compared to products of science that come and go), and so the recognition is actually deserved.