Rational Discussion of Controversial Topics
Economics Education Ethics Foreign Policy Government History Politics Religion Science

Link: The Myth of Basic Science

melian          8 November 2015 07:34 AM

Does scientific research drive innovation? Not very often, argues Matt Ridley: Technological evolution has a momentum of its own, and it has little to do with the abstractions of the lab

Would you like to read similar articles in the future?
-2 -1 0 +1 +2

                  Post Comment                   

Recommended for You Optimates Populares Centrists

Show comments            Sort by        

FrameBenignly 10 November 2015 07:24 PM

I'd recommend reading instead the article on which that one is based: The Case Against Public Science

I'm not sure. It seems like the crux of Kealey's argument is whether public spending crowds out private spending on science since I think he gives strong evidence that public spending is significantly less efficient than private spending. At times I feel like he's almost taking this as a given. Kealey says there is evidence of crowding out, but I can't see where he presents this evidence. In the replies, two of the commenters don't even mention it, and the only one who does mention it, David Guston, is skeptical of Kealey's claim.


is4junk 11 November 2015 03:51 PM

Public Spending on Science seems to be cut first during budget disputes. Given the US debt levels this might be an easy argument to win.


ChristianKl 8 November 2015 01:15 PM

Without a government space program I think it would be unlikely that we would have satellites by now. The necessary technology developed over decades because the government payed for it even when there was no commercial application for the technology.

The article is right that certain things get discovered multiple times, but often a discovery doesn't lead anywhere and it doesn't spread. Science provides a way for discoveries to be stabilized. Knowledge get's written into textbooks.

Hypnosis is a good example where we don't have good science. Dave Elman talks in his book about how they did open heart surgery without anesthetic under his watch in cases where they could give the patient any anesthetic.
We lacked a science that systematized the process in a way that makes that knowledge spread.

We have a lot of alternative medicine treatments that claim to strengthen the immune system.
Out of Ayuvedic medicine there the belief that daily tongue cleaning helps the immune system. I would appreciate a science that tests whether claims like that are true.
The treatment happens to be old, but to be useful for society we have to know whether it actually works.

There would be little commerical gain from knowing the answer to that question. It would make much more sense to fund a study on the question than do basic research where there's hope that it yield patents that big pharma can use.


is4junk 8 November 2015 05:08 PM

Kickstarter seems like a better way to fund these sorts of health sciences (hypnosis, scraping, ..)

While I don't think they would compete well against other health science research - I don't think anyone would mind if a group of people funded it. used a kickstarter like model against an entrenched opposition.


ChristianKl 9 November 2015 02:09 PM

Kickstarter seems like a better way to fund these sorts of health sciences
A proper science also asks questions about a domain that are not interesting to outsiders.

As far as the immune system goes in "The Health Benefits of Writing About Life Goals"
King shows how you can decrease sick days of people by letting them write about their life goal or about trauma.

It seems relatively clear that there are factors that affect the immune system.
Actually working out which factors influence the immune system would be a lot of effort. Too much to be fundable via kickstarter and even if it would be funded that way there would be no scientific community that deal with the subject.

View Replies (3)

Fwiffo 8 November 2015 03:46 PM

Basic research is supposed to drive the overall tech level. Not having a tech differential between the lab and the common people doesn't show that it isn't doing anything. Science gets reported on and informal tinkering usually taps to the public pool of knowledge to quite extensive measures.