Arnold Kling  

The Science Race

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An alarmist New York Times article about America's relative standing in science has Cafe Hayek on edge. First, Russ Roberts wrote,


The real question is not whether America is "ahead" or "behind" but whether students interested in science have good opportunities to explore science.

Next, Don Boudreaux added,

In the 18th century France boasted an impressive number of scientific geniuses, perhaps more than England, and yet England grew economically far faster than did France during the latter half of the 18th century and first part of the 19th. France was not as open to the commercial use of new ideas as were the English.

For Discussion. If we could increase our relative standing in science by secretly blowing up scientific institutions in other countries, would it be in our interest to do so?


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TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/76
The author at Crumb Trail in a related article titled Team Sports writes:
    There have been a number of interesting comments about this NYT article worrying about US science education. The comments at Cafe Hayek, here and here, seem most apposite. [via EconLog]. As long as total knowledge is growing, this is good news. The ra... [Tracked on May 3, 2004 11:34 PM]
COMMENTS (5 to date)
snacknuts writes:

um no, not unless you prefer to live under the illusion of some 'us/them' false dichotomy.

Jonathan Dingel writes:

I'll take that question as rhetorical.

Dave Sheridan writes:

Arnold, What I think you're getting at is the difference between the origination of ideas (pure science, basic technology), and their commercialization. They are different skills, but the path from an idea to viable commercial products requires that scientists, technologists and product engineers are able to share information freely -- hence a degree of vertical integration from pure research to commercial products. I think that's why Silicon Valley is still very much a place, and not just a state of mind.

There is no competitive advantage to blowing up any labs, but the minefields of the future will be found where countries try to wall off parts of the process, such as the recent Chinese attempt to dictate wireless standards for their home market.

Randall Parker writes:

There is a national security consideration for both basic science and technology. The farther ahead we are in both the less it costs us to defend ourselves because our rivals are going to have militaries that are technologically less advanced.

BGT writes:

AS a pHD biologist I can personnally attest that it is not the lack of interest in the sciences, rather the availability of good jobs that hold back the sciences in America.

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