Fixing the Economy the Scientific Way

By Chris Mooney | December 26, 2010 1:58 pm

I’ve got an oped with Meryl Comer, founder of the Rock Stars of Science campaign, in the Los Angeles Times today. It’s about why in bad economic times we need to fund research more than ever:

Without ramping up our investments in science and research — a matter barely on the public’s radar in a country where 65% of the citizens can’t name a living scientist and another 18% try but get it wrong — we’ll be hobbled in trying to fix our long-term economic problems. That’s because science creates jobs, and it can also reduce healthcare costs related to the aging of the population.

That’s the central argument, though there’s also much elaboration; you can read the full piece here.


Comments (4)

  1. JMW

    Yeah, but that requires delaying gratification. People will want the cool gadgets and such like, but they don’t want to do the work NOW to get them later. They just want them NOW.

    It’s kind of like a creationist view of technology. This stuff just happens because god wills it.

    Sorry if I seem depressing and negative. But I’m steadily losing faith in the masses. They’ve succumbed to a campaign of dumbing down – whether that campaign was deliberate or accidental is another question, and my feeling on that varies from day to day depending on the state of my brain’s Conspiracy Theory centre – and now they’re incapable of defending themselves against any irrational idea that comes down the pike.

  2. RGM

    Mr. Mooney,

    I read your Op-Ed in the LA Times. Your ideas are nice; however your article is nothing more than a cheerleader’s rally cry for the home team.

    Instead of writing some puff piece, you should write something of substance regarding the problem you speak of.


  3. OSG

    I think mr. Mooney is right, knowledge is power and while masses doesn’t have it they always will be cheated by economy. In my opinion the enterpreneurs have forgotten the main reason of their own existence, all of us work for and by of money while there are still some people who really use money as a mean for greater purposes as devoloping knowledge. That should be the real use of economy, instead a closed circle of money for money, it should serve as a way to make easy achieving greater projects that benefits everyone.

    And that is not comunism is just pursuing the utopy, everybody know it isn’t going ever to exist but that doesn’t mean that we cannot try to seek for it or at least aproach to it…

  4. Nullius in Verba

    “it should serve as a way to make easy achieving greater projects that benefits everyone.”

    Quite right.

    The aim is not to “create jobs” – that can be done quite easily by smashing everybody’s windows and then employing extra glaziers to fix them – the aim is to achieve more for less cost, less human effort.

    We are not just scientifically illiterate, we are also economically illiterate too. Ask the average American to summarise the argument in Bastiat’s Sophisms or the connection between unemployment and the marginal propensity to save and you’ll just get a blank look. But when it comes to debates about how to achieve economic recovery, feel qualified to contribute. Everyone has an opinion.

    If we need to spend more on science in bad economic times, does that mean we need to spend less on science in the good times? If we spent 100% of our GDP on scientific research, would that propel us to economic super-success? If not, does that not mean there is a point of maximum benefit, above which we could be said to be spending too much on science? And when we have less money to spend, which way does that maximum point move?

    Or do we always need to spend more on science in all and any circumstances? Are scientists just another interest group lobbying to protect their own interests at the expense of others? Are we really no better than that?

    Asking people to name a scientist is treating science like celebrity. A more interesting question would be to ask people to explain a single scientific theory or principle.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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