China\’s rise in science

Sensible words:

The Royal Society said that China was now second only to the US in terms of its share of the world\’s scientific research papers written in English. The UK has been pushed into third place, with Germany, Japan, France and Canada following behind.

\”The scientific world is changing and new players are fast appearing. Beyond the emergence of China, we see the rise of South-East Asian, Middle Eastern, North African and other nations,\” said Chris Llewellyn Smith, director of energy research at Oxford University and chair of the Royal Society\’s study.

\”The increase in scientific research and collaboration, which can help us to find solutions to the global challenges we now face, is very welcome.

Absolutely. Science is a public good.

That\’s why we subsidise it of course: because we all benefit whoever does it an whoever does it cannot profit from having done so.

That more people are peering into test tubes in China is simply a good thing for us. Because we get to use what they find out.

This won\’t stop some moron starting to talk about the growing \”science gap\” or some such nonsense but it remains true all the same.

7 thoughts on “China\’s rise in science”

  1. Most of the inventions that have created the modern world came from outside the scientific establishment and govt “science” anway. Read Brian J Ford’s “The Cult of the Expert”

  2. If science is a public good ,why does it have to be subsidised? You are constantly telling us that
    good things only come from markets.

    Tim adds: Because public goods (non rivalrous, non-excludable) are one of the known exceptions to when a market pure and unadorned will provide an optimal outcome. Go and look it up on Wikipedia for heaven’s sake.

  3. Government funding of science has been shown to have a net negative effect
    for reasons obvious when we see government funding of global warming “science”.

    I do agree that science is so clearly beneficial that society should support it financially but mostly I would do this through X-Prizes which have a similar effect to patenting – that the money is supplied only for results & is available to anybody not just the great & good. Another way would be cutting NI on scientists or increasing tax relief on research – both of which are largely dispatched blindfold.

    The political disadvantage to prizes is that it removes government patronage. No politician is willing to support prizes and none of them are willing to say why, indeed I have had an FoI since January to Cameron which he refuses to answer on that very question.

  4. Neil Craig
    Thanks for linking to an index. I inadvertently went to the next blog after yours and found this:

    I am freaked out about global warming, and I want to start talking about real solutions to this real problem. My inspiration is an old episode of the Simpsons where Mr. Burns blocked out the sun. I think we need to start talking about this tangible solution, and how we can stop global warming by stopping the sun’s rays from reaching the planet’s surface. What else can we do? The redistribution of wealth is a start, but that real action will not act as fast as blocking the sun from heating our planet any more than it is. We need to cover our continent in a giant tarp. We need to cover Greenland in a very expensive sun reflecting carpet before the civilized world is underwater.

    It is a choice made for us by our lack of options. Block the sun!

    Um… Marxists inspired by The Simpsons…

  5. Although I understood what a public good was anyway,I am grateful for your reference to Wikipedia which contains a quote I intend to use in future in any critique of markets:”Public goods provide a very important example of market failure in which market-like behavior of individual gain-seeking does not produce efficient results.The production of public goods results in positive externalities which are not remunerated.”
    There is also a defence of poetry as a public good (see Toynbee above) but no mention of science per se.

  6. DBC Reed – I find it very telling that you plan to use this quote in any critique of markets you make in the future, a rational person would only use such a critique where applicable.

    Also, when using this critique of markets, even in the places where it is applicable, you need to consider what is the alternative. For example, if a government bureaucrat is not properly renumerated for their role in the production of positive externalities then they are also likely to under-invest, or invest in things that produce the highest return to them.

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