Brian Cox proves Feynman\’s Rule

As Feynman said, I believe that when a scientists speaks outside his own subject he\’s just as dumb as the next guy.

“Engineering is the foundation of our economy. Almost £500bn is the gross value added of sectors where engineering is an important component – about a third of the economy – and yet there’s a shortage of engineers. We’ll need about 1m more scientists and engineers in the economy by 2020.”

Yes, and food is a major component of all human activity therefore agriculture is 100% of our economy. Nothing happens without accountancy therefore that\’s also 100% of our economy.

Ooops! We\’re already at 200% of GDP while considering only 3% of the population. And when you end up with a ridiculous answer like that then obviously your original assumptions are shite.

As an economist once pointed out it\’s the division and specialisation of labour that leads to economic wealth. So economists don\’t go around looking for the Higgs Boson, as they ought not to. So please could we have rather fewer physicists trying to mangle their very limited understanding of economics?

“I feel like I’m saying ridiculously simplistic things – of course science and engineering is the way to grow the economy. We professionals assume it’s self evident that societies and economies are based on these pursuits so we don’t bother making sure everybody understands that.”

But it\’s not even true, let alone simplistic. The way to grow the economy is to increase the value added in the economy. That\’s actually how we measure growth after all, GDP is the amount of value added in an economy.

It certainly can be true that science and engineering add value, yes. But they\’re not the only things by a long way. So does ballet, accounting, some bureaucracy and hanging all politicians.

11 thoughts on “Brian Cox proves Feynman\’s Rule”

  1. Engineers are employed in more than just manufacturing so your point to disprove Cox’s assertion fails.

    Your point about pay – the signal of the computing machine that is the economy that has weighed the cumulative need for engineers – is the clincher.

  2. Feynman also had a lot to say about the incompetence and waste involved in government. A brighter man than Cox.

  3. Feynman was of course right in this just as he was in many other things he said. I particularly like: If the data doesn’t support the theory, then the theory is wrong. Regardless of how elegant the theory is or how prestigious was its proposer it’s still wrong.

    Climate scientists appear to believe that the since the theory is believed by a broad a consensus it must be the data that are wrong.

  4. But, in addition to the value they add to the economy, engineers (PBUT) contribute so much more, they make perfect husbands/wives and lovers, they bring up ideal children, are great drinking buddies and provide a warm glow for lesser mortals to bask in.

  5. in my day, most of the people reading Engineering went on to become accountants. Maybe Cox is brighter than he appears to be, although he says nothing explicit about the service economy which is so important in the UK? Given his career as a pop-star, though, it is odd that he is unaware of the value-add of the entertainment industry.

  6. Never been sure about Cox. Obviously as an economist he’s a dead loss, but is he any good as a physicist? I do remember him getting on some sort of holistic hobby-horse and invoking the Pauli exclusion principle in a totally incorrect and indeed meaningless manner. Now I may only have a BSc. in physics and never played keyboards in a rock band, but I do know this is an absolute howler.

  7. Whenever a university scientist says nice things about engineering, you can be sure that the engineers in his own university enjoy a merry laugh.

  8. Frederick Soddy, who won a 1921 Nobel Prize for discovering isotopes,also knew what he was talking about with Economics putting the boot into Fractional Reserve Banking with an elan unsurpassed till Murray Rothbard came on the scene. A V Roe, the engineer, was also not a fan of commercial banks creating money .

  9. Pingback: The lump of rationality | Fifth Estate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *