Mmmmmm. . . . Bacon!

3 October 2010 at 11:31 pm 3 comments

| Peter Klein |

This post begged to be written. It started last weekend when I heard Jim Gaffigan’s bacon routine on the Slacker Comedy Channel. Then, during the week, the Mises Institute ran an excerpt from Murray Rothbard’s History of Economic Thought on Francis Bacon. (Rothbard wasn’t impressed, calling Bacon “the prophet of primitive and naive empiricism, the guru of fact grubbing.”) As if that weren’t enough, Rafe Champion decided around the same time to summarize Terence Kealey’s Economic Laws of Scientific Research, the first chapter of which contrasts Bacon’s and Adam Smith’s views on the relationship between science and economic growth. (Bacon’s model: State support -> Basic Research -> Technology -> Progress in human welfare. Smith’s model: Old technology -> New Technology -> Wealth and Welfare.) Bacon — you just can’t get enough!

Entry filed under: - Klein -, History of Economic and Management Thought, Innovation, People, Recommended Reading.

Tilburg Conference on Private Ordering Misbehavioral Antitrust

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rafe  |  4 October 2010 at 7:03 pm

    In Sydney at Mont Pelerin next week Kealey is talking about the spontaneous order of networks that scientists use to transmit information rapidly through the relevant community. Nobel Laureate Pater Medawar refered to the “invisible beating of tom toms” that kept people up to date, years in advance of publication. (Of course smoke signals and tom toms have been rendered obselete by the net). By incredible good fortune (again) I have written about the linkages between laboratory and farm that enables Australian farmers to be highly productive despite the worlds worst soils. This was written after doing time in the trenches of rural research before departing for other fields.

  • 2. Rafe  |  4 October 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Enjoy your bacon and eggs mmmm…..but take the pork out of research funding!

    There is a strong form of Kealey’s thesis and a weak form. The strong form is that we don’t need public funding of R&D. The weaker form is that we need to take account of the way public funding drives out more efficient R&D (and so presumably to be highly selective about what is funded with tax $s).

    So if you can’t find a magnate or captain of industry to fund your research, stop it! Or do it in your own time as a hobby (nothing wrong with that, Darwin and Count Rumford did nice work as a hobby).

    How much of the work in mathematical game theory at RAND and mathematical economics in general would have been picked up by the private sector? How much NSF funding results in good or useful economics research?

    A research proposal. Approach a sample of magnates – Gates, Buffet, Koch bros, you name them, and find out which projects they would pick up if NSF funding ceased tomorrow?

  • 3. srp  |  5 October 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Some people still haven’t heard about auction theory and design.

    In any case, game theory is pretty cheap to fund and most of the NSF grants for it have been unnecessary to its development. (Just trying to get tenure or job offers would have been enough.) As Austin Goolsbee has pointed out, much of the impact of R&D subsidies is to raise the wages of scientists and engineers rather than to increase the amount of knowledge produced.

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