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Re: [tlug] [OT] Specialized insects and Linux

Raedwolf Sumner writes:

 > According to this WSJ article by Matt Ridley, the “Monkeyshow” has
 > it exactly bassackwards. Ridley makes the point that the important
 > contribution to growth comes from the diffusion of new technology --
 > not from its existence (i.e., basic research). Rothbard claimed that
 > basic research was far less important to economic growth, simply
 > because practical diffusion was paramount.[*]

Of course, those are huge exaggerations.  You can't diffuse new ideas
if there are none.  Ridley's article is one long sequence of post hoc
ergo propter hoc fallacies.  That doesn't mean he's wrong.  It just
means tl;dr, you're gonna have to decide for yourself anyway.  Take
one example: it's absolutely true that X-ray crystallography was
invented by a bunch of silkworms and boll weevils trying to make more
money from their product.  But they wouldn't have got to square one if
it weren't for a bunch of pinhead tunnel-vision ivory-tower academics
who demonstrated that optics applied to X-rays, too.

The problem that Japanese academia faces is that people who are really
good at thinking are made to sit in meetings and write lies on forms
for 70% of their time.

 > Of course, the Monbu are much more concerned with lofty achievements
 > such as prestigious awards than with mundane matters such as economic
 > benefits to the populace.

True, they don't give a rat's ass for the populace.  But in fact the
priorities at Monkashow are driven in large part by mid-ground
research, not really the basic stuff that gets Nobel Prizes in physics
and may not be exploited for centuries ("Neutrinos have weight; that
and 470 yen will buy you a latte at Starbuck's.  Yay!!"), but more the
much more practical stuff that gets Nobel Prizes in medicine
(vaccines) or doesn't get a Nobel Prize but helps Toyota make smaller
more powerful batteries.

The thing is, in the end it's not basic science OR technology
diffusion that generates economic growth: it's management and
entrepreneurship to exploit the conjunction of needs and the tech that
serves them.  (I know, that's heresy on a tech list.)  But we don't
understand those well enough to teach them; you either have to have
native talent or a mentor (which is a very expensive way to educate
compared to the classroom).  Both basic and applied research in
communication and in business methods are needed, and (by current
Monkashow definitions) those are more bunkei than rikei.

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