Monday, December 29, 2008

What Would Einstein Do?

Two sources start questioning the wisdom of government funding of science. This type of talk will greatly displease the powers that be, but consider, what would Einstein do?

David Evans: Governments have spent over $50 billion on climate research since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence for AGW. So if there is no evidence to support AGW, and the missing hotspot shows that AGW is wrong, why does most of the world still believe in AGW?

Frank Tipler: This is why I am astounded that people, who should know better, like Newt Gingrich, advocate increased government funding for scientific research. We had better science, and a more rapid advance of science, in the early part of the 20th century when there was no centralized government funding for science.

Einstein discovered relativity on his own time, while he was employed as a patent clerk. Where are the Einsteins of today? They would never be able to get a university job --- Einstein's idea that time duration depended on the observer was very much opposed to the "consensus" view of the time. Einstein's idea that light was composed of particles (now called "photons") was also considered crazy by all physicists when he first published the idea. At least then he could publish the idea. Now a refereed journal would never even consider a paper written by a patent clerk, and all 1905 physics referees would agree that relativity and quantum mechanics were nonsense, definitely against the overwhelming consensus view. So journals would reject Einstein's papers if he were to write them today.

Science is an economic good like everything else, and it is very bad for production of high quality goods for the government to control the means of production. Why can't Newt Gingrich understand this? Milton Friedman understood it, and advocated cutting off government funding for science.

Perhaps after the revolution we can take a look at actual return on investment of the billions of tax dollars granted to research, because that review will never happen prior to the uprising.