28 May 2011
Sex, Science and Politics - Terence Kealey

Really good and free to me.  And nearly free to you if you can find it remaindered.

Slightly misnamed.  It really should be called “A History of Everything” covering - as it does - history, agriculture, technology and even language. 

Central claim: markets bring forth technology; technology brings forth science.

Fun quote: “..the benefits from doing research do in fact accrue to the researchers because they - and only they - understand other people’s research.”

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  1. My brother, who trades in second hand books, obtained 8 copies of this book and gave them to me.  So, any of my London mates who want one can contact me and get one for free.

    And yes, highly recommended.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 28 May 2011 at 05:13pm

  2. I have for ages been intending a blog posting about the relevance of all this to Climategate, etc.

    Many now fret that “science” is being corrupted.  Others fret that because “science” is being wrongly accused of having been corrupted, it will lose lots of its funding.  Either way, disaster.

    But you only fret like this if you misunderstand what science is.  If you think it is a public good that has to be publicly funded, then, when publicly funded science does what publicly funded anything always does eventually and turns to shit, there goes all of science down the toilet.

    But the publicly funded bit of science is not all of science.  The best bits of science - rooted in technology, profit, etc., like Keeley says - can shrug off the travails of publicly funded science like they never happened.  Rather as real genetics shrugged off Lysenkoism.

    Not a bad start.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 28 May 2011 at 05:18pm

  3. The reviewers on Amazon weren’t exactly thrilled with it.

    Posted by mike on 29 May 2011 at 10:11am

  4. Mike, well, a lot of Amazon reviewers are wrong, so I would not worry about that too much.

    Posted by Tom Burroughes on 30 May 2011 at 09:07pm

  5. One of the reviewers has this to say:

    For example, the author praises the rise of the Dutch Republic in the 17th century as an example of the success of laissez faire policies, but the Dutch decline through the 18th century is dismissed as “they were invaded”. True, but not till 1795, by which time the Dutch Republic was a shadow of its former self. As the Dutch had followed the same laissez faire policies through the 18th century decline, it would have been interesting to analyse why the results were so different during the second hundred years.

    Is he correct?

    Posted by Rob Fisher on 16 June 2011 at 01:21pm

  6. Sadly, I really have no idea.  Did they pursue the same policies?  Were they a shadow of their former selves?  How did they compare with the countries around them?

    Even if all these things fall the reviewer’s way, so what?  That’s not the statement that government violence would have made things better.

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on 16 June 2011 at 07:30pm

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