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Author Topic: Useless intellectual work  (Read 7185 times)
wumpus
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November 21, 2010, 11:07:09 AM
 #61

"Useless intellectual work" I don't believe in that.

Science is like a random-search. The more scientists you employ, the more discoveries they will make. But it's hardly a goal directed activity, because a big part of science is exploring. You can't predict in advance which scientist will stumble upon that big discovery that will change the future. So you need to employ a lot of bright people, even though a major part will not ever do a discovery that will make history, but will (if lucky) just produce some incremental advances.

A good example is the discovery of microwave, the military were not exactly looking for a way to heat meals. But one smart researcher accidentally discovered the effect (the chocolate he had in his pocket heated up for some strange reason), and deduced how it works.

That's how science works. And this makes it very hard to unify with the complete goal-directedness and competition of a free market.

(Another thing is that an advance in science might take ten, fifty or even hundreds of years to make it into an actual commercially feasible product. Example of these are advances in theoretical physics... they might allow for space travel, exponentially faster CPUs, at SOME point in the future)



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November 21, 2010, 05:07:47 PM
 #62

It is not a random search. Myriad factors conscious and unconscious, human and otherwise determine what is explored and how. When a small group redirects massive amounts of funds either to their own desired research or to research that merely sounds productive we end up with inferior and less knowledge than if people had the freedom to determine for themselves when and how their resources should be deployed.

"Useless" isn't quite the right word though. You can steal and put something to some use. But there is undoubtedly huge loss when the people who have the ability to create resources are stripped by force of their ability to allocate those resources where they think they will be most productive.

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November 21, 2010, 06:48:28 PM
 #63

"Useless intellectual work" I don't believe in that.

Science is like a random-search. The more scientists you employ, the more discoveries they will make.

This is very much NOT my point.  Please read my initial post again.  Or maybe I should rewrite it.

What I call useless is the intellectual work which is dedicated not to actual research, but only in the determination of the smartest people.  Once those smart people are detetected, they are given high social status, without any real requirement for them to do any real actual scientific research.  This is a waste of good brain power, and it is a very wrong basis for society.
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November 21, 2010, 06:48:46 PM
 #64

we end up with inferior and less knowledge than if people had the freedom to determine for themselves when and how their resources should be deployed.

We end up with different knowledge and technologies, probably.

Maybe there would be some kind of electro-mechanical internet precursor.

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November 21, 2010, 07:02:19 PM
 #65

we end up with inferior and less knowledge than if people had the freedom to determine for themselves when and how their resources should be deployed.

We end up with different knowledge and technologies, probably.

Maybe there would be some kind of electro-mechanical internet precursor.

The point is we don't know. They take the resources, stuff gets made/invented. Of course some of it is good and useful. But we have no idea what was sacrificed because it never came into existence because the resources were redirected.

With no cost comparison good decisions cannot be made. This is really just the socialist calculation problem.

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November 21, 2010, 07:03:26 PM
 #66

It is not a random search. Myriad factors conscious and unconscious, human and otherwise determine what is explored and how. When a small group redirects massive amounts of funds either to their own desired research or to research that merely sounds productive we end up with inferior and less knowledge than if people had the freedom to determine for themselves when and how their resources should be deployed.

I agree, even if that was not really my point.  Motivation, initiative and will are highly important in any human activity, including scientific research.  Clearly intellectual energy would be much better used in a liberal manner.
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