Since Edge has just released another one of their questions you’ve likely been thinking about science. To the average Joe science might seem to just happen and give us stuff like gravity and rocket ships (presumably in that order). But scientists have reasons for doing whatever sciencey stuff they do, and money presumably plays a part of that. Recently I came across two bloggers that took a critical eye to the supplying of science. First is Bruce Charlton. In Kealey on scientific motivations and incentives he discusses scientific research as a public vs private good and the crowding out involved in public investment. Terence Kealey argues that scientists are primarily motivated to attain status among their peers (sounds like something Robin Hanson might say). A funny bit is his labeling of academic journals as “vanity publishing”, like the company that published Steve Sailer’s book. It also resembles some of what Eric S. Raymond has said about the “gift-economy” among open-source hackers (I’m strictly proprietary and not talented enough to be considered a hacker, so I don’t know how accurate Eric is).

Cheap-skate self-experimenter Seth Robert’s shouldn’t be worried about getting grants, but he’s talking about them anyway here. Apparently even in these belt-tightening times there’s still money to be had. What I find interesting about the post is his use of Jane Jacob’s two moralities from Systems of Survival: the taking (aka guardian) based on loyalty and the trading based on honesty. Seth thinks that reliance on grants will make scientists more concerned with loyalty than honesty and afraid to publish results that Seth (who ain’t afraid of no McCloskey) wouldn’t think twice about.

On an unrelated note, the Growthology blog has a post on the brain drain from EU to US. I’ve long been interested in examining the “foot-vote”, especially among relatively advanced countries harder to distinguish from each other compared to the Third World. As my comment there indicates though, I’m still left hungry.

On a final note, expect a significant change at this blog. What it is I won’t say quite yet.