Why has Continental Europe put themselves back regarding Science compared to Anglo-Saxon world?

Mar 2018
593
UK
#11
But the OP is not entirely without merit though. The proportion of US (or at least US-based...) Nobel prizes in the sciences has skyrocketed in the post-war period.
True, but the Nobel prize is an elite clique that doesn't represent much - it would be like ranking the economies of countries by how many billionaires are registered there for tax purpose. As for why Nobel prize winners are working in the US, well that's partly because US institutions are sufficiently large to just buy up top tier researchers. How many of the US nobel prize winners were either born in the US or did there undergraduate/postgraduate studies there? Besides the Nobel prize is very much a social grouping, a shockingly high fraction of prizes are given to those who had a former prize winner as a mentor; it's far from surprising that they pool to the same area.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2018
593
UK
#12
And yet most of the tech


Perhaps it just proves that there are a lot of middle-highbrow academics in Europe.

You are of course right that the picture the OP paints is exaggerated, but it is still a fact that there has been a very remarkable shift in the balance of research over the atlantic in some ways (like Nobel prizes) compared with how things looked like at the beginning of the 1900s.

Furthermore, the US completely dominates Europe in many aspects of Tech. (though not all - we have an advantage in physical communication-networks for example, while the US does not have a single company like Nokia or Ericsson making such things in a competetively meaningful way contra the Chinese). I say this with great sadness, but I unfortunately don't think it is debatable. Perhaps it is changing though.

Tech is different to science - it's far more driven by industry. But OP was talking about science, so I'll just address that.

The surprising thing is why the US did so *little* science in 1900. Now it does about as much per capita (or per $ of GDP per capita) as the average for rich western countries. If you can think of a better statistics to measure this than papers published in high ranking journals, go ahead and present your data. I can think of a few, but the data would be too consuming to collect for a forum post (probably days of work to get metrics for all citations and the like).

I'm a scientist, unless you can find evidence for your hypothesis I will politely ignore it. Specially after a rudimentary search of data shows that the exact inverse to it is likely!
 
Apr 2018
722
Upland, Sweden
#13
True, but the Nobel prize is an elite clique that doesn't represent much - it would be like ranking the economies of countries by how many billionaires are registered there for tax purpose. As for why Nobel prize winners are working in the US, well that's partly because US institutions are sufficiently large to just buy up top tier researchers. How many of the US nobel prize winners were either born in the US or did there undergraduate/postgraduate studies there? Besides the Nobel prize is very much a social grouping, a shockingly high fraction of prizes are given to those who had a former prize winner as a mentor; it's far from
Very good points. And you are right, quite a large proportion of the "american" ones are indeed immigrants. The ones in chemistry from two years ago spring to mind I think...
 
Apr 2018
722
Upland, Sweden
#14
Tech is different to science - it's far more driven by industry. But OP was talking about science, so I'll just address that.

The surprising thing is why the US did so *little* science in 1900. Now it does about as much per capita (or per $ of GDP per capita) as the average for rich western countries. If you can think of a better statistics to measure this than papers published in high ranking journals, go ahead and present your data. I can think of a few, but the data would be too consuming to collect for a forum post (probably days of work to get metrics for all citations and the like).

I'm a scientist, unless you can find evidence for your hypothesis I will politely ignore it. Specially after a rudimentary search of data shows that the exact inverse to it is likely!
My post seems a lot less jovial and a lot more annoying without the retroactively edited ":lol:" at the top sentence... so sorry for that. But I see your point, and it is a good one - once again.

Allright, you've mostly got me convinced. I too find basic science very important, and even though I think a market liberal attitude is desirable in many respects, basic science is one of those areas I am just not convinced the market does better than public or semi-public institutions. In fact the US and Germany contra England offer an excellent argument for that case during the later part of the 1800s up until the beginning of WWI at least.

Still, if you admit (as it seems you did in your last post) that there is a great American over-representaton in scientists active in the United States (even though their supposed american-ness is debatable), what does that mean? Will Europe continue to generate lots of top-scientists that leave here? Also, if the US is not as great as generating scientists as it is in attracting already good ones from abroad, how does that come? Is it a cultural thing?


On a somewhat different and related note, here is a set of very interesting data that seems to argue against US overrepresentation in tech longterm that makes a budding economist/lawyer/ amateur historian like me a bit less worried for my continent's economic future:

1548980431404.png

1548980612627.png
Source: One of the most readable (although he is a bit obnoxious and self-congratualting occasionally) bloggers cum Economists cum Cultural/ Foreign Policy "experts" in my opinion: David Goldman.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,736
Netherlands
#15
Tech is different to science - it's far more driven by industry. But OP was talking about science, so I'll just address that.

The surprising thing is why the US did so *little* science in 1900. Now it does about as much per capita (or per $ of GDP per capita) as the average for rich western countries. If you can think of a better statistics to measure this than papers published in high ranking journals, go ahead and present your data. I can think of a few, but the data would be too consuming to collect for a forum post (probably days of work to get metrics for all citations and the like).

I'm a scientist, unless you can find evidence for your hypothesis I will politely ignore it. Specially after a rudimentary search of data shows that the exact inverse to it is likely!
The problem is that publications aren't a good measure.
Not sure what would be on the other hand.
 
Mar 2018
593
UK
#16
The problem is that publications aren't a good measure.
Not sure what would be on the other hand.
Publications in total are a terrible measure. Nobel prize winners is a much, much worst one. Publications in reasonably high ranking, peer reviewed journals (hard to define, but not that hard) is a pretty good measure. Citations from reasonably high ranking, peer reviewed journals might be better, but you'd have to somehow collect that data and compensate for self-referencing cycles.

By all means, if you have a better measure than publications in good journals, present it here. It's up to someone presenting a particular hypothesis to provide a modicum of data to support it. I've already done more than is expected from someone not accepting a thesis by providing fair evidence that it isn't true. What is assine is just simply accept a thesis as true when there is no evidence for it, and some evidence against it, and then start postulating reasons why it's true. I might as well start a thread asking "Why did the USSR land a man on the moon before the USA?"
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,736
Netherlands
#17
Publications in total are a terrible measure. Nobel prize winners is a much, much worst one. Publications in reasonably high ranking, peer reviewed journals (hard to define, but not that hard) is a pretty good measure. Citations from reasonably high ranking, peer reviewed journals might be better, but you'd have to somehow collect that data and compensate for self-referencing cycles.
Also compensate for scientific flame wars (think Leibniz and Newton)
;)
By all means, if you have a better measure than publications in good journals, present it here. It's up to someone presenting a particular hypothesis to provide a modicum of data to support it. I've already done more than is expected from someone not accepting a thesis by providing fair evidence that it isn't true. What is assine is just simply accept a thesis as true when there is no evidence for it, and some evidence against it, and then start postulating reasons why it's true. I might as well start a thread asking "Why did the USSR land a man on the moon before the USA?"
Well you could make the thesis just about Nobel prizes for physics, medicine and chemistry and have a side argument on whether that is a proper measure for quality of the output.
Personally I will await which country cures cancer.
 
Mar 2018
593
UK
#18
Well you could make the thesis just about Nobel prizes for physics, medicine and chemistry and have a side argument on whether that is a proper measure for quality of the output.
Personally I will await which country cures cancer.
Nobel prizes are a terrible metric, for reasons I've outlined above. I have a strong interest and know many people who work in science, science funding, science advocacy, and science policy. I have not heard any of them, or read a single article on the subject, suggest that Nobel prizes are in anyway a good metric to measure how good a country is at science. If you have such a reference, please provide it.

And no country will cure cancer. Cancer isn't a single disease that will have a single cure. You might as well ask "which country will cure bacteria" or "which country will solve particle physics". It's a meaningless thing to ask. Even if there was a single cure for cancer, it wouldn't be from a single country. The people working on it would almost certainly come from a range of nationalities, and would be influenced/inspired/require the work done by previous scientists who have certainly worked in a range of institutions in different countries. If, however, you're talking about the first commercially available treatment, then that's technology and not science.
 
Apr 2018
722
Upland, Sweden
#19
Nobel prizes are a terrible metric, for reasons I've outlined above. I have a strong interest and know many people who work in science, science funding, science advocacy, and science policy. I have not heard any of them, or read a single article on the subject, suggest that Nobel prizes are in anyway a good metric to measure how good a country is at science. If you have such a reference, please provide it.

And no country will cure cancer. Cancer isn't a single disease that will have a single cure. You might as well ask "which country will cure bacteria" or "which country will solve particle physics". It's a meaningless thing to ask. Even if there was a single cure for cancer, it wouldn't be from a single country. The people working on it would almost certainly come from a range of nationalities, and would be influenced/inspired/require the work done by previous scientists who have certainly worked in a range of institutions in different countries. If, however, you're talking about the first commercially available treatment, then that's technology and not science.
How can you ask for "a reference for whether Novel prizes are a good metric" or not? Surely this is a matter of judgement with arguments for and against, it is not something you can prove with a study or by referring to some ficticiously more authoritative and objective third party?

There is a great division between how scientist's percieve science is done and how the public percieve science is done. Most aspiring scientists I know (a grand total of under 5, so not very impressive, but also not non-existant) stress the principles of collective work, co-operation and so on. The public often does not percieve things this way. Coming as a relative outsider, it seems probable the scientists have a more complete and detailed view of their own work, as they (or perhaps I should say "you") are in the literal thick of it. On the other hand academia (I have dabbled in the humanities, not the sciences, but I take it the psychological incentives are similar) is notorious for gatekeeping and fights over prestige that to the outside world seem borderline absurd. While I am sure most scientists have greater knowledge of the way they do research, I am not at all convinced that scientists are less prone to self-deception than anybody else, and what constitutes or do not constitue "greatness" in a field so completely defined by its intellectual pursuits surely has to be a prime candidate for a matter in which self-deception is ripe, if anything... For these reasons I think you are a bit too quick to dismiss "public intuition" about this. But I could be wrong of course.


Also, there is an interesting case to be made that technology in itself can drive scientific research. For most of human history after all, it was by applying your findings and thereby actually testing them against the real world that you could get some kind of final arbitration for whether or not the principle or truth you had discovered was workable. Nassim Taleb (one of my personal, if idiosyncratic, heroes) makes the case the applied sciences and often play a similar kind of role today through technology. But I see your point...
 
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Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,736
Netherlands
#20
Nobel prizes are a terrible metric, for reasons I've outlined above. I have a strong interest and know many people who work in science, science funding, science advocacy, and science policy. I have not heard any of them, or read a single article on the subject, suggest that Nobel prizes are in anyway a good metric to measure how good a country is at science. If you have such a reference, please provide it.
It is more of an indicator. But yeah until I win one it isn't.
And no country will cure cancer. Cancer isn't a single disease that will have a single cure. You might as well ask "which country will cure bacteria" or "which country will solve particle physics". It's a meaningless thing to ask. Even if there was a single cure for cancer, it wouldn't be from a single country. The people working on it would almost certainly come from a range of nationalities, and would be influenced/inspired/require the work done by previous scientists who have certainly worked in a range of institutions in different countries. If, however, you're talking about the first commercially available treatment, then that's technology and not science.
I like this idea, so here's hoping they can make good on their boast.
Israeli Scientists Claim They're On The Path To A Cure For Cancer
 

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