How We Create the Wealth of Nations
Chapter 21: Science
This chapter is concerned with common innovation in and around the sciences. John Stuart Mill’s celebrated observation suggests that there could be great scope for common innovation to contribute to science:1 … the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner. As I see it, however, that contribution is currently much smaller than it could be. Certainly I think common innovation from outside the discipline could make a huge and valuable contribution to economics.2 But of course I may be wrong to draw any general inference from this sample of one. Nonetheless, of all the chapters in Part III, this was the one where it was hardest to choose good examples of common innovation. Again, that may simply reflect on the many gaps in my scientific knowledge. EXAMPLES In this chapter, I have chosen just three examples of common innovation in and around science. The first concerns citizen scientists or amateur scientists. The second concerns the key insights that Darwin learnt from reading the work of economist Thomas Malthus. The third considers science fiction.
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