Linear models: Comments on Ridley

Matt Ridley recently published a piece in the WSJ, arguing that basic scientific research does not lead to more innovation. There are things to like and dislike in the piece. Jack Stilgoe and Anton Howeshave weighed on this, and you can read summaries of their articles here. The first thing to say here is that the linear model of innovation being talked about here is something that is rejected by the consensus of scientists (!) studying how science and technology actually work, whatever their policy recomme…

Are (social) conservatives less intelligent?

Recently, Onraet, van Hiel et al.published a meta-analysis on the relation between cognitive ability and right-wing ideological attitudes. They concluded that right-wingers are less intelligent. What do they exactly say?  And more importantly, Is it true? TL;DR If what you mean by conservatism is what the authors of the meta-analysis mean by conservatism, yes. The literature concludes that there is an inverse relation between IQ and what they measure as conservatism, and there is little evidence of publicat…

Handbook of the Economics of Innovation: Some sort of summary

There exists a humongous book edited by Hall and Rosenberg that shares title with this post, counting 1256 pages. I've recently read it, and here I'll provide a summary of it. I will include mostly things that I considered interesting, shocking or illustrative. There is no other way to cover a work that large in a blog post. There are also two more considerations I'm making to ease my work: Concentrating on empirical results (No discussion of modeling here), and avoiding reporting results that are mixed, un…

But where are the European Googles?

There's this article going around the net in many versions. In all of them there is a question about Googles and Europe. An example here , here, or here A big question for the past 20 years has been: where are the European Googles? Why are all the funky, creative, dynamic, innovative companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook coming out of the US and not out of Europe? The answer you will often hear is: Europe has lots of culture, good food and fashion, but it is not ‘entrepreneurial enough’, not en…

What The Entrepreneurial State gets right

I've spent a couple of posts criticising the book mentioned in the title. I think criticising is more important than agreeing. Agreeing just takes an 'Okay', criticising needs more work: you need to explain where the chain of reasoning breaks off. But still, it may be of some use to make explicit the points that Mazzucato makes in her book that I endorse. Firstly, we have an explanation and rejection of the linear model of innovation. This is the idea that advances in technology and science go from basic sc…

The follies of holism: a reductionist critique

Sometimes I encounters with the word 'holistic' around, and most, if not all, of those times, the quality of the work the word is being used in is usually poor. Holistic explanations also abound: they talk about interconectedness, the importance of the relation between parts above and beyond them, and so on. In more serious work, holistic-like explanations can be found in reference to 'emergence' or 'spontaneous behaviour'. The problem with the attitude of refusing to analyse the parts of a particular syste…