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Imagine government funding science!

By Rafe Champion - posted Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Eric Blair, a Professor in the Faculty of Useless Knowledge was interviewed recently for The Australian and this was reprinted here. The topic was the recovery of long-lost records in a city once known as Canberra. The work of Eric Blair and his colleagues has enabled scholars to get a better idea of the way that Australia became a leader in the transformation of economic management and public administration around the world in the Third Millenium.

The Professor was interviewed on a second occasion by a reporter from the blog Catallaxy.

Catallaxy: Not everyone has heard the first interview, can you put us in the picture on that?


Blair: We dug up the ruins of a very old city called Canberra, dating from the end of the Second Millenium. This city was the seat of the national government until it was replaced by a computer in the garage at Kirribilli House (the Prime Minister's residence) which directed tax revenue to the state governments.

Catallaxy: Yes of course, everyone knows that was part of the great efflorescence of Austalian civilization which was the wonder of the world. What about the useless knowledge that you found in the dig?

Blair: We found some of the records of a government that plunged the nation into debt, depressed the productivity of the workforce and made a serious effort to undermine free speech. As I described in the previous interview, we also found a record of an obscure politician who drew attention to some of the state-funded research which raised concerns about the value of the work and the process of allocating grants.

Catallaxy: What a strange way to do business! You would have to be well over a hundred years old to recall a time when higher education and research were funded with public money!

Blair: Well of course it was a primitive civilization in many ways.

Catallaxy: Yes of course. That was a long time ago.


Blair: To cut a long story short, those research programs turned out to be the tip of an iceberg. They were like loose threads in a knitted garment, if you keep pulling the whole thing comes undone. It turned out that the schools of philosophy, the queen of the sciences, were captured during last century of the Second Millenium by waves of anti-intellectual fads and fashions. Wittgenstein in his first phase, Wittgenstein in his second phase, Heidegger, Sartre, Logical Empiricists, Deconstructionists, Paradigm Theory...

Catallaxy: I suppose it was the same around the world, no wonder they were struggling with fanatical movements, terrorists, regulations, debt and bureaucrats…

Blair: Yes and it was just as bad in economics. Some of the most important contributors were practically forgotten, so their work had to be sustained by isolated pockets of people who were mocked as cranks.

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About the Author

Rafe Champion brings the grafting qualities of the opening batsman and the cunning of the offspin bowler to the task of routing dogmatists, protectionists and other riff-raff who stand in the way of peace, freedom and plenty. He has a website and he blogs at Catallaxy and also at The History of Australian and New Zealand Thought. For more about Rafe visit here. All of his posts on Catallaxy for 2007 can be found at this link. Not all the links work and some need to be cut and pasted into the browser.

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