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Speaker: The purpose of science and its limits

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  • debunk,

    Compared with Australia and UK it seems to me that Radio NZ gives a really good coverage of "science" .. I have been impressed. I think the "private sector" does a lot of R&D but it is classified as a business expense ..unless one applies for funds - in which case it has to be for some large amount (whereas you just want to update your stats/maths AI software etc) and "government science" is thrown in as the "expertise" to go with it - crowd funding may be an answer to this? I have been in "government science" and "science by committee" and that's enough of that - entertaining as it was at the time - independence has a lot going for it these days..the MSM science suppporters tend to be in universities - perhaps because they have more job and funding security -

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to debunk,

    I think the "private sector" does a lot of R&D

    An opinion not supported by evidence, I'm afraid. NZ business has always skimped on R&D compared with other nations.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    We need more of both, but isn't our private share less than half what it should be?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • debunk,

    I am saying that it is a matter of how R&D is defined for the IRD etc. Market research goes on all the time (especially with technology product) but it would not be classified as R&D. Government science classifies everything they do (part from admin) I suggest - as R&D so comparison is difficult .. Gallaghers fencing are a high R&D company? Not knocking it .. but the transformation of MAF to Lincoln etc is a lot of nonsense. In my view NZ should have kept the CSIRO model in NZ with DSIR etc and concentrated on the science and the long term. International "market" should sort out the dunces, not some wishful thinking here about a domestic "science market" - total waste of precious funds.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to debunk,

    Official business stats series do not restrict their definition to what IRD (or Steven Joyce) considers to be R&D.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • debunk,

    Sure you're right Sacha. I wouldn't know, not being exposed to "official business stats series"..and it doesn't advance the conversation, as usual .. Steven Joyce "knows" everything and nothing. Most small businesses only submit data to IRD and do their own accounts - so would have thought what they claim as expenses would provide sole input to such stats series.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Sacha,

    Official business stats series do not restrict their definition to what IRD (or Steven Joyce) considers to be R&D.

    Official business stats would understate R & D conducted too though. I used to have to fill out the quarterly Statistic NZ form and it was so annoying to constantly have to do that you would fill it out as fast as possible and simply put down 0 for R & D rather than the actual number. The other numbers you'd fill out easily because you'd just take the numbers from your accounting software but R & D is hard to quantify so it's easier just to say 0.

    I agree with Bart up thread that the core problem is actually with govt. spending on R & D and both Labour and National have both been really bad on that score (though National worse).

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    We need more of both, but isn’t our private share less than half what it should be?

    Agreed of course. Industry R&D is a third or less of OECD averages. As far as anyone can tell from the experiences in other countries (bearing in mind every country is, well, a whole other country) industry investment usually lags behind government investment and that lag is bigger when government investment is lower. So the countries with low government investment have even lower industry investment, as the government investment increases the gap between government and industry gets smaller.

    Now the problem of course is cause and effect and our governments have always insisted that they can increase industry investment (by some magical means) without needing to increase government investment.

    My problem with that is that over 20 years none of the magic has worked. So my thinking is how about we stop doing things that don't work and simply do the thing that has worked in every other country.

    And in case someone thinks I'm talking about huge amounts of money we don't have, science funding is pretty damn small in the scheme of the budgets Keith's data tool is fun and every study shows it pays back non-linearly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to bmk,

    Official business stats would understate R & D conducted too though. I used to have to fill out the quarterly Statistic NZ form and it was so annoying to constantly have to do that you would fill it out as fast as possible and simply put down 0 for R & D rather than the actual number.

    That changed for a little while when Labour introduced a tax incentive for R&D. The numbers went up rapidly and it turned out that the big accounting firms were doing lots of R&D that they hadn't previously reported. In fact, surprisingly, they were doing almost exactly the maximum amount of claimable R&D that it was possible to do!

    Seriously though, industry R&D is quite reasonably mostly D. While D is critical, if you don't have someone doing R then the only D you can do is with R from other countries.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    over 20 years none of the magic has worked. So my thinking is how about we stop doing things that don't work and simply do the thing that has worked in every other country.

    Yes. Applies to everything really. NZ tried neoliberalism pretty thoroughly from 1984 to 1999, yet fools persist with it despite the results (or because of them if they're in the small group who did well).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    My problem with that is that over 20 years none of the magic has worked. So my thinking is how about we stop doing things that don’t work and simply do the thing that has worked in every other country.

    (Being the atheist I am, forgive me, I will have to slip for a moment...)

    Amen to that!!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

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