12 November 2014
Vincent Hendricks: Scientific Research can be Prone to Bubbles too – Neuroscience Risks Being the Next One
The following is an excerpt of the article - read it in full length HERE
Science, like any other field that attracts investment, is prone to bubbles. Overly optimistic investments in scientific fields, research methods and technologies generate episodes comparable to those experienced by financial markets prior to crashing.
Assessing the toxic intellectual debt that builds up when too much liquidity is concentrated on too few assets is an important task if research funders want to avoid going short on overvalued research.
The cause of the meltdown of the financial market is obvious: leveraged trading in financial instruments that bear no relation to the things they are supposed to be secured against. Science, too, is a market in which the value of research is ultimately secured against objects in the world. If the world is not as it appears in a research paper, does the research have value?
A paper that claims that smoking causes cancer or that terrorism is caused by poverty is valuable only if it turns out to be a good explanation of cancer or terrorism. As recently noted by Philip Gerrans at the University of Adelaide, “[It] is why an original and true explanation is the gold standard of academic markets.”