Terence Kealey's economic arguments:

a professional rebuttal

Kealey's book The Economic Laws of Scientific Research urges that Market Forces are the Answer to Everything, and in particular that all scientific research should be done under commercial pressure. Thus cancer research is to be sponsored mainly by the tobacco industry, ecology and food safety by the food, pesticide, and biotech industries, and environment by the fossil fuel industry. The book received a prestigious Aims of Industry award a few years ago from the then UK Prime Minister John Major. Its political popularity adds to the growing pressure to commercialize all aspects of science, including the capture of scientific data as `intellectual property', delaying independent research or stopping it altogether -- and endangering still further that endangered species of scientist who builds good public databases, an activity essential to today's science and seldom adequately recognized.

The purely economic arguments in Kealey's book are wrong in themselves, according to a detailed analysis by a respected economist and economic historian, P. A. David FBA: `From market magic to calypso science policy: A review of Terence Kealey's The Economic Laws of Scientific Research', Research Policy, 1997, 26, 229-255. I thank John Ziman for pointing out this reference, a full-length published paper that politely, firmly, and meticulously exposes the `flawed economic logic' in Kealey's book, `the telling of stories that blatantly disregard the evidence'.

Kealey has responded in Research Policy, 1998, 26, 897-923 and in Nature Medicine, 1998, 4, 995-999.

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Copyright © Michael E. McIntyre 2000. Last updated 15 March 2000