Monday, March 17, 2008

Why is there more business news then science news?

If almost all economic growth is caused by science why are scientific advances not reported in more detail then some change in bank shares? If science is going to effect the economy and our lives much more then sterling doing badly against a basket of currencies or even a basket of scampi then it should be reported.

For news media "five hours of viewing would yield 71 minutes of politics, 26 minutes of crime, 12 minutes of disasters and 10 minutes of celebrities. Science, technology, health and the environment received just six minutes of coverage (with health and health care accounting for half of that."

One possible way to help fix this is betting markets for science. These would provide
1. a figure on science that the public could understand. For example imagine a news broadcast
"the market odds for 5 degrees global warming in 50 years today moved up 2% to 95%"
2. Provide a way to hedge. Resource futures allow people to guarantee they will earn a certain amount for their produce. Science prediction markets can provide a similar hedge. A company owning port space in northern Canada could bet against global warming to guarantee a certain minimum income.
3.To subsidise scientific research. Scientific prediction markets would reward scientists for being right.

You could claim that scientific market would not provide any mew information as research companies already know this information. If they do the public could still benefit from this knowledge. If they do they are better predictors of science then they are of resource prices which seems unlikely. The market in science futures should be every bit as valuable as the market for resource futures. A coal market might help you plan for electricity supply in 10 years time but so can a market of superconductors or one on fusion power.
Saying there is no need for science futures because private firms carry out research is like saying there is no need for resource futures because private companies grow/mine the materials.

Anyway if you think scientific prediction markets are a good idea or a bad one you can make a prediction here

No comments: