It shouldn’t surprise you that I have a site called Geeks Are Sexy in my Google Reader. Usually the site serves up fun tidbits about computer-related stuff, but every once in a while it branches out. Today, the site put up an excerpt from a Q&A session with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Here is some living proof that it just takes a bit of logic and not necessarily a degree in economics to understand incentives:
He has a good point- little kids often say that they want to be astronauts when they grow up, but I’ve never heard any of them state that they want to be macroeconomic researchers at Washington DC think tanks, for example. (Nope, not even me.) It’s important to remember that even if these kids don’t end up being astronauts (insert space cadet joke here), their dreams encourage them to at least go down the path of science in general, which is helpful since this sort of knowledge opens a lot of (admittedly less glamorous) doors to opportunities that these kids don’t even know exist yet. As Dr. Tyson astutely points out, if budget people are going to start talking dollars and cents, they should be careful to properly account for the spillover benefits from a “sexy” space program.
I mean, science is supposedly uncool enough already- how can we possibly get people interested if we take away their astronauts???? Perhaps the Science Cheerleader can help: