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May 03, 2004

US losing its dominance in science?

Is the US losing its dominance in science? A few points:

  • A relative decline is inevitable.
  • European science was dominant before 1950, so its resurgence across the Atlantic is just a reversion to type.
  • Since ~50% of humans are Asian, and the prominence of Asian civilization, especially China, is a persistent fact of human history, a larger contribution to science from that region is also not surprising as economic parity is achieved.
  • But: I am skeptical that Asian culture is as conducive to risky heterodox thinkers as American culture. A lesser process might occur in Europe, and the demands of the welfare state might in the long term siphon money away from basic research throughout the EU.

So, I suspect that America will still be in a class above its weight because of a steady migration of innovative thinkers who want more freedom to take risks.

Posted by razib at 12:28 PM