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Wired 13.12: Slacking Off in Science

Wired 13.12: Slacking Off in Science

I was really surprised by this article in WIRED Magazine. For years and years we’ve been told that Denmark is suffering from a “brain drain”, but according to this WIRED Magazine article, based on information from a number of US and international science indicators, for instance the CIA World Factbook; Science and Engineering Indicators, this is not true.

According to the article, the number of researchers per 1,000 people, the list is topped by Finland with 8, followed by Iceland, Japan, Sweden with Denmark being 5th, the US is 8th behind Norway and Singapore as well.

This was indeed a surprise to me.

On the other hand the article also lists the big spenders in science, and here the list is topped by China with 6% of annual GDP, on this list Denmark isn’t in the top 15. This does indicate a problem, on the other hand, the amount spent might not translate directly into good science being performed.

One problem with the danish universities is that the top scientists are required to produce a steady stream of papers, that could be of questionable quality, and the scientists usually have obligations to lecture, something that can hurt the science.

The danish tax system is often cited as a reason that we’re not able to attract the best minds, I believe that this is a bit exaggerated, and it has turned out that a special government sponsored program meant to attract foreign scientists, was exploited by danish professional sports teams to get a tax break when they hired foreign professional athletes, this was hardly the reason the program was put in to place.

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