The Modern Commercialisation of Science is a Passel of Ponzi Schemes

Professor Philip Mirowski, Carl Koch Chair of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, USA

Co presented with the Australian Working Group on Financialisationand the Biopolitics of Science Research Network, University of Sydney

1 August

A wide array of phenomena lumped together under the rubric of the 'commercialisation of science', the 'commodification of research', and the 'marketplace of ideas' are both figuratively and literally Ponzi schemes. This thesis grows out of my experience of working on two concurrent projects: an attempt to understand the forces behind the progressive commercialisation of science; and the second, when it dawned upon me that the financial crisis then unfolding was resulting in the deepest worldwide economic contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

This lecture explores the parallels in three different areas: the biotech sector, technology transfer offices at major universities, and possible decline of numbers of American-authored papers in major science journals.

Professor Philip Mirowski

Professor Philip Mirowski is Carl Koch Chair of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science, and Fellow of the Reilly Center, University of Notre Dame. He is author of, among others, Machine Dreams (2002), The Effortless Economy of Science? (2004), More Heat than Light (1989), and ScienceMart: privatizing American science (2011). He is editor of Agreement on Demand (2006) and The Road from Mont Pè€lerin: the making of the neoliberal thought collective (2009),and Building Chicago Economics (2011) among other works.

Outside of work on the history and analysis of the commercialisation of science, he is also working on a computational complexity approach to the crisis, and a new book on the failure of self-conceived progressive economics to resist the neoliberal retrenchment after the Great Recession. He was awarded the Ludwig Fleck Prize from 4S in 2006, and has been visiting professor at Yale, Oxford, NYU, Duke, Paris, and the University of Amsterdam.

Professor Mirowski is in Australia as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and the keynote speaker at the Life and Debt: Living through the Financialisation of the Biosphere conference.