Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 503–518 | Cite as

Science Bubbles

  • David Budtz Pedersen
  • Vincent F. Hendricks
Research Article


Much like the trade and traits of bubbles in financial markets, similar bubbles appear on the science market. When economic bubbles burst, the drop in prices causes the crash of unsustainable investments leading to an investor confidence crisis possibly followed by a financial panic. But when bubbles appear in science, truth and reliability are the first victims. This paper explores how fashions in research funding and research management may turn science into something like a bubble economy.


Bubbles Finance Science Social psychology Informational phenomena Research management Optimization games 



We wish to thank the following colleagues for helpful comments and discussion: Alexandru Baltag, Patrick Blackburn, Johan van Benthem, Finn Collin, Claus Emmeche, Claus Strue Frederiksen, Søren Gosvig Olesen, Erik J. Olsson, Ramus K. Rendsvig, Dan Zahavi, Philip Pettit, John Symons, and the two anonymous reviewers. We gratefully acknowledge the support from The Velux Foundation and the Humanomics Research Programme.


  1. Alivisatos, N. (2012). Brain activity map. Neuron, 74, 970–974.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, M. R., & Hacker, P. M. S. (2003). Philosophical foundations of neuroscience. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  3. Bonilla, J. P. Z. (2012). The economics of scientific knowledge. In U. Mäki (Ed.), Handbook of the philosophy of science. The philosophy of economics. New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, N., & Michael, M. (2003). A sociology of expectations: retrospecting prospects and prospecting retrospects. Technology Assessment and Strategic Management, 15(1), 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buchanan, M. (2008). “Why economic theory is out of whack”. New Scientist. July 19, 2008.Google Scholar
  6. Budtz Pedersen, D. (2013). Research evaluation. Ethics, science, technology, and engineering. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Burge, T. (2010). “A real science of mind.” New York Times: The Stone. Dec 19, 2010. Accessed online 15 Aug 2013.Google Scholar
  8. Butler, L. (2004). What happens when funding is linked to publication counts? In H. F. Moed, W. Glänzel, & U. Schmoch (Eds.), Handbook of quantitative science and technology research: the use of publication and patent statistics in studies of S&T systems. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 389–405.Google Scholar
  9. Button, K. (2013). Unreliable neuroscience? Why power matters. The Guardian, Wednesday 10 April 2013.Google Scholar
  10. Button, K. S., Ioannidis, J. P. A., Mokrysz, C., Nosek, B. A., Flint, J., Robinson, E. S. J., & Munafò, M. R. (2013). Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14(5), 365–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Centola, D., Willer, R., & Macy, M. (2005). The emperor's dilemma: a computational model of self-enforcing norms. American Journal of Sociology, 110, 1009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen, X. (1988). Reconstruction of the optical revolution. Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, 1988, 103–109.Google Scholar
  13. Conway, B. R., & Rehding, A. (2013). Neuroaesthetics and the trouble with beauty. PLoS Biology, 11(3), e1001504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Elger, E., Freiderichi, A., Koch, C., Luhmann, H., Malsburg, C., Menzel, R., et al. (2004). “The Manifesto” (original text in German). Brain and Mind, 6, 30–37.Google Scholar
  15. Elzinga, A. (2004). The new production of reductionism in research policy models. In K. Grandin (Ed.), The science-industry Nexus. Sagamore Beach, 277–304.Google Scholar
  16. Felt, U. (2007). Taking European knowledge society seriously. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  17. Franck, G. (2002). The scientific economy of attention: a novel approach to the collective rationality of science. Scientometrics, 55(1), 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gerrans, P. (2009). “Bubble trouble”. Times Higher Education, 9 July 2009.Google Scholar
  19. Goldman, A., & Shaked, M. (1991). An economic model of scientific activity and truth acquisition. Philosophical Studies, 63, 31–55.Google Scholar
  20. Hansen, P. G., & Hendricks, V. F. (2014). Infostorms: how to take information punches and save democracy. New York: Copernicus Books.Google Scholar
  21. Hansen, P. G., Hendricks, V. F., & Rendsvig, R. K. (2013). Infostorms. Metaphilosophy, 44(3), 301–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hedgecoe, A., & Martin, P. (2003). The drugs don't work: expectations and the shaping of pharmacogenetics. Social Studies of Science, 33(3), 327–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hendricks, V. F., & Lundorff-Rasmussen, J. (2012). Nedtur! Finanskrisen forstået filosofisk. Copenhagen: Gyldendal Business.Google Scholar
  24. Hendricks, V.F. & Rendsvig, R.K. (2013). Structures of social proof (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  25. Katz, D., & Allport, F. H. (1931). Student attitudes. Syracuse: Craftsman.Google Scholar
  26. Keats, J. (2013). “The $1.3B quest to build a supercomputer replica of a human brain”. Wired Magazine, London: July 2013, pp. 128–135.Google Scholar
  27. Kitcher, P. (1990). The division of cognitive labor. The Journal of Philosophy, 87(1), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lakatos, I. (1978). The methodology of scientific research programme. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Latané, B., & Darley. (1968). Bystander apathy. American Scientist, 57, 244–268.Google Scholar
  30. Latané, B., & Nida, S. (1981). The year of research on group size and help. Psychological Bulletin, 89(2), 308–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Laudel, G. (2006). The art of getting funded: how scientists adapt to their funding conditions. Science and Public Policy, 33(7), 489–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lee, I. H. (1998). Market crashes and informational avalanches. Review of Economic Studies, 65, 741–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lütge, C. (2004). Economics in philosophy of science: can the dismal science contribute anything interesting? Synthese, 140(3), 279–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Macfarlane, B., & Cheng, M. (2008). Communism, universalism and disinterestedness: re-examining contemporary support among academics for Merton's scientific norms. Journal of Academic Ethics, 6, 67–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Merton, R. K. (1942). The normative structure of science. In R. K. Merton (Ed.), The sociology of science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  36. Mirowski, P. (2012). The modern commercialization of science is a passel of Ponzi schemes. Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, 26(4), 285–310.Google Scholar
  37. Mirowski, P., & Sent, E.-M. (2002). Science bought and sold. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  38. Nowotny, H., Scott, P., & Gibbons, M. (2001). Re-thinking science: knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty. London: Polity.Google Scholar
  39. Rip, A. (1988). Contextual transformations in contemporary science. In Keeping science straight: a critical look at the assessment of science and technology. University of Gothenburg Press, 59–85.Google Scholar
  40. Rip, A. (2009). Futures of ELSA. EMBO Reports, 10(7), 666–670.Google Scholar
  41. Robinson, M. (2010). The privatization of neuroscience: the university, the state and the moral aims of science. Accessed 11 Jan 2011.
  42. Rose, N. (2013). The human sciences in a biological age. Theory Culture Society, 30, 3–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Selin, C. (2007). Expectations and the emergence of nanotechnology. Science, Technology & Human Values, 32(2), 196–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stephan, P., & Audretsch, D. B. (Eds.). (2000). The economics of science and of innovation. Volume 2. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  45. Sun, R. et al. (2010). Proceedings of the workshop on cognitive social sciences: grounding the social sciences in the cognitive sciences. Portland, Oregon. August 11, 2010.Google Scholar
  46. Tallis, R. (2011). Apeing mankind. Durham: Acumen.Google Scholar
  47. Vogel, H. L. (2010). Financial market bubbles and crashes. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Wadman, M. (2013). Behind the scenes of a brain-mapping moon shot. Nature Online, 495(7439), 19. Scholar
  49. Weber, A.A. (2009). “Weber says ECB has used room to cut interest rates” Accessed May 2013.
  50. Weingart, P. (2005). Impact of bibliometrics upon the science system: inadvertent consequences. Scientometrics, 62(1), 117–131.Google Scholar
  51. Weisberg, D. S., Keil, F. C., Goodstein, J., Rawson, E., & Gray, J. R. (2008). The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(3), 470–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Whitley, R., & Gläser, J. (Eds.). (2007). The changing governance of the sciences. The advent of research evaluation systems. Springer: Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  53. Zeki, S. (2013). “Statement on neuroesthetics”. Online Journal of Neuroesthetics.
  54. Ziman, J. (2001). Real science. What it is, and what it means. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Humanomics Research ProgrammeUniversity of AarhusAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Media, Cognition and Communication/Section for PhilosophyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark

Personalised recommendations