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How much reductionism?

By Neil McRoberts - Posted on 07 November 2016

The question of being pro- or anti-reductionist came up briefly in a recent lab meeting.  This is a re-hash of a piece I wrote a few years ago in response to a research funding allocation question that touches on that subject.  It relates to a question that was being posed by the government Agriculture/Environment department which supported much of the work I did back then.  The specific example is in the context of designing a science program to address a policy question, but I think the method may be useful at the start of the design process for any new program of research.

The limits to Limits

By Neil McRoberts - Posted on 07 January 2015

Do milestone events (like the publication of Earthrise, December 24 1968, or The Limits to Growth (1972)) have a lasting impact on global econmic and environmental policy?  What's "gestation period" for a work such as Limits to Growth, that has profound implications for sustainable management of global resources, before it's message begins to influence policy formulation?  Why doesn't growth make us happy? I've been trying to grapple with these and other connected questions.  Read more at: http://1680kcal.org/?p=184. 

Reluctant Collectivism?

By Neil McRoberts - Posted on 14 July 2011

This is a cross-posting from the Cubelab blog at UC Davis (http://sites.google.com/site/cubelabsite/home/cube-lab-blog)

A couple of years ago purely by chance I picked up a second hand copy of "Social Limits to Growth" by the late Sir Fred Hirsch in a charity shop (= goodwill store). Hirsch wrote the book in the early 1970's (it was published in 1976 and Hirsch died two years later at the tragically young age of 46) and, as far as I can tell, it hasn't been widely cited by subsequent economists. Hirsch attempted to analyze a set of three connected problems which, as he saw it, laid bare the mostly unspoken (but widely felt) notion that economic growth did not deliver the happiness it promised (see footnote). The last of the three problems was what Hirsch called the reluctant collectivism; the almost grudging acceptance that individual actions cannot always achieve what is best for all individuals together.

What does this have to do with plant disease epidemiology?

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