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Manned space exploration–the comments

Summary:
I asked for some reasons why we might want to send men into space. I’ve read the comment section and am a bit disappointed. Surely there must be better arguments out there?Even the most plausible argument was extremely dubious. Perhaps the strongest was the idea of catastrophe insurance. What if something horrible happened to Earth? But there’s a much cheaper way of providing insurance. Put a few dozen humans (who rotate to avoid boredom) into deep underground bunkers spaced far apart on Earth. That would insure that at least some humans survived even a massive asteroid strike. (Actually, even some humans on the surface would have survived the 65 million year BCE asteroid without bunkers, as some mammals, birds and reptiles did survive that dinosaur killer.) The cost

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I asked for some reasons why we might want to send men into space. I’ve read the comment section and am a bit disappointed. Surely there must be better arguments out there?

Even the most plausible argument was extremely dubious. Perhaps the strongest was the idea of catastrophe insurance. What if something horrible happened to Earth? But there’s a much cheaper way of providing insurance. Put a few dozen humans (who rotate to avoid boredom) into deep underground bunkers spaced far apart on Earth. That would insure that at least some humans survived even a massive asteroid strike. (Actually, even some humans on the surface would have survived the 65 million year BCE asteroid without bunkers, as some mammals, birds and reptiles did survive that dinosaur killer.) The cost of those bunkers would be trivial compared to the cost of a sustainable Moon base with an ability to bring enough men and women back to Earth to repopulate the planet after a catastrophe.

People spoke of “experiments” in space that only humans can do, without providing any plausible examples. And why haven’t they already been done?

People suggested that manned space flights are still inspiring in 2020, without explaining why.

Mars colonies were mentioned, even though the idea is a pipe dream. If you really want to go to Mars, then manned space flight is the very last thing you should be proposing. Rather you should encourage NASA to divert manned space flight funds to research on technologies that would make a Mars colony feasible. Until we have such technology there is no realistic prospect of a Mars colony. And that research must be done on Earth. Don’t confuse sci-fi with reality.

Perhaps the funniest is the fellow who compared manned space flight to the ocean explorers of the 1400s, as if Neil Armstrong had “discovered” the Moon. Voyager did “discover” some neat stuff, but of course it was unmanned.

The comment section was a master class in motivated reasoning. I suspect that some commenters were guys who like sci-fi movies and were desperately looking for any excuse, no matter how far-fetched, to justify sending people into space. I doubt whether manned space flight will play an important role in the 21st or 22nd centuries. There’s no point in mucking around in space until we invent propulsion systems that are orders of magnitude better than chemical rockets. There’s also no point in continually sending lots of people down 10,000 meters deep in the ocean, once we’ve shown it can be done.

I suspect that Elon Musk is just a rich guy playing with toys. (Nothing against Musk, I like Tesla cars and Paypal.)

PS. If you are a conservative that is generally opposed to big government, then you really should oppose manned space flight. If you make an exception for manned space flight because you find it “inspiring”, or that it promotes “national greatness”, then you need to look long and hard in the mirror. Why don’t you find progressive programs aimed at helping the poor to be inspiring? You don’t see any hard evidence that they are effective? Fine, but where’s your “hard evidence” that manned space flight is more effective than unmanned flights? Maybe you need to re-evaluate your values.

PS. Both Iceland and NZ are down to one active case. Predict who gets to zero first.

PPS. Please don’t bore me with your comments that there’s nothing surprising about the following data, because of blah blah blah. I know all of the reasons. But a nearly 200 to 1 ratio is still pretty mind-boggling:

Manned space exploration–the comments

Off topic (unrelated to the data above), both sides of the “Sweden debate” miss the point. Sweden blew it, but not because of its failure to institute lockdowns.

PPPS: New York was obviously hit extremely hard, but now they are doing much better:

What has caused the number of deaths to drop so significantly, according to physicians, health-care executives, epidemiologists and state officials, are two well-known measures: social-distancing and the use of face coverings.

Manned space exploration–the comments

I wonder if even a modest amount of herd immunity is also helping NYC. California is not seeing a drop in either new cases or deaths. We have almost no herd immunity.

PPPPS: The following is just part of the deep Chinese conspiracy. There are playing 4 dimensional chess:

Initially, authorities in Wuhan, China — where the first cases were reported— thought that jump happened at a local wet market.

Now, the Chinese CDC has ruled out the market as a possible origin site for the outbreak. Instead, it may have been the site of an early super-spreader event.

Update: I see that Trump caved into the CCP on Hong Kong in order to boost the US stock market. He should have punished the CCP by allowing free immigration from China to the US, thus stealing much of their intellectual talent.


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

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