Stephen Hawking Warns Against Brexit

March 11, 2016

Stephen Hawking, the Emeritus Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and more than 150 other Royal Society fellows are warning that Britain’s exit from the European Union would be a “disaster” for science in the United Kingdom. In a letter published in The Times of London, Hawking, of black hole fame, and fellow scientists argue that the so-called Brexit would hurt science because the union has led to increased research funding, especially in the United Kingdom.

“We now recruit many of our best researchers from continental Europe, including younger ones who have obtained [European Union] grants and have chosen to move with them here,” they added. “Being able to attract and fund the most talented Europeans assures the future of British science and also encourages the best scientists elsewhere to come here.”

Tim Worstall, fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, wrote in Forbes, meanwhile, that Hawking and others “get it wrong.” The problem with their argument, he wrote, “is that they’ve entirely missed the economic point about science itself: that it’s a public good. That means that it doesn’t actually matter who does the science, where it’s done, only that it is done. That’s the economic implication of it being a public good: and it’s also the economic reasoning behind why there’s public subsidy to it.”

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