Can space save the economy from secular stagnation? That is the hypothesis explored in this paper by Matthew Weinzierl. The way you react to papers like this is interesting – there are, I find, two typical reactions. The first is an enthusiastic “Yes!” and the other is a deep sigh, followed by complaints about people looking for solutions in space when we should fix things here on Earth. There should be a third option, however, and that is curiosity.
Being curious about something means keeping an open mind, exploring the ideas we encounter and asking questions about them – an increasingly rare mode of public engagement. Part of the tribal turn in politics is that we ask fewer questions, and generally remain deeply incurious about the world we live in. We do not entertain the notion that we might suspend our judgment and just explore – to learn more.
Tyler Cowen once warned against the tendency to “devalue and dismiss”and this mode of engagement is now becoming increasingly common.1 See https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/01/the-devalue-and-dismiss-fallacy-methodological-pluralism-and-dsge-models.html#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20common,then%20dismiss%20that%20argument%20altogether. This makes us more stupid, in a special kind of way: this is a stupidity that compounds negatively, since our ability to the be curious about other things also diminishes (once you have dismissed something, the connected subjects are also easy to devalue and dismiss).
So, we should be curious about space. We should explore the notion that perhaps space is a solution to secular stagnation. And we should think about mining in space, macro economic spill-overs and economic aspects of space over all.
Also – we should recognise that curiosity is a process, not a desire to resolve uncertainty into certainty immediately. This is why the phenomenon of spoilers is worth exploring more in detail – as this paper shows.