The power of a name

Reading a brief biography of Lavoisier in the 1901 volume of La Nature. The biography emphasizes the role of his wife Marie-Anne. Both were born rich, both were educated early and strongly to favor their own peculiar talents. Antoine’s father recognized that the family name would be best honored by letting Antoine serve science instead of finance.

Marie was Antoine’s assistant, illustrator and writer. Here she’s logging the results of an experiment with a spirometer, which hasn’t changed much since then. (She also drew this picture, so I guess it’s une mêmie.)

The Terrorists killed Antoine in order to kill the INDEPENDENCE of wealth-financed science. After 1793, only the state could fund and control science, and science had to serve the torturous and murderous purposes of the state.

What kept wealthy science honest?

First, there was no state-forced vector AGAINST honesty, so the natural tendencies of an experimenter were allowed to flourish.

Second, there was no need to fetch an annual grant and use up the annual grant. The current tenure system enforces orthodoxy and encourages waste. Private wealth placed no conditions on the direction of research, and encouraged careful consumption.

Third, using the fortune carefully and fruitfully repaid the obligation of the NAME.

Why are Chinese and Japanese scientists more open-minded than Westerners? Because their cultures still value the NAME. The Japanese funding system is more like private wealth, giving each lab an annual stipend without specific grant contracts, and allowing the lab to accumulate its wealth if not used this year.

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I didn’t understand name-power until last month at age 73. My parents, following in the terroristic tradition of Robespierre and Paine, did everything possible to WIPE OUT the influence of older generations. Public schools did the same, constantly telling us to laugh at all old theories, most of which were CORRECT. We’re still stuck in terrorist mode, favoring Innovative Disruption at every turn and laughing at truth.

See also.

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