Marsden Fund

Jane Kelsey scores $600k of government money to research opposition to our trade and economic policies

Jane Kelsey must be blessed. She has scored $600,000 of taxpayer money to study?”Transcending embedded neoliberalism in international economic regulation: options and strategies”.


The government is paying her to research opposition to our trade and economic policies?


Note the word “international” in the title. You can do a lot of “international” air travel for $600k, and not in cattle class.

Perhaps the Taxpayers’ Union should get an academic onboard and then ask for $600,000 for research on international sugar taxes?

This is just an outrageous amount of money so this shrieking harpy can mount protests all over the country and get things massively wrong. ? Read more »

Scientists discover success in science is more or less random

I?ve commented before that there is a place for science for science?s sake, and the public should be putting money into it. ?

But it is interesting to discover that an expert and blind selection process has absolutely no benefit to picking more winners. ?

Our biggest fund for blue sky research is boosting scientific output in New Zealand, but there’s plenty of room to improve the Marsden Fund.

The fund – which is independently overseen by the Royal Society of New Zealand and has funded more than 1200 research projects to the tune of more than $600 million since its inception 20 years ago – has come under the microscope in a new study by Wellington-based Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.

Last year, the fund granted a total $56 million to 101 research projects chosen from among 1222 applications from researchers at universities, Crown Research Institutes and independent research organisations.

“The government is considering expanding public funding to narrow this gap, but very little has been known about the efficacy of existing funding mechanisms until now,” Motu director Dr Adam Jaffe said.

His team found that public expenditure on the fund was effective in increasing scientific outputs; a group of researchers given Marsden funding returned a six to 12 per cent increase in their academic publications, and a bump of between 13 and 30 percent in the papers that cite their work. ? Read more »

John Gibson: Your blog on my Marsden Fund project

This is an unedited Right of Reply. ?I will also not comment. ?You may see that John has misconceptions about our commenters – which isn’t unusual. ?If you’re going to complain about it, then you’ll end up proving his point. ?I suggest you stick to the topic at hand and make me proud. ?Thanks.

Dear Cameron

You raised some questions today in your blog about my project which the Marsden Fund will support from 2015-17. Let me try to answer them. Please note that I am directly e-mailing you because I don’t comment on blogs. Some commentators on blogs seem impervious to evidence, so my commenting would probably be a waste of time. When I produce evidence that might be of interest to a blogger I do sometimes send it to them directly (e.g. on rising public sector wage premiums to David Farrar and on school zone effects to Eric Crampton) ?so I am not opposed to blogs per se but I do prefer to limit my engagement with them. Also note, that while I am an empirical economist and so will support conclusions based on what the evidence indicates, politically I would be broadly considered as right-of-center (not that this should be relevant) and am well aware of the limits to state action and the importance of individual responsibility.

a) what is already known in NZ and why is the study necessary?

A series of studies by Wellington School of Medicine researchers along with economists from Otago and NZIER used two types of data from Stats NZ: the Household Economic Survey (HES) and Food Price Index (FPI) data. They modeled the effect of prices on the shares of the household budget allocated to a number of food and beverage groups, with “energy drinks” as one group and “carbonated soft drinks” as another. Their model examined how households altered their budget shares for each item as prices changed. Based on their results, they concluded that “a 10% tax on carbonated soft drinks could lead to a 13% decrease in population purchases of these products”. The reduced purchases were assumed to all be in terms of quantities purchased, and this evidence, along with similar overseas studies has been influential with the NZMA etc in recommending a 20% tax on fizzy drinks as one way to combat rising obesity. ?? Read more »

More health troughers score big from the Marsden Fund

Another set of health troughers has been revealed to be attacking food and drink manufacturers and all funded by the Marsden Fund.

A “sin tax” on unhealthy items is often touted as a way to stop people having them so often, but it might drive them to cheaper brands.

A team led by a University of Waikato researcher has just received $800,000 to study the idea, focusing on sugary soft drinks and cigarettes.

And while the data they’ll analyse doesn’t come from New Zealand, the findings have implications for Kiwis.

Economics professor John Gibson is leading a team looking into whether a “sin tax” would bring down consumption of fizzy drink and cigarettes.

It was one of four Waikato-led projects to receive funding from the Marsden Fund, and reaped $805,000.

“There are New Zealand studies which say 20 per cent fizzy drink tax would save X number of lives and those are the studies we have some questions about,” Gibson said.

There was a loophole in data which focused on spend rather than quantity bought, he said.

“They might simply go from drinking expensive Coke to either cheaper Coke . . . or they might go from Coke down to Pams or Homebrand,” he said.

For instance, Countdown sells a 600ml bottle of Coca Cola for $3.99 whereas 1.25L of Homebrand Lemonade is just 97 cents.

“The existing studies assume the reduction in spending translates to a reduction in quantity,” Gibson said. ? Read more »

$1 million to VUW troughers to study “rape culture”

Boy oh boy do the troughers know how to take big long drinks from the trough.

Three?troughers at Victoria University have scored a million dollars to study “rape culture”.

Three academics from Victoria University – a criminologist, a lawyer and a psychologist – have been awarded the money by the Marsden Fund for two three-year research projects.

They are among 101 awards totalling almost $56 million.

Associate professor Jan Jordan was awarded $610,000 for her project to investigate why, despite so much talking and rhetoric around rape reform over the past 40 years, it was so hard to get substantive change.

She said her project was in two parts.

“One is actually looking at up-to-date review of police files on rape to look at some of the factors involved as to why cases do not continue through the justice system.”

“The second part is getting more at the socio-cultural side, and that’s really wanting to analyse changing depiction’s of women and rape in the media to actually look at how our forms of social media still portray women dominantly as sexual objects.”

Associate professors Elisabeth McDonald and Ann Weatherall were also awarded $540,000 to examine attitudes to sexual complainants in the courtroom and how they were treated by lawyers and judges.

The researchers are also to look at the extent to which myths about rape influences that process.

Read more »

Maharey slayed on Close up

I don't usually watch Close Up, but last night Paul Henry replaced the insipid wench who usually fronts the show.

There was an article on Dyslexia followed by and interview with Maharey .

Well Paul Henry just slayed him. There was blood every where and maharey didn't have an answer.

You see the New Zealand Education boffins reckon Dyslexia is actually a learning behaviour issue rather than anything else. Further Maharey actually denied that Dyslexia even exists, he kept referring to it as a learning behaviour issue.

This is of course in direct contradiction with the rest of the world and in particular the UK, Australia and the USA. In typical socialist fashion Maharey says they are all wrong and he and his professional colleagues and edukayshunalist are right.

Minister you are wrong. Dead wrong.?

Paul Henry to his eternal credit didn't let Maharey off the hook and kept at him till the end.?

Yahoo puts news, blogs side by side

[Imported from Whale Oil Beef Hooked on Blogger]

From Yahoo direct

Watch out MSM here come the blogs….

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOOnews) said on Monday it will begin featuring the work of self-published Web bloggers side by side with the work of professional journalists, leveling distinctions between the two.

Yahoo News, is set to begin testing on Tuesday an expanded news search system that includes not only news stories and blogs but also user-contributed photos and related Web links.

The move will further stoke the debate between media traditionalists who want to maintain strict walls between news and commentary and those who argue such boundaries are elitist and undervalue the work of “citizen journalists.”

You betcha those attitudes undervalue the work of citizen journalists, particularkly if the citizen journalists are the only real and accurate journalists in a particular country or when the MSM are too hackified to publish anything but official press releases dressed up as news.

Yahoo said its move to combine professionally edited news alongside the work of grassroots commentators promises to enrich the sources of information on breaking news events.

“Traditional media doesn’t have the time and resources to cover all the stories,” Joff Redfern, product director for Yahoo Search said. “It really does add substantially to what you are looking at when you are looking for news.”

Robert Thompson, a media studies professor at Syracuse University, said it was important to preserve the distinctions between professional journalism and personal commentary.

He defined professional journalism as reporting which adheres to standards of accuracy and writing subjected to an editorial process, and all done with an eye to journalistic ethics, although he said journalism often falls short of these goals.

“There is a distinction between something that has gone through an editorial process as opposed to something put up by someone that has been through none of those processes,” Thompson said.

I presume when he says “editorial process” he actually means editorial slant and bias.

One blogger had this to say;

But media critic Jeff Jarvis, author of the blog Buzzmachine (, said major Internet sites such as Yahoo and Google (Nasdaq:GOOGnews) continue to patronize bloggers by treating them as secondary sources of news.

Jarvis, who is a former TV critic for TV Guide and People magazines, mocked the notion that journalists live by a shared set of professional standards, that they are better trained or more trustworthy than the anyone-can-join blog movement.

“What made the voice of the people somehow less important than the paid professional journalist?” he asked. “You don’t need to have a degree, you don’t need to have a paycheck, you don’t need to have a byline,” Jarvis said.

“If you inform the public, you are committing an act of journalism,” he declared.

Hear, Hear and about time too!!