The Science of Spending Stimulus Money Wisely

The New York Times carries an interesting article on the role of spending on science projects as part of a stimulus package.

Crass and Ill-Informed Opinion on Science?

Professor Luke O’Neill of TCD reckons that the recommendation of the Bord Snip report to cut €100 million from our state-funded scientific research budget is “crass and ill-informed”.

Professor O’Nell is obviously a man who only puts forward well-informed opinions. For that reason, I was interested in his statement that

it is also well known that investment in basic research, as well as being an investment in what economists prosaically call human capital, pays back on average three to one in the long run. What other sector that the Irish government funds can boast such a return?

Funnily enough, well-known facts are sometimes the trickiest to actually find evidence for.

I’m willing to be pursuaded that Professor O’Neill’s well-known fact is actually a fact. I’m even willing to be pursuaded that it’s well known. But I’ll need some help here—can people tell me the source of this well-informed opinion and whether this source applies well to Ireland?