The government are very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But you must never forget that every one of these figures comes in the first instance from the village watchman, who just puts down what he damn pleases.
I was at one point thinking about doing physics as a career-I did undergrad in physics-but in order to really advance physics these days, you need the data. Physics is fundamentally governed by the progress of engineering. This debate-"Which is better, engineers or scientists? Aren't scientists better? Wasn't Einstein the smartest person?"-personally, I think that engineering is better because in the absence of the engineering, you do not have the data. You just hit a limit. And yeah, you can be real smart within the context of the limit of the data you have, but unless you have a way to get more data, you can't make progress. Like look at Galileo. He engineered the telescope-that's what allowed him to see that Jupiter had moons. The limiting factor, if you will, is the engineering. And if you want to advance civilization, you must address the limiting factor. Therefore, you must address the engineering.