Niklas Blanchard adds interesting comments. Charlton follows up:,

The joke of the Texas Sharpshooter is that he fires his gun many times into a barn door, then draws a target over the bullet holes, with the bulls-eye over the closest cluster of bullet holes.

Charlton claims that solving a specific problem requires more skill than pursuing innovation and then proclaiming whatever you develop a success. I am agnostic about that. But I definitely would not pooh-pooh unplanned innovation. I think that unplanned innovation is extremely valuable.

I might be willing to concede Charlton’s point that we have lost some capabilities to mount large, collective, centrally planned scientific/engineering efforts. However, it is not something that concerns me. Even Charlton seems unsure whether the issue is important.