From Cassandra's legacy
the state of scientific research in the world seems to be a nice example of Tainter's interpretation of the diminishing returns of complexity. Tainter had devised his model to explain the fall of civilizations - he had mostly in mind the Roman Empire. His idea is that when civilizations face diminishing resources, they react by building up more and more complex structure to cope with the problem. But there is a diminishing return to complexity; these structures become burdens rather than solutions and help bringing down the whole system (a discussion of mine on Tainter's model can be found here).