So you’re a college professor. And you have a choice. You can run a study on something that’s controversial that would make many people in your field unhappy and would go against what many leftist politicians are espousing. And you know you are not likely to receive government funding for such an unpopular project.
Or you could affirm a long held theory that would make your colleagues esteem you and the government fund you. The funding would also please the college which employs you.
Which choice would you make? I thought so.
It’s a problematic situation. One which concerned Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute highlights the problem recently of science’s dependence on government funding. Lewis, at a Discovery Institute event, cited President Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address in which he famously warned about the “military-industrial complex.” In that same speech, Eisenhower also expressed his concerns about collusion between the scientific community and the government.
Of scientific research, he worried, “A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.”
And then said:
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
Any of this sounding familiar?
A few thoughts. Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about how one party is pro-science and the other is anti-science. But if you understand that so much of “science” is placed in the hands of the government funders, then all pleas to obey the science are actually just orders to listen to your government elites who control the science.
The truth is that if you control the scientists, you control science. It’s not a far-fetched conspiracy theory. It’s simply human nature. Unless you believe that scientists have risen above their own human nature due to their vocation as scientists bent on finding the truth, their own prestige and career be damned. I don’t.
Because the government isn’t just giving away money. It’s prestige too. If your department at college receives millions in funding because of an experiment you’re running, the college is going to be pretty darn happy with you and it makes it perhaps more likely you’ll get tenure or be made chair or some other major career lift.
All of these people in the “March for Science” are really just telling you to listen to your government overlords who control the scientists.
In so many political issues, the left claims to have science on their side. Whether it’s global warming, abortion, euthanasia much of the science always seems to support one side of the debate. That perception is, of course, helped along by the media which plays its part by hyping all “science” that jibes with leftist prescriptions and ignoring scientists who question global warming or posit a link between abortion and breast cancer.
I don’t know how you limit this power. Government holds the same power over art.
The two main problems we’re facing are human nature and big government. Both, sadly, seem here to stay.