- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226306356
- ISBN-13: 978-0226306353
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion 1st Edition
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Science, in the abstract, is supposed to be nonpolitical, even to transcend politics entirely. In truth, though, science is always conditioned by political reality--and by money.
So writes journalist Daniel Greenberg in this wide-ranging indictment of the way in which science is conducted in the United States. Although funding for scientific research has been readily available since the end of World War II, he maintains, research bureaucrats have transformed the enterprise into "a clever, well-financed claimant for money" and the successful quest for that funding into a condition of employment and advancement. Given that climate, Greenberg suggests, basic research has suffered, so that many diseases go unconquered, while more politically glamorous investigations are rewarded. Increasingly corporatized--industry, he writes, accounts for two-thirds of all research and development dollars spent, and its "profit-seeking values" are radiating throughout the culture--scientific research is insufficiently policed and criticized, watched over only by the inmates. In the rush for funding, Greenberg argues, science becomes increasingly subject to ethical lapses, with scientists too easily endorsing dubious causes such as the so-called Star Wars missile-defense system and too readily putting human subjects in danger.
Greenberg's arguments are broad but well supported, and his book is sure to excite controversy within the scientific community. Lay readers, however, will also find it of much interest. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Washington-based journalist Daniel S. Greenberg (The Politics of Pure Science) delves further into his favorite issue in Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion. Debunking science industry and policy myths left and right, Greenberg combines archival research and interviews with scientists and politicians in the know to explore why and how research has happened in the postwar U.S. "[B]ecause the politics of science is registered in money awarded or denied... [m]oney will serve as a diagnostic tool for our study," says Greenberg. He goes on to describe the sycophancy, backbends and, sometimes, dishonesty practiced by researchers, and the willingness of some government scientists to keep their mouths shut when it behooves their bosses. A disturbing, compelling and well-researched conspiracy story of the "I knew it!" variety.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
It does not, however, provide a complete picture. Three other books are helpful:
The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney is the book that is the most compelling on the perversions of the extremist Republicans (I am a moderate Republican). Read this first or last, depending on your disposition.
Frontiers of Illusion: Science, Technology, and the Politics of Progress by Daniel Sarewitz, is an excellent counterpart to Greenberg as well as the other two books If science is corrupt on the one hand, it is also over-sold on the other, a point that Sarewitz addresses very methodically.
Finally, Investing in Innovation: Creating a Research and Innovation Policy That Works, edited by Lewis Bramscomb and James Keller, brings together a range of views crossing the environment within which scientific research takes place, evaluationg specific programs and policy tools, and making recommendations (all of which have been ignored by the current Bush Administration).
I take three bottom lines from these four books together:
1) We are spending too much on military science & research.
2) Neither Congress nor the Executive have a serious strategy for prioritizing problems, finding private sector partners, and providing seed money for innovative solutions.
3) Both Congress and the Executive, as well as the public and the media, are incredibly ignorant about what science can and cannot do, and where all the money is going to generally poor effect.
4) This is all so important that Science, like Intelligence, needs its own Supreme Court. I am persuaded we need a new form of hybid public agency that is fully independent of the Executive, receiving a percentage of the total disposable budget (say 3%) and hence not subject to Congression pressures.
If you buy only one book, buy this one--but you will be missing important alternative thoughts from the other three.
Greenberg traces the changing role of science and its relationship with politics, roughly since the period following WWII. Long gone is the era of the prominent presidential science advisors. Today it is money that dominates the scientific agenda. The chapter on the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its claim a few years ago that the country faced a shortage of tens of thousands of scientists is illustrative. Greenberg shows this lobbying effort for increased funds as a knowingly false issue pushed by a merger of institutional and academic interests. Greenberg quotes a US Office of Management & Budget Report which had this to say about scientists: "They are the quintessential special interest group..."
He has much to say on the inflated claims of many projects. Although he specifically mentions the aborted Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), it is clear he views more recent projects such as the Human Genome Project, and cloning, in the same light. Greenberg doesn't allow the book to end as a mere polemic though. He makes an interesting recommendation for the conversion of the NSF into a National Science, Engineering & Humanities Foundation. This is more in recognition of the need for a new "ethic" rather than as the desirability of conflating all knowledge to scientific methods as some scientists (E.O Wilson in CONSILIENCE) have recently called for.
Regardless of where you are in the sciences this book is sure to affect you. Many of the excesses and cases of influence and false claims are known about, and more importantly have already been condemned by well thinking professionals. Nevertheless by presenting it in such a readable format Greenberg will enjoy significant readership among the skeptical public. This at a time when science is engaged in the most far reaching issues for humanity, only means that scientists can expect more questions from an interested, and much better informed public.