The question of the industrial complex whose name seemed to get longer in each author’s interpretation.

The academic-military-industrial complex led to the age of big science because the government and military began to fund scientists in their endeavors more than ever before. The government and military became large backers and supporters of science in World War II. Their involvement expanded in the 1900s so that, now, academics and scientists were being funded and supported by the government to perform large, costly experiments. Unlike past scientific endeavors, “[t]oday, the solitary inventor… has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields” (Eisenhower, pg. 435). When science secured the support and funding of the military and government, it grew. Suddenly, there were no longer advancements being made by a couple of scientists, but by large teams dedicated to an experiment and project.

Some researchers, like Vannevar Bush, are not concerned about scientific research being under military control because they believe the benefits outweigh the consequences. Bush sees the advancements made in science as a direct result of the academic-military-industrial complex. He believes that, during World War II, “…it [became] clear beyond all doubt that scientific research [was] absolutely essential to national security… [and that] [t]here must be more… military research during peacetime” (Bush, pg. 430). Bush views military control of scientific research as beneficial and necessary to create a better society. On the other hand, researchers, like J. William Fulbright, are worried about scientific research under military control because it harms society. Fulbright views the alignment between the government and universities as detrimental to a university’s responsibility to its students and society: “The bonds between the Government and universities… are an arrangement of convenience… [and the] price is… [the university’s failure] to meet its responsibilities to its students… [and the betrayal of] a public trust” (pg. 437-8). Unlike Bush, Fulbright sees the academic-military-industrial complex as hurtful to society as a whole because of the influence the government holds over universities and scientists.

2 thoughts on “The question of the industrial complex whose name seemed to get longer in each author’s interpretation.

  1. Hi Ashley, I wanted to start by saying what a great post you have made! It is so well thought out and organized, I love how you utilize the text to support and make all your points of argument. I was wondering what your opinions on the entanglement of military funded scientific research was? Do you think it is a good idea or should they be separate institutions? Personally, I think that we cannot confine it to one or the other, but rather let science develop naturally through human inquisition. If one considers war as a natural occurrence then it very well should be used for advancements. I also think this could be potentially dangerous in the wrong hands (i.e. nuclear weapons, eugenics, etc.), but I suppose that is just something to be cautious about.

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    1. Thanks Ashley! I don’t think we can separate the two anymore because of how long they have grown together in our society. However, it would certainly be ideal to keep them separate. Military backed/funded science leads to scientific advancements seen as “worthy” in the eyes of the military and government. Science should be allowed to grow, flourish, and explore however scientists see fit and wherever their intuition takes them. It is not bad to have an alliance between the military and science, but if science isn’t allowed to grow on its own, outside of military and government influence, then we will be seriously limiting scientists and their studies. I agree with you that science should be left to “develop naturally through human inquisition.” That is beautifully put, and I think it is a perfect way to describe it.

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