Scientific Elite

Scientific research can only be as big as the funds provided for it. As simple as that statement is, it creates a complex web of relationships amongst many different platforms, those being academic, military, and industrial. We refer to this web as the academic-military-industrial complex and it functions for the same simple reason, a need for funds. The age of “big science” is an example of a result of this complex. Fresh out of WWII any country who wished to have any power or respect internationally believed they needed to be industrialized as well as advanced with the newest technology to not only prove their worth, but keep other countries from stealing it. That being said, like I mentioned earlier, the world is fueled by funds. Those who have shown support for scientific research to be under military control, often have very economic and defensive ulterior motives. Starting with Vannevar Bush, who believed that science was an “endless frontier” and that we must make full use of our resources. This very American mindset of take, take, take overshadows the attempted compensation of “studying nature’s laws”, which he did claim was necessary. It does seem though, that Bush had forgotten to take into account the unknown of nature’s laws, and the things that go into them that, when disturbed, could be detrimental. From a more humble and concerned intention, Eisenhower claims that the only way this complex could function successfully is if there is a balance “between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desired”. I think this is so well put because while I do think that this complex must exist, it is important to question to what degree do we need to compete for the strongest weapons, or technological advances, when in reality if you have food, water, and shelter you are “comfortable” on Earth. As Eisenhower mentions with too much intervening, “Public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite”.

One thought on “Scientific Elite

  1. I think you make very good observations and conclusions about the academic-military-industrial complex. I believe you are right in the sense that the complex is needed in our society, but we must consider, in your words, “to what degree” it is needed. Like so many others things in our lives, this complex has grown with our society. As a result, we cannot cast it out because too many things are dependent upon it; there have also been positive results from its existence. However, to say it is a necessity like some of the authors do is pushing it in my opinion. I believe you articulate the risks of this complex perfectly by stressing the importance of studying and learning the unknown laws of nature. While the academic-military-industrial complex has done much for our society, it poses many risks and negative consequences that must be considered.


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