This work examines the place of science in American politics and society. Dispelling the myth of scientific purity and detachment, Daniel S. Greenberg documents the political processes that underpinned government funding of science from the 1940s to the 1970s. While the book's hard-hitting approach earned praise from a broad audience, it drew harsh fire from many scientists, who did not relish their turn under the microscope. The fact that this dispute is so reminiscent of today's acrimonious "Science Wars" demonstrates that although science has changed a great deal since "The Politics of Pure Science" first appeared, the politics of science has not. For this edition, John Maddox and Steven Shapin have provided introductory essays that situate the book in broad social and historical context, and Greenberg has written an afterword taking account of recent developments in the politics of science.
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(216mm x 136mm x 19mm)
University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
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US Kirkus Review »
The author covers this subject for Science, the weekly magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. By "politics" he means the people, institutions and processes that determine the character and circumstances of research (here confined to "basic research") - and what is done with the results. He concentrates on administrative and financial aspects: the "meritocratic anarchy" or organization, the "peer system" for awarding funds and judging work. These subjects are developed from two interrelated points of view. The warborn partnership of science and government is described, from science's difficulties before the alliance, through twenty-five years of wealth, freedom, and unparalleled government solicitude, to 1967 and LBJ, who has tightened financial reins. This brings Greenberg to questions of value - the "ideology that all unanswered scientific questions (are) equal," the less-than-self-evident debt of technology to basic research, the need to solve practical problems in a miserable world - and on the other hand to the unquestionable contributions of pure science and the dangers of "layman" control. At the end Greenberg deals briefly with ethical issues: scientifically unproductive "chiseling" projects, over-purchasing, over-publishing, etc. The book is extremely well-written and full of benign gossip (the Mohole fiasco, but not the Oppenheimer affair). It should appeal to a sizeable range of readers. (Kirkus Reviews)
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