The political use and abuse of science

Gabriel R. Ricci, Elizabethtown College


This chapter examines the dialectical role of science in its promotion of public policy and the manner in which scientific autonomy has been challenged to further political ends. Various episodes in the ever-expanding technological reach of the marriage of science and politics are historically recounted to demonstrate the threat to scientific self-rule and to individual scientists who have been relegated to instrumentally functional roles. It is argued that the emergent class status of scientists has been subverted by the triumvirate of technology, industry, and religion. Moreover, science has met its greatest challenge from those entities which understand how the use of technology and scientific discovery translate into regulatory measures.