As numerous politicians and pundits debate the current size and role of the federal government in the U.S., James T. Bennett, George Mason University professor, examines the role of government funding of science in his new book The Doomsday Lobby – Hype and Panic from Sputniks, Martians, and Marauding Meteors
The framers of the U.S. Constitution were mindful of science in early American society and addressed patent rights in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Yet, during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the idea of a “national” federally funded university was voted down. And throughout the 19th century, American science was funded almost entirely by private parties.
World War II was a watershed for federally funded science with the development of atom bombs and radar by government-funded scientists.
The Doomsday Lobby explores how expansive government funding of science is influenced by media-savvy campaigns to convince legislators and taxpayers that science funding is necessary to meet emergencies or perform Herculean tasks of dubious usefulness.
Bennett comments, “Maybe it’s time we dusted off the U.S. Constitution and listened once more to those who argued against entrusting the federal government with the direction of American science…Maybe it is time for another look at the virtues of private science.”
Bennett studies political influence on scientific research by analyzing various scientific debates and episodes in American history, including:
• The race to space
• Meteor impact scares
• The current global warming debate
James T. Bennett holds the William P. Snavely Chair of Political Economy and Public Policy in the Department of Economics at George Mason University and is Director of the John M. Olin Institute for Employment Practice and Policy. He is the author of the recent Springer book Not Invited to the Party: How the Demopublicans Have Rigged the System and Left Independents Out in the Cold.
The author is available for interview.