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Science, Money, and Politics

Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion

Each year, Congress appropriates billions of dollars for scientific research. In this book, veteran science reporter Daniel S. Greenberg takes us behind closed doors to show us who gets it, and why. What he reveals is startling: an overlooked world of false claims, pork, and cronyism, where science, money, and politics all manipulate one another.

Read a web-only summary: The Hidden Dynamics of the Great American Scientific Enterprise.

528 pages | 8 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2001

History: American History

History of Science

Political Science: Public Policy


"Which science book should the next US president read? . . . . Daniel S. Greenberg is the outstanding writer on the politics of modern US science, and this is his most pertinent book."

Steven Shapin | Nature (2008)

“Greenberg . . . does not require of us the careful construction of an ideal, but assuming, quite correctly, that we all know corruption and self-interest when we see them in their most egregious manifestations, tells it like it is.”

Richard Lewontin | New York Review of Books

“[Greenberg] is snidely contemptuous of the politicos of science, indicting them, often with good reason, for hypocrisy, misrepresentation, and unwarranted doomsaying. This is on the whole an informative and provocative book. It includes riveting material from Greenberg’s conversations with Washington insiders . . . and it advances several arresting themes about the interplay among the subjects of its title.”

Daniel J. Kevles | The New Republic

“In the case of Daniel Greenberg, who has been the gadfly of the U.S. scientific establishment for four decades, stimulation and provocation have often been leavened by wit and always motivated by sharp intelligence. Greenberg has made a career of puncturing the self-important puffery that sometimes passes for public discourse in this community. . . . [In this book] the gadfly delivers a stinging three-count indictment of the contemporary scientific community and adduces a large body of evidence to support it.”

Issues in Science and Technology | Issues in Science and Technology

“Other professionals—physicians, lawyers, and teachers—long ago entered electoral politics, but scientists for the most part have stuck to their nineteenth-century detachment. To compensate for the lack of direct access to politics, they simply developed sharper and slyer tools to assure their future access to government money. <I>Science, Money, and Politics<I> is a gripping, sometimes amusing, and often provocative <I>tour de force<I> discussion of the ultimate consequences of their success.”

Michael S. Reidy | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Greenberg’s <I>Science, Money, and Politics</I>provides a more sweeping survey of the disorder that afflicts contemporary science. . . Greenberg’s irreverence has always offered a square meal for those woozy from the puffery and piety served up by most science journalists. The present book doesn’t disappoint; Greenberg is especially adept at capturing folly and hypocrisy with memorable phrases.”

Jonathan Kimmelman | The Nation

"Greenberg has constructed a tour de force exploration of the world of science policy and politics over the pasty forty years, with pleasant forays into the worlds of big science, university research shops, government labs, scientific societies, and granting agencies. . . . [Greenberg] stands without peer as the outside science observer in Washington, and brings to his work both a fine appreciation for the work of scientists and the possible abuses of a system which funnels over $15 billion per year into basic research. . . . This is a superb book, and should interest scholars and laypersons alike interested in how the scientific enterprise has become what it is over the past fifty years.”

Journal of the History of Medicine | Journal of the History of Medicine

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments and a Note on Sources and Methods
1. The Metropolis of Science
2. The Ossified Enterprise
3. Vannevar Bush and the Myth of Creation
4. The Glorious Past
5. The Whimpering Giant
6. Money, More Money, Statistics, and Science
7. The Malthusian Imperative and the Politics of Trust
8. Ph.D. Production: Shortfall, Scarcity, and Shortage
9. The Congressional Griddle
10. Detour into Politics
11. Nixon Banishes the Scientists
12. The Sciences’ Way of Politicking
13. The Public Understanding of Science
14. The TV Solution
15. Science and the Illusion of Political Power
16. The Political Few
17. The Scientific Ghetto
18. Connecting to Politics
19. Politicking by Report
20. Science in the State Department: You Need Us
21. From Social and Political Passion to Grubbing for Money
22. The Ethical Erosion of Science
23. Post-Cold War Chills
24. What Future for the National Science Foundation?
25. Clinton, Atom Smashing, and Space
26. Caught between Clinton and Congress
27. Science versus the Budget Cutters
28. The Political Triumph of Science

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