Federal patronage of science was never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, but they did seek to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Art" by granting inventors patent rights. However, direct subvention to scientists and scientific organizations was not considered appropriate activity of the central government. In the 19th Century, American science was funded almost entirely through private investors. Since WWII, however, the federal government has become the primary patron of American science. From the race-to-space in the 1950s to current furor over global warming, Bennett traces the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which government has co-opted scientific research and reinforced a culture in which challengers to proscribed wisdom are frozen out. Citing original documents and media reports, Bennett offers a compelling, entertaining, and thought-provoking perspective on political influence on scientific research and its implications for a democratic society.
"During the Nineteenth Century, almost entirely on private funding, American science grew from practically nothing to world class. Now, however, over fifty percent of American science is funded by the federal government. Dr. Bennett traces the path, "crisis" after "crisis," by which American science became practically an arm of the federal government. His tale is a cautionary one, warning against future "crisis mongers" who would extend the government's already majority control of American science even further. His warning is a timely one, and it should be heeded."
Joseph P. Martino, author of Science Funding: Politics and Porkbarrel
"Bennett's latest book offers a challenging interpretation of the rise of the American federal science establishment since World War II. Focusing primarily on the growth of the space program, Bennett argues that crisis, real or imagined, is the source of state power and state funding for science. The Doomsday Lobby offers what no doubt will be viewed as a controversial contribution to the history of American science policy, and more broadly to an understanding of the role of the state in society."
James D. Savage, Professor of Politics, University of Virginia, and author of Funding Science in America
From the reviews:
"Bennett has written an engrossing tale of how government dollars are used to stoke the fires of campaigns that urge U.S. lawmakers as well as taxpayers to consider spaceborne paranoia - be it Sputnik-like challenges, incoming asteroids, or global warming. ... All in all, this book looks at the popular press and culture, written in an appealing style that will jell with a broad gamut of readers. ... well worth the read and may well add to your inbox of inquiry about today's space program direction." (Leonard David, Space Coalition, January, 2011)
"Whole purpose of this book is to expose and dissect the world of self-serving, job-protecting doomsday predictions visited upon Congress and the American public in order to, the author purports, scare everyone into paying for things-in this case, scientists and their projects-that otherwise wouldn't have a prayer of public funding. ... If you want a glimpse into why Washington can't ... get anything done and why politicians are out for themselves, their districts and their own reelection bids, read this book ... ." (Carla, Goodreads, June, 2011)
"James T. Bennett's most recent book, The Doomsday Lobby, is an excellent antidote to the thinking that has promoted science as an arm of the government during the past seventy-five years. ... Bennett's book will appeal to a large swath of readers ... . the reader will see that it is a thoughtful ... and well-researched work." (William N. Butos, The Independent Review, Vol. 16 (2), October, 2011)