“…public policy could itself become captive of a scientific-technological elite”
President Eisenhower, Farewell Address (1961).
In the current post-modern time, science’s priorities are increasingly oriented towards political objectives, or alleged concerns of the so-called public opinion. Research projects get easier support if their purpose is to seek confirmation of preconceived opinions or of mainstream ways of thinking.
Conversely, in addition to their mandate to enlarge and transmit knowledge for its own sake (basic research), many scientists have assigned to themselves or accepted the role of the expert serving as a conscience, or as a warrior, to preserve the well-being of the World. This leads to a self-reinforcing spiral, in which subjects of subordinate importance, even non-issues, get a disproportionate attention, while most important questions stay fallow.
Through the influence of such politically guided expertise and advocacy research, the public will no longer be able to form a balanced opinion. Moreover, science’s focus is then getting narrower and more short-term oriented, wilfully ignoring undesirable facts or empirical evidence. This not only misleads the policymakers but also prevents free research to be conducted in the most required area: that of the unknown.
Reckoning that an open society cannot be guided by simple ideological agendas, the Carnot-Cournot-Network aims to give a warning shot to the political and scientific circles to alert them, as well as the public, on this disturbing trend, and help debunk the misuses of science and its experts by politicians, and vice versa, those of scientists who, practicing advocacy research, put their expertise into the service of various political agendas.
However, C-C-N is aware that one more round of debate, or of monologues among deafs, will not contribute much to this issue. Therefore, a more structured approach is proposed to expose in unequivocal way the postures of involved parties, thus enabling clarification of their intents and of their strategies. Such a process will contribute enhancing the way of forging the public opinion, thus strengthening our democratic institutions. So, Eisenhower’s anticipation shall not become reality: neither the industrial-military complex nor a scientific-technological elite should drive a political ideological-bureaucratic machine into wrong directions.