Killing Science and Culture Doesn’t Make the Nation Stronger

Mar 28, 2017

By Lawrence M. Krauss

Scientists throughout the country across a wide spectrum of fields, from biochemists to physicists, are bemoaning the potentially devastating impact on science and technology in the United States of President Trump’s proposed budget request to Congress. As much as the scientific enterprise, and with it the development of new technologies necessary for the long term economic health and security of the nation will be hobbled should the budget requests be approved, the budget—which purports to strengthen our security via large increases in national defense and homeland security—paradoxically undermines the nations fundamental strength by presenting a broad attack on our culture that could be more devastating than any threat posed by a wave of illegal immigrants.

The President’s budget reflects a consistent and fundamental vision about American strength that is fundamentally at odds with a vision presented by almost 50 years ago by the physicist Robert Wilson, the first director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago at which a large particle accelerator was being built. When testifying before Congress about the machine and its cost, Wilson was asked if it completion would aid in the defense of the nation. His answer is striking.

No Sir…I don’t believe so…. It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture… It has to do with are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

18 comments on “Killing Science and Culture Doesn’t Make the Nation Stronger

  • 1
    maria melo says:

    Not that I am pro Trump (rather the opposite), but:
    Interestigly enough, I can aknowledge from a sociology text about War that some of the technology we use daily as the internet, refrigirators and common wrist watches for instance were conceived for military purposes. Military airplanes are much more sofisticated, and military aircrafts will become common airplanes in futur perhaps. Indeed, “if you want peace, prepare for War”.
    Of course science is necessary to develop militar technology, humanities are necessaru too (to manage and avoid conflict), That saId, reality IS CRUDE as far as it is necessary to aknowledge that efforts for War are necessary and can even become useful for the large population if it develops useful technology that we can use daily.
    The Wall seems to have no use other than to serve ignorance and prejudice, of course.
    That said, I am anti Trump nontheless, and understand the article´s reasons.



    Report abuse

  • It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.

    Conversely, then, the current administration and it’s tweeter in chief are working daily towards making it NOT worth defending. Just what the Russian regime might have wanted, if they had the choice. Oh, but they did, didn’t they?



    Report abuse

  • maria melo #1
    Mar 30, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Interestingly enough, I can aknowledge from a sociology text about War that some of the technology we use daily as the internet, refrigirators and common wrist watches for instance, were conceived for military purposes.

    Way back, as long ago as the ancient Greeks, scientific and engineering capabilities were valued by military adventurers, and by warring leaders.
    That’s why many early “scientists” could be outspoken against the religious establishments, because they were protected as assets by the local warlords, and even when captured by enemies were taken over and protected, if they would work for the new leaders!

    Werner von Braun is a recent example.

    Military airplanes are much more sofisticated, and military aircrafts will become common airplanes in futur perhaps. Indeed, “if you want peace, prepare for War”.

    Much of the Earth monitoring satellite technology which is decried by Trump and Co. was developed as spy satellites during the Cold War, – as were many of the rocket engines used to launch them.

    The downside of this (apart from the destruction caused by the wars), is that much of the research is classified as “top secret”, and kept for many years, from other researchers, and from civilian uses,, before it is eventually released, for constructive uses. Indeed, some civil applications (such as nuclear power-stations), were introduced as a respectable cover, to hide clandestine military developments.
    That is why those who used such tactics in the past, are now obsessed with obstructing other politically opposed nations, who are trying to develop their own nuclear industries or space programmes!



    Report abuse

  • 4
    maria melo says:

    It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to
    make it worth defending.

    It seems I miss those times children and elderly people got the right to be protected under a sensitive gentleman´s morality. Well everyone deserves to be protected, even cattle I would think.
    Perhaps, instead of sensitive “old fashion scientist gentlemen” we are only having technocrats (I really think so).



    Report abuse

  • I have an idea for a work of fiction: an enemy nation/organisation, let’s say the Russians, have a long term plan to weaken the USA. To this end, they have a sleeper agent who (despite being somewhat dim and personally obnoxious) they groom with the hopes of reaching the presidency. With an unorthodox campaign, a little hacking and a lot of lies, their candidate comes out of nowhere and gets elected. He then sets about strategically weakening the USA by appointing reactionary ignoramuses in key positions, so that the USA’s position is fundamentally weakened on numerous fronts: environmental protections, global warming, biotech, education, etc.

    On second thoughts, requires too much suspension of disbelief.



    Report abuse

  • 6
    maria melo says:

    It seems it is real, not fiction, at least some part of it (reality surprises more than fiction to quote a Nobel literature laureate José Saramago).
    And the Goldman Sachs Bank conspiracy to destroy others (Lehman and Brothers Bank, the EEU…), I give it credit, really do.
    watching the first airplane going against one of the Twin Towers I just thought it was a conspirancy complex to say it was terrorism, but after the second I had to give up and accept it really was.
    I hope the judicial power over there cannot be destroyed at once by a single President, in part trust it´s democracy (in part, I rather prefer my national democracy, no doubt).



    Report abuse

  • To argue that scientific achievements in which we enjoy today, were not been possible without war is idiotic. To support funding wars, military and budget channeling in that direction is also idiotic from my point of view. Especially when there is a choice. One can finance peace, cooperation among people, among us and nature, health care, etc. There are enough hungry people in this world, and in my opinion it is responsibility for that is of all of us on this planet. How about saving environment from people angagement during their lust for money? No? But some people choose to finance wars. Obviously mentally deranged people like Trump. There is no reason one can not think that some scientific achievments could not arise from dealing with peace. Have they gave peace a chance? Lennon said long time ago “give peace a chance” and he was so right.

    But hey, it is more important to deprive people from culture and science, feed them with fears and economic instability so it would be easier to manipulate them. Typically terroristic act. I think, Trump move to cut down financing of culture and science is an act of institutional evil. Not surprised. I would like to see people (civil) organisations bypassing his idiotic laws and form and offer alternatives.



    Report abuse

  • 8
    maria melo says:

    To argue that scientific achievements in which we enjoy today, were
    not been possible without war is idiotic. To support funding wars,
    military and budget channeling in that direction is also idiotic from
    my point of view.

    No one argued that.
    The bold: That´s not a smart thing not to predict that you have to defend peace and prepare for war (where are your instincts?) well, I have good ones for conflict I guess . when I was a child no one, big or small, in pair or in group would beat me, nor to my sisters, would beat them all, other girls would think that I was a boy in skirt, always dressed with red clothes. As a teenager was kind of peace defender “hippie” style, but after this “peaceful” inspiration period, I can see agression as defence is necessary, not a “fantasy”.



    Report abuse

  • The New York Review Of Books

    Reply by Norman Mailer AUGUST 14, 2003 ISSUE

    To the Editors:

    […]Maybe we will do well to learn to live with terrorism as a chronic condition, an ongoing upheaval to all sorts of good hopes, plans, and projects. All the same, until it reaches the numbers of our annual automobile accidents (more than 40,000 mortalities), can we recognize that there may be worse things in store for our Republic than projected weapons of mass destruction (which are, after all, never easy to deliver), and one of them is the shameless exploitation of American perception?

    At present, the specter of fascism settling upon us remains just that, an exaggeration, a specter, but will we escape it if we are struck by economic miseries? That is the time when we will need to be at our best rather than gulled in thought and dulled in language by our reigning Doctors of Advertising Sciences. […]

    The answer may be that there are more important things to safeguard. What does it profit us if we gain extreme security and lose our democracy? Not everyone in Iraq, after all, was getting their hands and/or their ears cut off by Saddam Hussein. In the middle of that society were hordes of Iraqis who had all the security they needed even if there was no freedom other than the full-fledged liberty offered by dictators to be free to speak with hyperbolic hosannas for the leader. So, yes, there are more important things to safeguard than security and one of them is to protect the much-beleaguered integrity of our democracy. The final question in these matters suggests itself. Can leaders who lie as a way of life protect any way of life?



    Report abuse

  • 10
    maria melo says:

    I´ve mentioned in some previous comment I think not on this tread the USA foreign policy (sometimes perhaps with some reward from arms industry to participate in War I accept it once it was mentioned somehow by my History teacher and some american facebook page I follow), but it´s more than that I believe. Sociology/History books, one about science policies mentions about the fundamental differences in policy, even ethics in science (a french historian mentins USA hired russian scientists as “football-players” because they were considered dangerous, while they were ambitious of course).
    I know everyone talks about US foreign interference in foreign policies, no one mentions russian (I do, I remember to see african people with russian fur hats, the flag of Mozambique-where I was born- has a Kalashnikov, Angola terrestrial mines everywhere on it´s soil). However counting on this as historical fact, USA offered the portuguese facist government a large amount of money to leave the african colonies, which was more neutral and perhaps trying to avoid conflict which I think would indeed, so I am pondering the due respect for some of US foreign policies, not to mention the Marshal Plan which I´ve choosed once as History theme. I am not all giving reason to popular justifications of US foreign policies. (the oil, the arms industries…).

    The text you´ve pasted is an outrage, one should ever get used to extreme violence such as terrorism.
    The text mentions about some obsolete arm I guess? Which some really are because terrorism is comparable with gerrila tactics, isn´t it? Some other are not obsolete, I guess there´s nothing wrong to invest in Warfare, really.
    As fiction I would add, of course science and technology are useful in the development of necessary sofisticated weapons, what about scientists in the other side, are they necessarly wise men and women, people with ethical reasoning?

    Didn´t check the spell, sorry.



    Report abuse

  • “Of course, one cannot eliminate terrorism altogether any more than one can wipe out an entire strain of bacteria through antibiotics. On the fringes, new, virulent, more impervious strains develop. Depredations, however, can be kept under some control, whereas war is bound to generate novel mutations of terrorism. Such, at least, is the theory here advanced.” — Mailer (2003)



    Report abuse

  • That´s not a smart thing not to predict that you have to defend peace
    and prepare for war (where are your instincts?

    I don’t understand what instincts? If someone is in immediate danger of course they will defend themselves, but I think those “instincts” do not arise on predictions (in that case one act upon reason and they consciously plan arming and creating a climate of terror “just in case”). Artificially created conditions of danger by govenments are terrorist attacs on their own citizens in the first place (in my opinion). And we all know why they are creating instability and fear among population.

    I can see agression as defence is necessary, not a “fantasy”

    But surely only in immediate danger and not fictional one ; ). If one have delusions of persecution or that someone means to hurt one than he or she is an agressor towards someone else because this danger that he or she feels from others is just in his or her head (they are not real). If America think they have to make wars “just in case” they are terrible wrong in my opinion, and they are the one that are terrosrists. But this projection of evil (evil is always someone else 😉 ) is so typical for psychopats and evil in general. Or creating of an aggresor an illusion of a victim. In my opinion there are too many psychopats (read politician) with their dangerous delusions.



    Report abuse

  • and one of them is the shameless exploitation of American perception?

    Lovely quotation! It is so difficult to make people more conscious how its government is manipulating them. Unfortunately. 🙁 This “exploitation of perception” by the govenment is something population must become more and more aware of in my opinion.

    but will we escape it if we are struck by economic miseries? That is
    the time when we will need to be at our best rather than gulled in
    thought and dulled in language by our reigning Doctors of Advertising
    Sciences.

    Very well told.

    Can leaders who lie as a way of life protect any way of life?

    Answer is – No! And I am sad that people do not see this. There is nice book called “People of the lies” by psychoterapist M.S. Peck where he nicely shows that core thing about evil and evil people is their integral characteristic to lie (but Arendt, Fromm, Svendsen and others who studied evil also explain this 😉 ). Lies are antechamber of evil and its main tool, and in my opinion should be attacked or pointed out at any level.



    Report abuse

  • Modesti #7
    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:14 am

    To argue that scientific achievements in which we enjoy today, were not been possible without war is idiotic.
    To support funding wars, military and budget channeling in that direction is also idiotic from my point of view.
    Especially when there is a choice.
    One can finance peace, cooperation among people, among us and nature, health care, etc.

    However – especially with those opposed mutual cooperation between nations and people – such as Brexiteers and Trumpies, misleading propaganda, military attacks, and fluently delivered hypocritical lies fed to the gullible as cover stories, are their bread and butter!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39485083

    Theresa May has defended her trip to Saudi Arabia, saying its ties with the UK are important for security and prosperity.

    The prime minister is facing questions about the UK’s support for the Saudi-led coalition which is fighting rebels in neighbouring Yemen.

    Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said UK-made weapons were contributing to a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

    But the PM (hypocritically) said the UK was also a “significant donor” of aid.

    “We are concerned about the humanitarian situation –
    that’s why the UK last year was the fourth largest donor to the Yemen in terms of humanitarian aid – £103m.
    We will be continuing with that,” she told the BBC.

    So let’s put this in perspective! The UK is giving £103 million to the war ravaged refugees, while supplying the aggressors who are bombing them with £5.6 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia between May 2010 and early 2016.

    http://www.forces.net/news/tri-service/britains-arms-sales-saudi-arabia-numbers

    Sales of British defence and security equipment to Saudi Arabia are under scrutiny as the Kingdom wages war on Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen.

    Campaigners against the UK arms trade are calling for an immediate ban on sales after the country privately admitted to bombing a funeral. More than 140 people were killed in the missile strike, a further 500 were left injured.

    But just what is being sold and how much is the industry worth to the British economy?

    The Stats

    Under David Cameron, Britain made a total of £5.6 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia between May 2010 and early 2016.

    This consists of bulk sales of tear gas, bombs and guns, £1.6 billion for Hawk jets, and 72 Typhoon fighter aircraft (a deal worth £4.5 billion when completed), according to the Independent newspaper, which notes that these deals give Saudi Arabia twice as many British warplanes as the RAF.

    £3.5 billion worth of arms sales are said to have occurred between the UK and Saudi Arabia between the start of 2015 and the middle of this year.

    Overall, UK government figures show that £7.7 billion of arms sales were made last year.

    Two-thirds are made to countries in the Middle East, and in the last two years the UK has secured deals worth £388 million with the UAE, £170 million with Qatar, £120 million with Oman and £24 million with Bahrain.

    There’s also been £450 million worth of arms sales to Turkey and £116 million to Egypt, among others.

    So Brexiteer May is dedicated to jumping off the good ship Europe claiming “NO deal is better than a bad deal – and embarrassed by a parliamentary committee pointing out that this is a wildly unevidenced claim as (is usual brexiteering reassuring claims), no evaluating studies have been produced on the consequences of defaulting WTO rules in the absence of a new deal with Europe and making good the huge percentage of lost UK trade with more “global sales”!

    “[The UK] now has about 12% of the global defence export market and, over the last decade, has shored up its position as the second largest arms exporter in the world.

    But while business is business, Tory brexiteers REALLY do care about workers’ rights, public health, and the plight of refugees!! (allegedly) – according to their media statements – if not their practical decisions!

    Still to the Sun, Express and Daily Mail readers, who can’t do “big numbers”, and don’t know the difference been a £million and a £billion, giving £103m in aid as crumbs from the profits of the rich man’s arms sales, sounds impressive, good and generous!



    Report abuse

  • No like button ATM.

    Alan #15. Like.

    Now we’re fucked over access the the biggest single tech market, yet again selling weapons is our fall back.

    Hell, deux points, because I can now.



    Report abuse

  • Alan4discussion #15

    Interesting article. Thank you. You know, reading such “news” and such statements from politicians one can not believe what is reading, hahaha… I mean she is saying something that sounds important but essentially she is not saying anything. First reading this: “Theresa May has defended her trip to Saudi Arabia, saying its ties with the UK are important for security and prosperity “. It comes to me to ask – HOW and WHY exactly.?!

    Her general statements are not saying anything (in my opinion). And of course, they are designed as such. 😉

    “important for us in terms of security, they are importance for us in
    terms of defence and yes, in terms of trade. “But as I said when I
    came to the Gulf at the end of last year, Gulf security is our
    security and Gulf prosperity is our prosperity.” …”that everything we do is in our British national interest”

    And, look no explanation what does she mean by that. If I was journalist, would ask her: Well madam please tell exactly what do you mean by this. Why prosperity of Gulf is prosperity of GB, why their security means GB security, and what exactly are those “national interests”. Perhaps nation has a different seeing of “national interests”… did you ask citizens what they mean by national interests? They are nation after all.

    Oh… there is partial explanation as I see:

    “It’s in our British national interest to have good relations around
    the world so we can trade around the world – that brings jobs and
    prosperity to the UK,”

    But I would still ask her what are those good relations… perhaps after selling war lords some weapons, give little bit of “humanitarian help” ? To appear human, like they care, hahaha. 😉 Perhaps cost of that humanitarian help was only very, very small fraction of earnings on weapon selling. But it gave them image of someone who cares about human life. And I would ask her: can you give me an example of other good relations since you state that GB has to have good relations all around the world.

    Well, I couldn’t read it all (stopped at: Analysis – John Pienaar…) 🙁 Anyway, human lives are trade (including British)… as you said good and generous! Good and generous! Such nice people those politicians, hahaah 🙁



    Report abuse

  • OHooligan #2
    Mar 31, 2017 at 2:13 am

    It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.

    Conversely, then, the current administration and it’s tweeter in chief are working daily towards making it NOT worth defending.

    . . .and sitting in denial, obstructing investigations into real threats of foreign manipulation!

    Just what the Russian regime might have wanted, if they had the choice. Oh, but they did, didn’t they?

    Flynn has gone!
    I see that US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has now stepped down from the inquiry, – but is claiming allegations against him are false!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39515098

    Head of key US congressional investigation into alleged Russian hacking steps down due to ethics inquiry into him

    Mr Nunes calls the charges “entirely false” and “politically motivated”.

    House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes is now himself under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

    The panel is looking into claims that the Republican disclosed classified intelligence.

    Mr Nunes called the charges “entirely false” and “politically motivated”.

    Representative Mike Conaway will take control of the Russia investigation.

    Mr Nunes said his decision came after “several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics”.

    He added he would continue to fulfill his other responsibilities as chairman and has requested to speak to the Ethics Committee “in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims”.

    Democrats have criticised Mr Nunes for his handling of the inquiry, which is also looking at possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.