The magazine Science is the publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and regularly has a feature called Science at the Frontier that contains predictions by prominent scientists about the spectacular coming advances in scientific research and technology. Joseph C. Hager took the opportunity to respond critically to this approach with an alternative viewpoint in the following letter that Science published 19 May, 1995 (Vol. 268, p. 957). He believes that the editorial domination of this prestigious scientific magazine by certain segments of the scientific community helps them to enhance their own publicity, status, and "mind share," thus better controlling the flow of power and money in their own interests at the expense of other scientific disciplines.
After reading the prognostications of scientists at the frontier, I am moved to proffer my own view, in the same spirit. Violence at every level - intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, institutional, and political - will escalate dramatically as the effects of the "information revolution" set in. The magazine Science will continue to act as if no scientist has anything to say about these topics, unless, of course, the analysis leans heavily on quarks, synaptic transmitters, genes, or pharmaceuticals. Poverty, the gap between rich and poor, economic instabilities, and the national debt will continue to grow, although no analysis of these problems by a scientist will appear in the pages of Science. Crime, disruption of families and other social groups, derangement of individual personalities, and isolation, homelessness, and hopelessness will intrude ever more into the lives of the social, economic, and intellectual elite, but Science will not publish articles on these subjects, unless they are related to cell functions, viruses, mathematical theories of chaos, or stellar events. Copious pages of reports, most about small increments in arcane knowledge, many written by the scientists at the frontier and their students, will fill the issues of Science, but will continue to be too difficult for anyone but specialists to understand and too terse even for them to evaluate. Many scientists will view with consternation and disbelief an alarming rejection of science and technology in many segments of society.
Joseph C. Hager, Network Information Research Corporation