Americans have a schizophrenic view of science and technology. Some of our greatest heroes have been technological pioneers- from the Wright brothers to Lindbergh to Chuck Yeager. Until recently, we expressed unmitigated adoration for the scientists and engineers who put man in space. Yet at the same time, many Americans are generally uneasy about the triumph of technology in their own lives. One does not have to be a Luddite to rail against computers every now and then.

In deciding how to allocate precious public resources in an era of limits, legislators must take public perceptions of science very seriously. Unfortunately, the public can prove to be quite fickle in these matters. It is not easy to keep funding a scientific project when the American people keep changing their minds about it.