In "The Demon Haunted World", Carl Sagan relates the progress of science in the Soviet Union. By blindly adhering to the hypothesis of "didactic materialism", the government effectively strangled scientific inquiry and discovery, especially in the area of biology. When the Soviet Union fell they were left with a life science community that was forty years behind the curve of knowledge.
Little details like that are what's responsible for the monumental shake-ups in life. Pile enough on and nothing can bear the weight.
Here in Iowa, a young woman is traveling to Portugal to get a revolutionary stem-cell treatment for spinal cord damage from a car accident. Now, I'm far from being a "good old days" type. The good old days can go hang. But I do remember a time when people used to come to America to receive revolutionary treatments. Doctors come HERE to receive the best medical training in the world.
What happened? The cold fingers of ideology have managed to get their hands on the throat of science in this country and started to squeeze. Ideology, in the form of a distorted Christianity, has created an atmosphere that is inhospitable to scientific discovery. For all their talk of a free market, they don't really favor an atmosphere of free thought and inquiry. Especially when it might expose their deepest beliefs to be wrong. The problem is that once the technology genie is let out of the box, it can take root anywhere. There's nothing special about America that says ALL breakthroughs have to happen here.
Are we beginning to see the twilight of American science? If we keep going down the path of the fundamentalists, I fear the answer is a resounding yes. If we keep dumbing down our children by blurring the lines between science and fantasy, the answer is a resounding yes. If we keep allowing our policies to be set according to the dubious will of a sky-daddy rather than the good of the people, then the answer is a resounding yes.
Blind adherence to ideology is the surest way to failure.