Debords thesis is that the Spectacle becomes a positive objective force; and invades all forms of public and private life.

It occurs to me that one would think that science lies outside this order; but is this true? It seems to me that science too can come under this order, (especially Big Science - is there now any other?)

For example the Higgs Boson is the face of particle physics, the Hubble telescope of cosmology...

Question: is Science part of the order of the Spectacle?

  • Posting as a comment since my answer is opinion based, not fact based, but yes: Neil DeGrasee Tyson, Lisa Randall, The Higgs Boson, Tesla, Space X and Silicone Valley Culture in general, The whole geeks are now cool thing. Science is become as image mediated as anything. Apr 24 '15 at 14:15
  • @king:ok, I'm surprised no-ones investigated this analytically. Apr 24 '15 at 14:21
  • Maybe i'm not getting your use of analytical, but there is not much analytical about Debords Spectacle.
    – Lukas
    Apr 24 '15 at 14:52
  • @lukas: analytic as in critique? Apr 24 '15 at 14:55

Is science part of the order of the Spectacle? To be answerable better, the question should grasp science and the spectacle as historically changing categories. You may find the following thoughts by Debord useful, not from Society of the Spectacle (1967), but from Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1988):

All experts serve the state and the media and only in that way do they achieve their status. Every expert follows his master, for all former possibilities for independence have been gradually reduced to nil by present society’s mode of organization (...)

Nothing remains of the relatively independent judgment of those who once made up the world of learning; of those, for example, who used to base their self-respect on their ability to verify, to come close to an impartial history of facts, or at least to believe that such a history deserved to be known. There is no longer even any incontestable bibliographical truth, and the computerized catalogues of national libraries are well-equipped to remove any residual traces. It is disorienting to consider what it meant to be a judge, a doctor or a historian not so long ago, and to recall the obligations and imperatives they often accepted, within the limits of their competence: men resemble their times more than their fathers (...)

It is sometimes said that science today is subservient to the imperatives of profit, but that is nothing new. What is new is the way the economy has now come to declare open war on humanity, attacking not only our possibilities for living, but our chances of survival. It is here that science -- renouncing the opposition to slavery that formed a significant part of its own history -- has chosen to put itself at the service of spectacular domination. Until it got to this point, science possessed a relative autonomy. It knew how to understand its own portion of reality and in this has made an immense contribution to increasing economic resources. When an all-powerful economy lost its reason -- and that is precisely what defines these spectacular times -- it suppressed the last vestiges of scientific autonomy, both in methodology and, by the same token, in the practical working conditions of its ‘researchers.’ No longer is science asked to understand the world, or to improve any part of it. It is asked instead to immediately justify everything that happens. As stupid in this field, which it exploits with the most ruinous disregard, as it is everywhere else, spectacular domination has cut down the vast tree of scientific knowledge in order to make itself a truncheon. To obey this ultimate social demand for a manifestly impossible justification, it is better not to be able to think at all, but rather to be well trained in the conveniences of spectacular language. And it is in such a career that the prostituted science of our despicable times has found its latest specialization, with goodwill and alacrity. The science of lying justifications naturally appeared with the first symptoms of bourgeois society’s decadence, with the cancerous proliferation of those pseudo-sciences known as ‘human’; yet modern medicine, for example, had once been able to pass as useful, and those who eradicated smallpox or leprosy were very different from those who contemptibly capitulated in the face of nuclear radiation or chemical farming. It can readily be seen, of course, that medicine today no longer has the right to defend public health against a pathogenic environment, for that would be to challenge the state, or at least the pharmaceuticals industry. But it is not only by its obligation to keep quiet that contemporary science acknowledges what it has become. It is also by its frequent and artless outbursts. In November 1985, professors Even and Andrieu at Laennec hospital announced that they had perhaps found an effective cure for AIDS, following an experiment on four patients which had lasted a week. Two days later, the patients having died, several other doctors, whose research was not so far advanced, or who were perhaps jealous, expressed certain reservations as to the professors’ precipitate haste in broadcasting what was merely the misleading appearance of victory -- a few hours before the patients’ condition finally deteriorated. Even and Andrieu defended themselves nonchalantly, arguing that “after all, false hopes are better than no hope at all.” Their ignorance was too great for them to recognize this argument as a precise and complete disavowal of the spirit of science; as the one which had historically always served to endorse the profitable daydreams of charlatans and sorcerers, long before such people were put in charge of hospitals. [emphasis added]

I would also recommend a reading of Boy Igor [Phil Meyler]'s situationist-influenced book And Yet It Moves: The Realization and Suppression of Science and Technology, published in 1985.

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