A very comprehensive and exhaustive discussion was provided by Douglas Hague in his article bearing the same title as this one. I admit I was quite absorbed by his brilliant presentation of how scientists can manage science under certain stringent conditions, i.e., "if they themselves acquire a practical understanding of the social sciences, not least, of economics and of management; or if they work in inter-disciplinary teams which include and value those who do have such knowledge."
I for one will not argue the points Hague presented. In fact, I'm personally inclined to also answer the question positively at the outset. But on a closer look at the faces of today's science and scientists, I'm afraid I am more drawn toward the sobering reality that many if not most of them can't actually do it.
In medical jurisprudence parlance, we have a concept called res ipsa loquitur ("the thing speaks for itself"). It refers to an overwhelming circumstantial evidence actually present, proving a certain act of malpractice or negligence as in the case of a pair of forceps left in the abdominal cavity of a patient after a surgical procedure has already been completed and closed.
While most of today's scientists and technology experts may flaunt the merits of their achievements and their subsequent contributions to society, still, an array of disturbing evidences point to their inadequacies in covering the necessary bases associated with their discipline. Even starting with the most basic element of a study - its purpose - many a scientist would not really want to ascertain whether his pet project would yield an environmentally, economically, socio-culturally, politically and morally beneficial output.
The adrenaline surge of being acclaimed as the discoverer, inventor or creator of something new, cutting edge or innovative what not seemed to eclipse the sense of purpose that is supposed to undergird any worthwhile scientific pursuit. And especially watch out when the budget preference, the publicity or organizational support is given to the other guy's project. What happens next? We even have movies depicting scientists who cannot manage their own ego and emotions in the face of rejection and end up becoming vindictive monsters capable of harming mankind with the very same science they claim to be beneficial to the world. Another sickening side effect when science and technology simply go out of check are the alarming trends happening nowadays with our environment as well as our socio-political, cultural and moral climates.
Isn't it interesting to note that planet Earth has increasingly been more hostile toward its inhabitants and Homo sapiens have also been increasingly hostile toward each other especially at the height of these scientific and technological revolutions? Spurious correlations maybe, but nonetheless significant. And expectedly, the blame can also be passed around to many other potential culprits. But as far as science is concerned, nobody can be held more responsible than the scientists themselves. And this gets all the more complicated especially in the absence of what Hague called "the missing attribute which scientists most needed" - HUMILITY.
And such attribute may in fact be invaluably employed at first in the sober acknowledgment that scientists cannot properly and effectively manage science all by themselves. This is why they need to collaborate with other relevant disciplines in order to make this at all possible.