I do not mean to compare scientists to snake-oil salesmen which is often done. The turnoff of public science began in 1986, when socialists decided science (actually science as socialists or neo-social science) should turn off - no longer function to support the country. This social role of science grew since we began cooperating in science with the USSR, this affecting universities, NSF, and NASA.
This turn-off would seem to have ended the NSF mission which began May 10, 1950 - whose creation was to promote the uses of computers. The public was made aware of this through the promotion of global warming, revealing that scientists were being politically manipulated to say what some politicians/ scientists wanted, or lose support. Only retirees were left to tell the truth. What were people paid to do science, to do?
Well, the social aspect of science is alive and well. There are sci-programs for minorities for example. We learned that once the mirage of science as a puritan-type of enterprise actually was not real, that there exists different groups in science, many ethnically based, some politically based. WE also learned that science was infiltrated by spies and foreign agents. Some companies tried to use universities as their own facilities. I would conclude that can-do public science is collapsing, ever since they stopped funding big-Science like the particle accelerators and if we continue as we have, it will disappear. Much of it was probably a sham anyway. IT is not a good place for our smart, positive young lads.
Quo tendimus? I would say we have come full circle. The ultra rich are paying for their own science. This started when it was realized that Russia was socializing everything and no state-sponsored proprietary work could be done. They tried placing former military in as deans and various things to regain control, but obviously it became a lost cause. For a time we could not even launch missiles from Vandenberg or Florida, and the space shuttle blew up. This is what created the niche for Mr Musk. Recall Tesla mostly worked on his own for a company.
Yeah, so who cares really? No new things like a microwave. Well there is the manipulation of knowledge- those who pay take advantage. This is different than a snake-oil salesman who sells you something that is worthless. Today it is not snake-oil - but prescriptions that kill you or do nothing for you - on purpose. Something to think about.