The role of independent scientists in evaluating the threat posed by the development of ballistic missiles is reviewed. This includes assisting the legislative branch, informing the public debate, and, in particular, countering the military's inflation of the threat that the missiles of developing countries present. The last of these issues is covered in more detail as a special case. Following a long history of threat inflation by government agencies intent on increasing their budgets, the present US Missile Defense Agency continues this tradition and takes a number of opportunities to inflate the threat from Iran's missile development program. These financial motivations are not, unfortunately, limited to government agencies and affect even supposedly independent analysts. One way of preventing this is for independent scientists to publish their research results in peer-reviewed journals or, because such journals are fairly rare, subject their research to other review mechanisms. A new way of doing this is to present results on established blogs. Finally the funding and career paths of independent scientists are reviewed and it is found that universities are fundamentally ill-suited for supporting new, multidisciplinary areas of study. Without some sort of academic home, this field is likely to dry up in the coming harsh funding environment.
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