Dr. Robert Stadler and Floyd Ferris
Dr. Robert Stadler, (Atlas Shrugged) Chief of the State Science Institute, was a man who choose that arrogance should trump ideals.
“Perhaps, among the phenomena of the universe … none is so miraculous as the brain of Dr. Robert Stadler himself.”
His former students, Francisco d’Anconia, Ragnar Danneskjöld, and John Galt left him in the philosophical dust. While they went on to greatness, he achieved less than nothing at the State Science Institute, where his disheveled office looked like that of a clerk at some unsuccessful firm.
Dr. Stadler gets in over his head with the Xylophone project, since Project X remains a mystery to him until it is already too late.
Why Phaeton (for thou art Merop's son), Wilt thou aspire to guide the heavenly car, and with thy daring folly burn the world?
–Shakespeare Two Gentlemen of Verona
Floyd Ferris reads to Dr. Stadler from a draft of his forthcoming book Why Do You Think You Think?
Floyd Ferris (Atlas Shrugged) is Dr. Stadler's hatchet man at the State Science Institute, who sinks to new lows with each attempt to get Hank Rierdon to sign onto the Steel Unification Plan.
“It’s too late for any scruples or any principles…”
The new Sesostris, whose unharnessed kings,
Freed from the bit, believe themselves with wings,
And spurn the dust o'er which they crawled of late,
Chained to the chariot of the chieftain's state.
—Byron Age of Bronze (1821)