The circumstance of science; Episode 2 of 13
At a time when we are facing enormously difficult problems many of which require our technological strength in our cities on our farms. With respect to environmental pollution I think it's absurd for this country to continue blindly with an idea that we ought to get a man on the moon by 1970. There is a need for greater stability in the adherence to scientific goals on the part of the government. I feel that at the present time the trend in financial support for science while the support has been generous and growing has sometimes. Not been stable in its direction. If all the scientists in the United States are supported by the federal government what the scientist is going to criticise when criticism may be needed. Science and Public Policy making one program in the series the circumstance of science exploring the forces of
contemporary science and technology and their possible effects on society. The American policymaking system is developed extensively over the last 20 years the evolution has many faces with few is interesting and involved as the process through which science and government have achieved a relationship. Federal expenditures for scientific research and development in 1940 were seventy four million dollars less than 1 percent of total government spending in 1066. It was 16 billion dollars or 15 percent. The state in progress of science and technology have become matters of immediate concern not only to scientist but also to people's generally and international governments in particular. In this program we will explore the science government relationship including support for scientific research and the effects of public policy on scientific objectivity. Science of course has always been politically important and the
thing that is changed is only the rate at which scientific advance is taking place. Dr. Walter Roberts president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. So the answer is yes the objectivity and freedom traditionally associated with science is threatened. It's always been threatened and it must be protected. It's quite easy to understand that if scientific advance has uses that could benefit one company and competition with another that the freedom of the scientist working for the one company to communicate is his results to another might be threatened. But the Advancement of Science depends on the freedom of exchange of information in the face of company interests in the face of military interests and in the face of a whole host of other pressures. And it seems to me that. Just as scientists
have a responsibility to be articulate they have a responsibility to preserve preserve the freedom of can communication that that is at the very heart of science as science becomes more politically important. That is the objectivity and freedom that's traditionally associated with the scientists threatened. Yes I would say that it is hard to document this. Dr. E-W Pfeifer of the Department of Zoology at the University of Montana Well let's look at the situation now. We most of our leading scientists are supported almost in toto by federal government grants. And of course these grants are awarded by their colleagues who are in the federal government. If all the scientists in the United States are supported by the federal government or what the scientist is going to criticise when criticism may be needed if you're in a position where where you have such.
A large. Monetary relationship with the federal government it's very difficult I think to act independently. You may think you're doing it but I don't think you know what the solution to this problem is I don't know but I I think this is a matter of great concern to many scientists. How are we going to maintain the integrity the independence of science when we are all supported by federal funds science and politics have had some bad times together. One example is the story of project chariot. This was a proposal of the Atomic Energy Commission to blast out a new harbor on the northwest shore of Alaska with hydrogen bombs. Soon after the announcement a controversy developed regarding radiation effects on local flora and fauna and on the life of nearby Aska mo villages. Dr. Pfeifer believes that project chariot was a very unpleasant problem. I think we should learn from that experience that.
We shouldn't allow political things to influence science and scientific judgement. What I'm saying is that almost all of the scientists that were called upon by the Tomic Energy Commission to make a judgment as to whether a nuclear explosion should be used to produce a harbor in Alaska came out with conclusions that were in opposition to doing this. Now these reports were suppressed were edited and when the scientists objected and one in particular Dr. Prewitt he was subjected to extreme. I'm going to use the word persecution because I think it's correct by the Atomic Energy Commission. I know I know Dr. Prewitt Personally I was involved in trying to get him on the staff at my university and I know that the Atomic Energy Commission blacklisted Dr. Prewitt. He is now teaching in Canada. And this is the sort of thing that must you know that
we cannot tolerate I don't think and I think the atomic energy commission learned a lesson on this. Dr. put in his colleagues were successfully project Harbor thing was called off but it was called It was a price that we in the scientific community paid for this. We lost one of our colleagues. You know I think what we have to learn to to not mix. Politics with scientific judgment and certainly not to be vindictive against people who are expressing themselves from a firm conviction on the basis of good solid training and evidence. Three years ago the American Association for the Advancement of Science Committee on Science in the promotion of human welfare wrote in their report the integrity of science. The Apollo program in its present form does not appear to be based on the orderly systematic extension of basic scientific investigation. The procedure the committee concluded is seriously at variance with important precepts of scientific
experimentation and technology. The Apollo program which is the program to put a man on the moon by 1970 is essentially the product of a political rather than a scientific decision. Dr Barry Commoner was chairman of the Committee on Science in the promotion of human welfare and is director of the Center for the biology of natural systems at Washington University. The history of the decision is I think important. Before the decision was made by John Kennedy there were are considerations by the Space Science board of the National Academy of Sciences of what they regarded to be the priorities in space research and they published a list of such priorities. The exploration by a man over the moon was given the lowest of three priorities in a list of possible space projects. A much higher priority was given to a program for landing
instruments on the moon to report conditions there. When Mr Kennedy announced the establishment of the Apollo program these priorities were simply overturned. They were overturned for a political reason and that is that in Mr. Kennedy's view it was important to the national interest that we be first in space that we be the first nation to explore this new area of our world. As a result the Apollo program was forced to move ahead faster than the basic knowledge that we had about the problems permitted. I think since then we've seen some of the tragic results in for example the fire which took the lives of several of our astronauts a year ago. It's perfectly clear from the investigations of that fire that we
were proceeding too fast and that if there were no deadline placed and no high priority placed on getting a man to the moon by 1970 a more carefully constructed capsule capsule could have been developed and perhaps the fire avoided. Would you say then that these problems still remain with the Apollo program. Yes indeed in my view the Apollo program had to be stopped right now. I think that it is a waste of our scientific resources. It's a waste of money to proceed as fast as we are with the arbitrarily conceived notion of putting a man on the moon at a time when we are facing enormously difficult problems many of which require our technological strength in our cities on our farms. With respect to environmental pollution I think it's absurd for this country to continue blindly with an idea that we ought to get a man on the moon by 1970. In my view the nation indeed the world would benefit from an immediate
halt to this program. I don't think that it would cause much disruption. I would like to see the full resources of the Apollo program turned over immediately to a crash program if you like to help us meet the needs of. Human dignity of the quality of life. For example in our cities and I think if we took the resources that are now going into the Apollo program and use them to solve the problems of environmental pollution of the decay of the environment. You know cities that we will have made a far greater contribution to human welfare than we can possibly achieve by putting a man on the moon in 1970. You know our space program. Are we actually competing with the Russians. Well I don't think that it's nice a purse a considers competition with the Russians in the generation of any of its programs. Leonard Jaffe director of space applications National Aeronautics and Space
Administration. Our programs are justified on the basis of scientific or technical or a need for the development in a particular applications area. I'm sure that the Russian program however has given rise to support of the space program here in this country. Obviously the anatase essay was created out of the old NACA in response to Sputnik 1. A report of the president's science advisory committee in February of 1967 another that the objectives of the U.S. space activities fall into two major categories. That being the practical uses of space and space exploration. The committee mentioned that both involve rather different benefits to the nation as any balance and expenditures and effort ever been established for these two areas.
There is a balance. We attempt to arrive at an optimum balance between sciences technological development and the application of these tools. It's very difficult however to categorize and one should not attempt to categorize the expenditures in this way completely. Although we can identify certain applications of space technology today these applications were not identified when the tools that made possible these applications were being developed. As an example of what I mean. The launch vehicles which were using today to launch mere logical
satellites and communications satellites were developed as part of a scientific program a program of exploration of space so that even though we might say that expenditure was made on behalf of space sciences and certainly that expenditure was also made on the half of direct applications of satellites to man's uses here on Earth. If we broke down proportionally the effort and time and money spent for man's exploration of space and the various other space applications such as meteorology communications or the avocation when we find an overbalance in the manned exploration area we would find a much larger fraction of the space dollars being devoted to the manned program at the moment. But I could not say that this was overbalance a manned program by its very nature must be much more expensive program.
The precautions that must be taken and the planning and the facilities required in the manned program are far greater than the needs of the unmanned program if you will or the applications program at the moment. And since we do have as a national objective the sending of a man to mome. We must provide the facilities and the resources and the planning and the technology to get this man the M-M safely back. As science becomes politically important is the objectivity and freedom traditionally associated with the scientists threaten. Yes I think there are examples of this happening. The Apollo program is perhaps one example. I think that the scientists who decided that the Apollo program was of low priority really had the
duty to say so publicly despite Mr. Kennedy's views. In fact it's rather interesting that when President Kennedy announced the Apollo program he called for a great national debate on whether we ought to put the country's resources into this effort. The tragedy is that the scientific community with a few exceptions did not respond to this challenge. There were no public discussions to speak of the pros and cons of devoting our scientific resources to this. It seems to me that some scientists are seeing the opportunity for more intensive support of research. The opportunity to do experiments that they wanted to do turned their backs on what I regard as a profound responsibility to acquaint the society with the judgments that only society can make as to the way in which we ought to use our scientific resources.
Dr. Barry Commoner William D Kerry executive assistant director of the US budget bureau commenting on the American policymaking system as written. The process through which science and public policy have achieved a relationship can be described either as a marriage or as a form of coexistence depending on one's bias. We asked Dr. Donald Hornig the director of the Office of Science and Technology and the president's advisor on science if he would characterize the relationship as marriage or coexistence. I can characterize the relation between many married men and women by either of those two words too. Some of both depending on the area. There are many of our important national policies related to national security and arms control recently now to social problems where marriage is certainly the proper war science is so intimately woven into what we do with the personal scaping that on the other hand the.
Science and science advisors are so in tune to the governmental process that the adaptation is certainly still going on as large parts of the government I'm sure that don't know either my office or I exist. Marriage or coexistence. Dr Waterall Roberts president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Well Mr. Kerry's remarks are very provocative but this question of Science and Public Policy Making it doesn't seem to me that the relationship between science and the policymakers fits either the description of marriage or coexistence. You see in my mind science is among other things a means to achieve goals and these goals can be good or bad. So that science
itself. It's in a way it's like a tool. The scientist on the other hand whether consciously or not is a partner in he can be either a partner in the development of the the achievement of the goals of society or he can be a pawn in the hands of the people who who hold political power in the achievement of the goals of the society or the people in power. Some scientists are rather deliberate in their exercise of their own power through the knowledge that they have and others are quite unconcerned and quite well. They're not deliberate at all in fact they they do nothing to exercise their responsibility or their power. So. In spite of the amusing and provocative nature of Mr. Kerry's remarks I really don't
think it's either Dr. Barry Commoner. Well I'm not sure that it can be put into any neat relationship of that sort. I think that clearly the relationship between science and society has developed pretty much had a hawk in this country. I think that it's developed in an opportunistic way. Congress has seen certain problems and has tried to solve them in their own way. The scientific community has tried several different kinds of solution solutions to the problems that the scientists see. It seems to me that like most other things in our society we have operated without any long term planning. I think that although there have been a number of public discussions about the proper relation between science and public policy there's still a good deal of confusion about some of the fundamentals. And until this
confusion is cleared up it's going to be very difficult to develop a comprehensive relationship between science and public policy. I have in mind for example the failure of many people to understand that despite their scientific background social issues which arise as a result of new technological developments really have. It can't be solved on scientific grounds. I think that if scientists make the assumption that you need a Ph.D. in order to decide about smog or nuclear weapons you know we are going to lose the democratic basis of our society. As I say this is an issue which still needs to be resolved and until issues like this are resolved we won't have a proper relationship between science and public policy with an annual budget of 16 billion dollars for research and development.
It is apparent that the federal government has a big stake in today's science. Science must justify its research when it is dependent on government monies and it must compete with other spending programs. Mr. Kerry of the budget bureau feels that there is a danger of a pork barrel mentality developing in science. We talked with a number of leading scientists and government industry and higher education and asked that they would like to see some changes in our country's program of support for research and development. Dr. Donald Hall the president's advisor on science. You know most of the world our system of support is regarded as a model of success. And so I want to be very careful. Simply exploring its weaknesses and there are some we said we support science and United States from many government agencies and I think this is very good because of each of these agencies represents some need if you like like health education
or space or atomic energy. And so by providing support from what are called Mission Oriented agencies these needs are reflected back into the scientific process. Then we have also agencies like the National Science Foundation which is just generally devoted to science. Now in my view of the Science Foundation place much too small a role I don't think we have. I don't really believe we want a centralized department of science. I do think of the core represented by the National Science Foundation where a fraction perhaps more like a third or a half the activity instead of a tenth. That's why we have a stronger system. Dr. T.S. Byerly director of the cooperative state Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture feels that in general changes in our nation's program of support for science will inevitably take place. We're conservative for believe in gradual changes. The winds of change
was the grown up yet in the research support. Oh there was sort of imbalance between institutional type of support and project type of support the concept of project support to excellence is finally So dissipating it goes no matter how excellent a man he knows he can only utilise directly a limited amount of support and then he must go out and get people to help him. Well there are excellence in general may not be assumed to be equal to his own. Nor does his excellence immediately pervade them so that the unlimited support of excellence will absorb all of the resources that are available. Nor does the identification of excellence that exists help in the identification of
explosives coming into existence is not yet recognized solely of project grant system of competitive grant system that has many virtues. The battle here judgments all of this sort of thing. Many virtues it still does not provide the answer to two things first solid institutional support and second the opportunity for recognition of emerging new competence is yet unknown. So I think that a balance all of these things do exist in the federal support institutional support program that for which I am responsible is largely an institutional problem. The project grants work competitive noncompetitive all of these things are being tried now and out of it. Oh Im sure in the long run we will have a better system than we presently have but I think these changes come about gradually. Also a better mechanism for setting priorities on projects undertaken for financing by the government. The suggestion of Dr LR house
Dad vice president for research of General Motors. This problem has been bounced back and forth between Congress and the executive branch of government for many years and Congress has tried to have these priorities set by the scientists themselves in the National Foundation and in the Office of Science and Technology. I am skeptical of this approach for it has led to a confused program dominated by pressure groups of scientists for example programs which can only be justified by by products. I certainly suspect. I think it will be the policy making nonscientific laymen in Congress and in the executive who must ultimately determine priorities in our scientific programs based on their real value to society. Needs and wants can best be specified by the customer not by the salesman. Dr. Walter Roberts president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. I feel that there is a need for greater
stability in the adherence to scientific goals on the part of the government. I feel that at the present time the trend in financial support for science while the support has been generous and growing has sometimes not been stable in its direction. There are short periods of time when there is strong emphasis on a particular field of advancement. And then there's a great flash of interest in a flurry in another direction. I feel that we must learn to set longer term goals for Science and Technology. And these goals must be adhered to in the face of adversity either economic adversity or in the face of adversity in achieving the goals on the timetables that we hope
for. I also feel that the federal government's program for support of science should be carried out with better means of establishing priorities of work priorities disciplines you might say are areas of science where advancement will be to the public benefit. At the present time the determination of priorities amongst different object is so it seems to me is rather carelessly in the rather chaotic way made. And I think that at this time in the development of our nation there must be more consciousness on the part of government and a more deliberate establishment of priorities for areas of development where there are social benefits to be achieved. The rapidity of change introduced by new technology puts the government's capacity to
- The circumstance of science
- Episode Number
- Episode 2 of 13
- Producing Organization
- Michigan State University
- WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Other Description
- The Circumstance of Science. Documentary series. No information available.
- Media type
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-23-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “The circumstance of science; Episode 2 of 13,” 1968-07-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 2, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cj87n472.
- MLA: “The circumstance of science; Episode 2 of 13.” 1968-07-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 2, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cj87n472>.
- APA: The circumstance of science; Episode 2 of 13. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cj87n472