Science and Society

October 15, 1969

Report Outline
Impact of Science on Men and Nations
Steps in Putting Science to Man's Use
Links of Science and Society in Future

Impact of Science on Men and Nations

Criticism of Science-Oriented U.S. Society

Science, long respected for its contributions to human well-being, is coming under increasing attack for allegedly debasing the quality of life. Criticism is especially intense among young people. Social critic Paul Goodman points out that “Dissident young people are saying that science is anti-life, it is a Calvinist obsession, it has been a weapon of white Europe to subjugate colored races, and scientific technology has manifestly become diabolical.” Such a viewpoint may be extreme, but it reflects the growing concern over the future role of science in a society which can land men on the moon but seemingly lacks answers to pressing human problems on earth.

Somewhat the same issue was discussed late last month by Samuel B. Gould, chancellor of the State University of New York, in a series of lectures at Colgate University on “The Academic Condition.” The campus revolt, Gould said, “is against scientism as much as it is against authority.” He explained: “It is an effort of the non-scientist, who has been put in the shade now for at least the past two decades, to get back some of the spotlight. Campus agitators are rarely, if ever, students or faculty from the scientific disciplines; they tend to come out of the social sciences, which are relatively inexact in their researches, and the humanities, which are and should be preoccupied with unanswerable questions.”

A special panel of the National Academy of Sciences, asked to appraise the benefits and drawbacks of technological innovation, reported on July 28, 1969, that the United States needed a new agency, close to the center of political power, to alert the nation to the perils of uncontrolled applications of science. The 17-member panel, whose report was commissioned by the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, was headed by Harvey Brooks, dean of engineering and applied sciences at Harvard.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sep. 15, 1971  Future of Liberalism
Nov. 04, 1970  The New Humanism
Oct. 15, 1969  Science and Society
Jun. 11, 1969  Eastern Religions and Western Man
General Social Trends
Science and Politics