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Mr. Brown. Well, the problem that you indicate, Dr. Clark, is one that I personally feel comes within the mandate of the Foundation as part of its general concern for the health of science.
If at any point in science we have a situation developing where our best minds are being drawn out into the commercial world because they can make a million dollars and don't want to do biological research, but rather manage the business that makes $1 million for them or, on the other hand, if there are no longer opportunities for bright young researchers, both of these are an important part of the general health of science in this country.
The Foundation, I think, is specifically mandated to call attention of the Congress to these problems and, hopefully, to propose solutions.
Dr. CLARK. I might pick up on that and indicate that that's where our programs, again, have a unique role against a background of the large spending in the life sciences by the National Institutes of Health. We sometimes lose sight of the importance of the Foundation's programs. They are focused 90 percent-or rather their constituents are 90 percent in that portion of the university is primarily concerned with transmitting scientific knowledge to the next generation of students and with providing research experience to students. NSF's
programs in these ways are particularly important. Mr. Brown. Dr. Ritter, do you have any questions? Mr. RITTER. Not at this time, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Brown. Dr. Clark, if I may again offer a comment that's directed at this problem of the uses of research, the uses of basic science in a society. Again, I'm making this comment hopefully to try and clarify a situation and to lead to a more productive discussion of it.
It seems to me that there is a very great value in the processes of scientific exploration of the universe. I have said before that I accept this as a matter of faith for various reasons, but the attitude that you will get from the public and from the Congress will continually be one of questioning why we need to support these things. Now, I don't think that it needs to be demonstrated that every bit of basic research, every endeavor of the scientific genius needs to be related to some immediate application of social need.
However, I think it is a reasonable attitude for the scientific community to take that there should be some broader relationship to that research than just to the needs of that individual. In other words, he gets innate satisfaction out of doing that. He publishes it and his colleagues get an increase in their knowledge, and he gets some ego satisfaction out of it, but that's not enough for the support of science.
I think that among other things, there has to be a complete transmission belt for that scientific research through a series of steps which includes his publication of it for his colleagues, its distribution to a broader scientific community, its distribution to a public in some form that they can understand, and its translation where it's possible to translate it, into some further results that may be socially useful. In other words, what I'm basically talking about is the fact that the creation of knowledge is a part of a process which has to include the dissemination of that knowledge. not necessarily its translation into useful hardware, but its dissemination so that it has an optimum value to the whole of society.
I ask you if that's an unreasonable position to take and if science in general wouldn't share that point of view with regard to the significance of science.
Dr. CLARK. I do not think it is an unreasonable position to take, but again, just as you point out that you don't expect each individual project to yield a product useful to society, I think we perhaps also shouldn't expect each individual scientist to be effective, either in bridging the gap or in promoting the dissemination. Rather, we need to provide special mechanisms and increase the scientific literacy on a broader scope.
Mr. BROWN. Correct. It is not fair to lay on the individual scientist this individual responsibility, but it is fair to lay it on the Foundation.
Dr. CLARK. Exactly. I think we need to do a substantially better job in providing the information in a form that is understandable and convincing both to our elected representatives and to the lay public.
Mr. Brown. You see, this bears directly on the problem that we have with regard to the budget for the social sciences. There is an inadequate understanding of the contribution of the social sciences on the part of Congressmen and the public in general, I think.
There are few people who would understand, for example, the simple point you made about the fiddler crab, that a study of the fiddler crab can help to improve our understanding of why pilots might have difficulties as they fly airplanes around the world because of divergence in their circadian rhythms.
I'm convinced that it's in the best interest of both the public and the Foundation that we spend more time looking at the overall problem of making this a scientifically literate society and understanding the connection between knowledge and economic health and these other things that I harp on all the time.
Mr. RITTER. Mr. Chairman, please excuse my laryngitis. There are no microphones in this room.
You touched on a point that brought to mind some concerns that I have. You talk about the division of biological, behavioral, and social sciences and it's kind of as you get toward social that you get toward more difficulty with your budget.
We can easily defend the fiddler crab which is, I guess, part of the behavioral program. That's very much a physical biological science type problem. When we are faced with the sex life questions of a certain kind of bee, you can get up there in confidence and make the proper analysis so as to gain understanding of biocontrol of pests and what have you.
However, as soon as we get to the realm of the more social of the social sciences, and again, even disregarding economics which is understood to all lay people, everybody wants higher productivity. There is where we run into some of the bigger problems.
I think the chairman has hit on it very well. You know, if you took the whole NSF budget and you had to get up on the floor and defend it, 99 percent is very easily defensible. It's that 1 percent that gets picked up in the editorials in at least a hundred different journals all
over the country of various persuasions. Even among the projects that are picked up in these journals, 7 out of 10 are pretty defensible.
Then, you get three or four where those of us from the scientific community feel that we trust the scientists in the Foundation, but there is a bunch that are very difficult to defend. Usually, they lie within that part of the behavioral and social sciences which are not physical at all.
They don't involve hard chemical experiments or electronic techniques. You know, the Peruvian story is one. Somehow if these things are out there in the hustings, so to speak, and we have some idea that they may be causing some problems because we have seen this in a lot of different journals, perhaps we could be better informed. It is not the whole Foundation justifying its existence; it's a couple, three things that make it very difficult for the rest of the budget.
Dr. CLARK. If I might comment, I would certainly say I will be delighted to provide you and your staff with information on the projects.
Mr. RITTER. Not all the projects.
Dr. CLARK. No. But, I guess what I wanted to indicate is that very often, in fact, in most instances, the ones that are picked up are ones that are first reported in the National Enquirer. They invariably are given a sensational headline; they often quote someone from the taxpayers' union as saying this project surely is a waste of money. I think it is fair to say that the Enquirer has not made a solid attempt to explain the project objectively.
Mr. RITTER. They end up in other journals which are not so disreputable.
Dr. CLARK. Yes, they get transferred. Certainly, the jargon sometimes used by scientists in describing their work or titles is inappropriate; it can be subject to ridicule, but an important point to keep in mind is that the screening procedures used for recommending funding in the social sciences follow from the procedures used in the physical sciences. It may be somewhat more difficult to make decisions in such areas because there is no theory of gravitation, so to speak.
Mr. RITTER. Also, you get a lot of problems because the language is probably less technical. You will get more commentary as it hits the social and behavioral realm.
Dr. CLARK. The research often uses ordinary English words that are in fact used in a technical sense in some of the social sciences. Of course, the technical implication is not understood by someone who is not a student of the field. But, we will certainly continue to work on the communication problem.
Mr. RITTER. The question is how do George Brown and I get help when it comes time to at least answer some of these questions on the floor.
Dr. ATKINSON. Mr. Ritter, I have observed this controversy for some time, and I have looked at the TV tapes of last year's floor debate. What's interesting is that the debate has narrowed. Six years ago, the debate included a much wider range of projects. It has now narrowed to a specific activity in social science.
After the debate, I went up to Capitol Hill and talked to several Congressmen and Congresswomen. What amazed me was that when I used the term, social sciences, so many expressed a peculiar view. They did not see economics as a social science. They did not see survey
research as a social science. In fact, as a result of my visits, we changed the NSF division title from Social Sciences to Social and Economic Science to convey the breadth of activities there.
Mr. RITTER. I think there is probably a body of people in the Congress that feels that the social sciences are characterized by fuzzy thinking, generally left of center individuals who are almost trying to bring ideological change to this country through their social science endeavors. You have that
there is almost a background level of thinking there. Mr. Brown. Dr. Ritter, we will have an opportunity to pursue this with Dr. Clark at more extended hearings later. Unfortunately, this hearing room is scheduled for another subcommittee at 10 o'clock.
Despite the fact that we have considerably more questions, I'm afraid we will have to adjourn at this point. Thank you very much, Dr. Clark and Dr. Klemperer and Dr. Atkinson for being here this morning. The subcommittee will be adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 10:04, the hearing was adjourned.]