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sent 41 percent of the available support. In two fields, anthropology and political science, NSF is essentially the sole source of funding for basic research efforts at universities. Even in economics, where the Department of Agriculture contributes strongly to related studies, NSF support is unique because it is the only program that considers unsolicited competitive applications. If Federal support of research in all of these fields were eliminated, the savings in the Federal budget would be modest, but the costs in knowledge lost would be incalculable.

Given that the dollar figures are so small a fraction of the total Federal budget, we might ask why their investment has attracted so much attention-or even occasionally, criticism. There are probably a number of answers; and this issue, insofar as it relates to the role of the National Science Foundation, has been a matter of congressional discussion since the original legislation was proposed. Premissive authorization for the coverage of these fields—the language used, “other science” was changed to explicit authority during the 1968 review of the NSF act by this committee. But this authorization has not been translated into substantial public acceptance, and those of us at NSF must face the issues squarely as we request annual congressional authorization of funds for support of research in these fields.

NSF's programs have concentrated on developing sound data bases for many fundamental issues. Although NSF cannot claim credit for providing support, the Nobel Prize in economics in 1979 serves as a reminder. The contribution of Schultz and Lewis was recognized because their analytic work demonstrated the importance of investments in education and research. Such investments constitute vitally important and undervalued resources, as their research makes clear, for developing countries. Similarly, work supported by NSF in social and behavioral fields has often proved important for applied and policy purposes even though it was undertaken because it was judged primarily important for advancing the state of knowledge. When we further recognize that NSF sponsorship represents one of the limited sources for investigator-initiated, as opposed to sponsor-requested research, these programs assume even greater value.

The cumulative research effort has led to a body of technical and scientific knowledge in the behavioral and social science fields that makes the United States a world leader. NSF support of fundamental research in these areas has concentrated on the scientific rather than the social issues—attempting to improve theory, method, and data. As a result, projects sometimes have been labeled frivolous, wasteful, or useless. But surely it is not frivolous to advance knowledge and understanding of human behavior and social institutions. And in competitive situations where less than 30 percent of the proposals are supported—in some cases fewer than 20 percent—the review procedures and criteria are so stringent that no undertaking judged wasteful by expert, scientific reviewers has a chance of being funded. Further, more often than not, the results of these projects have been of high utility.

William Safire recently reminded us of the pejorative newspaper term "Afghanistanism.” It was used to criticize coverage of far-off, remote places where little happened of interest to Americans. “Afghanistanism” has become an inappropriate term as recent events cause


previously specialized and obscure topics to loom large on the front pages of our newspapers.

May I suggest a parallel : Individual NSF research grants have been subjected to a highly similar form of ridicule. That we have supported scientific research on such topics as religion among the Sherpas of Nepal, the contributions of Islamic science, or the visual system of grasshoppers has received criticism from some quarters. Yet such research efforts, recommended after thorough scientific review, add importantly to our store of knowledge, they are in keeping with the mission of the Foundation and surely they are not "silly research

Advancing knowledge is never easy and it is particularly difficult in situations where sensitivities run high. But we might recall many instances where results from social and behavioral fields have filtered quickly into daily usage—and we have forgotten their research origins. For example, basic research in economics has provided the accounting system for tracking the gross national product, techniques for cost-benefit analysis, and the key to econometric modeling used currently by the Federal Reserve Board. But the development of the latter, as I described in my written statement, resulted from NSFsupported research activities. In cost-benefit analysis, we see the role of the NSF programs as improving the techniques that are used, broadening the variables that can be measured, expanding the data base for testing the technique, and assisting in experimental uses of the analysis.

Many other examples can be provided and are mentioned in the statement submitted for the record. In the interest of the committee's schedule and the other witnesses, I will not elaborate further on program content, or organizational, or other aspects pertinent to your review. I shall be pleased to answer any questions you may have. What I hope will be demonstrated today is that the Foundation has pursued its programs in these fields responsibly and well, honoring congressional mandate and contributing to general well being.

We need the support of the Committee on Science and Technology if we are going to continue with the pressing tasks of improving theory, developing better analytic methods, and providing more comprehensive data resources for important research findings in the behavioral and social sciences. They are, in the last analysis, in the national interest.

Shall I proceed with the four witnesses who are scheduled, or do you want to have questions?

[The prepared statement of Dr. Clark follows:]





FEBRUARY 5, 1980

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I am pleased to present the Foundation's authorization request for

support of research in the biological, behavioral, and social sciences.

For FY 1981 we are requesting $182 million; this represents an increase

of 9.2 percent over our current budget.

This projected budget increase

is modest and will be used selectively. My testimony will highlight

those parts of our program that are scheduled for major emphases and

will give special attention to those that are of interest to Congress.

Before discussing the budgetary details, I should like to take a

few moments to place the importance of these sciences in perspective.

Twenty-five broad programmatic areas are encompassed within the

Biological, Behavioral, and Social Sciences (BBS) component of NSF.

For these areas, asf's role in support of basic research at

universities and consequently for the Nation is of highest importance.


In many of these areas the Foundation's supporting role is unique among

Federal agencies. As such, NSF's effect on the advancement of knowledge

is far greater than might be attributed on the basis of the size of the

budget of a particular program.

Four examples--in ecology, anthropology,

linguistics, and economics--highlight the catalytic effect of nurturing

research in a scientific subdiscipline through its initial descriptive

phase to a productive analytic phase. With the hindsight of 10 to 20

years, we are appreciative of the value of this as operating policy.

Ecology was first achieving recognition as a scientifically valid

way to examine living things in their physical environments about 30

years ago.

Re search now boasts of progress in understanding the

workings of whole ecosystems--an effort whose scientific development is

attributable almost exclusively to NSF-supported investigators.

At the

ecosystem level of temperate forests, recent findings are helping to

explain the effects of acid rain.

At the ecosystem level of tropical

forests, nutrient cycling projects are clarifying the movement and

exchange of carbon dioxide between soil, vegetation, water and the


As we increase understanding of these cycles, we improve

the ability to manage our environment more effectively.

Archaeology was first supported as a small effort in NSF's early


For many years, NSF has been the almost exclusive source of

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support for university research in physical and cultural anchropology

and in archaeology.

It is the only agency that maintains an extramural

basic research program for investigator-initiated research in each of

the areas.

Further, NSF shares with the Smithsonian Institution and

the National Park Service responsibility for preserving collections of

major U.S. findings--as research resources and as components of our

national heritage.

Largely through the cumulative efforts of NSF-supported scientists,

we have evidence of human existence millions of years carlier than was

imagined just 10 years ago.

Continued systematic study of human origins

through the combined efforts of geologists, archaeologists, anthropologists,

and ecologists lends promise that we may make major advances during the

next 5 to 10 years in further understanding evolution.

In linguistics NSF supported the development and publication of

the American Sign Language (ASL) Dictionary.

As research on the

structural basis of language, this effort was greatly ridiculed some

yeears ago.

Yet today, sign language is generally acknowledged to be a

valid alternative mode of communication and information transfer for

those unable to sound and/or hear the spoken word.

Further, the

systematic understanding of this distinctive human behavior has had

practical benefits as

a teaching aid for those with learning problems

or in need of rehabilitation after accidents.

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