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them at cocktail parties. I'm not sure that that's the kind of thing that I would mount a scientific study of.
Mr. Brown. This is a bona fide matter of a religious conversion leading to a lady losing a substantial amount of weight. I don't want
Dr. Rodin. Maybe she spent all of her time in church and was less tempted by the refrigerator. (Laughter.]
Mr. Brown. Well, can you take that situation and construe it as a researchable problem?
Dr. Rodin. Yes, I'm sure I could. I'm sure that we could develop a research problem about any issue regarding human behavior. The only question is to demand of ourselves and hopefully the community demands this of us too—to choose the more from the less important and the more promising from the less promising.
It's not something, unless I would have 20 such people, that I would begin to mount a research program on. I would not do it on one individual.
Mr. Brown. The healthiest people in my district are all Seventh Day Adventists who don't smoke cigars or drink whiskey or eat meat. It's such an interesting phenomenon that considerable research is being funded on the consideration of comparative health habits of this population versus the general population.
The motivation for their health practices is obviously religious motivation. It's embedded in the tenets of their faith.
Dr. Rodin. The scientific question, of course, as you indicated, is probably in the behavior that is produced by the religious beliefs. As a scientific question, we must investigate whether those behaviors in fact lead to better health, or whether religious belief independent of those behaviors lead to better health.
I think that may be a testable question.
Mr. Brown. Dr. Rodin, I think we will proceed to Dr. Lane and see if he can present us with some more interesting areas for controversy. You may proceed with your statement.
Dr. LANE. Mr. Chairman, I certainly don't want to disappoint you, but it seems to me that research on language and thought, on judging, remembering, and problem solving must be about the least controversial kind of research there could be.
Mr. Brown. I differ with you. Some of the most controversial people on your faculty are linguists.
Dr. LANE. But not linguists qua linguists.
Mr. Brown. In the minds of the public, there is no distinction between the two. If they are linguists and identified as such, it's assumed that linguistics is controversial.
Dr. LANE. Such problems of attitude change and belief I leave to my distinguished colleague here. [Laughter.] Mr. Brown. Go ahead, Dr. Lane.
Dr. LANE. The specialty within the behavioral and neural sciences that I have been asked to address is one that, perhaps as well as any other, focuses clearly and directly on the central question, it seems to me, of informed inquiry since the beginning of mankind and that is the question, what is the nature of man?
One has to pause for a moment to even assemble all the arguments that have been guiding us for scores of centuries in our intense desire to find out more aobut the kind of being that we are.
What do we gain from inquiry into language and thought, into the nature of the human mind? Well, we gain better education for our children. We gain better therapy for the handicapped. We gain better ability to communicate with other people around the world, with our aliles, our enemies and nonalined peoples.
We gain better treatment for minorities. It staggers me and dismays me that there are representatives who are unclear about these gains and who, indeed, are prepared to vote against programs that are teaching us the nature of the learning process, that are teaching us the nature of human thought, that are explaining the process of problem solving. I certainly would not want to be the Representative that voted against research on language development which holds the key to better education for our children and better therapy for the many thousands of children who suffer from developmental disabilities.
I wouldn't want to be the Representative who voted against studies of reading. I wouldn't want to be the Representative who voted against the diffusion of the American sign language of the deaf or against studies of how that language affects the learning process in handicapped children since some 5 million Americans have a hearinghandicapped child or relative. I would not want to be the Representative who voted against preparing a dictionary or a grammar of languages in the Soviet Union or in Southeast Asia or in Africa, only to find that our country has a vital and immediate need for people versed in those languages.
Yet, when I compared this list that I just recited against the list of projects funded by the linguistics program at NSF in fiscal 1979, I found that three-fourths of the projects come under one of those headings. I would be delighted to defend any of the remaining fourth.
I could make a similar case for the project list that I examined for the memory and cognition program. We can learn ways to enhance remembering, we can learn ways to teach problem solving. We can make laborious human tasks feasible for computers, and what it costs is a little money, really, a very little money.
I'm talking about less than a penny out of the pocket of every wage earner in the United States. I believe that if we asked the man in the street, do you want your Represenative to vote in support of research that will improve education or minority rights or communication with our allies and enemies, and so on down the list, we would say, certainly I do. I want to hasten to say that the discussion today has focused on the social significance of these kinds of research and I feel that that's a little bit incomplete to say the least, insincere, in some measure, since there are many other motives that giude me and I believe my colleagues in the pursuit of knowledge, and perhaps the paramount motive of all is the sheer desire to know.
If you ask, can a free society indulge such an instinct in a few of its members, I say yes, we can. In fact, it's a measure of the quality of our life that we do. As we support our artists, our musicians, and our writers, so we should support those people who are seeking to understand, even if they cannot now say why they are seeking to understand, what their understanding might mean in terms of dollars out for dollars in.
Of course, it turns out that, more often than not, we can give a socially practical reason for behavioral research and it often turns out that when we can't, the reason turns up later. To take one example from my own specialization-you've heard others today—the National Science Foundation can take great pride in having been the first to sponsor studies in the 1960's of what was then seen as the bizarre gesticulating of the deaf in the absence of speech.
What science has discovered there has shocked and intrigued psychologists and linguists for decades since, not to mention the deaf community itself, and that is a grammatical structure, a vocabulary and syntax in the manual and visual mode.
What this has taught us is that language is more powerful than any particular sense and if it's blocked in one sense, it will out through another. It's taught us a respect for the language of the deaf which has given us new insight into the language itself and a fresh perspective on language, and some very exciting developments have occurred in communicating with those who cannot communicate orally. I'm thinking of autistic children, the mentally retarded, and the victims of stroke, as well as the deaf community.
Yet a third reason for supporting research into the nature of the human mind is that practical improvements require most often a solid theoretical base. Developing that theory, that base, may require experiments whose practical payoff is unclear.
A fourth reason: In the inquiry into the nature of the human mind, the United States bears a special responsibility and enjoys special prerogatives for its leadership role. The responsibility is that our European allies in particular follow our lead in these areas, rely on us, read our journals, attend our congresses. Therefore, the worldwide advance in understanding of the human mind is set by the pace of the American scientific community to a large extent, and that in turn is regulated by grants from the National Science Foundation and therefore by the appropriations of the House of Representatives.
The reward that comes from that leadership position is this: Not only can we take pride, not only can our allies see us as a humanitarian and informed nation bringing technology to bear on man's social problems, but also as technology transfer becomes increasingly important economically, these practical developments can affect our own economic position in the world market.
Last, I'd like to mention the very intimate relation that exists, in my view, between the health of our universities and the scope of our federally funded research programs.
I don't believe that the witnesses you have heard so far have been sufficiently forthcoming on the extent to which the universities rely in a vital and day-to-day way on National Science Foundation grants.
Without those grants, there would be fewer graduate students who rely on those grants for research assistantships to pay their way. There would be fewer faculty since faculty salaries are paid out of their grants in part, so as to release their time for research. There would, of course, be less knowledge for our students who go on to be the doctors, psychologists, engineers and representatives of the next generation.
In light of all this, you may be convinced that research on the human mind should have very high priority. If you ask, then, is it getting that priority, it's my opinion that it is not. I served on the linguistics panel for 2 years and I saw many worthwhile projects that were not funded for lack of funds.
Moreover, I saw many projects that were nominally funded, but whose budgets were grievously slashed. I acknowledge that the leadership of the Foundation might find my words a bit strong here, but
at was the impression that I formed; that is, that there is not only a need for the present level of funding, but, in the opinion of this one laborer in the vineyard, there is a gross shortage of adequate funds for work that should have such high priority.
The result is that many talented young men and women do not even choose a career in research into the human mind because they know it will be difficult to get support for graduate school, because they know there are very few faculty positions for lack of research funds.
In short, we have been paying a high price for the continued underfunding in this area. I believe the question is not, should we be funding research into the human mind, but rather, should we allow ourselves to continue to shortchange it to the extent that we have, given its very high priority?
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Lane, you make the statement that unfettered science is a measure of the quality of life in an advanced society and I agree with you, although I'm not exactly sure what vou mean by "unfettered".
In what modest studies I have made in the history of science, I have never found an era in the history of the human race when science wasn't fettered to some degree. I think what you are talking about is not unfettered science, but federally-supported science.
The question before us is really the priority that we place on channeling tax dollars into basic research and into the various disciplinary fields. We don't set priorities through any magical process around here. We set them in response to political pressure.
How do you create political pressure for elevating the priority for linguistics? How do you go about educating the public as to the importance of the kind of research that you are doing? How do you go about creating, in other words, a scientifically literate public in your particular field, one that can exert a little political pressure ?
Dr. LANE. I think that one thing we can do, and I have tried to do it in my own sphere, as Dr. Rodin described in hers, is to carry our findings in the laboratory out into the field of application to which they are naturally related.
In my own work on the American sign language of the deaf, I have tried to bring to the awareness of the deaf community, which, I might say, is a very tight-knit community in the United States, the richness and complexitv of their language, the prestige it warrants, and the promise it holds, most important, as a vehicle for their instruction.
I think that there is no question that there is a revolution going on in the American deaf community with regard to their language, a revolution which has sparked similar ones, by the way, in France and Scandanavia. I believe that any sounding of the deaf community would show that they feel very deeply concerned about the support of, for example, sign language research and that an urban representative would be most ill-advised to take a clear stand against that kind of research.
Now, if we each do that in each of our own spheres, and if the Foundation is aggressive in science information, perhaps we can address the goal that you have cited.
Mr. Brown. Well, the question is not intended to be quite as stark as it may have sounded. We are basically concerned with the broad problem of creating a scientifically literate public and one that associates the need for, and importance of, scientific research.
This is a part of the mandate of the Foundation, but through an intricate feedback process, which is part of the forces which lead to favorable or unfavorable acceptance of the budgetary request. Hence, we have to be concerned about it. I think the scientific community has to be concerned about it, not for purely selfish reasons, but for the unselfish reason that if scientific unfettered research is as important as you say it is, then it needs to be shared. The sense of its importance and the results of its being done need to be shared.
I probably overemphasize that
I probably overemphasize this, but I am trying to get the idea across in as many ways as I can. You are conveying to us that linguistic research specifically and the broader field within which it is embedded are, if anything, underfunded. May I assume that you have data to substantiate that?
You mentioned that you have been in a position of reviewing grant applications. This area is presumably, then, not funding as large a percentage of good research grants as some of the other areas?
Dr. LANE. I can cite three observations that will help to make this more concrete. First, I observed that there were many worthwhile projects not getting funded. Of course, that's a difficult judgment to make, but the committee that reviews the linguistics program and some of the allied programs, the so-called oversight committee, was asked to look at 10 projects on the margin in each of a number of areas, five of which were in fact funded and five of which were not.
The committee found repeatedly in several areas, including linguistics, that the five that were not funded could very well have been funded and in fact found it very difficult to make that discrimination. That's one indication to me.
A second indication is that the hit rate, to put it in its most crass terms, is extraordinarily low. My understanding is that it's approximately 25 percent.
Now, when you remember that there are thousands upon thousands of people qualified to submit projects in the broadly construed area of linguistics—which includes child language development, reading studies, research on foreign and indigenous languages, psycholinguistics, speech and hearing, and so on--and when you recognize that these people never do submit proposals because they know that the likelihood of getting one funded is extraordinarily small, then you realize that there is, indeed, a serious problem caused by underfunding. One can dispute whether, if we funded all the worthwhile projects, the hit rate would be 35, 40, 45, or 50 percent, but it would be a great deal larger than it is now.
The last index I would like to mention, Mr. Chairman, is the level of funding of these budgets. Now, just to speak for myself, I really