Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Quote of the Day, 30 December 2008

Filed under: Politics, Quote of the Day — mikewb1971 @ 7:01 PM (19:01)

“The typical approach to a public problem by public leaders is to interpret the problem in ways that leave basic sentiments and established group structures and beliefs undisturbed. Having fastened on a ‘comfortable’ interpretation — which normally attributes the ’cause’ of the problem to some previously recognized ‘evil’ — the remedy is clear. A slogan is adopted and action along safe but probably ineffective lines is undertaken. Objection by social scientists that the interpretation is wrong and the remedy futile is rejected, often in a rough and uncomplimentary fashion.”

“We have some defense against medical quackery, but we have none at present against social-science quackery. For the most part, frauds in social science are not very important, because no action is taken on the basis of them; but occasionally the newspapers, public officials, and leaders generally seize, as a basis of policy, an interpretation that the social scientists working in the field know is stupid and unworkable. In such cases, at present, nothing can be done. An individual social scientist may protest, but his voice is drowned by the sheer repetition of the popular interpretation.”

The Perilous Promise of Behavioral Science, Kingsley Davis, Ph. D., Chairman,
   Internal Population and Urban Research, University of California, Berkeley;
   Chairman of the Division of Behavioral Sciences, National Academy of Sciences.
   pp 23-32 in “Research in the Service of Man: Biomedical Knowledge, Development, and Use.”
   Document No. 55, 90th Congress, 2 November 1967.

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