Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“A Liking for the Truth: Truth and Controversy in the Work of Linus Pauling.”

February 28, 2001

Video: “The Price of Controversy” Tom Hager

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44:27 - Abstract | Biography | More Videos from Session 1

Transcript

Cliff Mead: Welcome to the next part of our program. I'd like to introduce Tom Hager. Tom is a science writer, biographer, editor...Linus Pauling, which was published last month by the Oregon State University Press, Linus Pauling: Scientist and Peacemaker. Tom's talk today is on the price of controversy. Tom.

Tom Hager: Thank you Cliff. When Cliff and I started working on the book that we co-edited, which is a collection of excerpts and bits and pieces from Linus Pauling's life, we titled it, along with the editors at Oregon State University Press, Scientist and Peacemaker, to recognize the two halves of Pauling's work for much of his life. Certainly, great attention is always paid to Linus Pauling as one of the 20th century's foremost scientists, perhaps its leading chemist; certainly one of the most important American scientists to have ever lived, and a great deal of attention is paid to the advances that Pauling made possible to the discoveries that he made.

But a relative lack of attention is paid nowadays to the other half of Pauling's life, which involved his passion for peace and justice, the political activism that he engaged in for very many years, some of the most productive years of his life, from about 1940, and throughout the remainder of his life, reaching a peak in the 1950s. I wanted to make sure that the day did not pass - the day commemorating Linus Pauling's centenary birthday - without attention being paid to that portion of his life. Because it was important; it was important to him, important to his family - certainly to his wife, Ava Helen - and it was important to the world as well.

Let me give you a quote that Pauling liked to use. In his speeches - he spoke hundreds and hundreds of times to many groups about the needs to control the proliferation and testing of nuclear weapons, and he would often include in his speeches a quote that he had liked from a person that he admired, Benjamin Franklin. The quote is this: "The rapid progress true science now makes occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried in a thousand years the power of man over matter. Oh, that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement, that men would cease to be wolves to one another, and that human beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity."

I think this quote is important in several ways. One is that it shows Pauling's optimistic attitude towards the progress of science. He's using Benjamin Franklin's words, but he is echoing a theme that he often made in his own talks, which is that, thanks to science, and thanks to the advances science has made, human society is becoming better. Human suffering has lessened. Medicine has improved. Living conditions have improved. As our understanding of nature improves, it opens the door to better living conditions for the mass of humanity. So the advance of science, which he saw in a very straight-forward, progressive way, was important to him.

He bemoaned, as Franklin did, the lack of a corollary increase in our understanding and advancing of human morality, of the way in which humans treat one another. This became especially more true, or more evident to him, in the 1950s, when he was persecuted for his political beliefs.

The last thing that it demonstrates is Pauling's affection for, and respect for, the founding fathers of our country; Franklin was certainly one of them, but among his many other traits, Linus Pauling was an American through and through. He believed in the Constitution of the United States. He believed in the ideals of a democratic society, in the rights of the individual. Those were guiding principles that he formed very early in life, and carried through with great courage in a very long and difficult period for him. I want to talk today about that period, about his political work and what it cost him personally and professionally. [5:27]

The story starts in about 1928. The 1928 election was the earliest that I know about how Pauling voted. Pauling voted for Herbert Hoover for president. Now, Herbert Hoover was the Republican candidate for president in 1928, and Pauling was following in his own father's footsteps; his father was a Republican and voted the Republican ticket without thinking too much about it. In fact, he wasn't too concerned about politics in general.

However, between 1928 and 1932, he began to think differently about politics, thanks to his wife, Ava Helen Pauling. Ava Helen Pauling was a very significant factor in Linus Pauling's life in a number of ways, the most important being that she got him to think about the world in a political way. She got him to think about human society as a political system, and the ways in which injustices were becoming ingrained in societies. Ava Helen came from a family that was left-leaning, an Oregon family, perhaps to the point of socialism. Ava Helen Pauling believed that there were better ways of running society than the way America was being run, or much of Western society. She believed in a leftist approach to social justice and government, and was a proponent at times of socialism. Pauling, under her influence, began for the first time to think about the ways in which political realities affected the day-to-day lives of people, and how political changes could bring about betterment in society.

By 1932, he was voting for Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a New Deal Democrat. Roosevelt was one of Pauling's ideals as a politician; he believed in Roosevelt's New Deal, he believed in the liberal democratic kind of government that Roosevelt represented. And so, by 1936 he was voting for Upton Sinclair, and was more interested in the candidacy of Upton Sinclair as governor of California. What this represented was the awakening in Linus Pauling of the fact that politics was important, that science wasn't the only thing there was in the world.

In the mid-'30s he also read a book by John Desmond Bernal, who was a British crystallographer, a very significant figure in science, and a Marxist as well. He wrote a book about science, and the social significance of science, that basically painted scientists as lackeys of the power structure, to use a phrase from later years. That means that he saw scientists, and science in general, as kind of a middle class profession run by people who worked for either the government, industry, or universities - that received their funding from either industry or the government. In fact, to keep the boat moving smoothly through the water, they tended not to question the kinds of research that they were paid to do. This was back in the 1930s, before the huge change in government funding that happened in World War II. [9:12]

The situation has changed a little bit, but in fact, Bernal's criticisms of science rang a bell with Pauling. He enjoyed the book, he had some of his students read the book, and it became an influence on him. He never was one of those scientists who remain silent because, in a way, they might be afraid of biting the hand that fed them. Pauling gradually became more and more interested in issues of social justice, under the influence of his wife and Bernal, and in World War II, for the first time, he became really active in politics.

His first round of activity in politics was anything but pacifistic - he became known as a pacifist later. Certainly he was in a class by himself as a pacifist, but his first political activity was very Hawk-like. He spoke out very strongly and publicly against Hitler, because he had friends in Germany, from his time in Europe, who were suffering under Hitler's regime. In Germany, in the late '30s and '40s, he knew a number of Jewish scientists who were forced to flee, and had heard the pleas of families who were uprooted. He believed very strongly that government should not have a role in directing science, and Hitler's tossing-out, wholesale, of what was called "Jewish science" at that time - along with anything else that was Jewish in Germany - was seen as a terrible, terrible blow to rational human society. Pauling couldn't believe that a government as centralized, as forward-looking, as Germany's had been could suddenly turn around and get to the point where scientists, where families were forced to leave, lives were changed, because of the political reality.

He did what he could to help those Jewish scientists that he heard about, but there wasn't much he could do. He started speaking in public forums about the need to stop Hitler. He was a proponent of a group called Union Now; not many people have heard of it, but it was the brain child of a journalist [Clarence K. Streit] at the time who wanted to join the world's governments into a federation modeled after the system of the United States. Just as each of the States are joined in the United States, this journalist wanted all of the nations in the world to join together into a single world government. That organization, this world government, he thought could then control rogue governments like Germany's. Pauling and Ava Helen both joined the Union Now movement, and both began speaking out in favor of stopping this cancerous growth of Hitlerism.

When World War II broke out and the United States entered the war, Pauling became a very, very big proponent of the war effort in the United States. His research effort was extremely active in helping the war effort. He made inventions, patented a tank piercing shell, made important advances in the science of explosives and rocket propellants. He invented an oxygen meter that was designed for use in submarines and airplanes to help our Army and Navy boys be safer in war-time situations. So he was a Hawk during World War II, as I'm sure most Americans were. [13:02]

When the war ended, things changed. It was the end of World War II that really forced a crisis in Pauling's political life, and eventually a crisis in his scientific life as well. The war in Japan ended with the explosion of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; that was at the end of 1945. During the war, Pauling had been invited to join Robert Oppenheimer's research group in Los Alamos that was developing the atomic bomb, and had declined not because he had anything against the atomic bomb, but rather because he was so busy with his other work. When he read about the explosions in Japan in August 1945 he realized that Oppenheimer's research project had been a success and something new and very powerful had been unleashed on the world. It was a shocking moment for Pauling and thousands of other scientists around the nation, who began to learn about just how powerful these devices were, how a single bomb could now destroy a city. What did that mean? What was science's responsibility in developing that bomb? What were the responsibilities of scientists in now controlling its spread and use?

Almost without any forethought, spontaneously across the country dozens of discussion groups sprang up in late 1945 and 1946 in universities and research establishments: scientists who were getting together to talk about what the bomb meant. What did the bomb mean for society, and what was the role of science now that the bomb existed? Pauling joined a group like that at Caltech that met in the basement of the Athenaeum. It was a group of students and faculty members who were all concerned with the same things, talking to each other about the bomb.

Pauling decided very quickly that the bomb changed the relationship of scientists to society. Within two months of the Hiroshima bomb, he wrote a friend that the development of the bomb certainly meant new things scientifically, but it also meant that scientists now had a responsibility to speak out about the issue of what the bomb means for world society, how it should be controlled.

He threw himself into that work, as did thousands of other scientists around the nation. There was a big debate in 1946 over who was going to control the bomb or run the research programs, who would decide how the bomb was used: would it be the military - this was coming out of World War II, when the military already had control of the bomb - or should it be vested in a civilian organization, so civilians would control the bomb. Pauling and many other scientists began lobbying to put atomic weaponry under civilian control, and they pushed politically for the development of a bill that took control of the bomb out of the military and gave it to the Atomic Energy Commission, which was a joint civilian-military authority. It was a great success when that legislation passed and the Atomic Energy Commission was created. Pauling viewed that, as did many other scientists at the time, as a great success. It was one of the only examples in human history of scientists banding together for a political cause, making something positive - in their view - happen, and making a change in society to bring about a good result. [17:03]

At the same time, in 1946, the political nature of the world was changing dramatically. For a short time right after World War II, it was permissible to talk about sharing atomic secrets with the world, with Russia. Having a global government control atomic energy and atomic energy worldwide was a subject open to political debate, and it was not forbidden to talk about. In 1946, of course, the government of the USSR began closing, as Winston Churchill called it, the Iron Curtain around Eastern Europe. This was a development in geopolitics that frightened the United States; the Russians had a huge standing army coming out of World War II, they controlled much of Eastern Europe, and they began clamping down on those countries that they controlled. The development of the Iron Curtain and the successes the Communist Party was having in China alarmed the American public. This sense of a Communist force trying to take over the world became ingrained in political discourse, and in 1946 a number of anti-Communist representatives were elected to Congress. It was a signal moment in American society, because it signaled a shift from the liberal idea of world government, and sharing of atomic secrets, to a more isolationist idea that it was America and the Western Allies against the USSR and Communist parties worldwide in what would become the Cold War.

The Cold War started in earnest in 1946, and suddenly it was no longer appropriate to talk about sharing atomic secrets with Russia. In fact, keeping the atomic secrets in the United States was a priority of the government, because once the Russians had the bomb, who knew what would happen. The bomb was one of America's great defensive weapons, and if we shared it equally with people in Communist societies we'd lose the advantage.

As time went on in 1947 and 1948, the rhetoric became less and less hospitable to ideas of an open world government and sharing atomic technology. Pauling, throughout this shift, remained in the same place. Throughout it all, he was a liberal, leftist Democrat, believing in world government and that scientific discourse didn't involved secrets: secrets were antithetical to science. Therefore, if bomb technology was based on science, then that science would inevitably be shared with Russia whether we wanted it to be or not, because that was the nature of science and scientific progress. In this way, he was very similar to Albert Einstein who was saying the same things at the same time. That became an increasingly unpopular position for Pauling to be in.

In 1945, just a couple months after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he was asked to speak at a Rotary Club in Los Angeles not about politics, but about the science of the bomb, how the atomic bomb worked. Everybody was fascinated with it, and few people in the general public understood how you could create a bomb that powerful. Pauling had read enough about it to understand the basic physics of atomic fission, and he gave a talk to the Rotary Club about the mechanics of the bomb, just general knowledge, things that were out in the press that were generally known about how bombs work in a general sense. He didn't give away any classified secrets, but he told people about how a bomb works in a general sense.

He ended his talk with a few comments about world government, and about the need to control atomic weapons. It was politely received, and he thought that was the end of it. However, when he and Ava Helen got home, she delivered a message to him that he said changed his life; it was basically this: "Linus, when you talk about science, when you talk about the mechanics of the bomb, you're very persuasive and you know what you're talking about. But when you talk about politics, the control of atomic weaponry, or the need for world government, you're not persuasive at all. You sound very tentative, and not like you know what you're talking about at all."

From everything I've heard, Pauling took everything Ava Helen said extremely seriously, and he did so in this case. He determined at that point that he was going to teach himself everything he could about world government and atomic politics, Cold War politics, and the geopolitical implications of this new technology, and he would educate himself just as he did with chemistry, physics or biology. He would read up on it, become an expert, and he spent the next 10 or 20 years becoming an expert in those areas, and he became a very great expert. [23:03]

He still kept speaking. His talks became less and less technical, more and more political, as his understanding of and confidence in his own views grew. By 1948 and 1949, he was a central figure in what became known nationally as the peace movement in the United States - and soon internationally as well. He accepted a wide range of speaking arrangements everywhere, many of which were seen as subversive by the government. As the Cold War went on, so did the reaction against people who were espousing things like world peace and world government, who were seen as dupes of the communist conspiracy - Pauling was seen as a dupe of the communist conspiracy.

So people who were speaking the way Pauling spoke were subjected to many forms of harassment. There were loyalty oaths in place, and people were asked why they weren't taking loyalty oaths. Pauling, for his part, found himself called up before investigatory committees and asked to explain why he joined the groups that he joined. He joined the Hollywood Independent Citizens for the Arts, Sciences and Professions, which was a political group in Hollywood that included many actors and directors, and was basically a left liberal group that promoted world government and understanding atomic technology and control. It was considered a subversive group by the government, and Pauling was questioned about his membership in that group. When people who worked with Pauling would go in public or were engaged in everyday conversation, they were asked "Aren't you working for that communist Linus Pauling?"

He was making news by this time. His talks were receiving media attention, and that attention was gaining publicity for his views, which was good, but it also gained a reaction from the people who were opposed to those views. By the late '40s, people who worked at Caltech, specifically the administration, were becoming concerned about Pauling's views. He was being so outspoken in so many venues, and being labeled as a Communist dupe by so many people, that some of the trustees at Caltech began asking the President of Caltech at the time, Lee DuBridge, why he was allowing Pauling to stay on the faculty. He was seen as bad for the institution. In fact, there was some evidence that he was costing Caltech money, as some people were holding back on their donations to Caltech because they didn't like Pauling's politics. So the question was asked "Why don't you dump this guy?" [26:24]

In 1950 DuBridge answered those critics by forming a pair of private investigatory committees of his own. One was made up of trustees, the other primarily faculty members, and the two groups were asked to investigate and find out what they could about what Pauling was up to and to decide if there were causes for dismissal from Caltech.

He was put under investigation by his own institution around the same time the Korean War started in 1950. The Korean War worsened the anti-Communist attitudes of the government and increased the tension so that once again anyone who spoke out against U.S. policy in bomb testing or against international actions in any way was put under investigation. Pauling was investigated by the FBI, some research grants were pulled by the United States Public Health Service, he ended up having his security clearance revoked, and he was smeared in the press by a number of people and was named as a Communist by a famous informer named Louis Budenz. Pauling was not a Communist, and after 20 years the FBI couldn't find evidence that he had ever joined the Communist Party, but he was almost as good as a Communist in that he espoused some of the same political lines that the Communist Party of the U.S.A. espoused and that was considered bad enough.

Around 1951, when his security clearance was revoked, Pauling decided that enough was enough. For a couple of years, between 1951 and 1954, he was pretty silent politically and devoted himself to science once more. I'm not quite sure why that occurred at that time, but there was definitely a hiatus between '51 and '54 when he dropped his membership in some of the groups that were questioned and stopped his public speaking. He retired back into science, which was his first love anyway - you have to remember that through all of this, Pauling would always say that he did science because he loved it and political activism in order to retain the respect of his wife. There were differing motivations, and for a short period of time he was convinced that the best thing to do was to get back to science.

But in 1954, a couple of things happened: Robert Oppenheimer, a longtime friend and colleague of Pauling's and head of the atomic bomb development process at Los Alamos, was put under intense political pressure publicly as a concealed Communist or spy. There were many innuendos thrown around about Oppenheimer that incensed Pauling. Then, in early 1954, the United States tested a bomb that was a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. It was a superbomb and was used on a little island called Bikini. And the Bikini test surprised everybody because it was so powerful that it spewed so much radiation that even the scientists who prepared the bomb were surprised by how large and violent the explosion was. It woke Pauling once again to the dangers of atomic testing because it punched a hole in the atmosphere that put debris up into the stratosphere at the very highest levels of our atmosphere, where these little bits of radioactive dust would circle for days and even weeks before falling slowly back to earth. This made the idea of fallout very significant.

Pauling became concerned about fallout very early on because he was hearing from some Japanese scientists who were doing some of the first tests on the components of this fallout, and getting a sense of how long-lived it was. Right about that time, in late 1954, Pauling won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. It was a great moment for him, and winning that prize did a couple of things for him: it freed him financially to devote his time to other things, because the Nobel Prize brings with it a sum of money that is somewhat significant even at that time. In the second place, it allowed him to go on a world tour. He went to pick up his prize and then he embarked on a several-month around-the-world trip with Ava Helen, including stops in India and Japan. He learned on this trip that world opinion on atomic weaponry was on his side; that in fact, the atmosphere in the United States was very different from the atmosphere everywhere else that he went. Everywhere else, people were intensely worried about fallout and intensely worried about the escalating nuclear arms race, because by that time the Russians were testing their own huge bombs. Pauling's fears were the fears of the world, and when he spoke in places like Japan, he was mobbed: it was a sellout event, and he was extremely heartened by what he heard and what he saw on his trip. [32:08]

It also gave him a chance to talk more with the Japanese scientists who were finding out about fallout. This increased his worries about fallout. Now, by this time, Pauling was already a marked man. Even during the time he was silent, even then, he had his passport revoked. He couldn't travel outside the United States for various periods of time. He was named as a Communist dupe by Joe McCarthy who gained headlines by regularly naming lists of Communists and perceived Communists and so forth. He was named as a Communist by Louis Budenz. The trouble with the FBI continued. The FBI investigations continued.

And it seemed that his silence wasn't doing any good so by 1954 he spoke out again. He began a series of speeches that went on for the next eight or nine years that took him to every hall that he could manage to get in around the United States. Again to stress his ideas on fallout - the dangers of fallout, the dangers of nuclear testing in the atmosphere, and all nuclear testing, the dangers of worldwide proliferation of atomic bombs.

After he made hundreds of speeches, on one occasion at Washington University he got the idea to write a petition. In order to marshal world opinion, he wrote a petition for scientists to sign. It was his opinion after traveling the world that scientists generally believed as he believed, that atomic weaponry was dangerous and should be stopped. That testing of nuclear weapons should stop and he wanted to prove the point. So he and Ava wrote up a petition with some help from people, like Barry Commoner. He distributed the petition in America and very quickly got back 2000 signatures on this short document that basically said we believe that testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons is bad, including some Nobel Prize winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences. This was very heartening to find that kind of response in the United States, so Pauling sent his petition around the world. And very soon he got 9000 signatures from very esteemed scientists around the world. He presented that in 1958 to the head of the United Nations, made big news. Big news everywhere. And it helped.

My review in my work indicates to me that the petitions that Pauling worked on with Ava Helen and the effect they had, the news that they made, had a significant effect on the public opinion about nuclear testing, which was wavering at that time. Pauling found himself in debates with people like Edward Teller or Willard Libby, head of the AEC, about what the real effects of fallout were. And, it was an interesting public debate. It was inconclusive to a certain extent because each side used the same data two different ways. And depending on how you look at the data, it can either look like fallout is going to cause 200,000 miscarriages and deaths of infants over the next few generations, or atomic fallout poses a danger equivalent to wearing a watch with a radium dial. Now, those were the kind of terms that were used in the debate and they were both correct. Pauling looked at the worst case scenario over many generations worldwide and the Atomic Energy Commission looked at the increased risk for an individual during their lifetime. In both cases, they were coming to correct or essentially correct conclusions, but the debate was framed in a way on Pauling's side so that it aroused world opinion against atomic testing. Hundreds of thousands of miscarriages and cases of leukemia and cancer versus the radium watch on the dial. Pauling got a lot more attention for his views and he really did help move public opinion. [36:05]

All through this he continued to be persecuted. It was unfortunate, but as time went on the tolerance for Pauling's behavior within Caltech and his local community decreased. There was a reaction against the peace movement. Pauling was marginalized as a left-wing extremist and a kook, in a way. He found old friends - occasionally, unfortunately - old friends, who admired him very greatly for his science, began avoiding him because of his political views. The administration of Caltech, in a very difficult position, was forced to make some decisions that were unfortunate for Caltech as well. One of them involved eventually an agreement in which Pauling gave up his directorship of the division of chemistry at Caltech in order to lessen the volume of criticism that the institution was receiving.

Throughout it all, Pauling would not be silenced. He kept battering away at the issues in every speech that he gave, scientific or non scientific. He believed he was right and he stuck with his beliefs regardless of the fact that it lost him his position, it lost him some research grants, it lost him the right to travel for periods of time, it lost him some friends, it lost him his reputation. Because, by the late-'50s, Pauling had been attacked so regularly in the press by so many people from Joe McCarthy on down that, in fact, his name was becoming more synonymous with sort of pro-Soviet activism than it was with science. So, to a degree, he set the stage for the public reaction that followed for the whole vitamin C event, which I won't talk about today. But, in fact, Pauling's views on vitamin C, I think, may have been influenced, the public view of Pauling's work with vitamin C, may have been influenced by his political work.

Throughout it all, he stuck to his guns. By that time, by the late-'50s, everyone else had fallen away. In the United States, he was the leading proponent of anti-nuclear, the sort of peace movement in the United States, he was one of the leading figures. Worldwide, he was on a par with people like Bertrand Russell in England and Albert Schweitzer and Albert Einstein before Einstein's death. He was a very big world figure in the peace movement. And he would not stop speaking no matter what happened to him. He always said it was to keep the respect of his wife and that's an important reason but another reason is this: Pauling was an Oregonian.

Now, those of you who are born and raised in Oregon know a little something about Oregonians. For those of you who are visitors to the state, let me tell you something about Oregonians. I wrote a piece in the paper today, in The Oregonian newspaper, about Pauling and I used the term "cross-grained" when I was talking about him. Now that's a term from the lumber and timber industry and cross-grained means that part of the wood where you can't get the wood to cut easily or split easily because the grains go against each other. It's kind of the places where limbs meet the trunk and so forth and people in mills hate that, they hate cross-grained wood, you can't cut it efficiently.

Well, Oregonians are cross-grained, to a great extent. They're hard to predict politically. They tend to think independently. We're Westerners. We're Westerners. We tend to believe in the individual. Pauling believed in the individual. And he would not bow to political pressure, government pressure, the pressure of the press. Didn't matter to him. He believed in the individual's right to believe and speak freely and he expressed that in his life. It took enormous courage, enormous courage. There were times when people would see Ava Helen at a gathering and her eyes would fill with tears when she was asked how her husband was doing because he was under such enormous pressure to stop his political work and he would not. [40:15]

Finally, it was rewarded - 1963, a short time after the first nuclear test ban was signed, comprehensive nuclear test ban, at least for the atmosphere, was signed in 1963, within a short period of time after that, it was announced that Pauling won the Nobel Prize for Peace, for the preceding year, 1962. It came as an enormous surprise to Pauling, he really hadn't a clue that his work was leading to that kind of conclusion but it was enormously welcome by him. He found out about the Peace Prize and immediately began speaking even more because of the notoriety about peace issues. Given the second prize and the reaction of the president of Caltech at that time to the prize, Pauling quit his position at Caltech and moved on into another phase of his life.

He kept speaking politically in virtually every speech he ever gave. I was lucky enough to hear him give a speech here at Oregon State shortly before his death, in which he attacked the Gulf War policies of President Bush in very vehement terms to an enthusiastic group of students, got an enormous round of applause. And he was still, in virtually every public appearance, talking about "Star Wars," the need to retain weapons testing, the possibility of using science for good, of lessening human suffering, until the day he died. I think that Pauling is an enormous factor in 20th century political life, much more than he is given credit for. I think that his ceaseless work cost him an enormous amount, politically, as I said, personally, professionally. And, I think that his ability to stick to his guns, his stubbornness, in the face of that pressure, is extremely admirable.

I'll end with this: last night, at a gathering, I had the chance to talk to our, a couple of our speakers, Professor Zewail and Professor Dunitz, for a short period of time, and I asked them a question about scientists. And my question was, are scientists in your view now, today, more politically active or less politically active than they were in Pauling's day, in the 1950's, let's say. And they both answered that they thought there was less political interest among scientists now than there was then but for different reasons, to an extent.

One cited economic reasons. That there's a lot of money around for science now. This gets back to J.D. Bernal's criticism of scientists as being sort of employed by people in power but, in fact, there's so many in private industry and so forth, openings for molecular biologists, for people in chemistry and in physics to exploit, for profit, their scientific knowledge, that that provides a certain outlet for a certain number of people.

And the second factor that was cited was a lack of understanding of history. That scientists in general don't really know enough about the history of science or the history of the culture in which they operate to make political decisions.

Along with that, I'm sure, is the inertia of being involved in very, very significant work of their own. But in a way it's unfortunate, I think. It would be my hope that scientists, because of their privileged level of knowledge about technical issues that affect society, would be more willing to talk about social issues and political issues, the way that Pauling was. So in that way, he broke ground that I hope students, and professors, researchers today can continue to work on. And I hope that my talk today has increased your understanding of an important factor in Pauling's personality that often gets overlooked in the scientific realm and that is his courage. Thank you. [44:27]

 

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