|Politics and Society
In the decade from 1955 to 1965 Pauling addressed social and political issues when
spreading scientific information. Pauling said that he first started making politically
charged comments because of something his wife, Ava Helen, said to him in the mid to late 1940s. She had told him to either take a political
stand when discussing the science involved in making an atomic bomb or altogether
stop lecturing on peace.
Ava Helen's comments influenced Pauling greatly not only when he spoke about the need
for peace, but also when he discussed molecular diseases. Accordingly, during his
speeches and in his articles, he tied molecular diseases to genetic counseling, eugenics,
mutagenic effects of fallout, and evolution. Although the various topics of this period
have been discussed independently, it should be noted that Pauling typically addressed
these assorted issues in unison.
Click images to enlarge
Portrait of Ava Helen Pauling and Linus Pauling. 1960.
Letter from Mary Clarke to Ava Helen Pauling. November 13, 1960.
"I think that it is the duty of scientists to help their fellow citizens to understand
the problems, and to give them the benefit of their own knowledge about the scientific
aspects of the problems. In addition, however, to this work of helping to educate
their fellow citizens, scientists have, I think, the obligation to express their own
opinions, in order to help their fellow citizens."