Nobel Biologist Urges Switch To 'Scientific Mentality' in Diplomacy
"We are meeting problems of a scientific age with primitive instincts, narrow sectarianism, egotistic nationalism, and with the most deadly instruments in our hands," declared Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi last night.
In a speech at Harkness Commons, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist urged applying scientific thinking to the problem of achieving permanent peace--"a proposition much more complex and difficult than war. We can no longer save liberty by dying in war; we can only destroy it," said Szent-Gyorgyi. He deplored the genetic damage wreaked by atomic war, saying that "if anything in life is holy it is this genetic material which has mankind's past and future written into it."
The Hungarian-born scientist, now director of the Institute for Muscle Research at Woods Hole, said that he was speaking to the public "for the second time in 25 years" partly because "there is an enormous vested interest in armaments and none in peace; moral concepts seem to carry no weight in politics."
Since current politics are occupied with current problems, he continued, only a scientific mentality can meet the problems posed by science which need permanent solutions. Szent-Gyorgyi suggested that citizens in a democracy and politicians meeting in international conclave should bear the same attitude ". . . a neutral mind; a cool head, unbiased by sentiment, hatred, fear, or profit, with an uncompromising intellectual honesty."
The Nobel laureate scored the Administration's nascent shelter program a "senseless" and asked that the proposed outlay for construction be used instead to create "an International Institute for the Study of Peace, where we can get together in a neutral atmosphere with friends and adversaries to discuss problems, where minds can meet. War, being a political instrument of equalization cannot be abolished; it can only be replaced by something better and more intelligent."
He also endorsed the idea of a Congressional "scientific lobby" first proposed by physicist Leo Szilard at the University last December. Szent-Gyorgyi said he hopes to meet with Szilard for a discussion in Washington this weekend.
Last night marked the founding of a Harvard chapter of the Society for Social Responsibility in Science. An SSRS spokesman breifly described the organization as an international body which encourages scientists to take the more responsibility for the social consequences of their work. Another meeting will be announced shortly.