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Unscientific Method


The wording of loyalty provisions in Congressional bills is not always the some; in some cases the scope is more extensive than in others. On the bill establishing a National Science Foundation which passed the House last week, the proviso was unfortunately more inclusive than most, extending to those who "have been members at any time of any organization declared subversive by the Attorney General." These requirements are even more stringent that the restrictions on Atomic Energy Commission fellowships, which often involve work with classified materials.

The function of the proposed National Science Foundation would be to provide fellowships and scholarships with the aims of advancing research in all branches of science, except those under the jurisdiction of the AEC. The limit of spending under the present bill would be $15,000,000 a year, but presumably the appropriations will be increased if the experiment proves successful.

The government obviously has the right, in this case as in most others, to withhold its money from those who are plotting its downfall. But the dangers of the provisions here, as elsewhere, are manifold. First, the criterion of present of past membership in one of the groups may disqualify many extremely loyal people; second, the entire loyalty test will discourage many talented students from applying for scholarships; third, as part of the check, professors would undoubtedly be asked to report on their students' political activities, creating an atmosphere most unfriendly to scientific research.

The Harvard professors who attacked this new loyalty test are not in any way subversive; they are deeply concerned about the encroachment of the FBI on the fields of research and learning. The vast bulk of research and learning. The vast bulk of research sponsored by the new foundation, they point out, will have no connection whatever with national defense.

In its present shape the foundation will only finance a very small portion of American science, but if and when it is expanded to cover a substantial part of the research done in the country, there is a great danger that loyal scientists with un-Congressional political beliefs will be unable to get important research positions.

The Senate passed a National Science Foundation bill, without the crippling loyalty provisions of the House measure, nearly a year ago. The loyalty provisions of the final joint bill should be determined solely by considerations of national safety; there is too much danger in any other course.

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