Notice: We are in the process of migrating Oral History Interview metadata to this new version of our website.
During this migration, the following fields associated with interviews may be incomplete: Institutions, Additional Persons, and Subjects. Our Browse Subjects feature is also affected by this migration.
Please contact [email protected] with any feedback.
This transcript may not be quoted, reproduced or redistributed in whole or in part by any means except with the written permission of the American Institute of Physics.
This transcript is based on a tape-recorded interview deposited at the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics. The AIP's interviews have generally been transcribed from tape, edited by the interviewer for clarity, and then further edited by the interviewee. If this interview is important to you, you should consult earlier versions of the transcript or listen to the original tape. For many interviews, the AIP retains substantial files with further information about the interviewee and the interview itself. Please contact us for information about accessing these materials.
Please bear in mind that: 1) This material is a transcript of the spoken word rather than a literary product; 2) An interview must be read with the awareness that different people's memories about an event will often differ, and that memories can change with time for many reasons including subsequent experiences, interactions with others, and one's feelings about an event. Disclaimer: This transcript was scanned from a typescript, introducing occasional spelling errors. The original typescript is available.
In footnotes or endnotes please cite AIP interviews like this:
Interview of Gerald Holton by Dan
Ford on 2004 November 30,Audio and video interviews about the life and work of Richard Garwin, 2004-2012Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,College Park, MD USA,www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/40912-13
For multiple citations, "AIP" is the preferred abbreviation for the location.
In this interview Gerald Holton discusses topics such as: Richard Garwin, science biographies, public perception of scientists, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).This interview is part of a collection of interviews on the life and work of Richard Garwin. To see all associated interviews, click here.
[Start of recorded material]
When I was writing for The New Yorker I used to have the secretary do it. I'm not quite sure.
[???] …on your pounding.
Yes. I'm just going to leave that tangle there.
We can do a little copying afterwards to get that straight. All right. You have some ideas?
Yes, I guess for me, who has not written a biography before — I like to read biographies, but I've not written one, and I would really like to immerse myself in good biographies of scientists just to get some feel. Everybody's different in what material is available. Having the living person to interview is an enormous help.
Yeah, and sometimes a problem because they don't let you get at their archives until they're long gone. I had thought of the kind of books that you already mentioned — what would be nice to look at in terms of books. And I thought — and you'll see why later — a particular type of book, namely the biography of Szilard, Leo Szilard, I don't know the name of it but it is on the Internet. And then a more recent one which was written by a man at Brandeis and often at Harvard — S.S. are his initials, Silvan Schweber, on Hans Bethe and Oppenheimer. He compares the two. And the next one of course is the one on Feynman by Gleick called Genius, which stands up pretty well. Then I was thinking of course of [Richard] Rhodes, which is not a biography, but at least it contains a lot of —
I read both of those.
So now these are the ones that come to mind as against, let us say, one on a scientist like Nernst or even Einstein. And the reason I focus on that will have to do after you're done with your questions, with some of my questions, namely what is the main theme of the book? If the main theme of the book is one kind of thing then obviously it ought to be looked into analogous biographies of that sort. But if it is more the civic minded scientist who is not just a scientist but is in the public domain — with respect to his interests and his achievements — then that's a different kind of approach. I haven't read the new one on Teller, but somebody told me yesterday that it's a pretty good book. There's a very new one out on Teller, which takes an intermediate road between the two extremes. So that might be worth looking at. Those are offhand my suggestions. There are articles that I'll be mentioning later. Because it has again to do with the the structure of the book, the main point. And maybe that's something that you'll want to tell me about. How do you see Garwin?
Well, I am essentially in a sampling phase. And I'm taking some things that I know that he’s done in pure science and taking some things that he’s done in public policy types of things. I'm taking some commercial activities that he’s been involved in.
Yeah, he has lots of patents.
He has lots of patents and he was heavily involved in lots of things that we use every day — laser printers and touchscreen computers and global positioning system and many, many things.
Not to speak of the H-bomb.
Not to speak of the H-bomb. And I guess what I said to him was that he wants his science work included. And I said, “Well I'm not a scientist, and what I will do is I've chosen a couple of the main things that he's done in pure science, and I'm just going to have to see how well I can possibly understand this. Because if I can't understand it I can't explain it.” And I said, “If I think I can do justice to it I will do justice. But if it is really beyond me I will just have to touch over it lightly. But I think so far in pure science one of the biggest things he did was this experiment on non-conservation of parity. And so I’ve interviewed Lederman, who did the experiment with him — there’s another physicist that is[Valentine Telegdi] one of Garwin’s closest friends. But they were also competitors on this non-conservation of parity, and I've met with him. And I've met with other people. I think I can explain it to people. I think I'll be able to deal with some of the other scientific things that he did. And I personally find it very interesting. Since I've written so many things on nuclear weapons and nuclear energy policy I'm rather bored with it. I know I will have to cover it, but I'm much happier myself with finding out something new.
Well, that I think has to be in the book. And although it has to be in a way that the expected population that will read the book can understand it. That may be difficult to do. There are two things about Garwin’s science which intrigued me — one is precisely the fact that he can go from one thing to another, like Edison really — a very American type. And the word America will come up quite a bit now… and the other is that he is quite obstinate on some things which are counter-cyclical — for example his interest in nuclear reactors in his last book Megawatts and Megatons in which he takes the position that nuclear reactors, which we haven't been building for 30 years, are the future in several ways. And boosts[??]arms control in one direction and for energy production, and so on — very reasonable. So on the one hand he's going down the line where you end up in every Stop & Shop market and the laser printout. But on the other side he is fighting with very powerful people that will not have any nuclear production. And I don't think you'll find any French scientists or German scientists or even British scientists doing that a lot because he is a very American type. I think that strength of you having been in American policy making and international spinoff in comparison with international situation — you’re I think natively more… going to be having a lot of fun with exploring that mystery — that is to say to what degree this man is an American type. And of course he's not the only one.
There are quite a number of them — but not very many — and the fact that they can exist and can be so effective and can be so honored despite the fact that they in many ways are doing what… he has the [Enrico] Fermi Award and the Medal of Science, but I don't know whether Teller loved him very much or whether Reagan really cared for him, and yet it can happen just like Oppie got his medal from Johnson. So this is a story of America that goes back to de Toqueville. And if I were in your shoes I would look at that, namely that the American way of letting the individual or small unofficial groups of scientists, like the Pugwash people in which he is very active, not only the Science Advisor, very political, that’s a Mandarin aspect but to be just an innovator on his own and writing books which are not down the line of public policy, which you wouldn't want to do in Russia or even in Germany without losing your place at the table of the prince.
So my feeling is that he is… the interest that I would have in him, and maybe others would have, is a type of scientist. I know there are many others — there’s Harvey Brooks and lots of them, Lew Branscomb and Panofsky. You can make a list yourself, and you say, “Here is one who shares a great deal with these civic scientists or science citizens who both sells in and sells out.” And he’s in industry, and he’s in academia, and he is at Harvard, and he is at Columbia, and he is an IBM Fellow, which is a very interesting thing by the way, to be an IBM Fellow. That gives him freedoms which very few industries have. He’s all over the place. And this is true for quite a number of them. So my feeling is that you and he match best at that place; whereas I can think of possibly two other people who can explain the laser [laughter].
So what he has done for America, what America has done to him and for him and in what way this is a peculiar thing that goes back to the observations in the 1830s that we are a very different country when it comes to the free use of the mind without having to check with the government. And you can also do it with the government as well.
He is very difficult to talk to about his motivations. When I was reading one set of his letters it was to Charpak, because Charpak said for their book there should be some personal information about each of us. So I said, “Send me personal information about you and your family and history and so forth.” Garwin began his letter by saying, “Whoever it was that said the unexamined life is not worth living, I disagree because I don't do introspection.” And then he proceeded for 25 pages to talk about his —
Sure. But that's very typical for scientists. I mean, how do you grow a scientist? You grow a scientist who as a child can fix the radio set or knows how the carburetor works in a car and then discovers chemistry or calculus while the others are off in the football field or making out in the back seats of the movie house or whatever. They become the generals and the lawyers, and the scientist gets picked up because he knows an awful lot about the way the world works — not the way humans work but the way the world works. Not that he's a layman about humans but his love is in the way things work. And that's how I find it with scientists. Einstein writes in his autobiography that he'll leave out everything that is “merely personal.” Actually, I know now a lot about his merely personal side, but in his autobiography you find you don't know who his parents are, that he had a sister, the names of his schoolmates or schoolteachers or any of these things. That's fair. I think that goes real[??][???]. This building has had nine Nobelists going through, and we have a lot more that should have gone. And they are very usually of that type. Your libido, your energy has to go in some direction most of all, and there are relatively few — like Roald Hoffmann say — who can do it both ways. But Roald Hoffmann didn't decide to become a chemist until he was halfway through his teens.
So he is in that way a typical scientist. You've got to live with that. But his public activities are another outlet for his energy rather than private life. I looked up in his Who's Who. It doesn't say the names of his children. It says there are three. But it doesn't say who he's married to. It says he's married. He, unlike almost everybody, knows who… he just goes past that He already knows… all[??]this??[???] very good scientist.
And when I interviewed him, I went out to La Jolla at the annual JASON meeting. I figured that I could also meet many of the JASON people at the same time. …history of his family[???] and so forth. And I guess his grandfather was murdered in Chicago by his business partner around the turn of the century. And then his mother came to Cleveland and put her sons including Dick’s father into an orphanage in Cleveland, etc. So I was asking him what was his grandfather’s name.
Yeah, he doesn’t even give his parent’s name in the Who’s Who.
That he gave me, but then I found — just through the Internet — I just started looking up orphanages in Cleveland. And I found the name of [Bellefaire] the Jewish orphanage.[It could also be Cleveland Jewish Orphanage]. It had changed its name a few times. So it was a little bit tricky. But then I found that there was a book written about it in 1990 by a sociologist. And I got in contact with the writer. And he told me that the archives of the orphanage were available. And he looked at his own book in the index and he said, “I quote somebody in the book named Gawronski” I said, “That was the name before it was changed to Garwin.” So it turns out that one of his uncles who was in the orphanage left a couple-hundred-page journal of his time in the orphanage. And I got the whole book the other day. And I interviewed Garwin's daughter yesterday who's here at Harvard in the genome project and she was astonished to see this book. I said, “In one of the pictures,” there were lots of pictures of the inmates, as he called them, in the book. “One of them is your grandfather.”
You're a dangerous man, sir.
Obviously, she wanted to run out and get a copy of the book. She didn't know anything about that.
Yeah, she wasn't told.
And I’m just thinking in terms of writing the book and starting with a good murder story… that will get the reader's attention in some fashion.
Well, that would be one way of doing it. The H-bomb does too.
The H-bomb does too. I think it may be just my own burnout on the nuclear question. But to me what’s more interesting is that his daughter didn’t know until three years ago that he had anything to do with the H-Bomb. She read about it in that big article by Bill Broad in the “Times”, which had many mistakes in it.
Well, yeah, he doesn't have much time.
But just mistakes in historical documentation.
I see, yeah. There are two books that I want to recommend to you which are not biographies, but they have to do with the architecture that I see for a book like this. I’m a reader asking the author to write a book for me, which is not what you came to hear but which may be useful because it isn't likely to be what you usually research. I’m both in the physics department, and I'm also an historian of science, and I belong to that department too. And so I see the things that you're talking about also in a historic sense. And follow the history of the civic duties that the scientists feel is a very interesting postwar phenomenon. It comes of course out of Los Alamos to some degree. It wasn't absent altogether before, but starting with the resurrection of atomic sciences and other things like that you began to have insufficient masses of people of distinction that make the Union of Concerned Scientists, that do Pugwash, that do that sort of thing all on their own and then persuade, often, their professional societies to pitch in as well. That comes next.
It isn't the usual thing for coming down from Versailles. It comes from the grassroots or from the lab. And that is a very interesting story, peculiar, out of which people like Garwin come. And I was sort of present at the creation of one of those aspects. In 1950s —
I just want to check this thing.
[change of tapes]
In the 1950s I was — I should go back further than that. This is not for your book, obviously. In fact it’s off, but I was like everybody else after working at Los Alamos. I refused. I was a member of the Quaker fellowship. So it didn’t work, and I worked on defensive stuff during the war. Around 1950s, mid-‘50s, I got a signal that people are beginning to talk about arms control very quietly. This is still [Cong. Joseph] McCarthy period and you didn't want to say this aloud. And I knew very well people like Rabi and Wiesner and so on. I was elected to the American Academy in ’56 and asked to start a quarterly journal called Daedalus and I thought the… editorship[??]for a long time…??
So my idea of what to put into Daedalus was to make each quarterly issue an issue about something that's still over the horizon, so to speak, and that an intellectual ought to know about, regardless of the field. And it doesn't quite work that way. They don't have enough time anymore. They did then perhaps, but they’re more used to fragments nowadays. But it was to educate tangelo[??]without education. When I heard that people don't dare to talk about arms control, which to me was personally a very important thing, I said let's bring it to visibility, give it the cachet of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — for whatever that's worth — at the time because it was a small organization and mostly New England-centered. I think now it's not. It's much more international. So one of the issues I declared — and each issue had a conference, a set of papers, I declared to be on arms control. And I got Wiesner to agree and I invited for a two-day conference the following people: Doak Barnett, Kenneth Boulding, Robert Bowie, Harrison Brown, Saville Davis, Paul Doty, Bernard Feld.
I have that book.
When I was in high school in Boston we used to get Daedalus, and I was very interested in arms control. I was on the high school debating team, and one year the topic — I don't know if you know the high school system — but they spend the whole year debating one subject. And we were very lucky because we had an excellent coach. And he told us that the real important thing in debating isn't being fast on your feet and all this, it's doing your research and knowing what's right and what's wrong. And so every year when we did one of the subjects we went into enormous depth. Since Harvard and MIT were right down the street….
Isn't that interesting?
When the subject was inflation I came over here and interviewed Wassily Leontief and Samuelson and Solow and a whole bunch of them. Their secretaries I don't think appreciated that they were making an appointment with a high school student. They were sort of surprised when I showed up. But it was highly educational.
Well the reason I'm talking about this is in this conference I went from right to left. There was Kissinger and Teller on one side, but on the other side was Erich Fromm and Riesman, and in between everybody else so that there was a real discussion of all aspects. That really put this dangerous thing, which they had previously met in the Princeton Inn under Rabi’s supervision. Groups of people would come to the Princeton Inn quietly talking about arms control and never publishing about it for fear that it might get them into trouble. So when I published this in the summer I got a letter from a senator who was running for president who said that he liked the issue very much. He was a member of the Academy and got it that way, and he thought that the ideas which I was putting into this of having an arms control agency would be a good idea. If he wins the presidency he will put one in, which he did — John F. Kennedy.
So at that time a lot of people came out of the shadows who previously had not dared to… on the business of controlling arms. There was of course the FAS, there was the Bulletin, but there was not enough energy behind it. And there was not an institution in the government to talk about it. So this is how these people from the street — walking in from the street without escorts — were doing a kind of thing which, again, you won't allow that in France. You won’t have that happen in other places. So this is one thing.
I keep checking the machine all the time.
That's the only way. The second thing is that my research associate is next door, which is Dr. [Gerhard] Sonnert, and I wrote something called “Ivory Bridges.” It was published by MIT Press just a couple of years ago. Ivory bridges — that is to say a takeoff of Ivory Tower. It bridges from the Ivory Tower to society — connecting science and society. And there we went through this whole idea of scientists’ voluntary public interest associations organizing for the common good — and go back to the history of it in Rome under Cincinnatus perhaps. But very soon then under the American group and then pretty soon we are thinking here of Hans Bethe, Sidney Drell, Frank von Hippel, Jerome Wiesner, Paul Doty, Philip Morrison, Bernard Feld and R.L. Garwin among many others. It’s typifying, and that’s what I see here as the strength of a book of his sole, namely that there is such a critical mass of very highly intelligent people who could make vast fortunes in other ways. They throw themselves into helping the republic.
And of course the fact that I worked for the UCS for 10 years — I mean I saw, indirectly, many, many, many of the practical problems of getting these scientists together and getting them to participate in some way in the debate. And I think that several of these people had — I won’t call them personality problems — but I’ll just say they had special personalities that made it extremely difficult for them to do what they wanted to do. They wanted to affect public policy, but the very idea of getting involved in the political process, etc. — I mean my good friend Henry Kendall — he was happy if a politician came to him and would treat him as a guru and say, “Dear Professor, what should we do?” That was a very natural thing. But the politicians don't always come to you. And if you have to go to them and organize a public movement… Henry had basically no useful instincts on how to do that.
Well it was part of his being a gorgeous guy, I must say. Our book is, as a matter of fact, devoted to the memory of him.
Yeah. He was one of our advisors on the book, and he died, of course, tragically. Appendix B you should know… you really ought to get this book. Unfortunately I have only one copy. Appendix B is a profile of those voluntary public interest associations — and I said to myself people talk about science as if the scientists only make terrible things. They ought to know that there are enormous numbers — page after page — of organizations. And not only that but for each of them we got their details, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists. There's a story behind it. And who are the people, and what's the bibliography, and where are they to be found, and what’s their phone number, and what's their fax number? So it is an encyclopedia — or telephone book or whatever you like — of the kind of things that the Garwins of this life, as well as the Kendalls, what they’re doing… unique for this country. And you can't make another volume like this anywhere else.
This is something that needs to be talked about, and therefore I'm just suggesting that this is an aspect of the book which is parallel to the way that a nuclear reactor works, let’s say, because that you could find from Russia as well. This you can’t.
No, I think the whole sociology of it all is very interesting. And I think it was Herb York who was telling me… I met with him in La Jolla, a friend of Garwin’s. And the scientists have so many maladapted scruples, and if you want to organize a public movement, and you say, “We're all going to choke to death because the air is bad,” yes, people will get agitated. If you say, “The quality of the air is not as good as it should be, and it's actually getting slightly worse, and we should rectify this,” he said people just go on with their lives. He said that the scientists who often make the impact are either not the best of the breed to begin with or they have to make big compromises to do it. And poor Henry Kendall — when I was the one running UCS on a day-to-day basis, and for one thing we didn't have any money.
And so I just looked and I saw Nader’s organization sent out all of these letters. And they use this direct mail business. So I went and found out how do you do direct mail? Which companies do I hire? And I interviewed lots of people. And I was quite lucky because it turned out that the woman who ran Ralph Nader's fundraising organization for some reason or other wanted to quit. And I had interviewed her in the process of learning about it, and so she called me and told me that she was quitting. And I said, “Okay, you're hired. Whatever is the salary you get now you’ll get it from us — whatever you want.” The thing is Henry was just horrified because when they produced the letter that they send out everybody's hair stands on end. There were enormous battles to try and make a calmer letter and whatever. But the fact of the matter is, as York said, it was the scary letter that worked.
At one point — they were always testing these letters — and so I pleaded with this woman. I said, “Instead of the scare letter about nuclear energy, why don't we do a letter emphasizing energy alternatives?” She said, “If you wish.” So we did it. And of course the scary letter works very well; we lose money for each reasonable letter that we send out the door. And it really created this tremendous problem because we would get a group of scientists together, and then they would look at the political aspects of it, and then they would all run away.
Sure. Well there’s I guess a chapter about that too — the risk that they take. And there I would talk a little about Linus Pauling. Linus Pauling was practically demeaned in his own university for what he was doing on behalf of arms control (Caltech) and against the fallout, against all that Teller was advertising — that fallout is good for you. Without it there would be no evolution, which he actually said. And I published that in “Daedalus,” that debate between Linus and Pauling and Teller on the San Francisco radio station I happened to come across — fascinating worldview difference. But Linus Pauling was one of the few who did take on the public and his own comrades, and there are not many like that. And Kendall is on the other side. They are equally wonderful people. They both have a Nobel Prize and so on. Also Linus Pauling somehow knew how to get a strong letter out. We published one with his encouragement in the New York Times — a full-page letter against fallout, which was signed by a lot of people, Ed Purcell, lots of people. And that made a big difference too. So I think that this question about how does a civic-minded scientist get to the public in America… that would be an interesting question with positive and negative sides to that.
Before I started on the Garwin biography I wanted to write a biography on Henry. In fact, he had asked me to. But the Kendall family would not cooperate. They wouldn't give me any access to his archives and things like that for reasons I basically don't understand.
These are difficulties of every researcher. So that is the main thing that I wanted to make sure that I get across — that the context is as interesting in this case that the biographical and scientific details because it can't be just one more biography of a very bright scientist. It ought to be an exemplar of what it was like in the 20th century to break through these many obstacles, internal and external, against historic misperceptions of what science is and the dangers that people feel and very often the dangers they don't take into account. I think these are very heroic people, and without the Leo Szilards and Fermis and Oppenheimers and so on, we might all have been in very much worse hands. And if you now look at the presidency choice, which is another reason for talking about this, where the government is essentially turning against independent scientific knowledge but wants to have preapproved “good science” as against real science, there is a story for the current reader. Where are we going now that people like Teller and Fermi would feel that they better shut up?
I guess one of the things that I want to try to evaluate is what concrete difference did Garwin or any of these other people who were intervening in the policymaking process… what concrete difference did they make? I know from having watched a bunch of these eminences and what they do. I know when I was at The New Yorker I did work on a profile of [Wassily] Leontief. Unfortunately Tina Brown came along and decided that he wasn’t a celebrity enough and would rather people from the fashion industry or something. But at any rate I had spent a few months of research and went on a few trips with him and did things like that. And I remember going with him to Castel Gandolfo. There was some conference—there were six or eight Nobel Prize winners, etc., to advise the Pope on the great issues of the day or something.
To me it was a total waste of time, and it was all very flattering for them to be in Castel Gandolfo. They all knew each other or whatever, but when it came to anything of substance or impact it was sort of a joke. When it came time to preparing the recommendations Leontief said that the most important thing is to decide how many recommendations you’ll have. And he said, “It's very easy to decide because you always have to have three.” He said, “If you only have two recommendations then you don't sound particularly productive or creative. But if you start to have four or five then it looks like you're padding. So three is the number of recommendations that we have to come up with.”
Oh boy. I can just hear him say it.
And he said, “Then of course we all know that the number one recommendation is that the Pope should change his mind about birth control.” But he said, “We know the client is not going to wish to receive that recommendation. So that one we throw away.” And he said, “As to what the other three recommendations are that we’ll actually make, I'll leave it to the rest of you to decide.”
But in fact, when I looked at the things that Garwin does, etc., he’s obsessed about various things — space weapons and so forth — but I just ask myself is he beating a dead horse? Is there any real threat to anybody? Thirty years ago when all the ABM business got launched and Reagan did Star Wars, yes, there was a very big concern. But if the Pentagon today wants to go and waste some money on space weapons we’ll just let them. And Garwin’s position on all of this is… really I haven't quite figured it out yet because his position is that these things don't work. On the other hand he works with the Pentagon to improve the designs of the systems that he says won't work. And he said, “They still won't work, but this is still a better design than the one that you’re using.”
And the thing is in terms of… and I now, with Henry Kendall, because we were running UCS together, I would sit down with Henry and talk exactly as I'm talking now. I said, “Why are you doing this? You should decide.” I’ve not had this conversation yet with Garwin, but I want to.
Well it may be unapproachable by him consciously, but subconsciously I could understand it because on the one hand just wasting the money itself at the present condition of our finances itself is very bad. It also preempts other things that could be done in the meantime. The opportunity costs are big. The money costs are big but then that is always the question. Can it really not work? He's putting his money on it not being possible to work. But he would like to be there when it can prove — even despite all of the ingenuity that he can put in — that this thing will not work. All of those improvements come then to nothing. That's the important point for him because remember what Oppenheimer said about the H-bomb. He said, “It was too sweet a solution not to go for it.”
He had hoped all along that you couldn't build an H-bomb. He was against it. But when it was shown to him by Ulam and others how to do it, then he found it irresistible on scientific grounds. He could no longer defend it not being used on scientific grounds. There may have been moral grounds and so on. So it was a split problem — not a split personality but the split problem. On the one hand the opportunity costs and the real costs and diversion of interests and the careers of good people that are being thrown into nothing in the Pentagon. And on the other hand you end up with the improvements won’t make it happen after all. If they can make it happen for us they can make it happen for anyone. That's worth knowing.
Well you’re having an interesting book on your hands, and I look forward to hearing that it was well funded, and is on its way.
I will keep my fingers crossed. I can send you a copy of the summary of it if you'd like.
That would be nice.
I be happy to…
I should give you one other thing to take along — namely another context in which all of this is happening is of course terrorism. And he is very much interested in that. And he has written about that and we all bet[??]D[??]. And I’ll give you something which, again, gives you some of the history of this whole problem, which I published, actually, in 1976. In 1976 I was at the Stanford think tank at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences for a year. And Josh Lederberg came in from Rockefeller, and he said, “I’d like to have a brainstorming session for a day on terrorism.” There was just some hijackings and the usual kind of terrorism of the 1970s. And the question was where does it come from, and where is it going to go? So I wrote a paper at that point on how that type of terrorism, which I called Terrorism 1, is going to be merging with Terrorism 2, which is state terrorism and that out of this joint will come a new kind of terrorism, Terrorism 3.
And I more or less predicted some of the things that happened here. So they asked me to republish this in 2002 in a place called the Reading Room, which is found here. And I updated about five or six lines in it. And so, again, what is needed I think is the context of how terrorism gets into our policymaking and how technology and politics interweave to make the new kind of terrorism that he is interested in and we all are interested in.
I think one of the problems of the scientists who want to be involved in policymaking is… I remember I started working in UCS in 1971. Henry Kendall and I were really co-founders of the thing.
Yes, I know.
And then I think it was in 1977 or ‘78 I awarded myself a sabbatical.
And I thought that was a very good academic system and I’d give it a try myself. But at any rate I took about nine months off. I had various invitations to give talks in Japan and places I had never been. So I said fine I’ll just go, but I’ll go and give my talk for a day and then I’ll stay for a month.
That's a good idea.
And just read and so forth. When I was off on that jaunt I wrote a memo to Henry — what I thought was that UCS should do. And it was a very personal note because it happened to concern him and his money — the possibility to do all sorts of things. I said my feeling was that the future of these do-good organizations like UCS was not particularly bright and that whether UCS succeeds or fails on anything is largely at the moment the question of press coverage. And the press is very fickle. And UCS benefited a lot in the early ‘70s from the post-Watergate atmosphere. Investigative reporting was very popular, so we just had to do a report, hand it to a so-called investigative journalist and then we'd be in the newspapers and whatnot. But I said, “That's not happening anymore, as you notice. They're paying less and less attention.”
Fashion and entertainment.
And I said that as far as I can tell the model of the political system being over here and little groups like UCS being on the periphery — in that model the little groups are doomed.
Well it could have gone the other way with 600 more votes in the year 2000.
Yes, possibly. But what I said to Henry is what you really should be doing is helping to start —
[End of recorded material]