chapter  14
19 Pages

Why Behavioral Scientists Must Take Root in the Political Forest, and How They Can Find Their Way There

WithDavid Johnson

Early in the 1980s, members of the House Science and Technology Committee and members of the Education and Labor Committee were reminded that there had been widespread teacher layoffs in the 1970s. Behavioral scientists have never quite been able to make up their minds whether they want to plunge into this pool of humanity or run pell-mell from it. This chapter argues that as long as taxpayer dollars support behavioral and social research some behavioral and social scientists must be in Washington. Behavioral and social scientists, indeed scientists in general, must therefore participate in public policy-making because we are citizens. Self-interest and our obligation as citizens to promote the public good by helping bring about sound government are two reasons for behavioral and social scientists' participation in public policymaking. Survival, service, and the transformation of science are pretty good reasons for behavioral and social scientists to involve themselves in the making of public policy.