Who Decides What 'Rational' Means?

Herbert L. Meltzer displays a tendency toward either academic naiveté or neofascism when he suggests a "feasibility study" regarding "...neurochemical and environmental events that occur in the perinatal period and in the early years of life" that determine how "rational" a person is (The Scientist, December 15, 1986, p. 10). Dr. Meltzer is concerned that without "neurochemical and environmental" intervention, man may prove too irrational to survive in a nuclear age. Although I certainly sh

By | January 26, 1987

Herbert L. Meltzer displays a tendency toward either academic naiveté or neofascism when he suggests a "feasibility study" regarding "...neurochemical and environmental events that occur in the perinatal period and in the early years of life" that determine how "rational" a person is (The Scientist, December 15, 1986, p. 10).

Dr. Meltzer is concerned that without "neurochemical and environmental" intervention, man may prove too irrational to survive in a nuclear age. Although I certainly share his fear, I am not at all pleased with the implication that somebody is going to decide what sort of adjustments will render us "rational" after, of course, that somebody has defined the term.

What we need is the kind of pluralism we have together with the recognition that we must make decisions for ourselves. The implication is that we need to equip ourselves and that we not delegate our responsibilities out of laziness or a feeling of powerlessness.

Perhaps Dr. Meltzer and I are suggesting the same thing, because education is certainly an "environmental event." We must be very careful as to how we present our program for increasing man's interest in and ability to make decisions, lest it sound like brainwashing.

—B.J. Luberoff
48 Maple St., Summit, NJ 07901

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