Chemist With A Conscience

Matthew Meselson is catalyzed whenever he sees ‘misguided’ national policies CAMBRIDGE, MASS--At age 19, future Harvard biochemist and noted activist Matthew Meselson dropped out of college, went to live in Paris, and pondered forging a career as a Freudian analyst ot na- tions. With youthful hubris, he thought he might be able to explain the genesis of wars and other avoidable human catastrophes by scrutinizing the actions of governments past and present through the prism of mode

Karen Klinger
May 29, 1988

Matthew Meselson is catalyzed whenever he sees ‘misguided’ national policies

CAMBRIDGE, MASS--At age 19, future Harvard biochemist and noted activist Matthew Meselson dropped out of college, went to live in Paris, and pondered forging a career as a Freudian analyst ot na- tions. With youthful hubris, he thought he might be able to explain the genesis of wars and other avoidable human catastrophes by scrutinizing the actions of governments past and present through the prism of modern psychiatry.

When he resumed what was to become a peripatetic path through higher education a year later, Meselson chose chemistry over psychiatry. He had decided, he says, that it is easier to "establish truth in chemistry than [in] psychiatry." But he remained convinced that all governments, the United States notably included, display certain kinds of perverse behavior that are predictable, given the foibles of human nature. As an example, he says: "It occurred...