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Scientists Must Clarify The Societal Relevance of Research

Illustration: John Overmeyer A quarter-century ago, Margaret Mead rose up-wooden staff in hand-at a business meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology to warn anthropologists that if they fail to put their work on the "coffee tables of America," there would soon be no anthropology. More recently, James McPherson, a professor of history at Princeton University, noted in his book Drawn with the Sword (Oxford University Press, 1996), that the lack of jobs for historians may be

The Scientist Staff

Illustration: John Overmeyer
A quarter-century ago, Margaret Mead rose up-wooden staff in hand-at a business meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology to warn anthropologists that if they fail to put their work on the "coffee tables of America," there would soon be no anthropology. More recently, James McPherson, a professor of history at Princeton University, noted in his book Drawn with the Sword (Oxford University Press, 1996), that the lack of jobs for historians may be related to the obscurity of their work. Amateur documentaries and narratives, he contended, provide most of what the public learns about history.

On yet another frontier-that of reinventing biomedical research in the aftermath of health care reform-United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala concluded her comments about public policy at the 1996 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Baltimore with the illuminating exhortation that...

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