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9. ATTITUDES AND VALUES
ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION of technological innovation by a society is seldom exclusively a matter of rational assessment. A melange of personal and culturally defined values, as concepts of what is worth while, desirable, good, and ethically right, plays a large and often dominating role in generating the attitudes that in part determine an innovation's fate. 1/ Individual attitudes are further conditioned by the level of a person's ability to understand the use of the innovation and its pertinence to events and people within the context of the society in which he lives.
On the other hand, the impact of science and technology always has the potential for changing or reinforcing the attitudes and values that are fundamental to the direction and content of patterns of living. 2/ Therefore, if the consequences of space activities for living patterns are to be understood, so that they may be anticipated and planned for, it is desirable to know as much as possible about the intimate circularity of the relationship between attitudes and values and the processes of social change. Fortunately, one of the important implications of space efforts in this regard is the extraordinary opportunity they offer for studying these processes of change -- before, during, and after their occurrence. 3/
The discussions of problem areas in earlier chapters have of course included to some extent the role of specific values in relation to the implications of a specific problem. However, attitudes and values themselves constitute a problem area, since one of the major products of the space effort has been a variety of stated opinions about the present and future impact of space activities on them. The extent to which these opinions are personal expressions of an assumed “fact” and the extent to which they are based on empirical data needs to be known, so that their validity as a basis for policy can be assessed. 4/ Such assessment is always important to the workings of a democratic society in which policies are, ideally if not always in fact, the result of an interacting relationship between policy planners, decision makers, and the people, who may be either hostile or supportive to the plans and decisions. By the same token, assessment would appear to be especially important in regard to space activities, which, if present plans and accomplishment hopes materialize, will unavoidably have global consequences for human affairs.
Yet exact empirical data are few, both about opinions on attitudes and about the interworkings of attitudes with the events of social change. Since the space effort may well be a most radical instrument for social change, it is appropriate that agencies charged with its conduct should assist in pursuing research that may enlarge the still slender store of knowledge in this problem area.
Implications of Space Activities for National Goals and Tomorrow's World
Many of the knowledgeable persons who were interviewed during the preparation of this report -- or whose statements made elsewhere were read -expressed deep concern and often strong opinions regarding the proper role of space activities in a democracy and in the world into which we are moving. The substance of their concern included both the special and complex problems that space activities may pose and the changes already under way in traditional values -- changes in part related to the recent history of high rates of technological change and the pressures for social adjustment produced by innovation. 5/ That the present speculations -- and often firm convictions -of these serious students of space and society demonstrated a variety of conclusions about the role of space in relation to society suggests that research would be helpful to clarify the assumptions associated with the arguments to be discussed here.
The role of space in the world ahead of us
Many observers of the present scene believe that eventually the cold war of weapons must either become hot or be replaced by economic warfare between East and West. Given the latter alternative, some of the observers argue that the vast expenditures consequent on the rivalry in social and economic development would probably seriously reduce resources and ambitions for space activities, aside from an occasional scientific probe, because positive humanitarian results of earth-based challenges could be realized relatively quickly and without the interim frustrations that are at present characteristic of complicated space developments. It is assumed that, in an all-out competition between East and West for economic dominance, the East would probably place its major propaganda investments in devices less remote than space projects, and thereby reduce the incentive for all-out space activities in the United States to the point where the program would be simply a useful technological adjunct to certain areas of scientific research. Others, however, assert that, despite the demands made on resources and creativity by all-out economic warfare and the associated rivalry to improve the standards of living in underdeveloped areas, the United States and Russia would continue to place major emphasis on their space programs as outstanding devices for scoring propaganda victories and for demonstrating the relative technological and scientific prowess of the two ideologies.
Some informed students of the matter are unshakeable in their belief that the search for knowledge in space will encourage a large program to support and supplement the search and to make use of its findings, although they acknowledge that at present there is no good reason to believe that the government and the “public” are prepared to pursue space-derived knowledge, primarily for its own sake, at the level of resource and financial investment presently going into these activities.
Another point of view contends that space activities will continue because they a-re a form of circus not only for the man on the street but for his leadership, providing a sense of escape from the profound frustrations and complexities of life on earth. 6/
A good-many people are convinced that internationalizing space is the only way to insure its utilization for peaceful activities and to meet the eventual magnitude of the cost and effort it involves. Some of those who hold this opinion feel that great new opportunities would be open to an internationalized program and new creative resources brought to bear; they point to such an international research effort as CERN, the European nuclear accelerator project. Others feel that it would eliminate what they consider to be the chief basis for space activities -- East-West competition -- and without such competition, there would be little or no pressure for expending resources at the level held necessary for future large-scale space projects. In other words, if it no longer mattered who “gets there first,” the incentive for getting there at all would be radically reduced.
The relation of space strategy to national strategy and needs
With regard to our needs as a nation, two general problems are posed. First, what is the appropriate priority for space activities? In view of the always increasing demands on manpower and money for routine national needs and of the many social and technological areas in which manpower and money might be expended to produce other important results for mankind, to what extent are we justified in spending vast sums on space activities? 7/
Few suggest that they know the answer, and many argue that research on the problem of priority assignment itself deserves the highest priority, from the standpoint of the utility of the advancement of science for mankind. 8/ Even among the scientists in the space community -- who might seem to have the most to gain from space activities -- there is some concern as to whether an “all-out space effort” is in the best interests of science and the nation. While this concern is related in part to the anticipated costs of space activities, there is also a feeling that continued excessive attention to space may blind the policy makers to the compelling needs and opportunities in other physical and social sciences. 4/
The second problem involves the proper integration and articulation of the space effort's role with other national goals. If international competition is a major reason for space activities, it is argued that they should be much more closely coordinated with other national policies: if, for example, we insist that our space program is for peaceful purposes, every effort must be made to insure that this image is not embarrassed.
Each of the arguments and concerns discussed above has a number of important implications. As a whole they suggest that, if the space effort has potentials for benefiting mankind under various broad sets of circumstances, the potentials and circumstances need to be explicated in the interest of better planning of space activities in concert with other worth while and expensive public service activities. This is especially important in a nation such as the United States, where policy is sensitive to the attitudes of the various publics. For some of the questions posed, systematic study can perhaps at the most indicate that opinions on a subject are, in fact, only opinions; thus space projects based on them should be undertaken with the full understanding that neither history nor psychology guarantees the outcome prophesied, no matter how high the source of the opinions. Background research useful for such an evaluation would determine:
• The general nature of the diffusion of new ideas and artifacts through society and the reasons why an idea will be accepted, forwarded, and incorporated by some groups under some circumstances and rejected by others.
An especially worthy aspect of this problem entails such questions as, these: What factors historically have entered into support or rejection of new ideas or technologies? What was and wasn't appreciated about the potentialities or lack of them in the innovation and under what personal and social circumstances did this occur? (For example, what were the roles of factors such as physical environment, politics, personalities, limited systems analysis capabilities, insufficient communications to decision makers, and national goals?) In what ways are previous innovations and the social context in which they developed or were rejected comparable with present space innovations and their social contexts?**
In addition, systematic examination of the arguments summarized above should be undertaken to:
• Set out the conditions under which specific lines of argument would seem reasonably valid and those under which they are not likely to pertain.
The broad problems posed imply that research is also necessary to:
• Attempt to develop systematic methods for assigning priorities between competing scientific and social efforts (where competition may be long term and involve personnel., money, public sup port, and conflicting attitudes and values).**
Examine the nature of decision making needed at appropriate levels to develop methods for coordinating space policy and national. policy for the benefit of both (See Chapter 8 for more detailed research recommendations on this problem).
In estimating public attitudes, it is necessary to take into account the possibly differing values of various specific groups in the society. 9/ The emphases and perspectives of the “military,” for instance, tend to differ from those of the “scientists” and the “politicians,” which in turn differ from each other. Not all values held by a group are unique to it, and within a group are subgroups and individuals whose attitudes differ in some degree from the general position; nevertheless, there is likely to be sufficient cohesiveness that identifies the group as a group. Thus it is reasonable to expect that space activities differently affect and are differently affected by such “special publics.” 10/ There is also evidence that both the leadership which makes decisions and that which influences decisions tend at times to separate specific groups from the “general public” and act as if certain values and attitudes were associated with them. 11/
To the extent that planning and policies for space activities or their implications actually consider the attitudes of special publics, informal estimates of the constitution of such groups and of their opinions should be supplemented by research intended:
• To discover the role of space activities within the context of the functions and goals which are the distinguishing characteristics of specific groups, and to learn the significance of the group attitude toward space activities.
The special publics discussed below are among those presently believed to have special significance for various aspects of the space program.
The space community
As might be expected, many of the scientists and engineers associated with government and private space activities are enthusiastic about them. There are others, however, whose disillusionment and cynicism have impressed observers; personally and professionally preoccupied with their work, they nevertheless feel alienated from the world they are creating -- because they believe it will be used “as politicians and promoters see fit,” whether or not the use is appropriate to what they believe to be its significance. 12/
No systematic study has been made of such factors, but the frequency with which the 'subject has occurred in informal conversations between observers and members of the space community indicates that negative attitudes are not rare. it should be known how widespread such attitudes may be, at what levels of decision making and creativity they occur most often, and what other factors may be involved. It should also be learned to what extent these attitudes might be known to or shared by students planning careers in space fields; if they were found to be prevalent yet not deterring, this might indicate that the new recruits for space activities have a different set of values than those typical of the engineers and scientists heretofore involved.
The more intensely reacting members of the present engineering and scientific personnel, perhaps including some of the more imaginative, might very well. leave the field for other more satisfying areas; already there is evidence in many areas of science of the arrival of the “gentleman scientist.” 13/ Whether or not the loss of these dissatisfied personnel or the influx of changed values with new personnel would change the quality of space activities needs careful study. 14/
Many studies show that people filling particular roles have different ideas of their roles and the roles of others than do people filling other roles. 15/ Thus there is every reason to believe that, among other pertinent space community people, as well as outsiders, there is ignorance of or confusion about the attitude situation described here; similarly there is every reason to believe that the dissatisfied scientists and engineers within the community are not fully aware of the purposes and roles of those they disparage, So long as the situation is left formally unexamined and not brought to the attention of all concerned it will be difficult for all individuals and groups involved to base their actions and understanding on valid-assessments of the attitudes and values of each other. It appears worth while then to conduct studies to determine:
• The nature and extent of positive and negative attitudes and values among members of the space science and engineering community over the application of their efforts. To what extent are similar attitudes conveyed to or already incipient among potential. space activity candidates and what kinds of influence do they have on recruitment? (This type of study should be repeated every few years.)
• What is the relationship between specific aspirations and motivations on the one hand and job satisfaction or dissatisfaction on the other? Is there a relationship between satisfaction or dissatisfaction and quality of creativity, as well as the rate of personnel turnover?
• In the light of the above, if alterations in perspective are appropriate for those in the space community who are dissatisfied and/or for those who act in ways presently contributing to this dissatisfaction, what means can be discovered to encourage insights, understanding, and changed perspectives?
Present and future astronauts
The attitudes of the men now training as astronauts in the Mercury program and their perception of the attitudes held toward them and their efforts will have important implications for their training, their ultimate performance capabilities, and thereby for the selection and training of future astronauts. (The public's reactions to “man in space” are discussed later in this chapter.) Further information is much needed on the relation of attitudes and values to aspirations and fulfillment of performance requirements in this very special situation. The kind of understanding that would be derived from studying the values and attitudes of the first group of astronauts over time as they move through and beyond the Mercury program will also be of use to future astronaut programs. Thus it is important to study:
• The attitudes of the astronauts toward themselves, each other, their families, other space community associates, former associates, and the world at large and changes in these attitudes, and the values on which they are based, over time and in the face of particular events in connection with space activities both nationally and internationally.
• The attitudes of their families and associates toward the astronauts' efforts, and the effects of time and events on these.
• The attitudes believed by the astronauts to be held by various publics about them, their families, a@ their mission.
• The interrelationship of the above as they affect astronaut performance and motivation through time and in the face of specific events.
• Historical parallels (if they exist) of the “hero’s” perception of his role and the effects of this perception on his behavior.
The non-space science community
Conversations with natural and social scientists and science administrators indicate a range of reactions to space activities: some scientists are delighted with them as tools for and areas of research, some are indifferent, some are hostile. Future space activities will be partly dependent on scientists in universities and other institutions for ideas as well as for the kind of supporting approval that will encourage competent men to contribute to the space effort. 16/ It will thus be important to discover how to use most effectively the existing enthusiasms among non-space scientists, but there appears to be an even more pressing need to discover and assess the reasons for the expressed indifference and hostility. 17/
At present, it is not clear how extensively these attitudes are held and under what personal and operating circumstances they predominate. Nor is it clear what could be done to make space activities more compatible with the values and attitudes of those reluctant to participate in them -or whether efforts should be made to reduce this reluctance to participate in space until the nature and extent of the reluctance, and thereby its significance, are better understood. Thus, it is most desirable that studies be undertaken to determine:
• The nature and extent of positive and negative attitudes and values In the non-space science community toward space activities. (This kind of study should be repeated every few years.)
• The nature and extent of participation desired now and in the foreseeable future from the type of scientist and student who presently 1.9 reluctant to participate.
• How, in the light of the above, to increase, when appropriate, the compatibility of interests of those preoccupied with space activities and the rest of the science community.
• How to bring to the attention of nonhostile and potentially enthusiastic social and natural scientists the unique opportunities for applied and theoretical research offered by space activities
(The last recommendation refers to that important implication of space activities noted earlier in this chapter -- the opportunity they afford social. scientists for research on the effects of spectacular yet continuing events on the attitudes. values, and behavior of members of various societies -- both before the events and after them. 18/ The fact that space events can be anticipated by informed personnel before they become known to the general public enhances possibilities for (1) the sort of controlled experiments usually not available to the historian or social scientist, (2) base line studies, and (3) judging value and attitude changes in the light of the base line studies and the larger context of events. There is an excellent chance that theoretical insights into the processes of social change can thus be increased substantially. Since such insights would be invaluable for anticipating the implications of space activities for mankind, it would be desirable for the NASA social science research facility to bring these special opportunities for fundamental and applied research on social change to the attention of the social science community as soon as possible.
The attitudes of business executives as influenced by space activities may well have important implications for the direction and intensity of space activities and, to some extent, for business philosophy and practice. Information about these attitudes and the values underlying them is found in a survey directed by Raymond A. Bauer of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration for the Harvard Business Review. 19/ The study is also valuable for showing where further research is necessary in this area. (Only a brief summary of the findings is provided here, but a detailed report on the survey, its findings, and the recommended research is given in Appendix A (to be found at the end of the Footnote Volume).
According to the survey, the impact of recent technological advances appears to have made executives extremely reluctant to conclude that anything is impossible, and they questioned only the most speculative of the possible benefits from space exploration. The majority felt that projects such as longrange weather forecasting, improved communications, and tangible byproducts of research were very likely to “pay off. However, the responses gave very little indication of either the significance or stability of attitudes, and since the approving support evinced could have been based on generalized impressions rather than specific knowledge, it might wither if project results were slow in coming. Older executives, particularly, seemed less caught up by the romance and adventure of space and more reluctant to spend money on space programs.
The respondents were able to distinguish between civilian and military space objectives, but did not do as well in specifying which existing programs were civilian and which military. What distinctions were made probably did not reflect detailed knowledge of the actual differences between the two objectives, for not many of even the most enthusiastic executives were completely informed on this subject.
Five possible reasons for or advantages of supporting the space program were ranked in this order-. (1) pure science research and gaining of knowledge; (2) control of outer space for military and political reasons; (3) tangible economic payoff and research results for everyday life on earth; (4) meeting the challenge and adventure of new horizons; (5) winning the prestige race with the Soviet Union. However, there did not seem to be a clear distinction in the minds of the respondents between “pure science” and “control of outer space.”
Considerable willingness was indicated to grant the civilian space program more funds than the amount it was assumed to be already getting. A preponderant majority of the executives gave space research priority over a cut in taxes, though expenditures for health and education took precedence over space expenditures. Many thought that the program needed to be stepped up and, in general, that more could be done with the resources already committed. It was evident that respondents hoped that private industry would have a role in the space program, but many of the comments about this were more wistful than confident.
The generally favorable attitude revealed toward a civilian, rather than a military, space effort needs additional scrutiny. Is the attitude based on an evaluation of the relative potency or efficiency of the two programs, or does it indicate a preference for nonmilitary space research? The optimism about space activities also needs examination. Is it the product of an unbounded faith in science, of past experience with R&D payoffs, or what? Will practical R&D benefits be needed to reinforce the optimism and the implied support? These questions are typical of others that need to be answered before the implications of business executives' opinions become clear. Research, then, would be desirable to determine, for example;
• The meaning of executives' estimates as to the speed with which the civilian space agency (as opposed to the military) will achieve given objectives.
• The factors behind the optimism expressed about the benefits of space research.
• The tenacity of the opinions about and commitment to space re search, especially in the light of possible future events.
• To what extent and under what circumstances do executives' attitudes, when the approach is made to them as individuals, differ from those when approached as members of a group? 20/
Children born the year of Sputnik I will vote within the twenty-year period encompassed by this study; those born a few years before that will, within this time period, be launching on careers. Their childhood impressions of space and its implications may have strong effects on their career choices and adult attitudes toward space activities.
For the adult, the perception and interpretation of new events, objects and ideas is filtered through a residue of values, beliefs, and experiences representing a lifetime of familiarity with the old. For children, the new is more real, since there is less interpretive background to help define initial and spontaneous perceptions. Thus children are the major carriers of change; what they “see” or remember will be remolded over time, but nothing can remove the underpinnings of initially more literal perceptions. 21/ Even the four-year-old, however, is already a “socialized animal,” reflecting many characteristic adult attitudes, and the freedom to see a given subject area through fresh eyes operates less and less as the child grows older.
Therefore, since the attitudes of children toward space ought to provide much insight, especially if they can be rechecked at various periods of the child's growth, it would be wise to begin studies on very young children as soon as possible. Since values start young and in primitive enough form to be readily observable to research, such studies are practicable. 22/ A special purpose of the research would be to detect both the inner and outer factors that contribute to the eventual adult's attitudes and behavior in support or nonsupport of space activities and to his perception of the world as influenced by pace activities. 23/
Research, then, would be desirable to determine:
• The prevailing attitudes toward and knowledge of space events in youngsters of varied ages and the changes in attitudes and knowledge through the years ahead under the combined influence of new events in and adult attitudes toward space activities and exposure to the other alternatives and experiences which come with physical and mental growth. For each annual group of-four-year-olds, six-year-olds, and so on, how important is space In relation to other world events and societal commitments and how do they define this importance?
Possible Implications for the General Public
Exactly when and how the divergences in opinion and attitude that mark off one special public from another decrease to the extent that the members of a large number of such groups can then be referred to as the “general public” is indeterminable -- and probably never does happen in fact. Nevertheless, there are many situations in which a fair degree of unanimity rather than divergence at least seems observable, and while the concept of a general public may be only a semantic myth, it is certainly a convenient one, and especially so to spokesmen, planners, and decision makers. This section, then, discusses implications and attitudes that have been assumed by spokesmen concerning space activities to have applicability to wide groupings of special publics.
Public interest in and commitment to space activities
Many strong statements have been made about the degree of public knowledge of, interest in, and commitment to space activities for peaceful uses, but there is good reason to believe the situation is much more complicated than many of the statements imply. 24/ In the first place, questionnaires and surveys of public attitudes about space programs show that various parts of the public tend to be selective in their attention to the subject and seem to be variously affected by the perceived military implications and the public relations releases of military, industrial, and other special interest groups, as well as by specific events. 25/ Base line data are very much needed on the state of present public knowledge of space activities and the associated attitudes. Thus research is recommended to explore:
• The state of public knowledge about space activities, both ongoing and contemplated, and the assumptions, expectations, and values that underlie the attitudes toward and interpretations of this knowledge. Also needing study are the effects over time of new knowledge and events on attitudes toward space activities, and the effects of the sources of information on the acceptability of the information. **
Related to this general matter is the widespread tendency to assume that the direction and intensity of mass media reporting have attributable affects on attitudes. There is also the assumption that the media reflect, in the amount of attention they give to a subject, the interests of their audiences. However, the precise effects of the mass media on attitudes and values and
the extent to which they reflect or generate interest are still not well understood, despite the amount of research conducted on these problems. 26/ (This lack of understanding results in part from a dearth of the before-and-after studies on important events that foreknowledge about space activities make possible.) Because it is important that decision makers, policy planners, and pertinent attentive publics have more precise information about the role of the mass media in regard to space activities, further study is recommended on:
• The complex relationships between events, media translation of them, media presentation of them, audience attention to them, audience values, attitudes, and perceptions in related areas, and changes in values, attitudes, and behavior as a result of exposure to media content. 27/
Moreover, careful study is indicated of the proper and effective role for the public in regard to policy on a subject as complicated as space; given the many alternative needs on which public funds might be expended, this question is of particular interest. Thus, it would be desirable to examine:
• The ways in which the public can contribute to the setting and supporting of space activity policy. In what ways is it limited (e.g., lack of education, lack of accurate information, lack of channels to communicate its opinion?) in its ability to contribute constructively and with the level of sophistication required?
Optimism and over-optimism
Spokesmen for space activities often try to generate optimism in their audiences by dwelling on the imminence of vast space efforts and the abundant rewards to be expected from them. There has also been an unceasing stream of public relations releases and promotional statements (often translated by the mass media as news) about the glamorous and fantastic events that will happen in space in the near future, and what these will mean for the public.
Public optimism is assumed to be desirable, in that it should generate support for the space program in general. However, should promotion efforts lead to over-optimism, support attitudes might easily not be lasting if the difficulties inherent in space efforts have not at the same time been appreciated enough to make the failure of specific projects understandable. As space efforts become more grandiose and the potential consequences of payoff more exciting, failure will have even more possibility of creating general disillusionment . If enough glamorous projects are not successful at the time they are supposed to be, earlier efforts to imply their ease and imminence may boomerang: the public state of mind may well make it difficult to obtain future funds for the more expensive efforts, which must compete in one way or another with other public programs for money, manpower, and ideas. 28/
On the other hand, it may be that a certain degree of over-optimism is necessary to sustain public interest in and support of space activities in the face of project frustrations and failures. However, these discussed effects are mere conjecture, since exact knowledge simply does not at present exist of whether the public is optimistic, pessimistic, or indifferent about the future of the space effort. Thus, to anticipate and ameliorate adverse consequences of over-optimism and to make effective use of optimism, the following questions need systematic study:
• Row important are expectations of imminent and glamorous space activities to public support of the effort and the allocation of funds and resources to it?
• Under what circumstances do authoritative statements about the assured success of costly projects, which do not eventuate as predicted, result in indifference or resentment and withdrawal of support or in continued support? What, in terms of the individual's attitudes and values, defines the success or failure of an event or sequence of events?
• To what extent are people sophisticated or naive about the competition for attention between the many institutional and organizational rivals in the space field, and in what ways do the level of knowledge about and the attitudes toward the competition affect expectations and interest in and support of space activities?
• To what extent are people sophisticated or naive regarding optimism as to the future, to progress, and the limits and potentialities of science? How do these general values and attitudes relate to attitudes toward space possibilities. 29/
It is said that man has an insatiable will to progress, to climb the mountain “because it is there,” and therefore to explore space to the utmost because he is driven by the nature of his being to do so. As he thus explores, his social and psychological horizons will necessarily be broadened by the magnitude and challenges of the universe in contrast to his former earth-bound preoccupations herein, it is claimed, lies one of the great implications of space activities for attitudes and values.
In assessing these claims it should be recalled that there are many societies in which the traditional way of doing things is the proper way of life; even in our own society, with its emphases on change and on progress, it is common for potentially useful innovations to be blocked by traditional perspectives. 30/ Not all people here or abroad will be or are committed to space exploration because it is “challenging” or represents “progress”; among those who are interested in meeting challenges, a good number will no doubt decide that they prefer to expend money and effort on challenges more immediately and intimately related to their own needs and those of the earthbound human community. 31/
However, certain ideas related to space activities may even now be contributing in some quarters to changing horizons. For example, under the impetus of the new but frequent claims that space exploration is a fine example of man's most worthy aspiration -- the accumulation of knowledge per se -- a public attitude favorable to scholarship in general may be generated.
Acceptance of long planning periods for space activities and the possibility of international space programs may stimulate attitudes favorable to multinational cooperation and systematic planning in other areas as well. And perhaps the belief that space activities must inevitably result in broadened horizons and perspectives will encourage a pattern of responses which will produce a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” 32/ In any case, it would be desirable to anticipate the effect of possible new perspectives or the lack of them as a prelude to planning for the effective meshing of space activities and programs with other socially important activities. This will require research:
• To develop appropriate methods for measuring personal perspectives and changes in them.
• To determine over time (aided by the measuring methods indicated above) the extent to which space activities are perceived as complementary or contradictory to the needs and aspirations of various :significant portions of world society and especially to those of the opinion makers and pressure groups.
The implications of a discovery of extraterrestrial life
Recent publicity given to efforts to detect extraterrestrial messages via radio telescope has popularized -- and legitimized -- speculations about the impact of such a discovery on human, values. 33/ It is conceivable that there is semiintelligent life in some part of our solar system or highly intelligent life which is not technologically oriented, and many cosmologists and astronomers think It very likely that there is intelligent life in many other solar systems. While face-to-face meetings with it will. not occur within the next twenty years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours, qualifying it to visit earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these 'life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the Moon, Mars, or Venus. If there is any contact to be made during the next twenty years it would most likely be by radio -- which would indicate that these beings had at least equaled our own technological level.
An individual's reactions to such a radio contact would in part depend on his cultural, religious, and social background, as well as on the actions of those he considered authorities and leaders and their behavior, in turn would in part depend on their cultural, social, and religious environment. 34/ The discovery would certainly be front-page news everywhere; the degree of political or social repercussion would probably depend on leadership's interpretation of (1) its own role, (2) threats to that role, and (3) national and personal opportunities to take advantage of the disruption or reinforcement of the attitudes and values of others. Since leadership itself might have great need to gauge the direction and intensity of public attitudes, to strengthen its own morale and for decision making purposes, it would be most advantageous to have more to go on than personal opinions about the opinions of the public and other leadership groups.
The knowledge that life existed in other parts of the universe might lead to a greater unity of men on earth, based on the oneness of man or on the age-old assumption that any stranger is threatening Much would depend on what, if anything, was communicated between man and the other beings: since after the discovery there will be years of silence (because even the closest stars are several light years away, an exchange of radio communication would take twice-the number of light years separating our sun from theirs), the fact that such beings existed might become simply one of the facts of life but probably not one calling for action. 35/ Whether earthmen would be inspired to all-out space efforts by such a discovery is a moot question. Anthropological files contain many examples of societies, sure of their place in the universe, which have disintegrated when they have had to associate with previously unfamiliar societies espousing different ideas and different life ways; others that survived such an experience usually did so by paying the price of changes in values and attitudes and behavior.
Since intelligent life might be discovered at any time via the radio telescope research presently under way, and since the consequences of such a discovery are presently unpredictable because of our limited knowledge of behavior under even an approximation of such dramatic circumstances, two research areas can be recommended:
• Continuing studies to determine emotional and intellectual understanding and attitudes -- and successive alterations of them if any -- regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life. 36/ **
• Historical and empirical studies of the behavior of peoples and their leaders when confronted with dramatic and unfamiliar events or social pressures. 37/ Such studies might help to provide programs for meeting and adjusting to the implications of such a discovery, Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include: How might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends? What might be the role of the discovering scientists and other decision makers regarding release of the fact of discovery?
Implications of man in space
The evolving man-in-space program may already be having its impact on values and attitudes. Given the people involved and the necessary risks in the program, it is likely that there will continue to be value conflicts in various parts of the general public as well as in the groups which must make decisions about the direction and extent of future activities in this area.
The Mercury man.-in-space program has already received much comment in the media, which illustrates the kind of conflicts that can be expected. There have been favorable reports, as typified by the articles on the astronauts, their families, and their training. 38/ There have been unfavorable statements about the “stunt” characteristics of the program and about its apparent tendency to emphasize the glamorous astronauts rather than the scientificand engineering aspects and problems of the project. 39/ Many commentators have remarked that wives and children are assets to astronauts, who can thus still be considered “normal” Americans; at the same time, their military status permits them to take risks which large portions of the general public might not otherwise consider appropriate for family men. A leading anthropologist who has studied this problem says the astronauts are not models for -other women's husbands -- not one little bit .... Part of the feeling about space, which spreads right through the country, is women's objection to men's going there.” 40/ The actual astronaut launching may highlight the question of a man's responsibility to family versus his willingness to risk death in space. This and similar questions will. be resolved, probably not without emotional conflict, according to the particular personal and institutions values held by those involved in various aspects of the controversies.
Here again is an opportunity to conduct before-and-after research on the implications of innovations for attitudes and values. Studies preceding the launching can also provide a basis for better informing the public so that it can realistically appreciate both the accomplishments and difficulties of the program. It is recommended, then, that base line studies be begun as soon as possible to Determine the present knowledge of, beliefs and expectations about, and the values that underlie attitudes toward the Mercury program and the astronaut. These should be continuing studies so that the impact of events can be anticipated, evaluated, and planned for.**
If the Mercury program is successful it will be only a prelude to attempts to put man on the moon and some of the planets. Thus the implications of astronautic efforts, subsequent to Mercury, for attitudes and values should also be studied. Social observers have speculated that manned flight to the moon or Mars might re-stimulate the American frontier spirit, thereby supplying a new form of vicarious living for a large part of the public and perhaps inspiring some to participate in more challenging activities here on earth. 41/
Although the physical requirements for an astronaut probably will be compatible with the preferred American image of masculinity, the psychological characteristics appropriate for long flights through space, alone or in compact quarters with others, may be quite incompatible. Indeed, the very rigors which the astronaut may have to withstand and the special techniques that may be used to make it possible for him to withstand them (such as hibernation or some form of drug treatment) may produce a great gap in the earthbound man's identification with the astronaut. To the average man who is increasingly embedded in the security and organization of urban life, the physical threat and the physical and psychic isolation implied in manned space activities may seem unpalatable and at a great emotional distance from the daily problems he finds challenging and interesting. Thus, the personalities of astronauts, the esoteric technical problems they solve, and the challenges they accept might become matters of indifference to the public, or, in one way or another, represent aspirations and ways of life that are undesirable. 42/ This may be especially so for other nations whose values about “pioneering,” “frontiers” and “conquest” may be different from ours. Since truly large man-in-space efforts will probably require international support, the states of mind in other nations will become important to the planning of programs for which we will need their contributions.
The possibility must be considered that, except for short trips -- and even these perhaps biologically or genetically suicidal -- man will not, after all, be able to go very far into space in the foreseeable- future. The weight of shielding necessary to protect him from heavy cosmic ray particles and the intense blasts of energy from solar flares (which are presently unpredictable) may make more than an occasional foray so expensive and unrewarding as to cancel out the advantages of studying space through man's first-hand experiences with it. 43/ This situation could lead to extraordinary efforts to find a way to put man in space -- efforts not necessarily of optimum social use. It could also bring about an intensive development of robot equipment that could do man’s exploring for him. Application of the robot technology to other endeavors might be extensive and carry with it all the moral, social, ethical, and economic problems and opportunities which have been explored by the more thoughtful science fiction writers.
If it should become necessary to accept the impossibility of first-hand experience in space, there may be important consequences for American values and aspirations. As a nation, we have come to believe ourselves conquerors of nature and equal to any task if we apply “science.” In recent years this confidence has appeared to be spectacularly justified. The discovery that man cannot for the foreseeable future go into space by any of the glamorous means so regularly predicted might so disrupt our self-confidence as to set off a chain of revisions in values which could either hinder or improve our capacity to deal maturely with our other problems.
Whether or not man will be able to study space at first hand in the next two decades depends on information not now available. Since the outcome might go either way, the effects of later man-in-space efforts on values and attitudes in general, as well as with regard to such space activities in particular, require research to:
• Develop base line data on present attitudes toward and expectations about post-Mercury man,-in-space efforts. These data should include indications of attitudes toward supporting or not supporting such activities and the reasons pertaining thereto.
• Assess changes in attitudes and expectations in the light of subsequent events and statements intended to inform, to encourage, or to discourage support of the program.
• Discover what symbols and ideas regarding man in space would be stimulating in cultures whose support is desired, but whose aspirations and ideals may not be similar to ours.