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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

SCIENCE, NATURAL AND SOCIAL
have been obtained in no other way have resulted from the use of this
method. But in general its technique, both as regards sampling and
questioning, will have to be refined a good deal before it can claim
to be scientifically dependable.
Another set of methods which are being developed to cope with
the complexity of social problems are those of anonymous group
working, repeated drafting, and circulation of the preliminary draft
results for comment and criticism. A combination of all three seems
to yield the best results when tackling large and many-sided problems,
such as the structure of a national agency like a health service or a
big industry like steel or agriculture, the organization of leisure, or
international adjustments.
Joint work is on the increase in natural science, but here largely
because of the quantitative burden of routine procedures in subjects
like biochemistry or genetics. We may distinguish such work from
true group work, using the term group in the sense of a body of people
pooling their different knowledges and skills to cope with qualitatively
differentiated problems. Group work in this sense is also to be found
in natural science, as when geneticists, ecologists and statisticians
make a united attack on some problem of micro-evolution. But it is
far more necessary in social science, where various bodies, such as
P.E.P., are studying how to perfect it as a research method. Anony-
mity is often desirable in group work to enable the participation of
public servants or well-known men whose opinions might be distorted
or discounted in advance. It may also be desirable, for an essentially
opposite reason, to give the weight of a recognized study organization
to the work of young and unknown men whose findings would other-
wise tend to be disregarded. In both these ways anonymous group
working, in addition to securing greater efficiency, helps to discount
bias of one sort or another.
Provided that a good drafter is available, together with a chairman
and a small core of members who will give regular attendance, group
membership can be fluid, and specialists invited for one or a few
meetings as required.
Repeated drafting is a substitute for experimentation in problems
where the experimental attack is ruled out. As soon as a preliminary
survey has been made of the problem in its entirety, a draft is circul-
ated for discussion at the next meeting. The gaps and errors thus
brought to light form the subject of the next period of work, wheri the
process is repeated. Three, four, or even more complete drafts may
be required before publishable conclusions are reached, just as new
sets of experiments must be planned and executed to deal with ten-
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