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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

SCIENCE, NATURAL AND SOCIAL
schemes under the local administration, by the establishment of co-
operativesócould and should be made the subject of carefully planned
regional experiments.
The fact that in social science man is his own guinea-pig has a
number of methodological consequences, both for social science re-
search and for its practical applications. The social scientist often
requires true co-operation from his material in the sense of under-
standing of the reason for his work and voluntary participation in its
course. Education as a social experiment can never succeed without
properly equipped teachers, specially trained in pedagogy. The
interview method will give entirely misleading results without inter-
viewers skilled in the technique of their job.
In the field of application, propaganda and public relations may be
of prime importance. A good example is the cancer campaign
recently instituted in the United States. Cancer has been presented
to the public in such a way as to create a real interest in it as a social
problem, and the public is collaborating in the attack upon it. The
vast problem of malnutrition will never be solved unless the public
is made to take a similar interest in it. The British Medical Associa-
tion has made a beginning in this field with its milk campaign; but it
is a beginning only.
In general the whole technique of propaganda, persuasion, and
public relations needs the most intensive study before the findings of
science can be socially applied. When does propaganda defeat its
own ends by setting up counter-resistance? What are the relative
values of reiteration and of variety of appeal? Of the printed word,
the poster, the cinema, or the radio? Of rational persuasion as
against mere suggestibility? Of intellectual comprehension as against
a sense of active participation? We simply do not know, and until we
know, our progress towards efficient social structure and a fuller life
will be fitful and slow. In many ways, the enlistment of public co-
operation is to social science what the enlistment'of capital investment
is to natural science: it provides motive power for application.
There remains the question of bias. In this there is no ready
method to hand. It took generations for natural science to work out
the technique of discounting experimental and observational error;
it will take generations for social science to work out that of discount-
ing the errors due to bias. The first step is obviously to make the
world aware of the existence of bias and of the need for its discounting.
Where human affairs are still handled in a pre-scientific spirit, bias is
apt to play a very largo practical role, especially the bias in favour of
one's own group, whether class, religion or race. Such bias produces