Man's physical universe

xanabras

UNIT I

SECTION 2

THE SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE IS ESSENTIAL TO THE

SATISFACTORY SOLUTION OF PROBLEMS

The future of our civilization depends upon the widening spread and

deepening hold of the scientific habit of mind. — John Dewey.

Introduction.

At about 8:20 Sunday evening, October 30, 1938, the traiific on

highways between New York City and Philadelphia suddenly went

wild. Cars speeded past traffic patrolmen as if to escape a tornado.

Telephone exchanges were swamped. It was all due to a realistic radio

broadcast of an imaginary invasion of the earth by armed monsters

from Mars. According to the Gallup poll nearly 20 per cent of the nine

million people who heard this broadcast were frightened.

Dr. Hadley Cantril found from a factual study of "The Invasion

from Mars" that persons who -were frightened by the broadcast believed

what they heard without making any effort to check the reasonableness

or reliability of the report. He concluded in part that " Our study of the

common man of our times has shown us that his ability to orient himself

appropriately in critical situations will be increased if he can be

taught to adopt an attitude of readiness to question the interpretations

he hears."

These people who were so quick to give way to useless fear at the

expense of reason were those same people who previously prized certitude

and feared knowledge. They had not developed the scientific

attitude which asks "Is it so?"

Perhaps you would not be frightened by a radio broadcast, but do

you buy your soap, hair tonic, cigarettes, or breakfast food on the basis

of the radio announcer's advice? Do you believe that a thing is true

just because it is printed? Do you buy without investigation? Do

you select professional services upon the mere recommendations of

others? Do you have the "I am from Missouri; you have got to show

me" attitude?

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