The Political Pauling

I believe that scientists have a special obligation to help their fellow citizens understand.... Practically every problem that I read about involves science to a considerable extent," says Linus Pauling, the only scientist ever to win two, unshared Nobel prizes. Among his issues of concern: dangers of advanced or chemical weaponry, both conventional and nuclear; population control and nutrition; environmental damage; and nuclear waste.

"I think politicians are somewhat afraid of scientists and this feeling may carry over to the public as a whole," he says. "They might say, 'Well, scientists brought us the atomic bomb' ... but in fact it was the politicians who decided that the weapons should be developed."

Opposing what he considers immoral national policies from war to nuclear testing, Pauling has won both official disfavor and subsequent decoration for often cantankerous protests. Passed over twice by the Nixon Administration for the nation's highest honor, the National Medal of Science, he was honored by President Ford for the courage to publicly and constructively act up to his highest concept of responsible citizenship.

"I'm not surprised that scientists feel so strongly about the need to eliminate war from the world and to replace it by a system of world law, based upon the principles of morality and justice," he says. "The idea appeals to scientists partially because they think about problems in a very large way, and are not thinking about just the next four years the way politicians do.

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