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How Reason Almost Lost Its MindThe Strange Career of Cold War Rationality$
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Paul Erickson, Judy L. Klein, Lorraine Daston, Rebecca Lemov, Thomas Sturm, and Michael D. Gordin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226046631

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226046778.001.0001

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“The Situation” in the Cold War Behavioral Sciences

“The Situation” in the Cold War Behavioral Sciences

(p.107) Four “The Situation” in the Cold War Behavioral Sciences
How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind

Paul Erickson

Judy L. Klein

Lorraine Daston

Paul Rebecca

Thomas Sturm

Michael D. Gordin

University of Chicago Press

Cold War social scientists frequently adopted special experimental situations where they could scientifically model and code many aspects of human behavior, aiming to unravel the mysteries and smooth out the irrationalities of social systems, cultures and the human personality. One particularly vibrant example of the situation at work was in the small group research Robert Freed Bales conducted at the “Special Room” in Harvard University's Department of Social Relations between 1949 and the 1970s. The distance between experimental design and possible political-material interventions was radically shortened in such situations, for they offered dual sets of methodological advantages: real-world immediacy on the one hand and laboratory-like artificial control of conditions on the other.

Keywords:   Robert Freed Bales, RAND Corporation, the situation, Talcott Parsons, Department and Laboratory of Social Relations, Nuclear Pacific

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