Chris (buckeye_bomber) wrote,

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Revenge of the Non-Nerds

I hadn't thought about this in a while, but I was recently reminded of how much the engineering-types out there (cough Craig M. especially cough) looked down on the social science majors of the world. What reminded me of this? It seems NASA was given a report in 1998 by some psychologists who recommended that there be increased psychological assessment of astronauts, in anticipation of lengthy trips into the far reaches of space. According to this article, NASA was not enthused:
"That was one of the major recommendations made," Dr. Patricia Santy, a Michigan psychiatrist and former NASA flight surgeon on the Challenger mission, told TIME. "NASA was not interested and felt that the general flight surgeon would be able to identify problems on the annual physical exam." The agency relies on the doctors and other health professionals to do the annual physical to pick up on any possible psychological problems, NASA spokesman Lynnette Madison said. If they spot a problem, the astronaut would be referred to the Johnson Space Center Behavioral Health and Performance Center.

But Santy, author of the definitive book on this issue, Choosing the Right Stuff: Psychological Selection of Astronauts and Cosmonauts, said astronauts are high achieving individuals who tend to believe they can cope with any problem and see psychological issues as signs of weakness.

I can just imagine the dialogue here. "They want to use what ridiculous non-science on our astronauts? Psh. Doctors aren't much better than psychologists, but at least they take calculus. Give those losers some money and ignore them, and maybe sarcastically discuss their work and/or intelligence."

So the lesson is this: don't mock social scientists, or one of your astronauts will end up committing attempted murder while wearing a diaper.
Tags: astronauts, nasa
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