Amniocentesis: A Pandora's Box

August 01, 1976

Amniocentesis  is a medical marvel. It allows us to gain information about the genetic formation of the fetus and, if mongoloid, allows the parents the option of aborting the fetus. Mongolism is a terrible illness, involving severe retardation and often distortion of one or more vital organs, and the human costs in guilt, conflict, and tension to most families who have mongoloid children are hard to overstate. Moreover, the public cost for the care of mongoloids runs into more than $1.7 billion a year. Is amniocentesis not unlike the Salk vaccine, to be used first to halve, eventually to eradicate mongolism from our society via mass testing and abortion? 

Restoring the Faith

July 25, 1976

Come inauguration day, as far as one can foresee, the next President will not be preoccupied by a war, a core-up or a recession, the three major immediate sources of the nation's self-doubt, loss of direction and crisis of confidence.

Rules for Using Forecasts and Forecasters

June 01, 1976

A nation's ability to control its destiny depends crucially on the way it uses its experts on the future, says a noted sociologist. For one thing it should evaluate them more systematically, perhaps by grading them like bonds (AAA, AA, etc.) on their reliability.

Social Casework

May 01, 1976

Social Casework 57, No. 5 (May 1976), pp. 348-49. (Leonard Goodwin, Can Social Science Help Resolve National Problems?: Welfare, A Case in Point.)


March 02, 1976

Society 13, No. 3 (March/April, 1976), pp. 71-72 (Paul Ramsey, The Ethics of Fetal Research.)

After Nuclear War, What America?

December 10, 1975

Like a ghost returned from a grave, a debate which ran high in the Fifties and early Sixties returns to haun American policymakers, intellectuals and concrened citicens: COuld we ever be the first to strike the enemy with nuclear weapons?

Amitai Etzioni Head Shot

Guaranteeing the Peace: Israeli Concessions

July 19, 1975

American utopianism is being applied to Israel these days with a vengeance. Israel, it is argued, should relinquish the Arab territories it has held for purposes of strategic defense either through piecemeal (but rapid) withdrawals or all at once in a grand gesture of good faith. It should do this because it will eventually have to give up the territories anyhow, because such concessions are the only avenue to peace, and because the sophisticated weaponry now available to the Arabs has invalidated the concept of buffer zones.

A Creative Adaptation to a World of Rising Shortages

July 01, 1975

“A Creative Adaptation to a World of Rising Shortages,”in John Calhoun (ed.) Environment and Population: Problems of Adaptation (New York: Praeger, 1983), pp. 260-264.

Amniocentesis: A Case Study in the Management of Genetic Engineering

May 01, 1975

Insight into how American society is dealing with recent and potentially far-reaching breakthroughs in genetics and bio-medicine and the personal, social, legal and moral issues they raise, can be gained :hrough studying the fate of one significant new intervention: amniocen- tesis, a test of the amniotic fluid for the purpose of gaining gcnetic information about the fetus. While the cloning of human beings,”test-tube“ babies, genetic surgcry and many other often debated genetic tools are for the present-still science fiction, amniocentesis is already, being performed increasingly on pregnant women and used in deciding whcther or not the fetus should be aborted.

On Medical Feedback Systems

March 27, 1975

“On Medical Feedback Systems,” Evaluation, Vol. 2, No. 2 (1975), p. 11. Published also as “Evaluation Studies Required,” New Scientist, Vol. 65, No. 942 (March 27, 1975), p. 763.

The Energy Forecast

January 06, 1975

Daily predictions about "the next oil-embargo" - what the Arabs will do if the next round of Kissinger negotiation fails, what the international price of a barrel of oil will be in 1983 or our energy needs over the next 10 years-pay little heed to our demonstrated inability to predict such developments in the past.

Public Policy Issues Raised by a Medical Breakthrough

January 01, 1975

Amniocentesis, which detects mongolism and other serious abnormal- ities in a fetus in utero, will prevent the birth of thousandsof afflicted children yearly once current research on its safety justifies its wide use. But this genetic intervention raisescrucial questionsof public policy.

An Engineer-Social Science Team at Work

January 01, 1975

We commonly recognize the complexity of our numerous societal problems by suggesting that their solution requires interdisciplinary teams in which are combined the experience and knowledge of many experts in many fields to face all the main elements of a problem. And we often lament, as James Carrol quoted by Harold Orlans, that the "present compartmentalization of knowledge . . . in the form of academic disciplines is not coincident with social need. However useful this compartmentalization may be for the inner development of knowledge, it is only marginally useful for the resolution of social questions."

Risks of Pregnancy and the Pill

November 14, 1974

One major reason why most doctors who have prescribed birth control pills continue to do so, despite increasing evidence of undesireable side-effects, is that they hold the Pill to be safer than its alternatives.

Human Nature and the Transforming Society

September 01, 1974

The essence of the question of what kind of society we may form-once we are freed from our past repressions and the hangover of our liberation feast-is what kind of material do we have to work with?