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Science News Yearbook 1969/1970

California Institute of Technology
Publication Date
  • Book Reviews
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Geography
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine


Books CURE FOR CHAOS By Simon Ramo David McKay Company, Inc. . . . $3.95 Reviewed by Roger G. Noll, associate professor o f economics. T h r e e times during the 1960's an American President established (and Congress later ratified) a major national goal. In 1961 President Kennedy pro- posed that the United States land a man on the moon during this decade. In 1964 President Johnson declared a War on Poverty that would eliminate poverty by the nation's 200th anniversary. And two years ago President Johnson pro- claimed the national goal of building 26 million housing units in ten years, thereby eliminating all substandard dwellings. America's performance in reaching its national goals is not spectacular. While in this, the year of Apollo, we have achieved a most demanding techno- logical objective, nevertheless no one seriously believes that the two social goals will be reached, or even closely approached. What must we do to make the progress toward solving the nation's social problems match our techno- logical progress? Simon Ramo's answer to this vexing question is rather simple: We can find "Fresh Solutions to Social Problems through the Systems Approach" (the subtitle of Ramo's short book). According to Ramo, complex technical problems and social problems are suf- ficiently similar that analytical techniques useful in solving the former can be successfully applied to the latter. Ramo's book, a discourse on the methodology of social problem solving, advocates the application of systems analysis in such diverse areas as public education, medical care services, transportation, economic policy, and environmental quality. By systems analysis Ramo means at least two things. On one level systems analysis suggests an orderly, objective Simon Ramo, vice chairman of the board of TRW Inc., is a Caltech a111mnus (PhD '36) and has been on the Institute's board of trusstees since 1964. formulation of a problem, considering all releva

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