In the thread on possible male-female differences, I raised the issue of how
progressive scientists and science activists win friends and influence
people as my main concern. During our earlier discussions of SftP history,
Michael Goldhaber posted this account from Jon B. of the organization's
past. Jon says that the organization was rapidly dwindling in numbers, which
raises the question why. In my personal case, I cut off most of my
scientific activities, including my sub to Science, during the late 70s when
I quit graduate school in disillusionment and went into non-science
journalism (I only became a science writer during the early 90s, although I
did do some environmental writing in Los  Angeles.) But I am wondering
whether SftP old hands have any thoughts about why the organization died off
as it did? Are there any lessons for today?

thanks, MB

Michael- Basically SftP was rapidly dwindlling in numbers  and while we had
an office with two staff people, they were effectively left on their own to
take care of everything including finances.  The last person who was the
finance staff person found that he couldn't pay bills, so he stopped paying
withholding tax from SftP funds for their staff without telling anyone.   By
the time that came into the open in the late 80's, we were faced with (if I
remember correctly) an $80,,000 IRS debt.  A group of us formed to take
charge and see if we could raise the money.  I was made "President" so that
dealing with the IRS would be possible.  We maybe raised $30,000.  The
lawyer who worked with me on this was a big fan of SftP and when I suggested
it might be better to disband, he opposed it.   However, it became clear we
could never raise the money needed to pay the IRS.  I evetntually met with
the IRS person, who was surprised that we were pursuing this and said "If
you just close down, we won't go after you."  We did.
        I think it was mistake to make the effort in the first place.  I had
been in SftP for so long (~20 years) and it had been so important to me that
I couldn't let go.  Yet, there was hardly an organization any more- *no
chapters* and the Boston chapter was practically non-existent.  That was the
real problem.  The steering committee or whatever it was that we had at that
time agreed we would close down.  This happened in 1990 I think.
        By the way, the Study Group that I was in at the time (Sociobiology
Study Group) continued eventually as the Genetic Screening Study Group and
meets to this day.  We;ve done a lot- conferences- school materials and a
2002 book titled "The Double-Edged Helix: Social Implications of Genetics in
a Diverse Society."
        You sent this to me personally.  Should I send it out to the SftP
ListServe or you can copy and paste it out.
                        Best-  Jon


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
[log in to unmask]