Insight – Frank Reynolds interviews Dr. Linus Pauling – April 16, 1960 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
In 1960 we were knee-deep in the Cold War, and threats of nuclear catastrophe were a constant on most people’s minds. Dr. Linus Pauling was one of the most respected and honored Scientists, and considered one of the 20 most important Scientific Minds of all time. Shortly after the end of World War 2 and America’s use of the Atomic Bomb, prompted Pauling to become an outspoken critic and opposed the development and use of nuclear weapons.
He saw this East-West race and saber rattling as a certain sign we were headed down a path of total destruction. However, being an outspoken critic during a time of intense scrutiny and suspicion of Communist influence in America, even in Scientific circles, prompted Capitol Hill hearings and investigations and Dr. Linus Pauling was not immune to grilling and accusations.
Many of Pauling’s critics, including scientists who appreciated the contributions that he had made in chemistry, disagreed with his political positions and saw him as a naïve spokesman for Soviet communism. In 1960, he was ordered to appear before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which termed him “the number one scientific name in virtually every major activity of the Communist peace offensive in this country”. A headline in Life magazine characterized his 1962 Nobel Prize as “A Weird Insult from Norway”.
This 1960 interview with ABC News’ Frank Reynolds brings to light many of Pauling’s concerns over where the world was heading, but it also brings to light much of the media’s frustration and its willingness to label Pauling as something of a doomsayer and an oddball. It didn’t help that Pauling was a frequent target of the National Review magazine. In an article entitled “The Collaborators” in the magazine’s July 17, 1962 issue, Pauling was referred to not only as a collaborator, but as a “fellow traveler” of proponents of Soviet-style communism.
But for all the media miscalculations and false accusations, Dr. Linus Pauling spoke innumerable truths – we were heading on a path of nuclear annihilation and it had to end somewhere. In the late 1950’s a longitudinal study to measure radioactive strontium-90 in the baby teeth of children across North America was launched by the St. Louis Citizen’s Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI). Public pressure and the frightening results of the CNI research subsequently led to a moratorium on above-ground nuclear weapons testing, followed by the Partial Test Ban Treaty, signed in 1963 by John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. On the day that the treaty went into force, October 10, 1963, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded Pauling the Nobel Peace Prize for 1962.
Here is that interview with Frank Reynolds (who tries to get a few words in edge-wise) for the program Insight from April 17, 1960.
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