Boffey, Philip M. "Prominent Harvard Scholar Barred by Science Academy," New York Times,
29 April 1987, pp. 1, D30.
For the second time now, Professor Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard has been rejected for
membership in the National Academy of Science. A Yale mathematician, Serge Lang, led the
opposition and he has been successful in securing one-third of the Academy's members' votes
against Huntington. Lang's opposition is stated in terms of Huntington's claimed "hard-nosed
political science," which, to Lang, is all "pseudomath." Lang was joined in his opposition to
Huntington by those in the Academy who do not feel that the NAS is the place for a soft science
like political science. They were then joined by those who opposed Huntington because of his
conservative political views.
As in the past, Huntington has been a spokesperson for the right wing. During the Viet Nam era
he wrote documents strongly in support of the war. It is clear that he made many enemies.
This article quotes Huntington as saying that he has used mathematics as a "shorthand way" of
summing up a complex argument rather than as a "rigid quantitative tool." I wonder how many
other hard-nosed social scientists would respond to that interpretation of their work? When not
pressed by mathematicians, most quantitativists would argue for the rigorous mathematical basis
of their work.
Most of the social scientists in the Academy are strongly in favor of Huntington's admission.
There are several big names mentioned supporting his nomination. Herbert Simon, for example,
endorsed a letter which suggested that the attack on Huntington was personal and political rather
than based on his science. Yet, I wonder how many social scientists were, in fact, supporting
their continued membership of their own professions in the high prestige Academy rather than
supporting Huntington per se.