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How physicists feel about SDI.

How physicists feel about SDI

A telephone survey of 549 American Physical Society members, selected at random from a list of about 37,000 members, indicates that by a ratio of 54 percent to 29 percent (the rest being unsure or seeing no effect) the nation's physicists view the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) "as a step in the wrong the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) "as a step in the wrong direction for America's national security policy," according to Washington, D.C.-based pollsters Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. Among those who reported the most familiarity with SDI-related issues, the ratio was even higher: 63 percent thought the so-called "Star Wars" program was bad for U.S. policy. The survey was conducted for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a public-policy group based in Cambridge, Mass., that has been critical of the SDI program.

Even among those physicists who receive a majority of their research funding from the Defense Department, most disapproved of SDI (42 percent versus 38 percent). However, this general disapproval of SDI as national security policy did not reflect a general disapproval of research into SDI-related technologies. Some 77 percent of those polled supported continuing basic laboratory research on the technologies, though most strongly opposed actual deployment of SDI systems.

Among other survey findings:

* 63 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that SDI "would be dangerously unreliable--since the system as a whole could never adequately tested."

* While only 3 percent believed an SDI system could be delivered for less than $100 billion (most expected the total to exceed $500 billion), "there was no consensus that it would be worth the cost even at this amount," the pollsters report.

The Union of Concerned Scientists concludes that its survey shows "profound and pervasive skepticism toward SDI in the scientific community."
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Title Annotation:Strategic Defense Initiative
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 12, 1986
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