Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens Alternative view of segmented documents via Kairos


Mapping Possibilities in Response to Information Needs
of Science Policy-making for Development

outline proposal for a data collection project on "world problems"

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Report prepared for the Science Adviser to the Commonwealth Secretary General. In partial fulfillment of a consultancy assignment under Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC/APL/13.3, CFTC/CSC/8, 19 May 1978). Presented to the 6th Conference of the World Future Studies Federation (Cairo, 1978) with the kind permission of Christiande Laet, Secretary, Commonwealth Science Council


The purpose of this document is to report briefly on a preliminary investigation into the problems of mapping satisfactorily for policy purposes the domains of science and technology as applied to development (1). The matter in question is clearly of ever increasing concern within the international community as a whole, as indicated by a number of initiatives, many of them now being timed to focus discussion in anticipation of the United Nations Conference on the Application of Science and Technology to Development in 1979.

Nature of the problem

The problem of information in the field of science and technology as applied to development processes is reviewed in Annex 1 under the following headings :

A. Quantitative aspects B. Logical aspects ; classication C. Operational aspects ; organizations and information systems D. Comprehensibility E. Behavioural aspects F. "Mythical" aspects G. Ignorance and lack of systematically ordered information on :

The first three of the above points are those most frequently discussed when examining the question, since they also tend to be those most susceptible to solution by modifying institutions or their policies and through appropriate use of information science and technology. The last four are those which are much less frequantly discussed, partly because they include factors which undermine or oppose conventional solutions to the information problem.

This review shows that there are many severe obstacles, themselves intimately interrelated, which prevent a significant improvement in the accessibility of such informationfor policy-related purposes. It is not the purpose of this report to comment on conventional efforts to improve the situation or their relationship to the UNESCO/ICSU World Science Information System (UNISIST), SPINES, or the various development information systems. Whilst these may or may not achieve their respective objectives, in the light of the points in Annex 1,it would appear to be useful to investigate completely new approaches which may result in information tools which respond to the problem at a more fundamental level.

Information selection and presentation

The heart of the problem seems to lie in the general attitude to information selection and presentation. This is reviewed in Annex 2 where it is argued that much of the problem results from the reliance on word-oriented information systems. However in reviewing the alternatives, including computer manipulation of diagrams it is shown that existing approaches fail to respond to the basic difficulty of how to improve the relevance of the questions asked to the problem complex faced by the policy-making process. How is the policy-maker, and those with whom he must communicate, to acquire a better "grasp" of the problem complex and the opportunities for improved application of science and technology to development?

Some criteria for a desirable solution

The kind of information assistance required could usefully have the following characteristics ( 2) :

Happing: possibilities offered for a solution

The procedure known as "mapping" suggests a number of possibilities for incorporating the features identified above.

"Mapping" for policy purposes has been used very loosely, even to include a compilation of national science policy surveys in which the "integration" accomplished is limited to the physical assembly of the statements within the same document (3 ). This usage will not be considered here since it is precisely this type of approach which is of such limited value in the light of the points in Annex 1 and 2.

Before outlining the approach suggested here, it is noteworthy that the senior editor of one of the largest scientific publishing houses advocates the use of a spherical representation of the body of knowledge in discussing information transfer implications (see Annex 3).

The question is therefore whether a mapping technique can be used in conjunction with this spherical representation as a basis for incorporating the desirable features identified. The model identified in Annex 3 does not attempt to do this although a number of pointers are included explicitly or implicitly. It does not consider the implications of the large amount of quantitative detail which need to be represented, or how they are to be represented.

Approaching the question from another angle, there is much to be learnt from cartography and the history of geographical map production. The first two-dimensional maps were extremely sketchy and are not too different from the primitive sketches that are produced in graphic models (see Annex 2 ). Of great interest are the "terminological graphic displays" and sub-displays produced as a user guide to the UNESCO SPINES Thesaurus ("a controlled and structured vocabulary of science and technology for policy-making, management and development") of which the overall display is reproduced as Annex 4. These lack many of the features indicated above (as well as being subject to other weaknesses identified in Annex 1 and 2 ) as does the courageous series of concept diagrams included as an anonymous addendum to the integrating volume of the new French-language Encyclopaedia Universalis.

What all these efforts lack is what might be termed a "topographical richness" onto which the massive amount of detail to be incorporated may be "hung" - including logical continuities and distinctions, as well as behavioural indications arising from territoriality. But this topographical richness must be so represented as to facilitate comprehension at whatever level of detail is appropriate, and the mnemonic features must be preserved.

The radical approach advocated here is therefore to investigate the possibility of abandoning the schematic graphics (such as in SPINES) in favour of mapping the conceptual territory on a spherical surface with conventional topographical features. On the basis of a preliminary investigation, it seems to be possible to incorporate most of the features indicated above.

A further question is whether this approach can satisfactorily reflect the four aspects of the application of science and technology to development. Again, preliminary investigation indicates that this is possible by using four separate spherical representations. Each would contain cross-referencing co-ordinates to the others where relevant. In other words the relationship between a particular scientific discipline, a particular technology and a particular development process would be either explicit or implicit from the context. Clearly conventional projections onto plane surfaces could be used as well as transparent overlays, if required. But the relationship to the overall representation would be preserved.


A number of different approaches to selecting and presenting information can be interpreted as indicating a convergence on a solution which could offer many more satisfactory features to assist policy-makers in their comprehension of the domains of science and technology in relation to development processes.

The approach advocated requires further exploration to determine in detail exactly how the different features could be incorporated and the limits imposed by this approach.

Annex 1: Review of the information problem

A. Quantitative aspects

It is understandable that there is a very large amount of "scientific and technological" information which may be considered relevant to "development". Even if it is only (say) 1 % of the literature, this would amount to (4) :

But there is also avery large quantity of information about the application of science and technology to development and much new material is being generated inanticipation of UNCSTED 1979(4a The question is whether such information can be mastered and by whom, even if those who should have access to it have no problems in obtaining or assimilating it, which is seldom the case ( 5 ).

The usual practice is to ignore the mountain of documents already in existence and to prepare a quick "study of the key issues" based on some of the "key documents" available. Such an approach is then justified by policy-making deadlines and similar pragmatic constraints. It is adequate if it is assumed that the few documents selected from society's prolific production cover the relevant issues. This assumption is however only valid if the majority of the studies is assumed to be of inferior quality,of limited relevance or a duplication of those selected (6). There is no procedure whereby this can be proven in a particular case since relevance is defined more in terms of what the agency is constrained to do than of what-needs to be done according to any wider perspective.

B. Logical aspects: classification

Multiplicity of classification schemes: The device developed to ensure access to "relevant" information in any particular case is the (document) classification system and the associated thesaurus. There are many such systems, often based on the practice in international agency libraries or departments. As such they reflect a variety of perspectives. Effective integration, even at the conceptual level, has not proved possible (7 ).

Failure to indicate functional relevance: These remarks would be unnecessary if it was possible to use each such system to identify "relevant" documents. This is not the case (unless the user knows the document in advance), for the ambition of the classification system is generally limited to identifying the standard subject categories to which the document relates, usually on the basis of its title. Now policy matters and development problems are not experienced as subjects nested neatly in logical hierarchies, but rather as action domains embedded in a network of interrelated issues where the relationships recognized depend in part upon the objectives and sensitivity of those concerned. The logical relationships between issues classified as subjects do not therefore reflect the functional relationships between interacting issues (e.g. problem A aggravates problem 8).

Classification systems threfore assist in locating documents on an issue but not on issues "relevant" to it.

Unspecified omission and partial inclusions: Classification systems fail in another respect. For example, with a scheme purporting to cover "science", the user is seldom explicitly informed what categories have been omitted as not pertaining to science according to those who conceived the scheme ( 8). On the other hand, a scheme purporting to cover "development" may also incorporate large portions of "environment", and viceversa each defining the other as a subset but failing, necessarily, to specify what is omitted as irrelevant ( 9).

A factor contributing to this problem is the widespread disagreement as to what "sciences" should be considered as "science", with the social sciences frequently omitted in the anglo-american, tradition as pseudo-sciences. This conflict is embarrassingly explicit in Unesco activities (10).

Macro-level definition: This links on to a further difficulty, namely the considerable intellectual effort devoted to the definition of "science" and its characteristics by philopher of science of various persuasions (11). This is usually undertaken without taking into account the views of those sensitive to non- western cultural spectives on science (12). A corresponding effort is being devoted to defining (or, more recently, to "redefining") "development" (13). Unfortunately these exercises focu on the "macro-concept" and fail to identify or to distinguish the "sciences" which constitute science (14) or the "development processes" which constitute the development process (15). The result is a large number of excellent studies, grouped within various schools of thought, but of very limited relevance to policy formulation concerning the application of science and technology to development. The studies reveal scholarly disagreement at their macro-level of focus (There are pre-logical or temperamental biases which contribute to this disagreement. There are referred to under point E.) and fail to decompose the concepts to a level which is of practical significance (16). Exercises in the redefinition of macro-concepts such as the "development process" within the politicized intergovernmental context, may mark a change in orientation but the nature of any relationship to the many unspecified development processes remains subject to confusion and discord.

Interdisciplinarity: Although "science" remains a focus of constant attention and a convenient label for a blurred domain, and although,in contrast, individual disciplines are relatively well- defined, the interdisciplinary relations even amongst the sciences remain a no-man's-land and a question of embarrassment or disdain within any discipline (17).This disdain is particularly tragic when extended through the "pecking order" of disciplines to the "applied sciences" and "technology". Yet the need for genuinely in terdisciplinary applications of science to development is well- recognized and the weekness of superficial or token initiatives is acknowledged (18). But relevance of disciplines to a problem situation can only be settled non-scientifically now by weighted voting techniques in expert panels - if the politics of the situation resulted in their effective representation on the panel,

C, Operational aspects: organizations and information systems

Multiplicity of organizations: The application of science and technology to development involves national and international organizations. The intergovernmental number over 300 already, and the nongovernmental number over 5,000 (19) ; the national remain unnumbered and unestimated within any country, in striking contrast to their populations (20). Clearly only a percentage of these will be considered of relevance to the development process by those producing the directories in connection with UNSTED 1979, but the criteria by which relevance is determined will in all probability exclude many bodies which will continue, to contribute if only in their own eyes, to that process. The problem remains of providing some overview of which aspects of science and technology which organizations (or divisions of organizations) help to make relevant to which aspects of the development process - currently, potentially, and whether or not their initiatives are perceived as counter-productive by evaluating bodies, and irrespective of whether or not their activities are coordinated through some umbrella body or programme.

Information systems: Here again there are many unrelated systems of differing degrees of relevance to development processes. The additional problem which emerges more clearly than in the case of organizations is the lack of integration between the operational "modes" which, the information systems are designed to serve. It is typical to find little, if any, system-level integration between information systems (even within the same agency) for: research, policy formulation, programme management, public information, education/briefing, and documentation - even when all of them are concerned with facilitating the same development processes. The reason is that the responsible organizational units in each case perceive the processes differently and have: no reference framework within which to interrelate them. The information systems are not designed to facilitate comprehension of their own content (by those not oriented to their format and especially non-westerners) or of the content of systems with which they should be integrated.

D. Comprehensibility

Comprehension overload: "Consider this dilemma: while our technological abilities to generate and disseminate potentially useful data have increased manyfold in the past few years, man's physical capacity to register and to process potentially informative data has probably increased very little, if indeed at all" ( 21). In policy circles, a widely favoured response to this constraint is to use inefficiencies (or even abuses) in procedures, and the consequent "lack of time", to filter out the majority of communications - and to require that the remaining issues be stated very briefly (22). The argument being that if the matter is important enough it can be stated briefly (however complex the chain of reasoning required to substantiate it) - and if it is too complex for this, it can be safely ignored because few people will have the attention span to be able to understand in order to protest (23). It is unclear how many problems (such as "environment" and "resources") may have been "recognized" too late for other than crisis action, because of this approach.

Issue reductionism: A more rational approach to the dilemma is to require that potential policy problems be identified and "evaluated" so that the 6 (say) "key" or core problems selected can be reviewed for action in the policy formulation process (24). The seventh and remaining problems must await until they themsel- ves reach crisis proportions (or acquire a political champion) before they are recognized (25). The only clue to the reason why 6 to 10 key issues are always selected seems to lie in evidence that this is "the maximum number of different possibilities among which the human mind can meaningfully discriminate" (26). It is also, roughly, the maximum number of divisions of any agency ad- ministration which would have to deal with a set of problems (27). Beyond the 6-10 limit lies confusion, according to current me- thods - irrespective of the number of probelemes "out there".

Communication mode preferences : Another severe problem is the limited value of the written word for communication. Many will not read until they have heard, although others refuse to "waste time" listening unless they have found the basic points worthwhile through reading. Others demand a quantified argument, possibly expressed through equations, graphs or matrices. Others are "innumerate", and demand visual images, diagrams, and films before they can comprehend an argument (28). To complete the circle, the latter are viewed with disdain by those who favour the discipline of the written word not recognizing that they themselves are "visually illiterate" (29). Policy makers and those with whom the must communicate may belong to any of these categories, although the prevalence of a particular category may be culturally deter- mined.

E. Behavioural aspects

Interorganizational antipathy : The behaviour of agencies, orga- nizations and professional associations is not simply governed by programme directives, statutes and principles. The well-known antipathies amongst the UN Agencies and their competition for resources, are a matter of common knowledge as is the case amongst their creators, namely the equivalent national agencies (30). Such behavioural phenomena, often reinforced by political consideration (e.g. vis-a-vis the World Bank or "non-universal" bodies such as the OECD, the Council of Europe or the Commonwealth), are seldom acknowledged in writing (31). They are however evident in the absence of reciprocal arrangements and, more important, in omissions from documentation by each concerning other bodies relevant to the application of science and technology to development. The data provided deliberately concals the behavioural phenomena, whether advantageous or disadvantageous to development and field-level coordination. In this sense, "positive, cooperative" public information and protocol statements may be counter-productive by concealing a situation which those less well-informed need to take into account if their initiatives are to succeed.

Interorganizational rivalry: Another aspect of this problem is evident in the information systems, classification schemes and thesauri produced by such international bodies - or even within their own divisions. With respect to the application of science and technology to development, each has its own (resources permitting) and will argue in all seriousness that they are the most relevant to its particular programme objectives (32). Needless to say the lack of relationship between them does not facilitate the development process with which they are,in principle,ultimately concerned (33).

Interorganizational territoriality: Related to this question is the marked tendency for issues to constitute the arena for inter- institutional territorial dynamics. With the division of intellectual and operational space into smaller and smaller compartments and the multiplication of institutions and professions which assume the management of each such territory, results the formation of a feudal system which governs the majority of science- related enterprises. Under the pretext of division of labour, each intends to be master of its own domain and to defend its position against, enemies from without and emerging institutional and professional rivals from within (34). Because the arena is ill-defined and unmapped it is difficult to comprehend such dynamics.

When a new issue emerges, suddenly providing an expanse of unoccupied institutional territory, each body makes every effort to demonstrate its right to a portion of that territory, either by "reinterpreting" its past initiatives to show relevance or by redefining existing initiatives under appropriate labels. The succession of special UN Conferences (environment, water, population, habitat, etc.) may be seen as catalyzing such responses, whether they are made in a spirit of cynical opportunism or per : ceived as a fresh opportunity through which it may at last be passible to define "the good, the true and the beautiful". And in this sense all the past unresolved issues get redefined under new labels in the hope that they may be resolved within the new framework. UNCSTED 1979 is one such opportunity and the same dynamics will be repeatedunless such dynamics are more adequately portrayed for comprehension.

Pre-logical biases : Finally, it is appropriate to note the existence of pre-logical or temperamental biases which determine individual (and, by extension, institutional) preferences for the nature and organization of information of information presented namely the kinds of explanation that are felt to be satisfactory. As such they characterize not merely the physical theory that a society develops but also much of the legal, political, and social behaviour of that society. There is evidence that such pre- logical biases may prevent logical consensus, such as on the nature of "science" or "development" (35).

F. "Mythical" aspects

Information on the application of sciences and technology to development is also distorted by a number of myths whose nature may be well described but rarely,if even, in the same context.

There is the myth that science based on western values is neutral and universal (36) - and that indigenous practices and folk wisdom are dangerous or charming nonsense. There is the myth that there is a scientific or technological solution to every "real" problem - other problems being subjective. There is the myth equating development with economic growth and industrialization, which conceals the problems of development and the limits to growth. There is the myth that cultural development is a direct consequence of the application of science and technology to development, since it is assumed that the acquisition of science enhances a culture rather than eroding its values (37).

There is the myth of the problem as existing "objectively" and susceptible to "properly organized" remedial action. There is the myth that it is only the lack of "political will" and the importance attached to non-scientific and non-rational arguments that prevents problems from being solved.

As mentioned earlier, there is the myth which limits attention to the 10 key sciences, and 10 key technologies as relevant to the 10 key development problems, as though each was nicely ordered in administrable units, theough it is widely recognized that it is their interrelatedness which is fundamental to any action strategy. This links to the myth which conceals the fact that existing institutions, and their associated bodies of knowledge, are (despite of Ashby's Law) adequately structured to respond to complex problem networks (38). Underlying this is the myth that the fundamental problems are always "out there" and never in the attitudes, procedures and structures with which they are perceived and engaged. And there is the myth that if a responsible body is created to focus on a problem, then action will be seen to have been taken and because it will then cease to be perceived : as a key issue for policy purposes, it may be assumed to be under control.

As in any primitive culture, such myths are necessary to create a semblance of order in the face of a reality to which no better response has yet been developed. New approaches are required and both science and technology should be used to assist in their development.

G. Ignorance and lack of systematically ordered informatic

The kinds of information available relevant to the application of science and technology to development reveal a number of important gaps :

Scientific disciplines: There is no framework within which is collected together the succinct descriptions of the special insights, sensitivity or integrative characteristics of each scientific discipline :

Technologies : There is no framework within which is collected together, and systematically ordered :

Without systematically ordered information such as this, rational policy formulation is distorted by ignorance and lack of readily accessible overviews.

Development processes: There is no framework within which is distinguished and systematically ordered :

Application processes : There is no framework within which is collected together and systematically ordered the succinct description of the different organizational or other instruments whereby science and technology may be applied to development processes, with an indication of their unique advantages and disadvantages in different developing country situations.

Annex 2. Information selection and presentation

In the field of information processing, documentation and classification there is an almost universal bias towards text and terms, since publications have titles and normally contain text. This is a very persuasive argument in favour of word oriented computers and classification schemes. It is associated with the generation of a plethora of costly bibliographical tools, abstracts, directories and encyclopaedias (39).

But even if all items in the total body of literature were identifiable and available at low cost (which is the aim of those who favour this approach), there still remains the problem of how to improve the relevance of the questions asked to the problem complex faced by the policy-making process. Retrieval is not the problem, it merely aggravates this more fundamental problem. Retrieval systems focus queries in the light of the user's existing knowledge and biases. They do not orient the policy-oriented user to knowledge and issues with which he should also be concerned in relation to his current preoccupations (in the light of qualified or alternative opinions). They do not bring to his attention where his preoccupation may fit in relation to other preoccupations. He is given no sense of scale, proportion or orientation - he merely gets what he asked for however much difficulty he has in formulating his question in appropriate words.

Explanatory power of diagrams: It is ironical that within any book or article, whenever the point to be made is too complex to be expressed in words, the author resorts to a diagram of some kind. This ensures that various elements, are brought into appropriate relationship within a whole of which the reader has an overview, from that overview the reader can then select (a) how he wishes to explore the elements interrelated therein, and (b) those he considers significant as meriting further examination. Yet existing information systems are completely incapable of producing or manipulating diagrams as an aid to policy-making.

Computer - generated diagrams: The exceptions to this statement are interesting as indications of the kinds of technology not available to policy-making in relation to the development process :

In each such case there are complex problems of choice and decision analogous to those in a policy-making situation. The examples are given to show that a technology is in use to manipulate such information. Unfortunately, however, that technology cannot yet be used satisfactorily in relation to development processes because the information is in the wrong form. The information available to policy-makers is contained in a multitude of lengthy reports supported by tables and diagrams. These can of course be put straight onto sophisticated computer systems in toto. But the basic problem still remains how to ask the question relevant to the policy process - it is not a retrieval problem. Information systems give no assistance inthisrespect.

Media - oriented techniques: To go to another extreme, those concerned with facilitating understanding of complex issues by the public (and this may well include decision-makers) use media-oriented techniques. Great emphasis was placed on films at the UN Human Settlements Conference. Books attempting to describe social change make much use of mcluhanesque illustrations (40 ). But despite the gain in visual interest and emotional appeal, the value of such superficial displays for policy-making itself must be questioned. Aesthetic constraints too frequently conceal important issues.

Mathematical models : Another extreme is provided by the computer- based mathematical model interrelating hundreds or thousands of equations. These may be satisfactory where no policy problems have been avoided in constructing the model and there is consensus that it reflects the social reality it purports to model. This is rarely the case. Furthermore such models tend to be incomprehensible to all but their creators and critics. Again they do not help the policy maker to determine which questions to ask, but only answer those he chooses to ask (many "answers" having been built into the design of the model anyway).

Graphic models: An intermediate approach involves the use of graphic, two-dimensional, non-mathematical models. Such models are a symbolic representation of the various aspects of a complex event or situation, and their interrelationships (41). They are analogies which policy-makers may use to clarify their thinking about a relatively complex situation. They range from organization charts through to system flow charts, including the many kinds of schematic diagram that are prepared on flip-charts or slides for presentation purposes. They are widely and successfully used. Their main disadvantage is that only a limited number of elements and relationships can be incorporated in the model if their comprehensibility is not to be lost - the extreme case being the complex system or circuit diagram only comprehensible to the expert. None of these approaches is immediately relevant to improving the information problem in relation to the development processes. Each of them indicate: constraints and some offer clues to a new approach.

Annex 3 . Model of the growth of science

Extracted from: Arie A Hanten. A suggested growth model of science and implications for information transfer. Journal of Research Communication. Studies, 1, 1978, pp. 83-98.

It has been suggested that science is a body of knowledge which grows on its epidermis (Price, 1969). This means that science mould grow along the research fronts, based on knowledge acquired by earlier research. In this respect there is a difference with the humanities, which also gram from within. However, it may be that the latter will change to some extent. I just refer to the social sciences which in recent decades have taken a strong intermediate position between natural science (and technology) and the humanities and which by applying more advanced methods also demonstrate increasing epidermal growth. But since I am a natural scientist, I prefer not to go too deeply into this and rather stick to my own domain.

An analogy: A very rough analogy that could be used is that of the growth of science to the growth of a crystal placed in a saturated solution: as the crystal increases in size, the new material is deposited on the surface, so that the rate of increase of the total weight of the crystal per unit time is proportional to the amount of surface area (Moravcsik, 1975). This analogy has in recent years been used in a number of analyses of science and appears to be useful in understanding interrelationships between major lines in the development of science.

The analogy is based on the assumption that new material is deposited on the surface of the body of knowledge at a constant rate per unit area. This rate of deposition may change, for instance, when the trend in the amounts of manpower or resources made available to be employed for scientific research alters. However, a small "speed-up" or "slow-down" factor would not greatly affect the quantitative conclusion: one keeps a growth curve which is very close to an exponential law. It requires a drastic "speed-up" or "slow-down" factor to change the quantitative conclusion. Up to the middle of the twentieth century, however, drastic alterations is controlling factors have not occurred, and hence the historical quasi-exponential behaviour of the growth of science emerges as a necessary consequence of the behaviour of a multidimensional system with a uniform surface deposition of new material (Moravcsik, 1975, p.83).

Spherical model of scientific knowledge: This analogy induced me to experiment with a growth model of scientific knowledge, in which the latter is represented by a roughly spherical body, expanding at its outside. A regular crystal of great size approximates this shape. The velocity of growth is determined by controlling factors as mentioned above.

Adoption of the model of a more or less spherically expanding body of scientific knowledge passes aver the rather subtle and complicated question of differentiating between scientific activity and scientific progress (Moravcsik, 1973, p.268), although it is in many ways relevant to the problem area. Strictly speaking, the exponential law has been established for the time variation of scientific activity, notably expressed in the volume of published work, while the epidermal growth model appears to pertain to the rate of scientific progress.

An important question is whether it is acceptable rationally to think of the body of scientific knowledge as a sphere. Should it not rather be described as a kind of thorn-apple or perhaps something looking like a raspberry, with growth in 'thorn points' or in up- doming areas being ahead of the overall advance of the in-between areas on the epidermis, or as some other three-dimensional body with a more irregular shape than that of a sphere ?

A non-spherical shape of the body of knowledge might occur if developments in some major scientific disciplines were systematically subordinated to those in other disciplines, for instance because some would only be of academic interest where-as others would provide many practical applications. However, this is not really the case. On an overal view, the physical, chemical, space, earth and life sciences are all characterised by an intricate intermingling of pure and applied research.

On the other hand, when looking at science in much closer detail, it is clear that more research effort is put into the examination of some subjects than in studying others. Similarly at the next higher level, more time and money is invested in certain subject fields than into others. However, this does not automatically imply that themes which receive less attention do proportionally lag behind (Fig.3). Neither does it mean that whole subject fields that are less blessed with funds and manpower do remain behind as indentations in the epidermis of the research front. In addition to advances made in the subject field itself, there are usually also emanation effects from surrounding areas which benefit the development of methodology and theory inthe poorer fields. For instance, much more research is currently done in palaeozoology than in palaeo- botany. Nevertheless it is not my" impression that in its essentials the latter field lags noticeably behind. The situation in palaeo- botany should rather be described as having a less dense tissue of knowledge in its epidermal zone underneath the outer research front. Furthermore, in the course of time growing points and growing areas may shift their positions. It is to this small scale of science growth in particular that Kuhn's theory about the existence of cycles of science development applies: lengthy periods of normal science, during which science progresses guietly, and relatively short outbreaks of scientific revolutions, during which methodological notions and fundamental knowledge change radically (Kuhn, 1970).

At a scale in between those of the shape of the total body of knowledge and the specialised scientific subject field, the development of heads on the research front is counteracted by the regular emergence of unifying concepts and the budding of interdisciplinary fields of research.

Examples of unifying theories which have greatly influenced research in a particular discipline include the concept of organic evolution, the theory of relativity, cybernetics. A more recent example of a unifying concept of wide relevance in an entire major discipline, that of the earth sciences, is plate tectonics. The latter is a hypothesis which provides a kinematic model of the outer part of the earth and links together a number of earlier concepts, such as the idea of a rheological stratification of the upper mantle and crust of the earth, the idea of continental drift and the idea of sea-floor spreading (cf. Le Pichon et al., 1973). Such wide concepts affect the position of the research front in the discipline concerned, in that they put a new and coherent plane skin over the projecting heads and also stimulate the filling-in of holes enclosed underneath this new skin, in between these heads, and the reexamination of large amounts of data already obtained.

It is to this large size of scale that Popper's paradox applies that the progress of knowledge can be described as a process of revolutionary change and not mere accumulation (Popper, 1962, 1963). I will return to this in a later section of this paper, when talking about developments within the body of knowledge.

Interdisciplinary fields of science fill up areas between advancing areas of research and integrate knowledge and experience from these different areas. Examples of interdisciplinary scientific fields are abundant: geophysics, biochemistry, geochemistry, physical chemistry, engineering geology, medical physics, etc. Also the recently blossoming environmental sciences should be mentioned in this connection. In particular their ecosystem approach is a clear case in that it integrates knowledge from botany, zoology, soil sciences, hydrology, chemistry, atmospheric science.

In conclusion, there is indeed a basis for stating that the total body of scientific knowledge can be described by the model of a growing sphere.

The SPINES Thesaurus Global Graph of Graphic Displays
Reproduced from: SPINES Thesaurus; a controlled and structured vocabulary of science and technology for policy-making, management and development. Paris, Unesco, 1976, 3 vols.
SPINES Thesaurus Global Graph of Graphic Displays


1. Union of International Associations. Yearbook of World Problems and Human Potential. Brussels, Union of International Associations and Mankind 2000, 1976, 1136 pages (The author has been concerned with various aspects of this problem as director of a project which produced the (which discusses a number of points with extensive bibliographies)

2. The author has explored the background to these criteria in the publication cited in (1), and also:

3. In the Final Report of the Unesco Consultation on Science and Technology Policies in the Caribbean Region, Georgetown, 1977 (UNESCO/NS/ROU/408, para 82), the: "Unesco representative stated that he had taken note of the CSC Secretariat's interest in entering this field. He mentioned that within the context of preparations for the Conference of Ministers of African Member States responsible for the Application of Science and Technology to Development (CASTAFRICA), convened by Unesco in Dakar on 21-30 January 1974, a vast operation of this sort had been carried out by Unesco, according to a methodology which had been provided well ahead of time to all CASTAFRICA national liaison officers. The "mapping" -- a term which he judged might be understood -- had in that instance been the putting together and confrontation of national replies from national science and technology policy bodies, as to areas of convergence and mutual wishes of cooperation." The results of this exercise are published by Unesco as: Science and Technology in African Development (Paris, Unesco, 1974). The methodology used identifies from survey replies specific fields in which different groups of countries wish to collaborate. The information is presented in the form of lists.

4. Georges Anderla. Information in 1965; a forecasting study of information needs and resources. Paris OECD, 1973.

5. Robert Jackson. Capacity Study of the United Nations Development System. United Nations, 1969 (prefaced with the phrase: "Few Ministers will have time to read this Report...", p. VIII).

6. This would imply a considerable waste of resources in the production of studies in this domain.

7. These problems have been reviewed by the author in:

Anthony Judge. International Organizations and the Generation of the Will to Change; information systems required. Brussels, Union of International Associations, 1970 [text]

Anthony Judge. Acquisition and organization of international documentation. (Introductory report to an International symposium on documentation of the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations. Geneva, UNITAR, 1972) [text]

8. See previous paragraph (note 7). In the proposed International Standard Nomenclature of Fields of Science and Technology [UNESCO/NS/RDU/257 rev 1). reproduced in Unesco's Method for priority determination in science and technology [Paris, Unesco, 19763 and in the CASTAFRICA study [see note 3), no indication is given of what fields have been omitted, whether the list is complete, or what relationship it bears to the Unesco thesauri (see note 7).

9. Consider the relationship between the OECD Macrothesaurus and the categories of the UNEP Information Referral System.

10. With respect to the World Science Information System "the position of the ICSU/Unesco Central Committee was that UNISIST should devote its primary effort to the basic sciences...and at the same time be sympathetic to a progressive inclusion of the applied and engineering sciences - and eventually the social sciences - on an equal footing with the former" [UNISIST Report, pp. 135-6). But the Unesco Statistical Yearbook (1976) includes as "fields of science" the "social sciences" and "humanities" [p. 6093). The SPINES Thesaurus does not mention the social sciences.

11. " is many-sided, and eech tends to regard it from the standpoint of his own particular experience and interests." Scientific Thought, Paris, Unesco, 1972, p. V.

12. See: La Science et la Divarslte des C ultures. Paris, Unesco, 1974.

13. The Development of development Thinking. Paris, OECD, 1377 (Liaison Bulletin, No. 1).

The Unesco Interconcept Advisory Committee is using "development" in a pilot project to investigate the multiplicity of definitions in the social sciences.

Johannes A. Heising. Entwicklung: was ist das? Analysen und Prognosen, 55, Januar 1978, Dp. 27-30

Szymon Chodek. Societal Development; five approaches with conclusion from comparative analysis. Oxford University Press, 1973.

14. In preparing the section on 1600 "Intellectual Disciplines and Sciences" of the Yearbook of World Problems and Human Potential(Brussels. 1976), the author noted the absence of previous efforts to identify the complete range of sciences ss distinct from fields of study.

15. Many books or, development fall to identify "development processes". The following identifies 10 "basic processes". H. Chencery and 1. Syrquin. Patterns of Development 1953-1970, Oxford University Press (for the World Bank), 1975.

16. This is a basic concern of the Committee for Conceptual and Terminological Analysis.

17. Georges Gusdorf. Past, present and future of interdisciplinary research. International Social Science Journal, 29, 4, 1977, pp. 560-600.

18. See note 17.

18a. "No scientist will admit that voting plays a role in his subject....Scientists, especially physicians, frequently come to different results so that it is up to the relatives of the sick person (or the inhabitants of a certain area) to decide by vote about the procedure to be adopted." Paul Feyerabend. Against Method: outline of an anarchist theory of knowledge. London, Verso. 1977, pp. 302-307.

19. Union of International Associations. Yearbook of International Organizations. Brussels, Union of International Associations, 1978, 17th edition.

20. David Norton Smith has estimated there are some 5 million voluntary bodies in the USA.

21. Lee Thayer. Communication andCommunication Systems in Organization, Management, and Interpersonal Relations. Irwin, 1968, p. 202.

22. Winston Churchill made it very clear that all issues should be put to him on a single sheet of paper.

23. Little investigation of attention span has been made in relation to policy information, despite its crucial importance.

24. In a recent Assessment of Future National and International Problem Areas for the US National Science Foundation [1977], 1000 initial problems are subject to various filtration processes to reduce them to "six critical future problems".

25. The editors of the "World Problems" section of the Yearbook of World Problems and Human Potential [1976) discuss this phemonenon.

26. Method for Priority Determination in Science and Technology. Paris, Unesco, 1978, para 2.4.3 Early research is reported in the paper: George Miller. The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63, 1956, pp. 81-97.

27. Antony Jay. The Corporate Man.London. ( The stage at which national government required more than 6-8 ministries should mark an important evolution in the governability of the country).

28. Harold D. Lasswell. The transition toward more sophisticated procedures. In: Davis B. Bobrow and J. L. Schwartz [Ed). Computers and the Policy-making Community; applications to international relations. Prentice-Hall, 1968, pp. 307-314. "Why do we put so much emphasis on audio-visual means. Partly because so many valuable participants in decision-making have dramatizing imaginations."

29. Rudolf Arnheim. Visual Thinking. Faber, 1970, p. 308-312.

30. "...what exists today is inter-Agency rivalry for projects." Capacity Study of the UN Development System. 1969, I, p. 76.

31. Peter Snithers. Governmental Control; a prerequisite for effective relations between the United Nations and non-UN regional organizations. New York, UNITAR, 1972.

32. Consider the lack of relationship between the Unesco SPINES Thesaurus produced by the Science Policy Division and Unesco's valuable Classification of research and development activities in terms of development objectives produced by its Office of Statistics.

33. See note 7.

34. Points made by Georges Gusdorf (see note 17], particularly in an article on Interdisciplinarity for the French-language Encyclopaedia Universalis.

35. Investigated by W. T. Jones with respect to the long-standing debate on the "romantic period" and then applied to various sciences: The Romantic Syndrome; toward a new method in cultural anthropology and history of ideas. The Hague, Mouton, 1961. He distinguishes seven axes of bias which determine pre-logical positions and then govern the subsequent positions taken in any "rational" or "logical" debate.

36. See note 12. Also: Johan Galtung: A first guide to teutonic intellectual style (Working paper for the United Nations University GPID Project, January 1978).

37. Jean Ladriere. The Challenges presented to Culture by Science and Technology. Paris, Unesco, 1977.

38. Discussed in Yearbook of World Prob1ems and Human Potential. Op.cit.

39. The number of such reference tools is now so great that reference guides are required to them.

40. Don Fabun. Dimensions of Change. Glencoe Press, 1971.

Frederic Vester. Unsere Welt; ein vernetztes System. Stuttgart, Ernst Klett, 1978.

41. Gordon L. Lippitt. Visualizing Change; model building and the change process. Fairfax, NTL Learning Resources Corporation, 1973

Walter Herdeg. Diagrams. Zurich, Graphic Press, 1974;

Jacques Bertin. Semiologie Graphique; les diagrammes, les reseaux, les cartes. Paris, Mouton, 1967.

Other references

1. Francis Levy. Le Traitement Automatise de l'Image. Paris, La Documentation Francaise, 1977, 460 p.

2. Harold L. Wilensky. Organizational Intelligence; knowledge and policy in government and industry. Basic Books, 1967.

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