Defending The Independence of Human Factors/Ergonomics Science

Parasuraman, R., Hancock, P.A., Radwin, R., & Marras, W. (2003). Defending the independence of human factors/ergonomics science. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Bulletin, 46(11), 1, 5.

     The Bush administration has recently sought to impose a political agenda on the deliberations of science in general and human factors and ergonomics (HF/E) in particular. This is a matter that should be of concern to all researchers and practitioners in our field. In this article, we describe certain disturbing developments that collectively threaten the independence of the science of HF/E.
     The goal of politics is the pursuit of justice through the exercise of shared power. The goal of science is the search for empirical truth. In principle, politics shares that goal. In theory, science informs public policy decisions that are legislated; in practice, politicians often focus on the exercise of shared power. As a result, many feel that science and politics should be kept separated as much as is feasible, as the separation of Church and State. Yet, in the past, political decisions have been made that were contingent on information derived from the scientific state of the art.

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