Psychology Of Space Exporation: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective, edited by Douglas A. Vakoch
NASA published this book, which presents some serious potential political problems for NASA. A quick perusal of the contents of this book suggests that it is an exercise in political correctness, with a focus on gender and multicultural issues in space flight among its eight essays (which run to a total of 200 pages). Given the amount of money that has to be cut from the federal budget, it is safe to say that NASA is probably not getting maximum bang for their buck. I’m curious to read this book for a variety of reason–some of the essays appear to be worthwhile, and some of them appear to be total exercises in political correctness, and overall the essay attempts to show psychologists musing on matters of space flight with an attempt to place matters in a historical perspective and look at the future.
What is one to make of the contents? As someone who is profoundly interested in the implications of space exploration (I once wrote a short book on the subject myself), I suppose I would be one of the people in the target audience of this book, though I can’t imagine this book has a wide potential audience. I can’t help but think that this book is a giant blunder for NASA. In a political climate where people are looking to slash/burn/sequester as much money as possible from the federal government, it is really a good use of limited funds to subsidize the publishing of politically correct essays showing feminism and multiculturalism in space? It would think that this is the precise sort of book that could lead to a firestorm among fiscal conservatives. It is hard to imagine the positives outweighing the massive political risks if the wrong person gets a copy of this book.
On the plus side, the book only looks like it is a couple hundred pages. I’m going to try to read as much of it as possible tomorrow (assuming nothing else more urgent or financially lucrative comes up) and then I will be reviewing it for the Air & Space Power Journal. Hopefully this is the start of a beautiful book-reviewing relationship, though I expect to give the book a bit of a mixed review, implicitly pointing out the book’s contents and what sort of people will best appreciate the book, without turning the review into a particularly nasty or harsh piece. I prefer to let the facts speak for themselves when I review a book, with as little overstatement as possible. I’m curious to see what other people think about NASA money going to publish politically correct essays on conflict, gender, and cultural studies, among other subjects. Feel free to share your own thoughts/opinions.