Looking Toward the Future: Anxieties
Perhaps genuine patriotism or sheer persistence boosted the morale of the experts themselves and helped them stick to their tasks of making the chaos of soldiers' and civilians' attitudes orderly and manageable at points when they might otherwise have given up in despair. But the experts, in the Research Branch and elsewhere, had worries that went beyond the dismal mental state of Americans, some of these deeply rooted in the histories of their professions. Among the most constant and pressing questions were those about the efficacy of their own methods and the capacity of their psychological techniques to inform policy in ways that would stand up to the tests of rigorous
science. Doubts about "validity" and "prediction" were best kept quiet, however. While they were frequently discussed within the bounds of professional networks, psychological experts steadfastly maintained a united front when it came to convincing potentially hostile customers (i.e., government policy-makers) that psychological services were worth the purchase price. If the enthusiasm of their public pronouncements and the track record of postwar psychology are any measure, they were rather successful.
But nagging questions remained. Even Samuel Stouffer, who did his utmost to produce helpful expertise for military decision-makers and whose Research Branch could point to concrete accomplishments—a number of surveys about soldiers' postwar expectations were used to plan the GI Bill, for example—worried constantly about methodological weaknesses. "If the war were to end today and if the Army should ask us what single practice General Osborn's million-dollar research operation has proved to be helpful to morale," he commented, "we honestly could not cite a scrap of scientific evidence. The curtain would go up on the stage and there we would stand—stark naked." Toward the end of the war, Research Branch staff carefully compiled a list of "embarrassing questions" that might, in the future, tarnish the record of their work because they were scientifically unanswerable. Notable for its length and detail, the list included many of the issues that advocates had insisted they could handle with ease: How do you define military morale and was it high or low? How well can you predict performance on the basis of test responses? How effectively can you change attitudes? What do you know about leadership? What did you learn about motivation?
Private consensus that such basic questions could not be answered among the very experts who had claimed the authority to do so did not stop Samuel Stouffer from singing the praises of wartime experts in public. If the work of his team was not exactly the science they wanted it to be, and had turned out to be something more like social engineering, well, that was better than nothing. "There were fires to be put out, and it was better to throw water or sand on the fires than to concentrate on studying chemistry to develop a new kind of extinguisher." 
What really counted was that psychological experts working in a variety of fields had cleared a path to power and their work had had an impact—more significant in some cases, less significant in others—on how the war had been conducted and won. While psychological experts
were sensitive about "embarrassing questions," they were at least as proud of their public policy successes, having kept close tabs on their "hits" throughout the war. The future clearly required wartime experts to continue stockpiling handy technologies and making available to policy-makers new tools of prediction and control that would ease the country's transition into an increasingly dangerous world. This was really nothing new. Predictive technologies satisfied policy-makers' demand because they capitalized on professional and disciplinary developments that, before World War II, had already been profoundly shaped by the administrative applications of measurement and testing in mass institutions: schools, prisons, corporations, armies, government organizations. 
One wartime idea, circulated among experts in a variety of morale agencies which had polling functions, was to develop a "Barometer of International Security," designed specifically to take the temperature of international tension and prevent the recurrence of war. Alexander Leighton suggested that behavioral "weather stations" be established all over the world to constantly monitor levels of national and international aggression and hostility. Ideas such as these had much in common with the "Race Sentiments Barometer" proposed by riot experts as well as the all-purpose indices developed during the war years to gauge the state of morale at home and in enemy populations. In important ways, they prefigured the outlines of Project Camelot, which came into public view almost twenty years later, similarly promising to predict tension and upheaval well enough to prevent them (see chapter 6). Whatever the future need, Stouffer predicted, persuasive "research brokers" would reap more gains for behavioral expertise than the most significant scientific breakthroughs.
Their postwar future, many sensed, would be inextricably bound to the successes and failures of the World War II experience. The massive piles of data that the army's Research Branch had collected during the war, for example, were turned over to the Social Science Research Council in 1945 and eventually resulted in a four-volume study, The American Soldier (1949). Considering Stouffer's own views about the inability of wartime research to attain scientific standing, it is ironic that The American Soldier was heralded throughout the 1950s and 1960s as a major scientific landmark in psychological theory and research methodology. There were some psychologists who, while applauding the march of science, never quite lost sight of where such scientific opportunities had come from. Paul Lazarsfeld, a great admirer of The
American Soldier and a former consultant to the Research Branch, asked, "Why was a war necessary to give us the first systematic analysis of life as it really is experienced by a large sector of the population?" He might have taken the next logical, if disturbing, step to ask: Where will future data for behavioral experts come from if not from future wars?