The Chicago Loop offices of the nonprofit where I work, NORC (an independent social science research organization that provides data and analysis to people and institutions that make decisions about key social issues) has become the home of some extraordinary photographs around which the field of "visual social science” crystallized. While still vigorous, but aware that she would likely suffer a fatal recurrence of breast cancer, Rachel Tanur launched a series of photographic sojourns through Africa, Europe, and North, Central, and South America, bringing back hundreds of iconic (and some aesthetically remarkable) images documenting what she observed. The photographs, taken between about 1999 and 2002, were initially part of the National Science Foundation’s Art of Science Project, but have now found their permanent place along the NORC's corporate halls. Rachel’s mother Judith M. Tanur, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita of Sociology, Stony Brook University (New York), is a valued member of NORC's board of trustees.
Of the many thought-provoking images on the walls of our downtown offices, this is the one* that struck me most forcefully:
While it is not a given that the statement is unalloyed truth, it clearly deserves thoughtful consideration. Below is a small selection of screen shots from cable TV this morning, amply illustrating why the avowal on the marquee must be taken seriously. If it is so, the United States is in very deep trouble.