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  Program Introduction


  Closing of the Frontier
  Scientific Racism
  The Children's Bureau
  Recent Social Trends


  The Great Depression
  The Gallup Poll
  World War II
  Suburban Nation
  Sexual Behavior


  The Feminine Mystique
  The Moynihan Report
  Broken Windows
  Middletown IV
  Census 2000



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FMC Program Introduction


Ben on set of Think TankFDR: The only thing we have to fear. 

BEN WATTENBERG: The 20th century is a closed chapter in American history. When we look back, what do we see? What are we shown? A thousand stories of many heroes, and some villains, tales of momentous events that reshaped our world. 

PRESIDENT REAGAN (from videotape): Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. 

BEN WATTENBERG: But there is another way to view history. Over the past hundred years, Americans became the most ambitious measurers of human activity ever. Only now can we see long-term trends about everyday people providing us with an imperfect method for solving problems, and ongoing series of great arguments, and a startling way of seeing America. 

This is the First Measured Century. 

Hello, I'm Ben Wattenberg, moderator, or immoderator, of the weekly PBS series Think Tank. Welcome to our special, The First Measured Century: A Look at American History by the Numbers, and the story of social science pioneers, who by measuring America helped changed it. 

Of course statistics are used and abused on all sides of every argument. We will show you the straightest numbers we can muster. But I urge you to look at the data here, and to look further to Web sites and reference books. If you do, broad themes will likely emerge, and you can call yourself an expert. 

Here's my take: America is an exceptional nation that has done remarkably well. Central to that success is the extension of liberty, the measurable expansion of personal, political, economic and cultural freedom. That's a blessing, but sometimes perhaps a mixed blessing.


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