"self-fulfilling prophecy"

Posted by ESC on February 25, 2003

In Reply to: "Self-fulfilling prophecy" posted by Bruce Kahl on February 25, 2003

: R.K. Merton, 92, Coined Pop Phrases


: February 25, 2003

: Robert K. Merton, a versatile sociologist who coined the terms "self-fulfilling prophecy" and "role models," died Sunday at 92.

: Merton, who in 1994 was the first sociologist to win a National Medal of Science, studied the anatomy of racism, the behavior of scientists and the workings of the mass media and other subjects in a career that stretched over seven decades.

: He was also responsible for pop- ularizing the concept of a "focus group," when he used interviews to elicit the responses of groups to films, texts and radio programs.

: Merton, who spent much of his career at Columbia University, made his theories accessible in a lucid manner. In his best-known book, "On the Shoulders of Giants," he tracked the use of Isaac Newton's famous aphorism, "If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

: He had been gathering information in recent years on the idea of serendipity.

Thanks! That one is a keeper for our Phrase Finder files.