The Revolt Against Science

One response to the loss of control, for example, is a revulsion against intelligence. Science first gave man a sense of mastery over his environment, and hence over the future. By making the future seem malleable, instead of immutable, it shattered the opiate religions that preached passivity and mysticism. Today, mounting evidence that society is out of control breeds disillusionment with science. In consequence, we witness a garish revival of mysticism. Suddenly astrology is the rage. Zen, yoga, seances, and witchcraft become popular pastimes. Cults form around the search for Dionysian experience, for non-verbal and supposedly non-linear communication. We are told it is more important to "feel" than to "think," as though there were a contradiction between the two. Existentialist oracles join Catholic mystics, Jungian psychoanalysts, and Hindu gurus in exalting the mystical and emotional against the scientific and rational.

This reversion to pre-scientific attitudes is accompanied, not surprisingly, by a tremendous wave of nostalgia in the society. Antique furniture, posters from a bygone era, games based on the remembrance of yesterday's trivia, the revival of Art Nouveau, the spread of Edwardian styles, the rediscovery of such faded pop-cult celebrities as Humphrey Bogart or W. C. Fields, all mirror a psychological lust for the simpler, less turbulent past. Powerful fad machines spring into action to capitalize on this hunger. The nostalgia business becomes a booming industry.

The failure of technocratic planning and the consequent sense of lost control also feeds the philosophy of "now-ness." Songs and advertisements hail the appearance of the "now generation," and learned psychiatrists, discoursing on the presumed dangers of repression, warn us not to defer our gratifications. Acting out and a search for immediate payoff are encouraged. "We're more oriented to the present," says a teen-age girl to a reporter after the mammoth Woodstock rock music festival. "It's like do what you want to do now... If you stay anywhere very long you get into a planning thing... . So you just move on." Spontaneity, the personal equivalent of social planlessness, is elevated into a cardinal psychological virtue.

All this has its political analog in the emergence of a strange coalition of right wingers and New Leftists in support of what can only be termed a "hang loose" approach to the future. Thus we hear increasing calls for anti-planning or non-planning, sometimes euphemized as "organic growth." Among some radicals, this takes on an anarchist coloration. Not only is it regarded as unnecessary or unwise to make long-range plans for the future of the institution or society they wish to overturn, it is sometimes even regarded as poor taste to plan the next hour and a half of a meeting. Planlessness is glorified.

Arguing that planning imposes values on the future, the anti-planners overlook the fact that non-planning does so, too—often with far worse consequence. Angered by the narrow, econocentric character of technocratic planning, they condemn systems analysis, cost benefit accounting, and similar methods, ignoring the fact that, used differently, these very tools might be converted into powerful techniques for humanizing the future.

When critics charge that technocratic planning is anti-human, in the sense that it neglects social, cultural and psychological values in its headlong rush to maximize economic gain, they are usually right. When they charge that it is shortsighted and undemocratic, they are usually right. When they charge it is inept, they are usually right.

But when they plunge backward into irrationality, anti-scientific attitudes, a kind of sick nostalgia, and an exaltation of now-ness, they are not only wrong, but dangerous. Just as, in the main, their alternatives to industrialism call for a return to pre-industrial institutions, their alternative to technocracy is not post-, but pre-technocracy.

Nothing could be more dangerously maladaptive. Whatever the theoretical arguments may be, brute forces are loose in the world. Whether we wish to prevent future shock or control population, to check pollution or defuse the arms race, we cannot permit decisions of earth-jolting importance to be taken heedlessly, witlessly, planlessly. To hang loose is to commit collective suicide.


Nostalgia and pseudo-science are a revolt against what they perceive as the strict rules of science and central planning, but the lack of rules and planning results in putting people at the whims of chaos, which is even more limiting.

Folksonomies: science pseudoscience two cultures new age

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/law, govt and politics/government (0.368069)

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Planlessness:Person (0.716311 (negative:-0.389127)), Humphrey Bogart:Person (0.581400 (negative:-0.307410)), reporter:JobTitle (0.515739 (negative:-0.231042)), euphemized:Person (0.491298 (neutral:0.000000)), econocentric:Person (0.482977 (negative:-0.343606))

Left-wing politics (0.931350): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Future (0.666536): dbpedia | freebase
Forecasting (0.653815): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Political spectrum (0.619441): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Futurology (0.590162): dbpedia
French Revolution (0.568934): dbpedia | freebase
Humphrey Bogart (0.539269): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago | musicBrainz
The Revolt (0.536103): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Future Shock
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Toffler, Alvin (1990), Future Shock, Random House LLC, Retrieved on 2013-12-19
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: social science


    05 JUN 2011

     Illuminate the Opposition

    Memes on communicating science and rationality to the masses in a way that is honest and genuine.