RE: SOC/BIO/POL: International Forum on Globalization conference

From: Barbara Lamar (
Date: Wed Feb 07 2001 - 14:33:01 MST

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > Take a look at this:
> > >
> > >

> ...I think it's important to be aware of and REALLY
> understand how
> it is that the movement in opposition to technological progress is so
> effective in organizing and getting its message out.

I agree with Greg that if you want to win an argument, you must understand
the opponent's position as clearly as you understand your own. I'd say you
must do more than figure out how they're effective at organizing and getting
their message out; you must also understand the rational points in favor of
their arguments. You have to look at the situation from the opponent's point
of view and predict how they'll counter every point you'll make. At the same
time you're collecting data to support your own position, you have to look
just as diligently for data that supports the opponent's position. If
they're good, they're going to hit you with that data, and it's a lot better
to know about it in advance than to be taken by surprise.

> The primary
> advantages I see [for the luddite point of view]
> lie in the question of who does the talking and rule-making in
> our societies...

>the media IS overwhelmingly
> staffed with people who lack technical or scientific education
> and experience
> and whose attitudes are shaped by a culture inimical to values of
> progress.

I would add that most people don't know how to think logically--we've
recently discussed this in the thread having to do with education. If anyone
missed that, I'd suggest especially reading what Samantha had to say about
the difference between IQ and thinking.

The media probably could not get away with the sort of rubbish that's
published if their audiences were not brain-paralyzed.
The same can be said of politicians. Their power is derived from people who
sit passively by and accept any sort of foolishness rather than risk
thinking for themselves.

Given that this is the situation, you have to tailor your presentation to
get through to people who don't know much about science and who aren't used
to thinking abstractly.

Greg says:

>... you have a deck that is stacked decidedly against rational development
> science and technology policy.


> the history of the last 250 years in the West has proven,
> technological business enterprises produce tangible results in an
> extremely
> efficient manner that many people want and will pay for.

I think this is the answer. Most people WANT the benefits of technology:
lights, heating, power tools and appliances, cars, abundant food, medical
care, youthful bodies, and so forth.

Most people can't think for themselves, but they can usually follow a line
of reasoning if it's set forth step by step. And the anti-tech people have
been doing this for years.

In order to make a rational counter argument, one must acknowledge that some
of what the anti-tech people say is true. Not to do so makes you look like
you're either stupid or a liar. Quality of life HAS deteriorated because of
air and water pollution and the paving over of vast amounts of land. Whole
species ARE dying off. Agriculture IS being practiced in a way that has
destroyed and continues to destroy top soil at an alarming rate--you can see
this for yourself simply by going out into a cultivated field and picking up
the cement-like clods almost entirely devoid of organic matter--and you're
not thinking things through if you counter that by saying that hydroponics
or nanotechnology will solve the problem. Along with loss of biological
diversity, there HAS been great loss of cultural diversity and great loss of
economic diversity as well. The global economy HAS killed off small
manufacturing businesses by the thousands. These particular things the
"luddites" say are TRUE.

What is NOT true is that technology per se is to blame for the current state
of the world. The way to counter the argument that technology is bad is to
show people that there are ways of having the good without such a huge
amount of bad. One of the best ways to do this is through stories where you
can show people concrete examples of how different social systems work.
Again you come up against the separation of the sciences and the arts. Most
mainstream movies and novels I've come across lately seem to dwell on the
dangers of technology. Popular song lyrics are mostly pessimistic.

> Interestingly, industries and specific
> enterprises that tend to make longer-term capital investments DO
> engage in
> more broad-based advertising.

At the moment, advertising seems to be the only art that IS generally
optiistic with respect to technology.

>Thus we see large chemical and industrial
> companies develop and promulgate advertising campaigns and
> slogans that point
> to longer-term progress (e.g. GE's "we make good things come to light").

But even many of these companies are taking a defensive position along the
lines of, gee guys, we're not all THAT bad.

>...a Carl Sagan seems to come along all
> too rarely.

OTOH, long as you're still alive, it's never too late to start learning
communications skills.

> The simple facts are that the kinds of people who are drawn into
> scientific
> and technical fields tend to be TERRIBLE communicators in the way
> needed to
> have an impact on the culture at large.

I wonder why this is. Wish we could talk about this on the list and figure
it out. It hasn't always been so.

> Even getting the people who could afford to fund the grooming of good
> spokespeople to recognize the need seems to be an uphill task.

This is something the people on this list could begin to remedy immediately.
Beginning with each person funding their own grooming (funding in terms of
time as well as money).


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