Complexity = Progress & Other Confusions

Robert Owen (
Fri, 15 Oct 1999 17:11:45 -0400

A Selection from THE GREAT ASYMMETRY by Stephen Jay Gould

"This tale of technological 'progress' gone ethically and socially awry*
illustrates the most troubling of all widely believed generalities about the relationship of science to human life and history, the unfortunate myth that underlies most of the fear and negative feeling that science often evokes. In this legend, abetted by innumerable cultural props (from misreading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to the demonization of science by Hollywood), the practice of science, by recording either the intrinsic immorality of technological growth, or only the na´vetÚ of well -intentioned people who confuse complexity with improvement, can only build dark Satanic mills upon our planet's green and pleasant land."

"I cannot think of a more important task in our campaigns for improving
'public understanding' of science than the dissipation of this myth. The idea that science is monolithic, incomprehensible, soulless, and basically bad for us forms the core of a central paradox of our times: Science has become least popular and most feared at the height of its influence and intrinsic interweaving with our daily lives and activities--least pursued and cherished when most essential to the core of education for all thinking people."

Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA