Re: retrograde technologies?

Michael S. Lorrey (
Tue, 01 Jun 1999 13:51:11 -0400

Spike Jones wrote:

> > Lee Daniel Crocker wrote: ... It is idle fantasy to
> > imagine that (1) technology can move backwards, ...
> The latest Star Wars episode made me wonder: can technology
> go backwards? They seemed to imply technology was going
> violently aft. Can anyone think of an example, now or in any time
> past, where a society had it and later didn't? Descended from
> enlightenment to superstition? Would dark ages Europe qualify? spike

While 'greek fire' existed during the Roman era, and gunpowder was invented at a similar time in China, the gun and the cannon were both invented in the depths of the dark ages, as were many weapons of war and peace. The only thing that was dark about the dark ages was that centralized statutory government tyranny was replaced by distributed, random, meaningless petty tyranny. Some technologies were lost, like the art of electroplating, as well as much astronomical knowledge, however that was just in europe. The prejudices of Gibbon's "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" have done much to promote the supposed 'benefits' of a strong government in the intelligentsia, despite much of his interpretation of 'history' being debunked.

Mike Lorrey