Confusing “Technology” with “Science.”

May 23, 2014

Emanuel Pastreich

 

Confusing “technology” with “science” is a very serious mistake and one of the greatest risks of our age. The 18th century was the age of science when great researchers like Isaac Newton sought out the basic principles of physics through the careful investigation of the universe. The world was transformed by the rational and considered study of the material world in that century. It was an age of discovery and the drive to understand informed society. But the 18th century was not more advanced than our age in terms of technology. The various technologies we enjoy today, like antibiotics, the telephone and the automobile were not available and many suffered as a result.

By contrast, we live today in an age of technology, an age in which technology is advancing at an exponential rate, racing beyond the ability of our culture, our society and our own brains to respond and to adapt to that change. It is a profoundly dangerous moment as our society crashes forward into a future we do not understand in the slightest. But, although we can say this is an age of technology, it is not an age of science in the slightest. If anything the use of new media and glossy presentations of reality has led to a profound sloppiness on the part of many people in terms of how they perceive the world. We foolishly think that if something looks appealing on the computer screen, it must be true, or superior. Our scientific thinking, how we deduce the truth from the careful investigation of facts, has become sloppy, but out technology keeps accelerating beyond our control. If we confuse this “technological” advancement with “science” we will not be aware of just how blind we have become. And that is far more dangerous. It is dangerous to be blind. It is far more dangerous to be blind, but to be unaware that one is blind. That is where we are now.

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