Thursday, 31 March 2011


Re-watched the incredible Adam Curtis's Pandora's Box last night. Interesting in light of the current crisis at Fukushima. Follow Mr. Curtis's blog, and watch the A is Atom episode here.

Was particularly struck by the opening section:
"In 1945, in the aftermath of war, scientists were heroes. Particularly the physicists who had built the atomic bomb. "They are men," said Life magazine, "who wear the tunic of superman and stand in the spotlight of a thousand suns." In the public imagination atomic scientists had harnessed a terrifying power, which could literally reshape the world.

"Many of the scientists who had worked on the atomic bomb felt a deep sense of guilt about what they had done. They were convinced they now had a moral duty to use the immense forces they had unleashed to better peaceful purposes. What they did not foresee were the demands that would be made on them, when their science came out of the laboratory, and into the world of politics and big business. They would lose control and be forced to compromise and to deceive.
Sir Kelvin Spencer (Chief Scientist, Ministry of Power 1954-1959):
"The nucleur scientists were not alone in their ambitions. In the late forties there was a growing belief that scientific methods could be used to solve social problems. This sometimes took extreme forms. In America, an organisation founded in the thirties: Technocracy Inc., flourished. The Technocrats dressed in grey uniforms and drove grey cars. They called for a new society governed on a rational basis.
"Many people thought that science was the principle war winner. That science was the perfectly marvellous thing which could tackle anything, provided you got the right brain power on it and had unlimited resources and the political will to do it. I really thought, at long last, we could surge ahead into a new world."
Bertram Bogardus (Technocracy Inc 1947 - ):
"Technocracy means science applied to the social system. To the entire structure of society. Politics would cease to exist. And the people who would be in authority would be scientists and engineers. Knowledge would lead to control."

"But this popular belief that the methods of science could be applied to society, was based on a curiously out-of-date notion of how the universe worked. It was that the world was just an enormously complicated machine which would become predictable and controllable if only you knew enough about it. Yet this idea had been undermined in the years before the war, by the very scientists who had unlocked the power of the atom. They had found that the closer they peered into the structure of the world, the more complex and unpredictable it became."

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