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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 8 July, 3, 1946

Revolt against Science

Revolt against Science

Such a process was perhaps inevitable in the early stages, when the full potentialities of science were as yet latent, but since the end of the nineteenth century it has been apparent that this haphazard development would lead to disaster. The accelerated advance of knowledge has culminated in two devastating world wars in which all the powers of science have been devoted to undreamt-of destruction. The monotony of machine tending has stimulated a revolt against science, which is blamed for the sordidness of many aspects of our culture. But such protests are powerless against the tide of progress and quite ignore the many real benefits which science has conferred, benefits which the critics would be the first to miss in a return to the Middle Ages or the "noble savage."

In any case, this analysis has missed the main point, that the application of scientific knowledge to society has not been by scientists, but by the ruling classes of society itself. For the past 150 years, the uses of science, quite apart from its actual content, have been at the whim of the individual capitalists who have hoped to profit thereby. This is not to deny that many applications have filled important needs, as in modern medicine but many equally fundamental demands, such as for increased food production in India and China, which could well have been satisfied by organised scientific methods, have been left untouched because there was little prospect of their yielding pay immediate profit to the individual capitalist. This one sided development as evidenced by the over-emphasis on chemistry and physics, supporting the mushroom chemical and electrical industries as compared with biology, where results quite as profitable, e.g., animal and plant breeding, but less spectacular because of the longer incubation period, may be achieved, has seriously distorted our outlook. New inventions, which would benefit mankind as a whole, may actually appear unprofitable to the capitalist because of the large outlay on new plant, and the losses caused by obsolescence.