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Science and Technology

  • "The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. "
  • ~ Martin Luther King, American civil rights leader, 1928 – 1968
  • "Technologies are the can before the horse. It’s wonderful to have all these whiz-bang gadgets if you know what to do with them. Gadgets for the sake of gadgets, which I think a lot of this computer technology is, isn’t going to help you. "
  • ~ Stephen Leeb, American investor and author, 1946 –
  • "Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but an improved means to an unimproved end. "
  • ~ Henry David Thoreau, American philosopher and writer, 1817 – 1862

Insane World

Science and technology are changing the world with new inventions and discoveries — for better and for worse. Breast implants, sex-change operations, and nuclear and chemical weapons are just a few of the widely varying misapplications of knowledge in the brave new world.

Perhaps the most important way in which science is a threat to sanity is in its potential to change the human body. In the past, people used science to manipulate the world outside of the human body; but now the border of the body has been breached; as science is used for plastic surgery, gene manipulation, and organ replacement, our very selves are increasingly being altered. Is someone with silicone in their breasts, an artificial heart, steroid-generated muscle tissue, or a genetically engineered brain still “human” in the sense that we use the term? What if they had all, rather than just one, of those technology-enhanced body parts? Is someone who is kept alive indefinitely on life support systems still really “alive”?

Living Sanely

Many of the most recent scientific innovations have great value, especially in the field of medical technology. The power to repair injury and mitigate disease is truly awesome. Perhaps even more importantly, the nature of work has been changed by technology. Not too long ago, the great majority of work done by humans was the dawn-to-dusk, backbreaking drudgery of agricultural or primitive industrial labor. In the modern age, work is incomparably more interesting — sometimes even enjoyable — and also far more economically rewarding.

Because of its impact on health and medical care, standards of living, and ability to make life more interesting, science is generally regarded as a positive force. But we may be at a turning point where science becomes something people fear, partly because of the very fundamental ways in which it is changing the human body. (And also partly due to the ways in which technology is being used to invade privacy.)

If science is to remain a force for positive change, we will need to define what it means to be human. Based on a broad philosophical definition, individuals and organizations need to be selective as to the scientific innovations they pursue.


Not just on whether something can be done, but whether it should be done. Is a particular application of science and technology creating value, or destroying value?

Read Our Forum for Living Sanely In An Insane World

Chapter 18 of 35