Science Is Bad
"Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins a movie by telling you how it ends! Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know! Important things!"
—Ned Flanders, The Simpsons
Writers are not scientists. Whether it is because they perceive science as cold and emotionless, or because they just disliked science and embraced literature after failing math in high school, luddism is an awfully common philosophy in the arts community. The typical theme is that some sort of advanced scientific research has Gone Horribly Wrong, creating a monster, causing an impending natural disaster and/or a massive government cover-up. The heroes typically discover the side-effects of the research and investigate, discover what's going on, and try to stop it.
The antagonist (almost always either corporate or military/government scientists—and not hot) refuses to believe that his work could be so badly flawed and/or immoral, or simply doesn't care about who gets hurt by it, insisting that the research is For Science! They will generally use their influence with the government to make life difficult for the heroes; this can include trying to have them arrested and/or otherwise silenced, often leading to a shoot-out, jail break, or Chase Scene.
In the end, the scientist will be destroyed by his own creation, the heroes will be proven right, and through their efforts the world will be saved from the horror of science. Sometimes the theme is softened by the presence of The Professor among the heroes who represents a more reasonable take on the science involved.
This can often come off as a bit hypocritical, particularly when dealing with speculative fiction, as you get an Anvilicious message of "everything we have so far is good, but we should stop now."
Nearly every Robot War story is based off of this (except the ones where everything was all right, until humanity screwed it up by being jerks to the nice robots). There are a few popular current fields as well, like cloning, genetic engineering, and surveillance.
For obvious reasons, this is played down in series starring a Science Hero, heroic android, or Robot Buddy, such as in some anime. It's more likely that there will be a (still obvious) distinction between good and bad scientists. This is usually played up if the heroes are Phlebotinum Rebels, though.
Compare and contrast Cyberpunk, where the rebel hero goes up against The Man who maintains control through technology; Post Cyber Punk tends to embrace new technology less critically. Typically, you will find there is No Transhumanism Allowed. See also Harsher in Hindsight and Seinfeld Is Unfunny for when a world meant to be portrayed as a Dystopia Twenty Minutes Into the Future bears a curious resemblance to present day technological advancements that are taken for granted by the audience.
If the writer is sincere in their belief that Technology Is Evil, they may thrust the characters into a situation (Closed Circle, After the End, etc.) where they must survive without (most of) the technology, and take the good with the bad; compare Space Amish. The inverse of this is a Cozy Catastrophe, where the heroes are able to get General Motors, police and hair salons up and running again only a few months after America Wins the War, with similarly unfortunate implications on the opposite end of the spectrum, implying that the writer believes in the Status Quo. Zeerust can have a similar effect if an otherwise futuristic (or even "dystopian") technocratic society bears a curious resemblance to when it was written and problems the society was experiencing at the time.
Any time this trope shows up, you are very likely to find Romanticism Versus Enlightenment in its wake (and the work will be taking the Romanticist side). Related tropes include the Mad Scientist, Engineer Exploited For Evil, The Evil Army, Government Conspiracy, Corrupt Corporate Executive, Government As Villain, Mr. Exposition, Technical Pacifist, and Well-Intentioned Extremist. The protagonist is often assisted by an Anti-Hero who used to work for the Mad Scientist, and frequently has to deal with a Pointy-Haired Boss. See also Science Is Wrong. Polar opposite of most stories with a Science Hero.
- The Aesop of the Anime Blue Gender is that humanity should never have advanced beyond an agricultural society.
- Same for Earth Maiden Arjuna.
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, at least in the manga version (which goes longer than the anime), goes back and forth between playing this trope straight & subverting it. On the one hand, the world was destroyed in a nuclear war, on the other, the kindly & wise Big Creepy-Crawlies were actually created through bioengineering and so were the giant killer fungi which are actually helping to purify the Earth. Nausicaa believes that the natural order of life should prevail and that humanity needs to live or die without the benefits or burdens of the old technology.
- The main conflict presented in Steamboy is: that though scientists try to help the world there will either be people who want to use it for profit or people who want use it for war. The protagonist's father is under the belief that science can save the world, the grandfather believes he is going too far, and the protagonist is neutral and just wants to make sure London doesn't get destroyed.
- In the end, though, the moral of the story feels less like 'Science Is Bad' and more like 'science can be bad or good depending on how it's used.' Take for example the Steam Castle, which was not originally a weapon, but the world's most advanced amusement park. Then there's Ray's numerous clever uses of the Steamball, like powering flying machines. At the very least, Steamboy manages to avoid being Anvilicious by grace of sheer ambiguity.
- Lex Luthor, Superman's archenemy, has long been a barometer of the great bogeyman of the era: from the 30s through the atomic age, as a mad scientist he played on readers' fears of science run rampant. (Later, he'd be a corporate shark in the '80s and a corrupt politician at the turn of the millennium.)
- Though from the Silver Age until the Crisis, Superman himself was portrayed as a scientist of great ability (having, at the very least, perfect recall and access to Kryptonian tech), regularly building robots and whatnot. His standard lament to Luthor in those days was his wish that Luthor would go straight and use his brilliance to help mankind instead of being a Jerkass.
- Hoverboy: The Only Hero Protecting You From Science! It should be noted, however, that Hoverboy is merely an elaborate hoax. Probably.
- Subverted by the obvious Mengele analogue in a Boba Fett comic, in which Fett accepted a challenge to wipe out the crew of a
NaziImperial flying concentration campgenocide ship. The Mengele-wannabe is asked by his boss what experiment he's doing; Wannabe admits, "I gave up all pretense of science long ago. I do this for pleasure."
- Thousands of years earlier in Star Wars history, there was a Mandalorian Mad Scientist named Demagol who conducted cruel experiments on captured Jedi and on children (including his own daughter) in an effort to imbue future generations of Mandalorian warriors with the ability to use The Force. His name was later adapted to "demagolka", the only word in the Mandalorian language for "war criminal".
- Reed Richards and Doctor Doom can be viewed as symbolizing technology's potential for good or evil, depending on who is wielding it and for what purpose.
- Reed's a perfect example, as he's often protrayed as the most cold and calculating of the Fantastic Four. For instance, during the superhero civil war, he designed an extradimensional prison camp to hold his fellow superheroes because cold logic told him that forced superhuman registration was the only way to avoid an armageddon-level disaster. None of the less scientifically-minded members of the team could stand to be a part of it, and Sue - the conscience of the team - eventually convinced him that it was better to essentially be nice and hope for the best than to be mean for a good reason.
- The Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comics originally averted this in the same fashion as SatAM, from which it derived most of its cast. However, the series seems to have sunk into this as time has gone by.
- In Half Life: Full Life Consequences, the "Combines" come from science and outer space. And science also makes Gordon Freeman tricked and live and strong and big. However what the fan fiction calls "science" is debatable, since in many cases, it is referred to as a tangible object.
- Inverted in Avatar; the scientists are all good guys and it's through the scientific approach that they realize they shouldn't interfere with Pandora's ecosystem. The Na'vi god is also a real being, fully examinable and explainable through science. The bad guys are the military and corporates who misuse technology.
- The movie does not suggest that humans should shift back to hunter-gatherer culture like some supporters and detractors believe. In fact, the supplementary material is pretty adamant that scientific advancement is the only way to rescue Earth from its miserable state, and that research from Pandora is vital to this progress. The message is that aboriginal peoples should not be forced to adapt modern lifestyle against their will, and that horrible consequences caused by environmental exploitation can't be fixed with more exploitation.
- The original The Fly, contrary to popular belief, wasn't so much this trope than 'Science must not be approached with carelessness'. It even compares it to a 'great adventure'. In David Cronenberg's remake, this motif is absent altogether: just because it went disastrously wrong once doesn't mean that teleportation is irredeemably evil.
- Though the original still features the scientist destroying the machine at the end, rather than seeing that it works fine if people aren't careless like he was.
- Completely turned around by Darkman, who, admittedly, was hideously deformed in a Freak Lab Accident, but the accident in question was caused by The Mafia. When things are going bad, he reminds himself, "I'm a scientist!"
- The documentary Expelled explicitly compares evolutionary biology to Nazism.
- Inverted by The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, where blunt force could kill the rhedosaurus, but it spread the beast's disease far and wide, and only our heroic scientist can figure out a way to kill the rhedosaurus and the disease. Luckily, and unusually, the army guys are extremely cooperative.
- In the B-Movie Bats, Mad Scientist Dr. McCabe initially justifies creating the rampaging super intelligent omnivorous bats with the words "I'm a scientist! That's what we do!". No one finds this explanation even the slightest bit strange.
- Averted in the original Godzilla in which sane scientist Dr. Serizawa's Oxygen Destroyer ultimately kills Godzilla at the end. Of course, Serizawa is also very careful not to let his invention fall into the wrong hands by dying alongside Godzilla and burning all papers that contain information on the device.
- He's only concerned about the wrong hands in the American version. In the original Japanese version, Serizawa makes no distinction between right hands and wrong hands, saying that humanity's destructive nature will cause the Oxygen Destroyer to become our very undoing if anyone gets ahold of the device.
- Godzilla vs. Destoroyah retroactively questions the use of the Oxygen Destroyer by revealing it led to flesh-eating microbes that can strip organic matter immersed in water in seconds. These evolve into car-sized monsters spewing beams that disintegrate materials that possess oxygen molecules. And finally, these combine into, quite naturally, a flying Kaiju monster with a beam weapon that can kick Godzilla's ass.
The monster verges on raising the radiation levels of the entire planet beyond what life could survive. It also questions whether the doctor's sacrifice was actually heroic as the Oxygen Destroyer was, compared to other methods, less likely to destroy cities or attempt to exterminate the human race.
- Played straight in Godzilla VS Biollante in which genetic engineering causes the birth of a giant Godzilla-Rose hybrid monster (Biollante) with a human female soul. On the other hand, the scientists creating the Anti-Nuclear Bacteria is an aversion since it actually is one of the few things that can stop Godzilla. Despite the hero's fear that it will create another monster.
- Generally played straight with almost any Godzilla movie that explains the eponymous monster's origins or his reason for attacking. Most often he is the result of the testing of nuclear weapons, which is also the source of his hatred of humankind.
- Bride of Frankenstein inverts this. The reformed Dr. Frankenstein is forced by evil Mad Scientist Dr. Pretorius to return to his old ways. The twist: Early on, Pretorious shows us his collection of tiny humans in glass jars, practically announcing that he's Mephistopheles. To this, Frankenstein replies, horrified, "This isn't science!" Here, sane Science Is Good, and has standards, but Magic Is Bad.
- Event Horizon. At one point the inventor of the gravity warp drive (which turns out to be a pretty evil warp drive) proclaims: "Captain, there's no danger... It's contained behind three magnetic fields, it's perfectly safe!" Oh science, what are you like?
- In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra nanotechnology is the primary villain, both as gray-goo-inducing nanite warheads and as nanite injections that create superhuman flunkies for Cobra. There are many scientists involved in Cobra, and apparently, scientists can't be trusted: Rex switches sides because they have nanotechnology.
- The 2002 film version of The Time Machine. Near the start of the movie, the protagonist's friend asks him whether humanity's progress will ever go too far; the protagonist replies, "no such thing."
He later has to admit that he was wrong—when, in the future, he sees the Moon shattered into little pieces by atomic bombs. Earlier, when the protagonist returned to the past to try and save his girlfriend, she was killed by a malfunctioning automobile (just as the protagonist stopped being fascinated with it because it was "just a machine," and not worth taking his attention off of his love).
In the distant future, the Eloi are peaceful, good people with very primitive technology; the evil, ugly Morlocks have an industrial society Beneath the Earth. They also have a Big Bad with a giant brain who is especially good at engineering, and at being evil.
And in the climax of the movie, the protagonist destroys the industrial Morlocks—by blowing up his machine in their lair (commenting on its loss with, again, "it's just a machine"). The only positive portrayal science or technology get in the film is with the generally helpful holographic librarian (who somehow survives hundreds of thousands of years and is shown reading books to children at the end). But his main function is to keep memories of the past (and, presumably, its follies) alive, not to represent, or aid, progress.
- Nine averts this. Science is what created the construction robot, but it was the government and military that put it to evil use. The scientist who created the robot then sacrificed his own soul so that life, in some fashion, could carry on.
- Dr. Carrington in The Thing from Another World is a complete moron who continues to insist in the face of increasingly overwhelming evidence that the alien the base is dealing with is an intelligent and peaceful being, and repeatedly endangers everyone's lives trying to communicate with it.
- In Rocky IV the cold, emotionless Russian boxe Ivan Drago is shown training in a cartoonishly high-tech facility that measures his every exertion while government technicians look on, meanwhile vituous American Rocky trains on a farm by cutting down trees, lifting bales of hay, and running with a yoke on his shoulders. Guess who wins.
- The American folk tale of John Henry tells of the man's victory in a hammerin' race against a steam-powered hammer. He wins, but the effort kills him. He dies with the old-fashioned hammer still in his hand.
- This is not the point of Frankenstein. In the novel by Mary Shelley, the point of the story is that Frankenstein brought a creature into the world and allowed it to turn to evil by treating it like a monster. However, this is the point of just about every film adaptation of the story, which almost always deliver an Anvilicious Aesop.
- With the surprising exception of the Mel Brooks parody Young Frankenstein, in which the eponymous scientist succeeds where his ancestor failed by accepting his creation like a loving father. When a group of his colleagues recoil in horror at the creature, he admonishes them "We are not children! We are scientists!", and the only real flaw in his creation (its permanently child-like, limited mind) is fixed by another scientific procedure, which Frankenstein risks his life to carry out.
- Stephen Jay Gould wrote one essay as a good-natured correction to people who thought Frankenstein was based around Science Is Bad, pointing out that while Shelley admits that being too excessive in a pursuit is usually a bad thing, all her examples were political.
- Jonathan Swift rams this Trope down the reader's throat in the Laputa chapter of Gulliver's Travels. The rulers are tyrants (and chauvinists) who respect only science, but it has made them incompetent rulers; while they are fond of mathematics, astronomy, music and technology, they fail to make practical use of their knowledge. For instance, buildings in Laputa are poorly built and the clothing doesn't fit because they take measurements with instruments such as quadrants and a compass rather than with tape measures. Their physical conditions have degenerated too, depicted as becoming so lost in thought that they do not move unless struck by a "bladder", many of their heads have become stuck reclined to one side, and they often suffer from strabismus: one eye turns inward and the other looks up "to the zenith". They don't even know that their wives are adulterers who are using their husbands' lack of attention to carry on affairs with the more loving servants. Even worse, they've had a negative effect on their subjects. Not only are Lagado and Balnibarbi poverty-stricken, the governor of the former visited Laputa once, and was inspired to build the Academy of Projectors, where completely worthless projects are endlessly worked on. Ironically, the governor of Balnibarbi is likely the most lucid man in the chapter, one of the few characters Gulliver meets with any common sense. Of course, Swift was using this chapter to mock - other things - the absurd inventions of the Royal Society.
- Many works of H.P. Lovecraft express this Trope, showing Lovecraft's own distrust and fear of technology and lack of grasping technological concepts. For example, "Cool Air" is about a doctor who has kept himself alive (as a walking corpse) using air conditioning (which was new at the time of writing) while in "The Color of Space" (written around the time infrared and ultraviolet light had recently been discovered), weird and unearthly colors are a sign of a slumbering Eldritch Abomination.
- In Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels, some of the natives regard the newly rediscovered supercomputer as evil and try to destroy or discredit it, either through superstition or fear of change. The planet was originally settled by people who only wanted to leave their dependance on technology behind, not to form a Luddite civilization. In time this meant they lost all but the most basic stuff needed for survival, and because of this they suffered. It was eventually returning to the technological state which saved them, when they found AI which gave them access to all the tech the colonists planned on having, but lost.
- Given the AI is dropped in as a near-literal Deus Ex Machina, and the new technology is rammed down the throats of the populace by a small group who've already developed a reputation for ruling by fiat because they saved the world and they know best.
- H.P. Lovecraft goes a step further, though it's not just science; H.P. Lovecraft's stories had a recurring theme that wanting to know more about the world would inevitably lead to insanity and corruption. Lovecraft had a love-hate relationship with science. On one hand he was delighted and inspired by its discoveries, but on the other he found it horribly formulaic and unimaginative (complaints he also had about mainstream religion). His short story, Silver Key pretty much summarizes his less than flattering thoughts towards all forms of mainstream thinking.
- Oryx and Crake has more than a hint of this.
- Every book by Michael Crichton, a good deal of which got a lot of people interested in science. Crichton himself averts this trope in that he was a big proponent of science and more science education. Chrichton's point is generally more along the lines of science is good if used for something like feeding people or helping the sick, i.e. something benign and obvious. But like anything one must also have the common sense to use it with restraint. Being "pro-science" is one thing, not having the two brain cells needed to stop and say "Gee, I wonder if something could go wrong if we genetically engineer dinosaurs?" is another.
- Maximum Ride loves this. No scientist character is ever good. Nothing science ever accomplishes is ever for the good.
- The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne concludes with the aesop that people shouldn't attempt to play God by improving on nature
- In the novel Feed by M.T. Anderson, having essentially an internet hookup directly into your brain lets you look up anything instantly, so no one ever bothers to really learn or remember anything, becoming imbeciles with the attention span of gnats.
- This is one of the main messages of Ceremony, along with "White people are evil beings created by witcherey to destroy the world
- The War of the Worlds, has a touch of this. Wells's Martians are clearly designed as his projection of what man himself might evolve into, given enough time: little more than bodiless brains, helpless if separated from their machines. Wells may have viewed this fate as inevitable for mankind.
- Although most of his later novels were much more pro-technology, Jules Verne's early novel Paris in The Twentieth Century portrays a cold, sterile future where artistic and humanistic pursuits have been all but abandoned in favor of technology as an answer to all human problems. The main character, a poet, can find neither work nor sympathy, and dies starving in the streets.
- This tends to be a characteristic of many Stephen King novels, including his magnum opus (the The Dark Tower series). We have
- The Great Old Ones from the Dark Tower series, who are explicitly described as being "deceived by the false light of science", replacing the magic with their own imperfect science and technology, then killing themselves off with weapons that leave the world a polluted, ruined mess.
- The superflu from Stephen King's The Stand. which escapes a government lab and kills off 99.4% of the world's population—of course the creators designed it to make sure an antivirus could never be made. The mini-series implies that Flagg may have had a role in the release of it, but the book itself describes it as a series of foul-ups and technical errors.
- Flagg is specifically described by Glen Bateman as "the last magician of rational thought" (!) and he gives an impassioned defense of the concept that they should not be so quick to recreate the technological civilization that created things like nukes and bio-engineered germs in the first place.
- In the words of Jean Baudrillard in The Procession of Simulacra, "Science never sacrifices itself. It is always murderous." Keep in mind that he didn't think science was inherently bad, despite that quote.
- In the last Empire From the Ashes book, the world religion of the planet Pardal centers entirely around the suppression of scientific progress, while at the same time worshiping an ancient defense computer as the voice of God.
- In the Safehold series the need for the deliberately Lost Colony to revert to a pre-industrial technology level to avoid the omnicidal Gbaba was an unfortunate necessity. Word of God is that this trope is part of the thinking behind Langhorne and Bedard's alteration of the original plan to make sure that a technological society doesn't arise again.
- Most movie versions of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine (as stated in the Film section) emphasize the evils of technology versus a pastoral existence, but neglect his central thesis: the alienation of the working class resulting in an elite that neither knows nor cares how the comfort in which it lives is produced. Wells, a socialist, was not arguing against technology but against the exploitation of the working class in Victorian England. Indeed, most of Wells' body of work, especially The Shape Of Things To Come, is very pro-science and technology, focusing more on how humanity must mature socially in step with its scientific progress.
- In Aleksandr Mazin's Time For Change duology, nature itself follows this trope, with catastrophes striking out against many types of scientific research in a seemingly unrelated manner. For example, the first recorded catastrophe was a massive tsunami that flooded New York. The link was an attempt by NASA to see if it is possible to give birth in orbit. After that, the International Committee for Prevention of Illegal Scientific Research (AKA Aladdin) is created in order to enforce the ban. They recruit the scientists and soldiers and equip them with the latest technology allowed by law. They become so powerful that only a few nations can go against them, including Russia, China, and possibly US.
- In the second novel, The Morning of Judgment Day, the Chinese defy the ban and launch a manned mission to Mars. During a historic speech televised throughout the world, another catastrophe hits, causing any Chinese-speaking person listening to the broadcast to go deaf. The protagonist's father parallels this to the Tower of Babel part of The Bible, where man attempts to reach the heavens, and suggests that humans may have to stay on Earth for good.
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: The book show us both sides of this question: In almost all the book, The Professor Aronnax, a Wide-Eyed Idealist expert on marine life is showed all the good things the Nautilus can accomplish (scientific discoveries, exploration of the South Pole, teasure hunting, etc). Only after The Reveal, that the Nautilus is used as a terrible (for the standards of the 19th century) Weapon of Mass Destruction, Aronnax’s Heel Realization lets him know that those good things can’t justify the terrible violence.
- The second and third Dinotopia books were quite Anvillicious about this, although it should be noted that they were more anti-technology than anti-science, since the protagonist himself was a scientist (although more of a naturalist, really).
- The Tripods used this,but as a pretense of the antagonists rather than an actual theme of the work. The Masters gave the appearance that they blamed science and technology for humankind's evilness, thus pushing humanity back to the middle ages with the Caps. (ie sending the Science Is Bad message through the caps.) It was really to stifle creativity and independent thinking and make humans easier to subdue.
- A recurring theme in the Outer Limits. It is the basis for the plot of many (though not all) of its episodes.
- A prominent episode involves a trial in the Twenty Minutes Into the Future United States, which has forsaken technology and banned teaching science under the penalty of death. A 20th century scientist develops Time Travel and goes to the future only to be arrested for breaking the ban. She goes before the Supreme Court and argues to repeal the ban, as a plague will wipe out most of humanity in the near future if technological research is not restarted. Another time traveler arrives to argue for the opposite, as humanity's expansion to the stars will eventually cause us to piss off an advanced alien race and lead to our destruction. In the end, they send the second time traveler to the past and agree to repeal the ban, only for the second guy's fusion bomb to activate and wipe out Washington, DC.
- In Doctor Who, science is usually the cause of evil, and science (in the form of the Doctor) usually saves the day. Whether or not it uses this trope depends on the specific episode.
- Joss Whedon has said the idea behind the Initiative from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was to create a conflict between science and magic, and when that happens, of course, magic eventually kicks science's ass. The Initiative goes on recon to study the habits of vampires and captures them so they can do further tests, all to better understand how they work and how they can best be contained. Buffy just stakes 'em. Guess which works better?
- Star Trek, despite being the best-known Speculative Fiction series, often dipped its toe into this trope. Worked on a sort of sliding scale, where the level of science the Federation had at that particular point in the episode was the exact right amount and trying to advance beyond that was just asking for the technological equivalent of not being able to get away with a damn thing. Offscreen advance of science: good. Onscreen advance of science: bad.
- The Original Series episode which most directly addresses this is "The Way to Eden" (the infamous "space hippie" one). Dr. Sevrin's followers want to abandon technology and return to a pastoral existence. Between his Vulcan half's admiration for their (ahem, technical!) pacifism, and his human half's submerged longing for exactly that sort of simple life, Spock of all people ends up sympathizing with them. He's deeply disappointed when their leader turns out to be nuts.
- Voyager's take on the Q is interesting. TNG had previously established that the Q believed humans might one day develop into a civilization comparable to themselves (and were not very pleased about it); yet, in Voyager, most of the all-but-omnipotent Q are shown to be bored half out of their minds, because life offers no challenges any more.
- Averted in Roddenberry's novelization of the first movie, which claims that most of humanity outside of Starfleet is actually going a transhumanist route, forming into massminds and such. Kirk, as narrator, regards this as a generally good thing and chides himself for being old-fashioned. However, this claim is not supported anywhere else in Trek canon.
- In TOS, Bunny Ears Lawyer Sam Cogley's speech in "Court Martial" about liking his book collection better than his computer, even though he admits it can display any of their contents instantly.
- The TOS episode "The Ultimate Computer" is a great example of this trope, combined with a little Ludd Was Right. The Enterprise is testing a brand-new computer that could automate starships completely, making crews and captains all but obsolete. Of course, A.I. Is a Crapshoot, things go south fast, and our heroes must pull the plug and save the day, but not before the sorrowful moments where Kirk faces the thought he may become obsolete. The scientist who designed the computer also turns out to be insane at the end, just to drive the point home.
- Fringe seems to take a stance of science being both bad and good, since its used to both cause and help solve the Freaky Mystery of the Week!
- The Gray and Grey Morality of the show seems to imply that science can accomplish good things, but at the cost of other good things, and the scientist's mileage may vary as to whether the accomplishments are worth the cost. This is especially obvious when comparing and contrasting Walter and Walternate; each crosses lines that the other will not. For example, Walter is willing to experiment on children while Walternate is not, but Walternate is willing to trap people alive in amber while Walter is not.
- While the Stargate series mostly avert this, the Stargate Atlantis episode "Trinity," wherein McKay finds an abandoned Ancient experiment to produce limitless energy, it's repeatedly suggested that he is getting in over his head (The Ancients did not complete the program, and it went rather wrong). Despite constant protestations that this is a field they are simply not ready for, McKay continues. In the end he ends up destroying a Stellar System. While the episode plays the aesop straight, a later episode has a solution to the problems from the first time, and the attempt is assisted by an Asgard, the most technologically advanced race who will talk with humanity.
- Well, five sixths of a Solar System. It's not an exact science.
- On an episode of CSI: NY, this trope is used to demonize the science of Genetics. It starts off with a supposed dead man being stolen from the back of the van that was bringing it to the morgue. Then the body is dumped in the river, fished out and then found to be alive... brain dead, but alive. They find their way to a genetics research lab that's making goats produce silk in their milk and rats grow ears on their backs. The scientist in charge explains the benefits of it (silk in bulk, replacing a lost body part) but the cops just remark about how weird it is and when they leave remark that it's wrong. The main character going so far as to say progress was great, "but should've stopped."
Turns out the genetics lab induced human hibernation on the victim, which the victim was involved in voluntarily and by accident the vic took too much of the mixture they created too fast. He ran out choking and collapsed. They stole him from the van thinking he was alive, thought he was dead when they couldn't revive him and dumped him before they got in more trouble for their unethical experiments. When confronted by this news the head scientist can only remark about his delight that it worked and lists off all the benefits like prolonged space travel and how he will be famous.
The second suspect tries to tell the cops how putting them away will "shut the door on the future" as no one else knows the formula but them, but to the cops the complicated issue is simple, they committed attempted murder (even though they thought the guy was already dead) and are going to jail. It's not "robot apocalypse" or "mutant monster" worthy, but it still denotes the same thing: science is weird... and bad.
- Eleventh Hour generally runs on this trope, as should be expected of a show about a duo that takes down people who apply new technology unethically. However, it does at times depict the potential good that can be done with stem cells, genetic engineering and the like.
- Most of the new Battlestar Galactica avoids this, but the finale takes a great big swerve into Writer on Board territory. First, everybody decides to chuck their technology and revert to hunter-gatherer barbarism in the hopes that their descendants will do better. Second, Ron Moore confirms that, after a thoughtful examination of how difficult it is to break the cycle of revenge, he chucked the metaphor and explained that he's scared of our new Japanese robot overlords.
- An episode of The Colbert Report featured Stephen interviewing the author of a book about robots and AI. The author pointed out that the West is largely wary of AI (see 2001) while the East (especially Japan) generally sees AI as a positive thing (see Astro Boy).
- Stephen often says things like "I'm no fan of science," but seemed entirely keen on one specific form when hearing about a superlaser that concentrated laser beams into a small area to produce the temperatures and pressures of a star:
Stephen: We have our own Death Star!
(Cue rain of black balloons and a big "WE HAVE OUR OWN DEATH STAR" sign flashing in the foreground)
- An inversion in an episode of Sliders the gang ends up sliding to a world where all new technology was banned after the end of World War 2. This world's version of Quinn was killed by polio, and they convince Quinn's dad that technology is not bad and would have saved his son. He helps them to repair their timer with his dead son's illegal technology. Of course, the local Evil Corporation decides to steal the timer as they have been creating technology in secret so they can corner the market once the ban is lifted.
- Dark Science Empire Deathdark, the villain group of Dai Sentai Goggle Five, revolve around using science for evil things. It's also informed that they helped the invention of sword so it can be used to kill. Ouch.
- Lost played with this trope with Dharma Initiative being the "we will do it no matter what" side. Taken to the logical conclusion in season's 5 finale where they continue to drill over a pocket of electromagnetic energy, although they know that in-universe EM is a bad, explosive thing.
- The entire 01011001 album by the metal opera group Ayreon. See the song "Unnatural Selection" for a particularly Anvilicious example.
- System of a Down's "Science" is entirely devoted to explaining in detail how Science Is Bad and has "failed us," as "spirit moves through all things." Performed on electric instruments.
- Styx's album Kilroy Was Here includes some brief diatribes, not against science per se, but against technology:
The problem's plain to seeMachines dehumanize.
Too much technology
Machines to rule our lives
- The opening lines of the Aquabats song "The Cat with Two heads" are as follows:
Science! Brings wonders to the modern man,
Modern Man then continues, Continues to expand,
But what happens when man creates Something oh so Wrong?
Then Nature bites back in BIG WAY! Good heavens, what have I done??
- The song Good Technology by Red Guitars doesn't necessarily condemn technology, but does lampshade its absurdities and moral ambiguities. The last verse sums it up:
Sometimes I wonder what it is all about
There's lots of leisure time to sit and work it out
There's a TV show I've got to see
Good, good, good, good, good, good technology
- Played first at straight, but later averted in Sepultura's Biotech Is Godzilla.
Bio-technology ain't what's so bad
Like all technology, it's in the wrong hands
Cut-throat corporations don't give a damn
When lots of people die from what they've made
- The song "La concubine de l'hemoglobine" ("The concubine of Hemoglobin") by French rapper MC Solar: unbridled science entails war and wholesale destruction:
Science sans conscience (science without conscience)
egale science de l'inconscience (equals science of the unconscious)
Elle se fout du progres mais souhaite la progression (it cares not of progress but wishes the progression)
De tous les processus qui menent a l'elimination (of all processes that lead to elimination)
- Nitin Sawhney's piece "Street Guru" features some random dude's bitchy platitutes over various things in modern life. On technology:
I think there's going to be a backlash against technology. You know, I don't know what's gonna cause it. I hope it won't be any environmental disaster shit, you know, for sure for my kids that wanna live a better life.... You know sometimes it's good just to go in the woods and just go hiking and get back in touch with yourself and nature. You know, then you come back here and you realize that this is like, better. Ludicious all this emphasis on technology and 50 different internet devices and shit and internet devices you can put in your pocket. Sometimes I feel threatened by it but you know, that's the future and I am a man of the past. I'm a low-tech man in a high-tech world there ain't shit I can do about it... You know, what's going on we can't use our brains: It's being a person. You know it's being a fucking person man!
- Zager & Evans "In The Year 2525."
- "Cursed Be Iron" by Turisas appears to condemn iron-working, but is probably a metaphor for military technology or the missaplication of technology. It includes the demand that iron "Come and view thine evil doings/ And amend this flood of damage", seemingly avoiding the idea that science or technology are inherently bad.
- "White Coats" by New Model Army appears to fit this trope, although it can be interpreted as criticisng science when practiced without foresight or ethics, particularly given that it was written during an apparently self-destructive US-Soviet nuclear arms race- "Those last few days at Jonestown ain't got nothing on this ".
- Subverted in a strange and depressing sort of way by Arch Oboler's Lights Out radio short "Chicken Heart" (as made famous by Bill Cosby); the scientist responsible for creating the spreading, cancerous blob of chicken muscle knows exactly how to stop the monster, but he can't get the authorities to drop the hammer in time or with enough force. If only they'd known about the monster-retardant properties of Jell-O.
- Parodied by comedian Patton Oswalt in his standup routine where he lambasts science for allowing a couple in their sixties to conceive due to it being horrifying, Ending with the line "Hey, we made cancer airborne and contagious. You're welcome. We're science, we're all about could, not should". This, however, is an exception in that quite a few of his other routines exalt the virtues of science and progress, however.
- Magic the Gathering: Yawgmoth is portrayed as a rational-minded character who relies only on scientific methods, while others rely on not better defined "magic". And, of course, he's the Big Bad.
- Averted by other characters, however - Tocasia, Jhoira of the Ghitu, Venser of Urborg, Slobad of Mirrodin, and Arcum Dagsson are all extremely talented artificers, and all are unambiguously heroic. Urza was more...on the fence about it.
- White Wolf's Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Mage: The Ascension.
- In Werewolf, the PCs are basically shapechanging super-powered eco-terrorists.
- The Glass Walkers, a technophiliac tribe of the Garou Nation are held in contempt by most of the rest of the tribes, and called "urrah". And towards the end of the gameline, it shifted so fault for the world lay more heavily upon the Weaver, who was the one who drove the Wyrm mad and has plans to calcify all reality. The Glass Walkers are regarded by the other Garou tribes as hopelessly naive about the Weaver.
- In Mage, it's not so much that technology is bad as it is that people are taught that technology is the only way; in this world, reality is what people believe, and believing there's no such thing as monsters or magic goes a long way to protect humans from the aforementioned shapechanging super-powered eco-terrorists and other supernatural beings out to victimize humanity. Unfortunately, this leads to giving up creativity and magic. Happily, as a counterexample proving that Science itself is not bad, we have the Etherites and Virtual Adepts, and most members of the Technocratic Union (the main antagonists) are perfectly decent people who just happen to be on the wrong side from the players' point of view.
- Changeling: The Dreaming has a somewhat schizoid attitude towards science: it's the moon landing that opened the doors to Arcadia and allowed the Sidhe to return, but in general technology is seen as just chock-full of imagination-killing (and so changeling-killing) Banality, except maybe for the Steampunk-ish gadgets of the Knockers.
- The Broken Aesop of the entire Old World of Darkness oWOD]] was that the creeds opposing "stasis", represented by the science that regularly changes the world, were heavily into hierarchy and hadn't changed in centuries.
- In the New World of Darkness, things have taken a step or two away. Werewolves still largely distrust technology, because it's done more to screw up the Shadow Realm than just about anything else, but they accept that it has a place and hold this version's technophile tribe, the Iron Masters, in better regard than their past counterparts. In fact, one of the antagonist Pure Tribes is given the "Luddites" hat (it's worth noting the Pure are very reminiscent of the Garou). Over in Mage, things haven't changed as much; the Free Council, Spiritual Successor to the Virtual Adepts, are given short shrift largely because they're rather young and tend to make nuisances of themselves.
- The fanmade Genius: The Transgression certainly can give this vibe, but it's actually not an example since no comment is made on sane science—or arguably an aversion since the further a Genius' beliefs differ from reality, the one sane scientists are so busy documenting, the easier it is to slip into outright grave-robbing, god-defying, blood-splattered Mad Science.
- Kicked in the balls by Cthulhu Tech: the main reason why humans have a fighting chance is because science found a way to make Magitek and Humongous Mecha.
Random Free Councilor: "Told you so!"
- Settings where Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. Of course, most of these worlds are Cyberpunk dystopias, so they often feature the Science Is Bad trope in other ways, too.
- SLA Industries, where it's probably impossible to count all the examples of "SLA tries to solve their problems by engineering a new breed of super-monster, but it goes nuts and turns against them".
- Kult, where "Victim Of Medical Experiments" is a viable Dark Secret for players. Oh, yeah, along with the fact that the growth of cities and technology is actually part of the breakdown of the illusion that is reality—the illusion that's covering up the horrifying true reality underneath it.
- In GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars this is averted. The Terrans are excited about science because they like everything new. The Vilani are not interested in advancement but only because their ancestors deliberately decided that it was coming to a point of diminishing returns, not that they hated it in principal. Most of the sympathy is with the Terrans although the Vilani are not treated without sympathy despite the fact that the word Vilani sounds like villain. Both sides are Federations and the chief cause of the war seems to be mutual arrogance.
- In the original Dungeons & Dragons "Known World" campaign setting (later renamed Mystara), the ancient civilization of Blackmoor was technological, but destroyed itself in what is implied to have been a nuclear war. The Immortals decreed that this could never be allowed to happen again. However, they allowed one pocket of Blackmoor society to endure as a lost land in the Hollow World with the caveat that all of its simulated "technology" is actually magic based, and therefore impossible for its citizens to reverse engineer, reproduce, or improve upon.
- Parodied in Paranoia. Science is crazy, even when it's Crazy Awesome, and it's trying to kill you.
- Steve Reich's "video opera" Three Tales, an Author Filibuster-filled work that centres around the crash of the airship Hindenberg, the nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, and Dolly the cloned sheep.
- Lost Odyssey inverts this as technology is neutral and it's actually magic that's screwing with the natural order.
- Frequently a side plot of many Final Fantasy games, though never played straight.
- Subverted in Final Fantasy X. The characters (and the population of Spira in general) spend most of the game thinking that the Big Bad was created as punishment for bad science, only to find out that it's actually magic gone wrong. They eventually defeat him with machines believed to be evil, instead of the religious ritual they were meant to use. By X-2, both of the major factions (the Youth League and New Yevon) agree science is okay; their major disagreement is how fast it should be implemented (New Yevon being the more conservative faction).
- It's also the reason that the Al Bhed are ostracised from society; they've always made heavy use of machina, and are the only ones to speak out against the idea of the summoner's pilgrimage, though this is mainly because of the fact that the process ends up in the death of the summoner for what would only be a quick breather from Sin's malice.
- Final Fantasy VII waffles back and forth on this one. On the one hand, many of the characters rely on technology and science to live and get by, particularly after the events of the game itself. But characters like Hojo, who experiments on people purely to satisfy his own ego, rather than benefiting humanity, and the rest of Shinra Inc. tend to abuse it. Also, bear in mind the game's environmental message, and how going back to a simpler, rustic existence was seen as favourable to an advanced one. However, Bugenhagan, the head of the most rustic settlement in the world, enjoys his ride on the Airship, calling the technology something akin to "the wisdom of man." The real message doesn't seem to be that Science Is Bad, but that Science needs to be used carefully.
- Subverted in Final Fantasy X. The characters (and the population of Spira in general) spend most of the game thinking that the Big Bad was created as punishment for bad science, only to find out that it's actually magic gone wrong. They eventually defeat him with machines believed to be evil, instead of the religious ritual they were meant to use. By X-2, both of the major factions (the Youth League and New Yevon) agree science is okay; their major disagreement is how fast it should be implemented (New Yevon being the more conservative faction).
- Played with in Okami, where Yami, God of Darkness is implied to be the originator of Technology and is basically a Humongous Mecha (albeit with a squishy core resembling that of a fishbowl) as well as the fact that the demons Lechku and Nechku are robotic owls. However, Waka's Tao Warriors use Magitek computers and the Moon Tribe apparently do have some access to advanced technology. In fact, helping a mechanic with his research will give Amaterasu the power to summon lightning. Ultimately, it seems that Science and Evil don't exactly go hand in hand.
- Mother 3 heavily suggests that the proliferation of technology would bring about the world's downfall, especially given how certain scenery transforms as the game progresses. Though it seems to hint more at an 'American culture is bad' message. Which is really ironic given how the first two games celebrated modern society and used the setting as an Affectionate Parody of American culture.
- In Fallout 3 the most prominent case is Doctor Lesko, a wannabe Mad Scientist who created the fire ants that destroyed Grayditch in an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. Despite this, the game makes it clear that Lesko is merely careless, not evil, and science-oriented players have the opportunity to lecture on him on proper experimental procedure.
- The Fallout 'verse has its share of good and evil scientists. Most "good" scientists adapt existing technology to try to rebuild civilization (such as the Project Purity and Rivet City teams). Scientists who use Forced Evolutionary Virus are depicted either as irresponsible or outright evil.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, Veronica, a member of the Brotherhood of Steel and a potential companion is frustrated that the Brotherhood only cares about recovering and preserving specific technology from the pre-war days, such as Powered Armor and Energy Weapons, but not develop new technology or find alternate uses for the stuff they have. Only one Elder insists on alternate avenues of research but his ideas are dismissed as insanity, mostly because he is the only Elder to gain his position via the Scribe route instead of Paladin.
- The New California Republic has scientists working round-the-clock trying to solve their power, food, and water problems.
- This is also one of the teachings of Caesar, who believe that technology led to the decadence of the old world, prohibiting any weapons that do not require infantry and medicine beyond tribal remedies (stating that those who depend on such are weak and deserved to be culled). Of course, Caesar himself has an Auto-Doc for his brain tumor and is willing to take Arcade Gannon as a physician.
- Crystalis takes place 100 years after a nuclear war ends civilization. Since then, the people have abandoned science in favor of magic.
- Similar to "SatAM" Sonic the Hedgehog below is Sonic CD. Taking Robotnik and his robot generators out of the equation reveals a good future in which technology and nature co-exist harmoniously
- Doom is based on the premise that teleportation is literal contact with Hell. Half or more of the demons are cybernetically augmented. On the other hand, experimental weapons tend to save the day. In the third game, the company that develops the teleportation device is shown to have also created breakthroughs in energy generation and storage, and is in the process of terraforming Mars.
- While not exactly played straight in Tales of Vesperia, the technology actually does have the unintended side effect of summoning the Adephagos. As it turns out, in-universe, all technology is actually powered by the souls of the Entelexeia, solidified and broken into fragments.
- This is Myria's viewpoint in Breath of Fire III.
- There are good scientists in City of Heroes. They're just constantly over shadowed by people like Crey, the 5th Column, The Council, and Neuron. Oh, and Portal Corp, despite being a good organization, has caused way more harm than good.
- Resident Evil: Science and evil are like best pals in the Resident Evil universe. Most, if not all, the troubles in the series are caused by groups of power hungry scientists who think it's a novel idea to use the T and G-Virus to create unstable monstrosities with a likelihood of things going wrong being above 105%. There is not one good scientist in the entire series and major villains like Albert Wesker and Alexia Ashford are the results of genetic engineering to create the ultimate super-being.
- Doubly so by the fact that the scientiests who started the research and are responsible for all the horror, are also the founders and owners of the company, so they can't get away with the usual "the man used my work for evil" excuse.
- While Spore doesn't go so far as to outright call science bad, it is notable that the Scientist archetype's special ability is the Gravity Wave, which instantly wipes out all life on a planet and is one of the only two archetypes whose special ability breaks Galactic Code to use (the other being the planet-converting Zealot).
- In Alpha Centauri, the science-based faction of the University of Planet has an increased number of drones due to 'unethical research'. The fundamentalist faction also rails against the (unrighteous) use of technology, though their leader Miriam is not a Luddite, rather fearing that humanity will lose control of their creations.
Sister Miriam: The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesteryear. But it was never the streets that were evil.
- In Medievil this trope is referenced. When visiting the HQ of the evil wizard Zarok (your nemesis), which is full of Magitek and Steampunk gizmos (from the Steampowered undead soldiers, through a Steam train in eleventh century England, all the way into Time Machines), one of the exposition-delivering Gargoyles mentions that Zarok has mastered "the darkest of all magics: Science".
- Mega Man Star Force 3 Tia and Jack were both orphaned in war for the technology of their home. They want to use Meteor G to destroy all the worlds technology.
- Technology articles on Cracked.com tend to fit the form, "Seven ways X Scientific Advancement Can Kill You" or "Eight More Animals That Can Horribly Kill You." Since Cracked is an entertainment site first and a news site fifty-seventh, it makes more sense this way.
- Ink City has attracted plenty of scientists, including Heloise, Dr. Chipotle Jr., Megamind, GLaDOS and Caroline. There are also characters who want to use science to analyze and control the unpredictable residents, like Trevor.
- Brutally satirized in this Dresden Codak strip.
- Now has a live action version!
- This sentiment is expressed by minor characters in Girl Genius, given the damage that Sparks are known to do (and many of the characters who think so were, indeed, casualties of Spark activity). One of these characters is Othar Tryggvassen (GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER), a Spark himself, who decided to set off on a quest to eliminate the Spark from the world, ending with his own death, because he's keenly aware of how dangerous they can be.
- In fairness, "sparks" and "science" are very much not the same thing. Sparks tend to be brilliant and crazy scientists (or, in one notable case, a brilliant and crazy social scientist), but there are also numerous non-spark scientists. Scientific progress would continue without sparks, it would just slow down.
- No Black Plume frequently parodies this, including a six-part series entitled "Science Will Ruin Your Life".
- Minimum Security is a very hard, left-leaning environmentalist comic that oftens takes pot shots at science. Many characters bomb labs and power plants while celebrating a world in which people remained aggrarian.
- Practically every episode of the first season of Superfriends focused not on a villain but on a Well-Intentioned Extremist, a Mad Scientist or a regular scientist whose invention accidentally runs amok. An early episode had a scientist gains hyper-intelligence (and a cartoonishly enlarged cranium) due to some sort of radiation experiment, and rather than use his superior intellect to take over the world, decides to broadcast the rays so that everyone on Earth can enjoy the same radically evolved intelligence as him. Thank god the Justice League saved us from the horrifying fate of becoming smarter!
- Dr. Blight from Captain Planet and the Planeteers is the show's resident embodiment of the trope.
- Having said that, one Planeteer Alert encourages viewers to learn more about science, since science can be used for good.
- Parodied in The Simpsons, with the ignorant townsfolk going on an anti-science riot, including attacking the Museum of Natural History, with Moe smashing a mammoth skeleton, having it land on his back and crying "Oh! My back! I'm paralyzed! I only hope medical science can cure me!"
- Another episode showed a similar mob set to burn Principal Skinner at the stake for insisting that the earth revolves around the sun.
- In the episode "Bart's Comet", when the eponymous comet burns up in Springfield's polluted atmosphere instead of destroying the town as predicted, Moe shouts "Let's go burn down the observatory so this never happens again!" Cue the angry mob.
- Delightfully parodied in any episode of The Angry Beavers where they feature B-Movie star Oxnard Montalvo. ("The crawling spleen has grown an opposable thumb!")
- Averted in the "SatAM" Sonic the Hedgehog animated series. Despite the fact that the world has been conquered by Dr. Robotnik with an army of Mecha-Mooks and a machine that lets him inflict Unwilling Roboticisation on the victimized organics, despite the fact he is deliberately running his energy plants and factories inefficiently in order to poison the environment and weaken them, science is not portrayed as evil of itself. All of the blame is instead placed on Robotnik being a power-crazed psychotic megalomaniac who is misusing and abusing scientific tools to enforce his own demented desires.
- The Roboticizer wasn't even his. Uncle Chuck invented it as a means of keeping people with terminal illnesses alive until a cure could be found, or even as a means of eliminating amputation. Of course, when Robotnik came to power, guess who was the first one to get thrown into the Roboticizer...?
- Sally Acorn, co-protagonist, Princess, and Love Interest, also has her own artificially intelligent handheld computer named Nicole, who is consistently helpful to our heroes.
- Averted with the Mechanist in Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's true that he is pretty much destroying all the original architecture of one of the last Air Nomad temples to provide modern conveniences to his fellow refugees who now live in it, and manufacturing weapons for the Fire Nation, but he is actually portrayed quite positively (and the whole weapons manufacturing thing was due to Fire Nation forces threatening violence against his people, which they later carried out).
- Played straight in an episode of the computer animated Garfield series. The first half of the episode features Odie digging up a dinosaur bone, only to have the local museum threaten to get a court order evicting them from their home because "science is more important" the second part of the episode features a cleaning robot gone mad.
- In the Teachers Pet movie, the Big Bad says, "Nature is dead! Science is king!" Of course, science is the study of nature...
- While Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes does not have this as a theme, Thor does have this opinion.
- The Tick (animation) parodies this trope in "Tick vs. The Proto Clown", in which a scientist who loves clowns theorized that a bigger clown would be even funnier, and his creation is now terrorizing The City.
Arthur: Good gosh, man. Didn't you know it was against the laws of nature? Clowns were never meant to be that big!
Scientist: I know that... now...
- Invention of Love has Steampunk technology in a "too much of a good thing" sense. Mechanical horses? Awesome! A house full of appliances? Convenient! A polluted city without any natural flora or fauna? Throwing away the rose your true love gave you when it wilts and building a mechanical replacement? ...not so much.
- Everything can be bad, if misused. Usually, science is good.
- Which makes this trope especially ironic, given that people expressing this belief often utilize quite a bit of science and technology.
- Many social justice bloggers think that science is "colonialist" and "white people's power" and talk about how people using science to decide on what the world is like is oppressive, even as they type on their laptop with their high speed internet connection.
- Any worker who has lost his job to a machine and then worried where his children's next meal will come from is understandably likely to express this sentiment. Of course, the engineer that designed the machine and the technician operating and maintaining it, both which can now stop worrying about where their children's meals will come from, tend to have the opposite sentiment.
- Socrates once grumbled that, as writing became a more universal skill, people would become forgetful because they could simply write things down.
- There is actually some data to suggest that people living in an environment where one is forced to rely on one's own memory have better retention, at least for short term memory.
- But there is also data to suggest that taking notes aid in retention of knowledge. So, who can say?
- Similarly, obesity is becoming a problem as physical labor becomes less necessary, while the nutrition (including fat) density of food goes up and hyperstimulants act on humans' in-built desires and cause them to eat more.
- This is a primary view of the Anarcho-Primitivist movement, and John Zerzan especially, who condemns writing and abstract thought as among other things, they lead to, you guessed it, technology and science. "Technology" simply means tool-making, something humans (and chimps, and crows...) do by nature, so Humans Are the Real Monsters and need to die or be lobotomized in their view.
- For those of you wondering what Zerzan does approve of, his ideal is basically one of acting on little more (if more) than immediate desire and instinct. Not to mention a way of experiencing one's environment that's open to its totality—the main reason he detests abstraction, reification, and naming, as distractions that make one only take in a subset at a time. Suffice to say that he thinks the only unalloyed-good form of communication is telepathy (q.v. the idea that "lovers need no words"—even though that has more to do with being used to each other's methodologies).
- It's also worth noting that many anarcho-primitivists don't abjure tools, in the sense of objects utilized and/or modified for a very specific task (q.v. crows), and (more importantly) not requiring specialization. The sort of technology they think has no place in a viable society is the sort that requires just such specialization (and, by corollary, relinquishing of anything else you could do for the people...even if you yourself initially sought to abjure the other tasks to fine-tune that one goal, apparently). This basically means anything more complex than a kayak, bow, or fishing weir. Science is Bad here because it tempts one towards that which requires mandated labor division.
- It bears repeating that in fictional works, as in real life, science and technology are often treated as interchangeable, though they are not. Often a criticism of a particular application of a technology, or of its social repercussions, but may not be a criticism of the scientific method of study and problem solving - but are grouped under the anti-science label anyway - either by mistake or as an attempt to discredit the criticism. As mentioned above, Luddism was more a social/political movement focusing on the role of industrialization on labor displacement and working-class oppression, than a pure Irrational Hatred of technology (in modern popular usage, the context is edited out, and "Luddite" basically means primitive and reactionary).
- On the same note, efforts to point out bad science can also get shoved under the anti-science label, for the same reasons.
- Theodore Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber, took this trope too literally.
- One of the many things the Khmer Rouge killed people for was being educated. They wanted a technology-free society, and they pretty much got one—complete with rampant disease, starvation, and getting their asses stomped by neighboring Vietnam.
- Nicolás Gómez Dávila, the Colombian philosopher, believed wholeheartedly in this.
- Taoism is, as ever, paradoxical. On one hand, its focus in material immortality through Alchemy and the workings of Nature led to many progresses in Chemistry, Medicine and related fields. On the other hand, phylosophical Taoism believes strongly in Harmony (the principle of wu wei, without ado) in the Harmony Versus Discipline conflict, also believing that human knowledge is inherently limited and flawed (down to the very tool used to disseminate it, language), and thus prone to messing the true order of the Cosmos.
- Taoism, as with all ancient advice, is very vulnerable to misinterpretation. The flowery wordplay and metaphors of the ancient sages if anything only make it more-so. However, the underlying message is basically just Ockham's Razor, which isn't particularly anti-science NOR paradoxical. What Taoism is against is redundant complexity.
- There is a little bit of Fridge Horror when you realize that science actually needs conflict to develop. Most of the major advancements mankind made were either made for war initially, or put to use in war later. One real life example was World War 2, where the horrible acts by the Nazis and Japanese actually advanced medical science, and we probably would not have nuclear power plants or sources of energy if it were not for the atomic bombs. These are only two examples on a very long list.
- Well, not usually.