Friday, August 3, 2007

"What Happened To Science?"

The mysterious Hoffitt film that surfaced during the TLE really added a useful dimension to the game. Whether it was a part of TLE released by TPTB, or the clever work of fans with access to historical document reels, the film did a great job of portraying the zeitgeist of the collective scientific community in the first half of the 20th century and put the early earnest intentions of the HF in a related light. During the game we learned that the Hanso Foundation was created with the good intentions of using science to improve our world. Like Alfred Nobel, Alvar wanted to put his destructive arms career behind him, and atone by concentrating on beneficial research.

The HF ad states, "From the dawn of our species, Man has been blessed with curiosity. Our most precious gift, is the desire to know more. To look beyond what is accepted, and to imagine what is possible". The Hoffitt film is narrated throughout and at one point the voice-over comments, "Today the mystery of the great unknown is being explored unendingly by research scientists, hoping to find practical application for advancements in all of our lives and ways. Each discovery... fulfills the human destiny...with a purpose to perform toward perfection. We...believe in...fundamentally improving the human condition, through applied reason." These are very admirable goals, and mirror those of early 20th century research.

When scientists began to make great strides in areas such as curing diseases and simplifying our daily lives with improved products and equipment, these men (and the few women who were allowed, such as Madame Curie and Lisa Meintner) were giants to us. When I grew up children changed from wanting to grow up to be Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, to imagining themselves in jobs hunching over bubbling beakers, wielding sword-like slide rules and sporting pocket protectors, or hurtling through the heavens to unknown worlds. Our TV heroes were the likes of astronauts, the adventuresome Johnny Quest and his scientist dad, and Mr. Wizard who taught us the fundamentals of science magic. We were promised a brighter future and a better tomorrow through science. And we were told that we would live on the moon!

So what happened to those lofty scientific goals? Today researchers are often thought of as the bad guys, almost with the same distaste that people rightly cast on the selfish corporate magnates of the 21st century. Where did science go wrong? Maybe we can look to TLE for some hints. Perhaps many once-honorable science related businesses like IBM got overtaken, as the original family owners bowed out, by pseudo-scientist nuts who had only their self-promoting money-making achievements in mind. Additionally, the grey-haired old hippies from the 1960s who complain today about global this-and-that-problems had forty years to study any science of their choice to help improve the world, but they didn't and all they do now is complain. Where were they when the coup of the scientific community was happening by those with less than stellar aspirations? ((Crickets chirping))

I guess that Underdog was not able to control Simon Bar Sinister after all. Maybe Johnny Quest and his dad failed to overcome the many evil scientists at work to control the world, and that's the universe that we live in now. And Mr. Wizard (Don Herbert) passed on from our dimension this year. Other than that, I have no clue as to what happened to our aspirations for a better and more humanitarian tomorrow through science. I'm open for suggestions.


pgtbeauregard said...

This is a non-intellectual response, but I believe money is the new driving force, and not the betterment of humanity.

I'm sure, as in any field, there are the people who do it for mankind, but do they have access to the best facilities?

Another driving force is pesonal glory and recognition.

This leads me to think that on Lost, Ben is doing what he's doing for the greater good (at least what he thinks is so). He is aware of the evil that wants to use the island for their own personal gain, is trying desperately to not let that happen.

Still don't like him or Juliet though!

capcom said...

You're right PGT. In the case of IBM, the company no longer wants to make products to sell, it only wants to make money with virtual services.

As for Ben, I'm starting to get the impression that TPTB are leading us to a scenario where the overall picture we have of Ben, is seeing him as fighting a war. And in war, you sometimes have to do evil things to fight evil, unfortunately. But maybe the ultimate view of Ben still won't be a clearcut character analysis, and it will be up to whatever the personal viewer feels about his over-arching behavior.

I'm really interested to see if TPTB can make us think that Ben is "good" after all the crummy things that he's done to everyone.

pgtbeauregard said...


I don't think Ben is a "good" person, however, he really thinks he is doing the right ("good") thing. He's too weaselly for me though

memphish said...

I agree there are pretty much no humanitarian motivations in the world anymore. I think in large part this has to do with the nihilistic bent of Western society. More and more people and the so-called "smart" people believe this is it so I'm going to get me and mine as much as I can because when I'm gone, I'm gone.

Additionally, no one does anything for its own sake anymore, for the most part. Just look at kids today out there doing more and more and more, but not so they'll be a well-rounded person or because they enjoy what they're doing, but so that their college application will be so clogged with activities that they'll be able to compete with the rest of the population's padded GPAs.

Man Capcom, you've given me a rant platform with this one.

capcom said...

You both are so right here. It seems as if today, everyone is getting more and more used to the quick monetary pay-off with minimal effort. And I think that another symptom of that mindset is the fact that there are really very few standout visionaries anymore, and that is also probably because of what you said Memphish, about the payoff being in the now, and not caring about how it affects the future. It seems that the society that the world has created for itself today, is not nurturing any futuristic minds like Werner Von Braun and his colleagues.

That's funny (in a bad way that is) what you said about getting into college Memphish, it is so true. I've also heard that more and more grads today get out of college and expect the top high paying jobs without having to start at the bottom. Strange.

pgtbeauregard said...


You're so right about immediate gratification. I have nieces and nephews who expect to make 6 figure incomes straight out of college. And, they spend as though they do as well.

It's become a very materialistic world, and the science and research fields are mirroring that.