So as we come to the end of my posts on what happened to Cool Futurism, let’s go on and whack reality with the truth stick: Anti-Scientific attitudes really put a cramp in the Cool Future.
As naive, distant, and consumeristic as the Cool Future we remember from the Omni days was, it was all about the science. It was all special materials and computers and sexy tech. There was also a lot of reality in there, even if some ideas seem laughable or we’re proven wrong or were modified.
However, science really has taken a beating in American culture. Wether its denial of global warming despite the evidence, or the idea that a well-used theory like evolution is completely equal to Creationism, that vaccines are worse than diseases, or that smoking really isn’t bad for you, science was a might inconvenient for some folks. It gets questioned a lot – and of course the bizarre trend in America to blame teachers and education for everything didn’t help (you don’t support by education by acting like everyone doing it is a moocher out to destroy society).
Really a lot of anti-science attitudes are simple political convenience. It gets you donations by interested parties, lets pundits spin insane conspiracy theories to sell books, and when invoked by religions puts fearful butts in pews. Of course when you claim contrails are why you shouldn’t get vaccinated because that’s really a conspiracy by global warming supporters to destroy Capitalism, then there’s gonna be fallout.
You can’t build a future of science when science is the enemy.
I think this anti-science attitude builds on the anti-intellectualism that surfaces now and then in American culture like a great big Loch Ness Monster of dumb. I don’t see the equivalent of the two-fisted monster-fighting scientists of my beloved 50’s b-movies (or indeed, Indiana Jones), or the pro-engineering/pro-science attitudes that got American to the Moon. At some point despite a lot of pro-science, pro-engineering attitudes in the 30’s to 50’s, we’re suddenly anti-science.
I could probably analyze a lot of what happened (I actually have theories that it’s a confluence of multiple factors that actually manifested across the political spectrum, but then consolidated). But one thing it did to was help kill the idea of the cool future when it roared into stupid, shambling life.
Anti-Science is also easy on the media, as is “un-science” like cheap occult/fantasy. Science is about how stuff works which can be awful inconvenient when you want a story where stuff blows up, which may be why the Apocalypse was easier to make cool, and I don’t see any “YA Sci Fi” going big.
So I think a lot of cases even if we want the cool future, there’s so much anti-science and un-science that makes it damn hard to plan and believe. Plus we have to cope with the anti-sicence, anti-intellectual crowd that makes a living off of it.
Want your Cool Future back? Fight for science, because that’s how we’re gonna build it.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.