30 Days of Wisdom — Day 8: Blinded by Science


Welcome to Day 8!

I like this one,

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
― Isaac Asimov
tags: life, science, wisdom 7417 likes

Isaac Asimov (/ˈaɪzɨk ˈæzɨmɒv/ eye-zək az-ə-mov;[2] born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov; c. January 2, 1920[1] – April 6, 1992) was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.[3] His books have been published in nine out of ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.[4] (wikipedia)

90,000 letters and postcards?! Awesome. I haven’t read much science fiction, but I knew he was a big deal when I was a kid. My parents had a lot of his books on our bookshelves. I think my dad read him most; he doesn’t seem my mother’s taste at all.

Asimov died in 1992. Before the Internet. Before MS-Windows was released. Before widespread Starbucks coffee shops dotted the map like confetti.

Here’s what was released in the 1980s:

Personal computers
Graphical user interface
Video game consoles
Cable television
Answering machines
Cell phones
Portable phones
Fax machines

That’s plenty. The 80s were also a big moment for biological engineering, including cancer research in mice and food / agricultural advances which we likely wish hadn’t happened as well.

But this isn’t about science, as much as it is about wisdom.

It seems impossible for mankind to keep up with the breakneck pace of science and I think that’s ok, not sad. But that’s also not what he’s saying. What he is saying, is sad: that society doesn’t gain wisdom as quickly as science does.

But that was before 1992.

I think if Asimov was here to see the social media explosion and how it has ushered civil revolutions, information sharing, blogging, and global awareness, which I think has enhanced wisdom.

On the other hand, social media has also ushered in new ways to bully people, ways for unpleasant people to be incredibly unkind to one another in hateful and spiteful ways and been a great way for anonymous people to be completely awful to people who dare to have a contrary opinion.

I guess the heart of this quote is true — that societal wisdom is slower than the pace of science. But I think that’s what happens when science advances, which can be more easily quantified, than societal wisdom, which can take generations to assess. I do feel as though society is advancing in its widsom.

We have more awareness about:

the ecology
social injustice
disease and cures
equal rights
music and so much more.

I don’t think it’s sad that society’s wisdom isn’t as speedy as science. It’s human.

Thank you.

About Grass Oil by Molly Field

follow me on twitter @mollyfieldtweet. i'm working on a memoir and i've written two books thus unpublished because i'm a scaredy cat. i hail from a Eugene O'Neill play and an Augusten Burroughs novel but i'm a married, sober straight mom. i write about parenting, mindfulness, irony, personal growth and other mysteries vividly with a bit of humor. "Grass Oil" comes from my son's description of dinner i made one night. the content of the blog is random, simple, funny and clever. stop by, it would be nice to get to know you. :)

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