Thursday
Nov302006

« Techgnophobia »

I had to create a pair of new words to sum up my longer definitions of this phenomenon. I hope it makes it into Webster's. When Webster's does come calling, my last name is spelled "Lucas." Please send your money soon. I accept donations of gold.

Tech•gno•sis

1. Awareness of the hidden secrets of technology and technological societies, i.e. that it has limits due to resources, and enviro-socio-political costs that can be too great to bear upon the successful growth and application of technology. Knowledge often averted by minds that love the idea of the democratization of technological progress coupled with ideologies of perpetual economic growth.

Tech•gno•pho•bi•a (Not to be confused with "technophobia", the fear of technology.)

-gno- Gk. Gnosis, n. "secret or hidden knowledge required for salvation"-phobia- Gk. Phobos, n. "awe, reverence, fear"

  1. The fear of venturing into understanding the fuller picture of technology's hidden dark side, i.e. its addictive qualities that will lead to dangerous use, even to complete failure.
  2. A sentiment found in industrialized societies that cannot admit to failings of the entrenchment of their situation, even as the means of production fail, or the environment is destroyed in the process.
  3. Techgnophobe, a person who subscribes to such a belief system, often foolishly, and justifies the status quo with easy answers to replace X with Y.

Example:

"The Club of Rome's Limits To Growth and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth are examples of techgnosis; they admit that there are incredible risks associated with the "success" of the technological societies of the world. These take frank looks at the hidden dark side of technology and growth that results from being able to manipulate natural systems for human gain, oftentimes with short-term goals in mind. Global warming, air pollution and peak oil are regarded by the techgnophobes as nonsense. They don't want to hear about the costs associated with more reliance on technology. They have easy answers like, 'We'll just invent a new car or industrial process to eliminate it,' so they say, not admitting to the fact that more cars and industrial processes does nothing to change the status quo, indeed, it deepens it! Such an adherence is techgnophobia, fear of understanding the full cost of a technological addiction. A Prius car might save X amount of gallons of fuel to operate over its life, but in making it, we have used as much energy and resources as we'd have used to make a combusion-engine car. People who want to paint a rosy picture of progress toward fighting global warming, peak oil, and pollution will laud the Prius with no evaluation of whether production of that car is any more sustainable than any other sort. Their reasoning is fundamentally missing an ethic of conservation, cultural shift of habitual use of devices."

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