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Re: <nettime> Aliens Cause Global Warming
human being on Wed, 7 Jan 2004 17:19:45 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Aliens Cause Global Warming

"Advice to Science Students," 1974, Donald P. Geesaman, Ph.D.., in 
Readings on Science, Technology and Purpose, prepared for the 1982-83 
Midcareer Seminar: Education for Reflective Leadership, H.H. Humphrey 
Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, pp. xiv-xv, 

excerpt from:

So, as I sat in CyberX, face first in a monitor, I began to wonder what 
the personal costs would be if we continue to allow technologies to run 
interference with what little remaining personal time and space we 
have. I was reminded of a statement written in 1974 by Donald P. 
Geesaman. Geesaman was an outspoken critic of nuclear power plants and 
the uses of Plutonium in the 1970's. He is portrayed in the movie 
Silkwood as one of the two scientists that speaks about the dangers of 
Plutonium to Silkwood's colleagues at her nuclear plant prior to their 
unionization. He wrote the following shortly after Karen Silkwood's 
untimely death and the subsequent investigation into its circumstances. 
It is called "Advice to Science Students."

"I sat down last night at eleven o'clock and I asked myself, "If I had 
only ten minutes to speak to science students what would I tell them," 
and I decided that I would tell them the following:

"I was the son of a country doctor, I grew up in a small, idyllic town 
in Eastern Nebraska in the 1930's, and I believe that I lived then 
through a brief Utopia. And as a bright punk kid I went away to college 
where I learned the rituals and poetry of theoretical physics, and 
afterwards I worked for many years in the schizoid, surrealistic world 
of a nuclear weapons laboratory where I was drawn into the politics of 
its purposes, and where I came to understand the sacraments of modern 
technology as a desecration of the self.

"Now, looking back I recognize that there were elegant languages in 
science and perfect orderings in technology, but those things seem 
remote and obvious like the stars, while there are things that are less 
remote and less obvious that students of science should know.

"They should know that the scientific community is for the most part 
comprised of overspecialized hacks and moral eunuchs indentured to 
government and industry.

"They should know that the technological purpose is in fact the 
development of aggregates of political and economic power and that the 
usual form of that development is at best a WPA project, and at worst 
an ethical abomination.

"They should know that the notion of our natural environment is a 
monstrous fiction, and that in reality we live in a world of human 
artifacts where things happen largely through the intercession of human 

"They should know that we persist in a pre-fascist political state 
where we are alienated by the very hegemony of non-participatory 
democracy that the complexity of our lives forces us to accept.

"They should know that we live in a social condition distinguished by 
information instead of wisdom, consensus instead of intelligence, 
euphemism instead of awareness, service instead of competence, 
dependence instead of responsibility.

"Much of our social and physical state is a shadow thrown across our 
lives by our technologies. From conception to death, our lives are 
becoming mere technological artifacts. We are possessed, subjugated, 

"A civilization that perceives technology only as a word in the 
language of power, is a civilization of many hidden covenants by which 
the individual and the content of his life are poorly served."


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