Science, Modern Technology, and Corporations

Science, Modern Technology, and Corporations

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4586-8.ch003
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Why modern science is a superior source of truth. Modern science contains the essence of modern technology. The distinguishing feature of modern technology is that it treats everything as nothing but resource. This explains why modern technology must conflict with the ecosystem, because it does not recognize the ecosystem as anything other than a set of resources it can exploit. Corporations are the institution par excellence for embodying modern technology, since their overriding concern is to maximize profits, and treating everything as resource is the best way to maximize profits.
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What makes science so reliable? Why does it deserve to become the touchstone of truth? Can it be distinguished from earlier ways of understanding the world? A usual definition is that science uses systematic observation coupled with experiment as part of an ongoing tradition to obtain knowledge of the world. In fact, much of this definition also fits proto-science. The practice of improving one’s relation to the world by observing it and seeing what works and what doesn’t is at least as old as Homo sapiens. Indeed, it is hard to see how the ability to make tools could exist in the absence of accumulated empirical knowledge. If so, our ancestors Homo erectus and Homo habilis certainly had proto-science, which is the practice of learning about the world to improve one’s relation to it. If Australopithecus afarensis made tools, then proto-science could go back 2 to 4 million years.

In fact, practical trial-and-error/learn-by-experience behavior, which we can call proto-science, is also practiced by a number of nonhuman animals:

  • Chimpanzees eat various non-food plants which they have apparently discovered help relieve various ailments such as indigestion and worms. We call them medicines (Burne 2002).

  • Three dolphins in concert create a wave at the water’s edge which washes small fish onto the shore. Whereupon the dolphins eat the fish. This practice is called strand feeding (Weiss 2011).

  • Killer whales have learned to turn sharks, even great white sharks, upside down for periods of time. Being upside down immobilizes the shark, which then suffocates and is eaten (Killer whales actually belong to the same genus as dolphins and hence are not whales at all.) (Heimbuch 2010).

  • Gulls drop oysters on rocks to break open their shells and then swoop down to eat the oyster.

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