The decade of the 1970s was a meeting ground for two opposing attitudes about science and technology: optimism that science could bring progress and prosperity and radical mistrust of its power to change life for the better. In the 1950s there had been a general public consensus that science advanced the power of the United States and made domestic life in the newly constructed suburbs easier. In the 1960s, however, many Americans questioned the uses of U.S. power, especially during the Vietnam War, and they viewed the domestic ease facilitated by technology as corruptive to spiritual values and as destructive to the environment. In the 1970s these two attitudes toward science often clashed and combined, making the debate over the progress of science often as important as the progress with science.
An Era of Debate.
In the 1970s the tendency to question authority spread among a wider segment of the population. Ordinary people who disagreed with the directions science took asked questions and argued with the experts. Scientists, industrialists, and governmental bureaucrats—the "experts"—were no longer simply trusted to make all the decisions about the use and development of science. Overt protest of scientific and technological priorities was no longer unusual. In the controversy over genetic engineering, most...
(The entire section is 1078 words.)
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