New scientific understanding and new technology are "good" in the context of this story by allowing agriculture to advance. In the mid-twentieth century world in which this short story takes place, knowledge about fertilization, weather tracking, soil enhancement, pesticides, irrigation, crop rotation, and other aspects of sophisticated farming techniques give the villagers a level of control over their crop yields not available in earlier times. As a result of the new technologies, the villagers no longer have to rely on superstitious rituals in order to have productive and sustaining crop yields.
Despite all the technological advances, however, this New England community persists in clinging to the tradition of holding an annual lottery every June, during which they choose a human sacrifice to ensure a good harvest. At the same time, increasing disenchantment is leading some villagers to quietly protest the lottery. As Mrs. Adams says:
Some places have already quit lotteries.
This idea of changing a custom is roundly ridiculed by Old Man Warner, who believes that such innovations as abandoning the lottery will lead to disaster.
The story shows how casually, if uncomfortably, a community can maintain a barbarous ritual. Jackson critiques over reliance on tradition in small town America by showing the pain and death outmoded ritual produces.