We all remember them, those 50’s posters and commercials of the kitchens of the future, the skies filled with strange travelmachines etc. MSNBC features a review of a new book, titled “Follies of Science: 20th Century Visions of Our Fantastic Future” by two brothers, Eric and Jonathan Dregni, in which they take readers on a trip through futures that never happened … or that happened and turned out more nightmare than dream (think asbestos etc.)
“By the end of “Follies of Science,” any modern technologist is bound to start wondering: Are our current predictions about the future any smarter than the endless parade of goofiness and gullibility that “Follies of Science” gleefully enumerates?
But of course we know far more about science than they did 50 years ago, don’t we? Yes — in just the same way that the hapless futurists in “Follies of Science” knew far more about science than did their counterparts at the turn of the last century.
In other words, each generation seems to inherit not only new knowledge but also new ignorance. Thus far, our generation has been supremely confident about our new knowledge. The really interesting question that remains is the exact nature of our ignorance. “