Site Index

(I have not verified the authenticity of every quote here.)


Liberal education is the pursuit of human excellence, not the pursuit
of excellent salaries and excellent forms of polish and sophistication.
Liberal education is not even about excellent intellectual achievements.
Its goal is more ethical than intellectual: It focuses on the development
of individuals as moral agents, and it teaches students how to reflect
both analytically and evaluatively on the fact that the choices we make
turn us into the persons we become.    --Marshall Gregory

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.
--George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), novelist (1819-1880)

Famous Second Thoughts

The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...
the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind.
If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.    --Albert Einstein

Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.
--Albert Einstein

We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.
...The world has achieved brilliance without conscience.
Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.
	-- General Omar Bradley, Armistice Day Speech, 1948

If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence,
our servant may prove to be our executioner.    --Omar N. Bradley

"As with our colleges, so with a hundred 'modern improvements'; 
 there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance. ... 
 Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention
 from serious things.  They are but improved means to an unimproved end."
            -- Henry David Thoreau, from Walden (1854)

The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live.
Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have
guided missiles and misguided men.   --Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Unintended Consequences

	"But in our enthusiasm, we could not resist a radical overhaul
	 of the system, in which all of its major weaknesses have
	 been exposed, analyzed, and replaced with new weaknesses."
		- Bruce Leverett, "Register Allocation in Optimizing Compilers"

	"Each and every problem we face today is the direct and
	 inevitable result of yesterday's brilliant solutions."
		-- Architect Henry Bergman

	"Clearly, computers are now a mature technology.
	 I define a mature technology as one that
	 causes as many problems as it solves."
		-- Theodore Roszak at CFP'95

Shaping:  Who's in Control?

Modes of production establish constraints with which humanity must come
to terms, and the constraints of the industrial mode of production
are peculiarly demanding...Industrial production...confronts men with
machines that embody "imperatives" if they are to be used at all,
and these imperatives lead easily to the organization of work, of life,
even of thought, in ways that accommodate men to machines rather than
the much more difficult alternative.   --Robert Heilbroner, The Human Prospect

   "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms."
        -- celebratory motto of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair
    (quoted in  "Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes
		in the Age of the Machine", by Don Norman, UC San Diego)

The important fact of the present time is not the struggle
between capitalism and socialism but the struggle between
industrial civilization and humanity.    --Bertrand Russell, (1872-1970)

It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but
their social existence that determines their consciousness.  --Karl Marx, 1859

  Q:  Was *de-skilling* the workforce intentional,
      or merely a side-effect of Taylorism?
  A:  "[the new system's] full possibilities ... will not have been realized
       until almost all of the machines are run by men who are of smaller
       calibre and attainments, and who are therefore cheaper than those
       required under the old system."
	-- Frederick Taylor, (patron saint of "Taylorism") in "Shop Management"
	[ see p. 83, "Technology for the Common Good", Shuman & Sweig, eds ]

   "Men have become the tools of their tools..."
        -- Henry David Thoreau's journal. July 16, 1845

"The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts,
 but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily
 and without resistance."    - Marshall McLuhan

Language is not neutral.  It is not merely a vehicle which carries ideas.
It is itself a shaper of ideas.      --Dale Spender, writer (1943- )

Professional Irresponsibility

(In 1952, 7 years after WWII, the German government granted
 patents to the highly-educated scientists, engineers, and
 doctors who designed the concentration camp gas chambers!)
	"Basically, I exploited the phenomenon of the technician's
	 often blind devotion to his task.  Because of what
	 appeared to be the moral neutrality of technology,
	 these people were without scruples about their activities."
		-- Albert Speer (Hitler's Minister of Commerce & Industry)

    Of course we [scientists] are not alone responsible.  But we are more
    responsible than most of us are willing to admit.  We are responsible
    for the heavy preponderance of toys for the rich over necessities for
    the poor in the output of our laboratories.  We have allowed government
    and university laboratories to become a welfare program for the middle
    class while the technical products of our discoveries take away jobs
    from the poor.  We have helped bring about a widening split between the
    technically competent and computer-owning rich and the computerless and
    technically illiterate poor.  We have helped bring into existence a
    post-industrial society that offers no legitimate means of subsistence
    to uneducated youth.  And at the same time we have subsidized university
    tuition for children of professors so that the academic profession is
    gradually converting itself into a hereditary caste (Dyson 524).
        -- Freeman Dyson (Princeton Institute for Advanced Study)
           "Science in Trouble," The American Scholar (Autumn 1993)

  "In the technical realm, we repeatedly enter into a series of
   social contracts, the terms of which are revealed only after the
   signing."  [The Whale and the Reactor, Langdon Winner, 1986, p. 6]

Obligation & Justice

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality;
in a single garment of destiny.  What affects one
directly affects all indirectly."
	-- Reverend Martin Luther King Junior

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice,
but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
	--Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate (1928- )

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world
and moral courage so rare.        --Mark Twain, (1835-1910)

 "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort
  and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
         -- Martin Luther King

  "If there is no struggle, there is no progress.  Those who profess to favor
   freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without
   plowing up the ground.  They want rain without thunder and lightning.
   That struggle might be a moral one; it might be a physical one; it might
   be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.  Power concedes
   nothing without a demand.  It never did and never will.  People might not
   get all that they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for
   all they get."                          - Frederick Douglass, Abolitionist

     "Let me give you a word on the philosophy of reform.
      The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that
      all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of
      earnest struggle.  Find out just what people will submit to,
      and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong
      which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until
      they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.
      The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance
      of those whom they oppress."       --Frederick Douglass

Info & Propaganda;
Manipulation & Diversion

"Naturally the common people don't want war ... but after all it is
the leaders of a country who determine policy, and it is always a
simple matter to drag the people along ...  All you have to do is tell
them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of
patriotism and exposing the country to danger."   - Hermann Goering, 1936
	(Hitler's Minister of Aviation)

``Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -- kept us
in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor -- with the cry of grave
national emergency... Always there has been some terrible evil to
gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the
exorbitant sums demanded.  Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem
never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.''
                                --General Douglas MacArthur, 1957.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired
signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are
not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not
spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the
genius of its scientists, the houses of its children."
        --Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

  "When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are
  considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism,
  materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered ...
  A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military
  defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
  -- "A Time to Break Silence," Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967

	"This is the secret of propaganda:  Those who are
	 to be persuaded by it should be completely *immersed*
	 in the ideas of the propaganda,
	 without ever noticing that they are being immersed in it."
		-- Joseph Goebbels, 28 March 1933
	(Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, quoted in "Marketing Madness")

         "That's the great thing about [Video News Releases].
          Everybody sees them, but nobody realizes it.
          You have a corporate message to get across, and
          there's a TV news anchor saying it to millions of people."
 -- ad agency executive quoted in "Making News", Consumer Reports, Oct. 1991

 "Television does a terrible job of carrying the important discourse
  of our civilization.  ... it can't carry a 50 page reasoned argument
  like Tom Paine's Common Sense.  Or even carry the daily news in context.
  Its junk nature has been able to *displace* reasoned discourse and,
  worse, to convince most people that nothing important has been taken away.
   ... No democracy can survive that is less than 10% literate in the
  driving forces of society.  ...
  Television should be the last mass communications medium to be
  naively designed and put into the world without a Surgeon General's warning!"
          -- Alan Kay at the LA Information Superhighway Summit, 1/11/94

      Plug-In Utopias, by David Shenk, in 9/97 Brown Alumni Magazine:
   "Perhaps the saddest occasion for me is to be taken to a computerized
   classroom and be shown children joyfully using computers," Alan Kay,
   one of the legendary pioneers of personal computing, testified to Congress
   in 1995.  "They are happy, the teachers and administrators are happy,
   and their parents are happy.  Yet, in most such classrooms, on closer
   examination I can see that the children are doing nothing interesting
   or growth-inducing at all!  This is technology as a kind of junk food -
   people love it but there is no nutrition to speak of.  At its worst,
   it is a kind of 'cargo cult' in which it is thought that the mere
   presence of computers will somehow bring learning back to the classroom."

   "What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention
    of its recipients.  Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty
    of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently
    among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it."
            -- Nobel laureate economist (and AI theorist) Herbert A. Simon

   I am haunted by Milan Kundera's trenchant observation that "the struggle
   of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetfulness."
   Union Carbide's victims in Bhopal have no trouble remembering.
   Perhaps those of us in the belly of the beast should begin
   searching for other ways of resisting moral amnesia.
        -- Ward Morehouse, April 22, 1998

Freedom, Power, & Choices

  Only the naive or the scurrilous believe the Third Wave claim
  that "information is power."  Power is power, and information
  is particularly useful to those who are already powerful.
                           -- Philip L. Bereano

In a key Supreme Court decision in 1945, Justice Hugo Black wrote
for the majority that,
  "The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible
   dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources
   is essential to the welfare of the public. . . . Freedom of the press
   from government interference under the First Amendment
   does not sanction repression of that freedom from private interests."

  "It is the right of the viewers and listeners,
    not the broadcasters, which is paramount."
	-- U.S. Supreme Court in "Red Lion" case

   "Business succeeds rather better than the state in imposing restraints
    upon individuals, because its imperatives are disguised as choices."
        -- Hamilton, quoted in J. Rorty, "Order on the Air!", 1934
           (via "The Internet and US Communication Policy-Making
                 in Historical and Critical Perspective," Robert W.
                 McChesney, Journal of Communications 46:1, Winter, 1996)


"We [the U.S.] have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3%
of its population ... In this situation, we cannot fail to be the
object of envy and resentment.  Our real task ... is to devise  ...
relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity,
without ... detriment to our national security.  To do so, we will have
to dispense with all sentimentality ... We should cease to talk about
vague and ...  unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of
living standards, and democratization ... The less we are then hampered
by idealistic slogans, the better."
  -- George Kennan (originator of "Containment Policy" re Soviet Union),
	Feb. 1948, in "Policy Planning Study No. 23",
	written for the U.S. State Dept.

"Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our
 way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals,
 that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption.
 We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at
 an ever-increasing rate."
                   -- 50 year old advice of retailing analyst Victor Lebow

"Civilization, in the real sense of the term, consists not in the
 multiplication, but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants."
  -- Mohandas Gandhi

    "All the talk about a new international economic order without
     changing lifestyles in the developed world is just humbug".
          -- Nobel Economics Prizewinner Gunnar Myrdal, 1975


   "Most of the people in the world are poor, so if we knew the economics
    of being poor, we would know much of the economics that really matters."
       -- Theodore W. Schultz, "Nobel Lecture: The Economics of Being Poor"
          Journal of Political Economy, v. 88, n. 4 (Aug. 1980), pp. 639-651
          (1979 Nobel Prizewinner in Economics)

   "Eliminating the distinction between information rich and poor
    countries is critical to eliminating economic and other inequalities...
    Telecommunications cannot be simply treated as one commercial
    sector of the economy."
	-- Nelson Mandela, opening the "Telecom 95" conference
		on October 3, 1995, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ethics teaches that virtue is its own reward.
Economics teaches that reward is its own virtue.

"In America, there's no difference between values and economics.
 They are one and the same."
           -- Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes

    "We regard ourselves as something other than
     a bundle of preferences in search of a perfect market."
       -- Mark Sagoff, in Tom Regan, ed.  "Ethics and Economics in
       Environmental Law," Earthbound: New Introductory Essays in
       Environmental Ethics. New York: Random House.  1984. p. 174.

  "Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of
   supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings
   to live under the laws of justice and mercy."          -- Wendell Berry

     "The slogan, `Leave it to the market,' has become a cliche
      of those who have a naive belief that one thereby avoids
      the need for political decisions.  On the contrary,
      a market is not something that happens by itself.
      It is something crafted by laws; without them it cannot exist."
        -- Ithiel de Sola Pool, "Technologies of Freedom", p. 143

	"[ Regarding relations ] Between the strong and the weak,
	 it is freedom which oppresses and law which liberates."
	     - Jean Baptiste Lacordaire  (p. 244, H. Frederick's book)

    "We are not merely an economy, but also a culture.
     It has never been economics alone that defines America. If we
     choose, as a culture, to push back against the economic forces
     that would otherwise divide us, it is within our power to do so."
                -- Sec. of Labor Robert Reich, in his Resignation Address

    "[W]hen a working stiff demands a pay raise, it causes inflation
     and threatens the nation's prosperity; when a C.E.O. gets a raise
     ten thousand times as large, it rewards enterprise and assures
     all our futures. The two phenomena, obviously, are totally separate.
     Only a fool or a journalist could confuse them."
               -- John Cassidy, The New Yorker, April 21, 1997

    Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A1: None. If the light bulb needed changing,
        the market would already have done it.
    A2: None. If the government would just leave it alone,
        it would screw itself in.

     "The gross national product includes air pollution and
      advertising for cigarettes, and ambulances to clear our
      highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors,
      and jails for the people who break them."

     "The gross national product includes the destruction of the
      redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the
      production of napalm and missiles with nuclear warheads...."

     "And if the gross national product includes all this, there is
      much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the
      health of our families, the quality of their education, or
      the joy of their play.  It is indifferent to the decency of our
      factories and the safety of streets alike. It does not include
      the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages,
      the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our
      public officials...."

     "The gross national product measures neither our wit nor our
      courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our
      compassion nor our devotion to country. It measures everything,
      in short, except that which makes life worthwhile; and it can
      tell us everything about America -- except whether we are proud
      to be Americans."       -- Robert F. Kennedy


Wherever one looks in the world of human organization, collective
responsibility brings a lowering of moral standards.     --Freeman Dyson

For every ten people who are clipping at the branches of evil,
you're lucky to find one who's hacking at the roots.  --Henry David Thoreau

Surveillance & Control

"The real danger is the gradual erosion of individual liberties through the
automation, integration, and interconnection of many small, separate
record-keeping systems, each of which alone may seem innocuous, even
benevolent, and wholly justifiable."
         -- U.S. Privacy Protection Study Commission, 1977

  "The line between these network computers being used as really effective
   corporate tools and being used as mind-control tiger cages
   is a fine one.  There will be a real temptation for
   corporate managers to go too far in the direction of control."
 -- Paul Saffo (Institute for the Future), quoted in
	"Network Computer as PC's Evil Twin", Steve Lohr, 11/4/96 NYT

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