IN FOCUSnOur Daily MetaphysicsnSamuel C. Florman: BlamingnTechnology: The IrrationalnSearch for Scapegoats; St. MartinsnPtcss; New Yolk.nby Robert A. Rogowskyn”The blaming of technology,”nSamuel Florman writes, “startsnwith the making of myths—nmost importantly, the myth ofnthe technological imperativenand the myth of the technocraticnelite. In spite of the injunctionsnof common sense, and contrarynto the evidence at hand, thenmyths flourish.” Blaming Technologynis a valiant, though perhapsnquixotic, attempt to injectncommon sense into a variety ofnissues that, loosely connected,nconstitute the public debatenabout technology. The windmillsnof fear constructed bynlatter-day Luddites are so prominentnand so pervasive that anvoice of reason may appear peculiar,nalmost amusingly out ofntouch.nTechnological progress, likenany change in society, imposesncosts. As far back as colonialntimes, for instance, smallpox infectionnwas a threat from thenvery vaccination intended tonprevent the disease. There arenthe less obvious costs, too: fear ofnbeing replaced; fear of alienationnin a mechanized world; fearnof continually losing ground in anworld of exploding knowledge;nfear of losing control of one’snlife in a world where knowledgenmeans control. All very realnDr. Rogowsky is an economistnwith the Federal Trade Com-nfears. But they are often basednon ignorance and misunderstanding;nthat is, they may be irrationalnor misplaced. Technologynis a convenient target for ournfears and frustrations about developmentsnthat we as individualsncannot control—and sometimesncan hardly understand. Innthe process of cognitive dissonance,ntechnological innovationnbecomes a convenientnscapegoat.nWith a wealth of facts andnfigures to back his argument,nMr. Florman systematically attacksnthe myths and the fears,nputting both into perspective.nThe so-called “technocracy” ofnengineers and other “technocrats,”nfor instance, he exposesnas a fantasy. Power in industrynand government rests not withntechnocrats, but with lawyersnand accountants. Less than 1 %nof the professionals on CapitolnHill are engineers. The muchmalignednCorps of Engineers isnnot a military juggernaut bentnon destroying the environment,nbut simply a civil-engineeringnagency through which Congressnstudies, evaluates, and executesnpublic-works projects. Thoughnit may be overzealous, it isndirected and controlled by thenpurse strings of the Public WorksnCommittees of Congress.nThe nuclear angst is also putninto perspective. A study commissionednby the Nuclear RegulatorynCommission estimatednthat the chance of an individualndying from nuclear accident innany one year is 5 billion to one;nfrom lightning the odds are 2nmillion to one. In contrast, 150ncoal miners die each year fromnaccidents. Standing for 24 hoursna day for one year on the edge ofna nuclear plant site would exposena person to one-fourth of thenmiUirems of radiation of a singlendental X-ray; one four-hundredthnof the millirems of ansingle gastrointestinal-tractnX-ray. Statistically, the odds ofnbeing injured while drivingnaround a plant site are vastlynhigher than a radioactivityrelatedninjury at a nuclear facility.nBut the angst lies with thenlatter.nDespite the author’s cogentnresponse to the many myths thatnenter the technology debate, thenreader is left wondering preciselynwhy this irrational fear of technologynis so pervasive and persistent.nAntitechnology, as Mr.nFlorman shows, is part of thenliberal agenda, a propagandist’snparadise, a target for pacifists,nconservationists, consumer advocates,nunions, feminists, andnthe small-is-good crowd. Combinednwith the influence of thenliberal media, there is a formidablenforce arrayed againstntechnological progress. Perhapsnliberals fear that in a technologicalnsociety, power will swing tonthe controllers of technology.nSuch a notion has little basis innhistory, of course, but the liberalnargument does not requirenreason or experience. The rapidnprogress of technology increasesnuncertainty about the future.nUncertainty creates anxiety andnanxiety is not a logical experience.nIt is an emotional one.nMichael Novak offered anrather frightening insight in a recentnissue of National Review,n(August 6, 1982) on the dovishnposition of many AmericannCatholic bishops. Novak seesntheir opposition to nuclear armsnas “a spiritual conversion, not anlogical experience.” Perhapsnmany liberals’ opposition tontechnological progress has thensame basis—it is an act of faith.nAnd as such, it is by definitionnimpervious to reason. Florman’snexercise in logic will undoubtedlynhave no influence on suchn”converts.” We can only waitnhopefully for them to deconvert.nHesse Out of Haight-AshburynHeraiann Hesse: Pictor’s Metamorphoses;nFarrar, Straus & Giroux;nNew York.nWhat’s wrong with talkingnchairs and grumbling stoves?nSamuel Taylor Coleridge defendednthe fanciful elements innhis works, claiming that the poetnhas the privilege of employingnthings supernatural to convey anmessage or evoke a sentimentnfrom the reader. HermannnHesse is certainly entided to thensame apology. Pictor’s Metamorphoses,nan array of fancifiilntales—some written by Hesse asna child—is as entertaining as it isninstructive. Fantasy here is anbackdrop for larger lessons; thenmagical setting gives a moral dimensionnto Hesse’s heroes. Innnn”Pictor’s Metamorphoses,” anmagical stone entices Pictor intonmaking a wish which he comesnto lament. His wish, to become antree, results in his isolation fromnnature and the natural transformationsnwhich go on aroundnhim—a state which Coleridgencalled life-in-death. A youngnmaiden, however, falls in lovenwith Pictor and, wishing tonbecome one with him, is transformedninto a lovely bough, annextension of Pictor. The two,nnow one, emerge from life-indeathnand re-enter the naturalnorder.nAlthough he probes a rangenof human situations and sentiments—fromnbrotherly love tonthe frustration of the artist—nHesse strives to make his lessonsnNovember 198Sn