Science, technology and human nature
An essay about the three driving forces of society (Part 4)
By Dr J Floor Anthoni (2001)

technology When science is applied to create advantage, it is called technology. Armies and businesses have always been interested in such advantage, to the extent that much scientific work is funded this way. It has both advantages and disadvantages. Technology is behaving like a runaway monster, totally out of control. The question remains: can we control it and do we want to?
human nature In the end, all our problems can be traced back to humans, for without this species there would be no problems. So it would be helpful to understand human nature, however cynical it may sound.
The scientific endeavour should be strictly honest, but often scientists are not. Recent revelations known as climategate have shown the nasty side of science, as always power, funding, beliefs and reputation are involved.
the new world view Perhaps we won't be able to solve our problems because our world view is incorrect. Perhaps we will need to turn all our thinking upside down.
conclusion Wrapping it all up and giving indications of how to find solutions.
what's new Recent additions and changes to this page.

go to part1 <=> go to part2 <=> go to part3 <=> go to part4
related pages
on this web site
New Ideas in Science: Dr. Thomas Gold analyses the herd instinct that leads to scientific consensus. (7p)
resource management: knowledge can be considered a resource, so how could it be managed? (22 p)
timetable of mankind: the most important discoveries affecting the course of history. (24 pages)
threats: a summary of the world's problems, arriving from many directions. (20 pages)
conservation: the principles and practice of conservation with emphasis on marine conservation. (large)
belief systems: a summary of the many beliefs, still active today, stifling rational thought. (23 pages)
sitemap: discover what the Seafriends web site is all about. (11p)


Reader please note that the issues raised in this article, have been caricatured. So when it says that scientists can't do this or that, it should be read as most scientists... or in general, scientists .... Exceptions to a rule can always be found. The name Man is used to denote mankind. Also please note that this document is updated from time to time.

For suggestions and feedback, please e-mail the author. Read tips for printing for best results.
The whole document covers about 0.15 MB, 35 printed pages.

--Seafriends home--sitemap-- Revised: 20010816,20070412,20070725,20100218,20170617,



The world has changed more in the past 50 years than in the 1000 years before. The future no longer resembles the past. The generation of today's children will experience the fastest change ever, before nature's limits are either reached or breached. Fact

Technology (Gk: tekhne= art; tekhnologia= systematic treatment, knowledge of the arts) the study or use of the mechanical arts and applied sciences. Technology is science applied to give advantage.

The problem with technology is that nobody appears to be able to stem its rapid growth, let alone control it. Fuelled by the tenets (dogma, doctrine) of the freemarket, technology has been embraced widely by businesses and armies to gain advantage over others. It has allowed them to build slaves powered by cheap fossil fuel, and now these slaves have primitive brains in the form of computer circuitry. It has also given the public those benefits in the form of cheap and flexible transport, warmer homes, appliances, communication, entertainment and more. Technology is the embodiment of progress. Technology has not only given advantage to businesses, but also to individuals. Having a mobile phone needs no explanation of its merits. As a result, we have come to love technology, and to rely on its incredible achievements to such an extent, that we truly believe that technology will help us out, but more importantly, we do not like to curtail it. We are actually in love with it.

Technology cannot be undone. What is invented cannot be uninvented. But can we slow it down? That is the question. Hilary Moss, 1989.

The creation of wealth has come a long way from the agrarian society to what it is today. Think about these economies of wealth creation:

Today's societies harbour a mix of perhaps all of the above economies, something which is not clearly understood by economists and politicians. As society develops into technological and knowledge economies, higher levels of knowledge are required so that people can occupy the new jobs and allow themselves to be exploited by those who control capital. The knowledge economy is a global economy with unrelenting competition and thus low wages and hard work. It pits knowledge workers against each other, possibly resulting in stressful working conditions with low wages.
The world becomes more complex, requiring us to know more and more about less and less, which also fragments society. Learning becomes an ongoing activity throughout life. People need to become self-motivated learners. However, those adept in physical work, like blue collar workers are replaced by service workers. They cannot upskill because they lack the genetic intelligence to do so, but technology may eventually help them.
Service to another human being is seen as degrading, whereas service to a machine is not.
Hilary Moss, 1989.
Education causes one to leave the majority behind, disenfranchising them, and this is getting worse. Hilary Moss, 1989.
Not clearly visible, but all the more real, are technology's adverse effects in the form of pollution of the sea, waters and atmosphere, burgeoning heaps of waste, depleting resources and a poisoning of our minds in placing high value on the here and now, our immediate pleasure, and our very self, at the cost of sacrificing for the future, sharing with others, and being cautious.

Technology has allowed us to live in cities, far from our origins, assuming a life style which estranges us from nature, and it isolated ourselves, by denying our sociable nature. As a result, it becomes impossible to understand, that even technology is limited by the envelope around us, which we call our planet, our environment.  Growing at an incredible rate (much faster than that of population), it behaves as if out of control, and indeed nobody is in control of it. It is a totally unmanaged resource, thriving in an environment of open access (anyone can use it), and fuelled by avarice (getting rich quickly) and fear (if I don't do it, someone else will, and I'll be out of business).

The very factors that made technology grow into an uncontrollable monster are all due to our own weaknesses. Hilary Moss, 1989.
The above, somewhat cynical look at technology must not be underrated. Technology amplifies all our faculties. Growing much faster than population, it will cause serious overshoot when the limits of our environmental envelope are breached. There is no doubt that technology in all its forms, is the culprit of our present and imminent problems. The fact that it is running out of control, is caused on the one hand by our belief in a free market, free enterprise economy, and on the other hand because we do not wish to control it, and ultimately because it is fuelled by all our negative motivations. What chance do we have to take control?

Moss, Dr Hillary (1984, 1989): The technologic trap, eight weapons of the Technologic Monster. Moana Press.

Human nature

Only Man is his own worst enemy. Floor Anthoni.
Humans in the end are the very cause, the origin of all environmental problems. It pays therefore, to examine our nature and motivations. Why do we propagate out of control? Why do we waste so much? Why do we think we have the right to do what we do? Why do we change nature into a commodity (tradable item)?

Why humans do things, is based on how they are motivated. Often irrational (emotional) motivation is strongest. In the summary below, I have tried to arrange our motivations in order of strength.

A cynical view: we do what we do, because we know of nothing better to do with our time. People often waste their precious time and lives because they have never considered that they could do something better. But what people CAN do is limited by what they are CAPABLE of, which is determined by physical and mental ability, an outlook on life and the willingness to learn or change.

Another cynical view is that most people do not live at their optimal level of self-fulfilment. Many do not bother to extend themselves, to do the things that really matter and that are appreciated by others. They are living below their level of competence. Others have been seduced to overextend themselves, being promoted above their level of competence, by necessity or greed (salary, position, fame), or by unrealistic expectations (imitating movie stars, overestimating self).

It is often said that people act in search of happiness, which is difficult to define, but the following may help, in order of priority:

If all of the above is NORMAL human behaviour, why then has it led to problems? People's inner motivations have not changed for thousands of years. Is it a paradox? Can we save ourselves by changing our behaviour or is it something else that causes our problems? Why is it that our behaviour in the distant past, which is essentially the same as that of today, did not cause problems, but served us well to survive?

The answer must be sought in our use of technology, combined with our old world brain, which has not adapted to living with this newfound tool. In the main, technology has given us the power to transcend the limitations imposed by nature; limitations which kept the human race in balance with the carrying capacity of nature. Its main influences were:

These have resulted in overpopulation, degradation of prime quality land, resource depletion, wastes, unlivable cities and more ill effects. Although each of these has become massive, increasing almost exponentially, our 'old' minds miss the necessary qualities to be alarmed, of which the following stand out:
Although every faculty of Man has been amplified by technology, his morality has not. Hilary Moss, 1989.

These abilities of our mind have never been needed in the course of the evolution of our species, so we do not possess them, or very weakly so. What is required is a completely new way of thinking which is unnatural to us. But it can be learnt. This web site aims to do so. However, for the vast majority, unable or unwilling to comprehend, a new 'religion' is needed in the form of environmental laws (which restrict our actions and movements), and environmental education and enticements (which encourage us to behave differently and proactively).

Derived from the important ones above, the following of our shortcomings, each contribute to our problems:

As you will have noticed, our important tools to combat the ill effects of our actions have their strengths but unfortunately also glaring weaknesses. The good news is that education and science can shift the balance in all factors mentioned. We can and must minimise our weaknesses while maximising our strengths. By shifting every factor a little, enormous differences can be made. It has begun already.

Ornstein, Robert and Paul Ehrlich: New World, new mind. Changing the way we think about our future. 1989. Methuen London.
Moss, Hilary: The technology trap. The eight weapons of the Technological Monster. Moana Press, 1989.


Scientific corruption

Scientific endeavour should be strictly objective and honest, but in practice, scientists are influenced by the people and institutions around them. One would indeed be skeptical of science funded by tobacco companies or Big Oil, and so we should also be skeptical of state-funded research.
Perhaps the worst case known to science was revealed in November 2009, now known as climategate. A clique of no more than 100 scientists with the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been exposed for their extremely unethical behaviour to benefit ulterior motives other than pure science: The backlash this behaviour has caused to science in general cannot be overstressed, but why would these scientists lower themselves to such despicable behaviour? Unddeniably the motivations for fraud were huge, but worse still is that the climategate scam does not stand on its own. In many areas of scientific endeavour there have been similar politically-motivated misbehaviours: One would think that scientific corruption is about a few rotten apples in the fruit bowl, but it is vast, as shown by public statements of the many scientific associations and academies such as the British Royal Society, The AAAS and many more. See scientsts' statements of consensus on this web site and our Hall Of Shame. Hence the importance of skeptics and outsiders.
Money and power corrupt
Money and power corrupt, and scientists are not immune. Although the work of many good scientists is filtered, slanted, and generally misrepresented by alarmists, the particular group of scientists responsible for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) summary is an excellent example of the dark side of this issue. The IPCC is the political arm of a political organization (the UN) forwarding a political agenda. They employ scientists, but they are not a scientific organization. They are acting in a political capacity rather than in a scientific capacity, and their output is clearly political rather than scientific. They want the money, they want to be a part of that transnational elite who dismantle modern civilization in the name of saving the planet, and, most importantly, they want to diminish the influence of the United States in the world.
Wikipedia corrupted
One person in the nine-member Realclimate.org team — U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William  Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement. 

science needs skeptics - important reading, on this web site

"...we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public's imagination.... So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts.... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest." Stanford Professor Stephen Schneider of the climate fraud gang.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC: http://www.ipcc.ch/, the climate fraud gang: realclimate,
Read more about climategate from the skeptics: climate depot, Watts up with that, climategate USA, climategate NL, climateaudit, CO2science, EUreferendum,

The new world view

Saving the environment can be done only by taking freedom away from the individual, but this is in direct conflict with his human rights. Furthermore, an individual can never be forced to do things by law; he can only be prohibited. Yet, it has become overly clear that none of our self-divined niceties can exist within an environment unable to sustain life. The environment is our involuntary prison, a box we need to be contented within.

Thus has arisen the idea that perhaps our world view is wrong. We have placed God above Man, and Nature at the bottom, to be plundered and controlled by him. God has given Man inalienable human rights. Based on this world view, we have modelled our society: our governments, laws and statutes. The Constitution is the apex of all. It is the well-known pyramid world view we are so used to, that we don't realise it has permeated all our thinking and doing, and that it has even prevented us from doubting whether it is right. But it is strange that Man has rights without corresponding responsibilities, for everywhere else in nature, this is a balanced exchange.

Genesis 1:26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Worldview: a coherent set of assumptions about how one's environment functions. It comprises belief systems and views, and provides sense and meaning to those members of any society who adhere to its tenets. A worldview is thus both an explanation and interpretation of the world, and involves the application of this view of life. It is seated in a specific time and cultural setting as defined by education, beliefs and attitudes. It also provides a framework for institutional governance and closure for the prevailing paradigm, sifting the data stream for that which can be interpreted according to accepted concepts.
It therefore follows that knowledge and knowing are not neutral: they are the products of the knower and the culture of which the knower is a part. (Barry Tapp & Ljubica Mamula-Stojnic, 2001)

World ViewsBut if all we are, and all we do, ultimately depends on nature, and being constrained by it, surely nature must stand above all else. Now that the amount of unaltered environment is diminishing below half of the total, and nature's services are diminishing accordingly, while the human population is yet to double in size, we are ever more painfully reminded of this truth. It leads to a refreshingly new and more accurate world view, that of placing Nature at the top and Man below it. If necessary, religion or spirituality below that.
Thus Nature's sustainability forms the Constitution, and human rights are given in return for responsibilities towards Nature. Finally human rights are balanced by human responsibilities, the way it should be! These responsibilities require humans to act proactively, which prohibitive law cannot do.

The new world view requires us to alter our laws, placing sustainability at the top and all else below it. It follows the model of nature, and it makes sense. It also requires us to change the way we are governed, and with it world government. No small task indeed, but this will make the future look brighter, while enabling us to tackle environmental problems at their roots.

Ironically, primitive natural peoples have always had this world view. Their spirits were related to nature, and these demanded responsibilities. At some time, the monotheistic religions changed all that. (see diagram)

The world view and political mind-sets have always been of influence on what we do, often decisively so. It pays to remember that not just our superiority over nature has driven us to control it, but also the way the majority, or our leaders thought:

In the end, even the above points are caused by weaknesses in human nature, but they are not perceived because so many people are too closely involved. It is nearly impossible to see what is happening, until it is too late to do something about it. People born today will perceive today's world as 'normal', but the world's current state is in extreme deviation from its past.
When a fire begins, it can easily be extinguished with a single blanket, but when it becomes for all to see, it can no longer be contained. Likewise our problems. Floor Anthoni



In this article, we've discussed the most important factors affecting the future, just as these have affected the past. They are the ones we need to look at for the purpose of saving the environment and our civilisation. Ironically, nothing has been said about the environment proper. The reason for this is that nature does not stand accused. Only Man and his nature do.

In this conclusion one would expect a recipe for a way out of our predicament, but there is no single remedy. The predicament we are in has been caused not by the actions of a few large operators, but by the tyranny of myriad small decisions. The whole purpose of this web site is to give you the understanding and the tools to arrive at your own solutions. Likewise, this article, by critically analysing the most important components of our actions, should give you the knowledge to find your own contribution and to improve yourself.

In its generality, this article should also help you to improve your life, your future, your career, your relationships, your actions, your business, your organisation, your country. Read it again and read between the lines how it affects you personally. Print it out and mark the items that lie within your grasp, the ones you can do yourself, and remember that nobody will be able to change everything. What society needs to do is to change the balance of our actions, to maximise what we do right and to minimise what we do wrong.

If you are a (religious) leader, you may find inspiration from the new direction you may discover. Your example will be followed by many. Religion is important in the lives of many. History has shown that it provided a strategy for survival. However, times have changed, whereas religion has not. The time has come to give Nature the reverence it deserves, with obligations to it in return for our human rights. This article should challenge you to preach a new strategy of survival, without giving up what is good about what you believe in.

The main conclusion is that our inherited strategies for survival have not been able to evolve quickly enough for us to survive in the world of the future. They have indeed been the very cause of our problems. Business as usual, will therefore certainly lead us to self destruction. A new survival instinct is needed, and this could well be environmental hygiene.

hygiene (Gk: hygies= healthy; tekhnê= art; hygienê= art of health) a set of principles of maintaining health. Conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health. Sanitary science.
Hygiene is not only the knowledge to stay healthy but proactive prevention leading to health. In the history of Man, it has been the singlemost effective remedy for longer and happier lives. It has changed the world more than any other technology, and it cost very little. It is taught like any other form of knowledge, and by imitation. It can grow and multiply using the same advances that made science great.
Environmental hygiene thus involves proactive behaviour to keep the environment healthy. It is not about fixing things that are wrong, but about preventing them from going wrong. It is not about placing ambulances at the bottom of the cliff, but about fencing at the top of the cliff. It can be taught and you can start today. No laws are needed, just as hygiene has not been enshrined in law. Besides, law can only compel people to not do, rather than forcing them to do. But there is another reason.

People will be more likely to conform if the cost of doing so is acceptable. It requires us to accept the 80/20 strategy, where 80% improvement can be attained at 20% of the cost. Laws and regulations always aim for 100/100, full compliance at the full cost. Thus laws and regulations are not suitable for environmental hygiene. Education is.

Proactive prevention is also needed for other important salvage tools:

For suggestions and improvements to this article, e-mail Dr Floor Anthoni.

What's new?

20170617 - Minor changes and corrections.
20100218 - Scientific corruption and climategate added
20051103 - The influence of the political mindset on scientists added.
20020904 - Another round of dotting the i's and crossing the t's.
20011014 - Suggestions and corrections from Neal and Linda Taylor applied.
20010914 - Completed. Corrections and suggestions from Mrs Myfanwy Borich applied.
20010815 - Started to write this chapter. It must become thought provoking to scientists, inspiring to students.