Now, what I want is, Facts . . . Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.
(Thomas Gradgrind, Esq.) 1
I wish I could collect all the Facts we hear so much about . . . and all the Figures, and all the people who found them out; and I wish I could put a thousand barrels of gunpowder under them, and blow them all up together!
(Thomas Gradgrind, Jun.) 2
Concern over the relationship between citizens, science and technology seems to be characteristic of contemporary society. Right now, for example, various political and social groups (industry, government, environmentalists, scientific organizations, campaigning bodies) are attempting to educate, propagandize or cajole the general public into accepting their own evaluation of a series of technical - or at least technically-related - questions (over the best means of tackling environmental issues, the desirability of new consumer products, the dangers of AIDS, the merits of various energy policies and an endless array of social questions such as genetic screening, transport safety and the implementation of new technology). In that sense, we are all barraged with new ‘information’ about developments in science and technology which might affect our lives and also, of course, with exhortations about what different social groups would like us to do about those developments.
In such a situation, it is unsurprising that many accounts have been put forward by scientists and others which describe (or, more usually, lament) the linkage between science, technical knowledge