Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

I plead guilty to not knowing the source of the original story, but to having seen the Disney cartoon version as a boy. How different can they be? It's not rocket science. Or is it?

Two technological inventions* seem to have produced effects that the story describes: the Pill and the Sonogram.

Because woman can control the number of children they have, or whether they have any at all**, feminism became possible; and in its wake, the collapse of the replacement birth rate in many countries. Europe and Russia and Japan are prime examples, but not the sole ones. Birth rates are declining practically everywhere it seems. And the sonogram, revealing the sex of an unborn child, has led to the mass abortion of females in Third World cultures. The result is growing numbers of men who will never be able to marry, precisely in those cultures where marriage and family are central.

The irony of these two technologies and their very various results is that both of them seem to be unraveling the very groups that use them to make their lives better.

*Every advance in technology, in the broadest sense, produces unforeseen and uncontrollable outcomes of all kinds. I am no Luddite. Hell, I am blogging into cyberspace on a laptop!

**The Pill has saved at least one life, though;  no child, especially no boychild, will ever have to say, "Maureen Dowd is my mother."

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