A Glimpse of Truth: Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park, in book format, is much more a social statement than a 90’s thriller. It’s both, of course, but here’s a great example of Crichton’s penetrating analysis of culture you just don’t get from Spielberg’s version, from the words of the fictional scientist Ian Malcolm:

“But now,” he continued, “science is the belief system that is hundreds of years old. And, like the medieval system before it, science is starting not to fit the world any more. Science has attained so much power that its practical limits begin to be apparent. Largely through science, billions of us live in one small world, densely packed and intercommunicating. But science cannot help us decide what to do with that world, or how to live. Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways – air, and water, and land – because of ungoverneable science.” He sighed. “That much is obvious to everyone.”

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  1. “our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways”

    That applies in the metaphorical sense too. No matter what “advances” civilization has made in various fields, we are sullied in some measure. Sometimes that pollution outweighs the benefit.

    Crichton is good at pointing this type of thing out for us. Have you read The Andromeda Strain? It’s one of his earlier novels, but is a great read and commentary on science in society.

    • This was my first Crichton novel – although, I admit I watched almost every season of ER in my high-school years…I really enjoyed it, so I’ll take your recommendation and run with it. Working through “Dune” right now.

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