I find myself liking Michael Crichton more and more. He was terrific when John Stossel interviewed him on “20/20″ the other night, and now a reader has pointed out a speech that Crichton gave a couple of years ago at Caltech. The speech amounted to a stout and utterly unapologetic exercise in political incorrectness. An excerpt:
Let’s think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried
about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where
would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the
horses**t? Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it
would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?
But of course, within a few years, nobody rode horses except for sport.
And in 2000, France was getting 80% its power from an energy source that
was unknown in 1900. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan were
getting more than 30% from this source, unknown in 1900. Remember,
people in 1900 didn’t know what an atom was. They didn’t know its
structure. They also didn’t know what a radio was, or an airport, or a
movie, or a television, or a computer, or a cell phone, or a jet, an
antibiotic, a rocket, a satellite, an MRI, ICU, IUD, IBM, IRA, ERA, EEG,
EPA, IRS, DOD, PCP, HTML, internet. interferon, instant replay, remote
sensing, remote control, speed dialing, gene therapy, gene splicing,
genes, spot welding, heat-seeking, bipolar, prozac, leotards, lap
dancing, email, tape recorder, CDs, airbags, plastic explosive, plastic,
robots, cars, liposuction, transduction, superconduction, dish antennas,
step aerobics, smoothies, twelve-step, ultrasound, nylon, rayon, teflon,
fiber optics, carpal tunnel, laser surgery, laparoscopy, corneal
transplant, kidney transplant, AIDS . . . None of this would have meant
anything to a person in the year 1900. They wouldn’t know what you are
Now. You tell me you can predict the world of 2100.