This paper brings to light the ideas of a pioneering but largely forgotten social critic, C. E. Ayres. In his first book, Science: The False Messiah (1927), which was written in consultation with John Dewey, Ayres advanced a forceful and original critique of science and technology. He argued that technological change was occurring at a pace that had overwhelmed existing social institutions, and further claimed that efforts to solve the problem by educating citizens about science and technology would prove fruitless. The analysis presented in this paper outlines Ayres’ key arguments, examines the mutual influences between Dewey and Ayres, and makes a case that many of Ayres’ innovative arguments remain surprisingly relevant today.

Project Muse URL