The Crowded Bus

One unintended result of social engineering is the imbuing of absolute certainty in the infallibility of technology to the point where one disregards his experience and training because a computer program has given a different answer than expected. On 18 January 1978 the roof of the newly built Hartford Civic Center collapsed, fortunately with no one in the building. A structural engineer friend was on the investigating committee, and told me that the iron workers erecting the steel roof trusses had told him that they could see that the trusses were underdesigned, and that they had vowed never to allow friends or family into the building. What happened was that the engineers used a structural design program and the computer designed the roof trusses for a much smaller span. The structural engineers had accepted the incorrect design because their computer said so. And so it is we accept all sorts of incorrect data and designs because we are conditioned to accept whatever authority we believe holds the truth in its hands. We no longer trust ourselves but place our faith in the witch doctors, the shamans, the soothsayers, who tell us what to think and why to think it. Most of us are sheep, going wherever the border collies think it best for us to go.

The bleating falls on deafened ears
We go where we are sent
And wonder how it is the years
Don’t tell us where we went
Or what we saw or what we heard
It’s all just misty blanks
We move as one to master’s word
Then bow and give him thanks
For all the things he does for us
The caring that he shows
We know it’s crowded on the bus
But thankful that it goes

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