Lovecraft, in the beginning of The Call of Cthulhu, says “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents…The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality…”. Lovecraft eloquently states an age old fear about science: that it will eventually open us up to such incredible and terrifying possibilities the likes of which will destroy us. The limitless expand of scientific inquiry still to be done is like outer space, and so it seems natural that from that void evil gods of madness and strange comets of alien color come from. The imagination, when set with anxiety, produces horrific scenarios and monsters, much like Lovecraft did in his novels. This anxiety, I feel, is over the advancement of science. However, he’s not wrong. The Cold War, with the threat of total nuclear annihilation a very real danger, is proof that advancements in science have an extremely powerful effect on the world, and may in fact one day destroy it.
A quote I particularly liked was: “The master mathematician’s grim warnings were treated by many as so much more mere elaborate self-advertisement. Common sense at last, a little heated by argument, signified its unalterable convictions by going to bed.”
I have personally found that people just don’t understand science, and most toss it out the window when it gives them a result that isn’t in accordance with common sense. This ignorance persists until the results they threw away are right in their face (in the form of a “star” coming close to the Earth, or more recently, a string of the worst hurricanes on record as an effect of global warming). Wells, a scientist himself, undoubtedly experience the same thing when trying to explain what he did to the masses. It’s not hard to understand why he put that in The Star.
I told you so. You damned fools.
Wells, 1941 preface to The War in the Air (originally published 1908). (Quoted in H.G. Wells, The War in the Air, ed. Patrick Parrinder (London: Penguin, 2005), 279.)
A question: what kind of prophet does Wells think he is, anyway?