Celebrated author and veritable Renaissance man Michael Crichton died this week, and upon reflection his passing brings up some interesting thoughts on Barack Obama’s historical election. Allow me to pontificate, if you will.
Crichton and Obama actually have much in common. Crichton was born in Chicago, and also attended Harvard, both for his undergraduate work and for medical school. Crichton was incredibly well-learned, with a vast knowledge base and an exceptional intellectual pedigree, and viewed American universities as important places of cultural exchange. And he too was somewhat politically controversial.
But the similarities end there. Michael Crichton was a noted libertarian. He spoke often and eloquently about the dangers of a speculative and undisciplined media, the pseudo-religious overtones of the left’s environmental fanaticism, and a perceived rejection of scientific evidence by global-warming alarmists. Many of his books touted the importance of technology, but they also exposed its weak spots and served as societal cautionary tales.
One such work was Jurassic Park, of course, where overly confident private scientists develop the means to breed dinosaurs in a lab. Gleeful at the prospect of making history, breaking new ground, and giving the starving and bored masses something truly new and exciting, the latest in interactive amusement parks is unveiled. We all know how it goes.
There’s a line in that movie that came rushing back to me after watching Barack Obama’s acceptance speech from Grant Park in Chicago, where Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Jackson, Brad Pitt and other American fixtures watched with understandable awe and pride. In warning Jurassic Park scientists that they failed to consider the greater implications of playing god with genetics, Jeff Goldblum’s character says, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.”