The Complete Stories (Page 81)
George shook his head.
Ingenescu said, "Consider my first sight of you. You were waiting in line to watch an Olympics, and your micro-reactions didn’t match what you were doing. The expression of your face was wrong, the action of your hands was wrong. It meant that something, in general, was wrong, and the interesting thing was that, whatever it was, it was nothing common, nothing obvious. Perhaps, I thought, it was something of which your own conscious mind was unaware.
"I couldn’t help but follow you, sit next to you. I followed you again when you left and eavesdropped on the conversation between your friend and yourself. After that, well, you were far too interesting an object of study-I’m sorry if that sounds cold-blooded—-for me to allow you to be taken off by a policeman. -Now tell me, what is it that troubles you?"
George was in an agony of indecision. If this was a trap, why should it be such an indirect, roundabout one? And he had to turn to someone. He had come to the city to find help and here was help being offered. Perhaps what was wrong was that it was being offered. It came too easy.
Ingenescu said, "Of course, what you tell me as a Social Scientist is a privileged communication. Do you know what that means?"
"It means, it would be dishonorable for me to repeat what you say to anyone for any purpose. Moreover no one has the legal right to compel me to repeat it."
George said, with sudden suspicion, "I thought you were a Historian."
"Just now you said you were a Social Scientist."
Ingenescu broke into loud laughter and apologized for it when he could talk. "I’m sorry, young man, I shouldn’t laugh, and I wasn’t really laughing at you. I was laughing at Earth and its emphasis on physical science, and the practical segments of it at that. I’ll bet you can rattle off every subdivision of construction technology or mechanical engineering and yet you’re a blank on social science."
"Well, then what is social science?"
"Social science studies groups of human beings and there are many
high-specialized branches to it, just as there are to zoology, for instance. For instance, there are Culturists, who study the mechanics of cultures, their growth, development, and decay. Cultures," he added, forestalling a question, "are all the aspects of a way of life. For instance, it includes the way we make our living, the things we enjoy and believe, what we consider good and bad and soon. Do you understand?"
"I think I do."
"An Economist-not an Economic Statistician, now, but an Economist-specialized in the study of the way a culture supplies the bodily needs of its individual members. A Psychologist specializes in the individual member of a society and how he is affected by the society. A Futurist specializes in planning the future course of a society, and a Historian- That’s where I come in, now."
"A Historian specializes in the past development of our own society and of societies with other cultures."
George found himself interested. "Was it different in the past?"
"I should say it was. Until a thousand years ago, there was no Education, not what we call Education, at least."
George said, "I know. People learned in bits and pieces out of books."
"Why, how do you know this?"
"I’ve heard it said," George said cautiously. Then, "Is there any use in worrying about what’s happened long ago? I mean, it’s all done with, isn’t it?"
"It’s never done with, my boy. The past explains the present. For instance, why is our Educational system what it is?"
George stirred restlessly. The man kept bringing the subject back to that. He said snappishly, "Because it’s best."
"Ah, but why is it best?" Now you listen to me for one moment and I’ll explain. Then you can tell me if there is any use in history. Even before interstellar travel was developed-" He broke off at the look of complete astonishment on George’s face. "Well, did you think we always had it?"
"I never gave it any thought, sir."
"I’m sure you didn’t. But there was a time, four or five thousand years ago, when mankind was confined to the surface of Earth. Even then, his culture had grown quite technological and his numbers had increased to the point where any failure in technology would have meant mass starvation and disease. To maintain the technological level and advance it in the face of an increasing population, more and more technicians and scientists had to be trained, and yet, as science advanced, it took longer and longer to train them.
"As first interplanetary and then interstellar travel was developed, the problem grew more acute. In fact, actual colonization of extra-Solar planets was impossible for about fifteen hundred years because of a lack of properly trained men.
"The turning point came when the mechanics of the storage of knowledge within the brain was worked out. Once that had been done, it became possible to devise Educational tapes that would modify the mechanics in such a way as to place within the mind a body of knowledge ready-made so to speak. But you know about that.
"Once that was done, trained men could be turned out by the thousands and millions, and we could begin what someone has since called the ‘Filling of the Universe.’ There are now fifteen hundred inhabited planets in the Galaxy and there is no end in sight.
"Do you see all that is involved? Earth exports Education tapes for low-specialized professions and that keeps the Galactic culture unified. For instance, the Reading tapes insure a single language for all of us. -Don’t look so surprised, other languages are possible, and in the past were used. Hundreds of them.