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March 24, 1969

Temple of Learning or Tower of Babel?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 1969;207(12):2268-2271. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03150250098011

I am presuming to deliver a message across a barrier of time, that is, to communicate with an audience that belongs to another generation. This is a difficult and often bootless endeavor since you and I, although only one generation apart, are separated by many light years. And you in turn may be even more rapidly and completely alienated from the next generation, including your own children.

Accelerated isolation of each succeeding generation from the one before began with the industrial revolution and now continues at an exponential rate.

The long slow turn of time as the geologist reckons it, and the leisurely cycle of seasons repeated for thousands of generations living in an agricultural society, suddenly has been jet-propelled into social evolution, fantastically speeded by industrial technology. So rapidly has this change progressed that a growing child today strives to master the mores of a culture which might, compared