A philosophical observation from the Director of the Hatcheries. Individuals who are more focused on the particulars of their specific tasks (the workers) are more useful members of society than those who look for profound meaning and truths behind their existence (the thinkers). This is because the workers' lives revolve around keeping the community going, but thinkers - who question all aspects of life - will only de-stabilise it.
This is an important theme that runs through the book.
The fictional process by which, from a single fertilized egg in vitro, multiple identical twins can be duplicated and grown to make multiple, identical human beings.
Bokanovsky's Process may be fictional, but in vitro fertilisation is real. During the 1930s, when Brave New World was published, in vitro fertilisation was still a developing idea, with experiments performed on the oocytes (immature egg cells) of rabbits. Later, the process of in vitro fertilisation was applied to humans, with the first baby born from this process in 1978. In vitro fertilisation is now used to help couples conceive. The woman's ova (eggs) are removed from the body and fertilised by the man's sperm in a test tube or petri dish. Babies conceived in this way are often referred to colloquially as 'test tube babies.' The fertilised eggs are placed back into the woman's uterus to develop and be born in the normal way, unlike the babies grown in bottles in Huxley's Brave New World.
Human cloning, which is employed in Bokanovsky's Process to create many identical human beings, is also theoretically possible, though currently prohibited. However, animal cloning is not banned, and many different species have been successfully cloned. Click here for a list of animals that have been cloned.
The term Neo-Pavlovian derives from the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov is well known for his discovery of "the conditioned reflex".
An innate reflex is an instinctive and unlearned reaction to a stimulus, for example, blinking and yawning. A conditioned reflex, on the other hand, is learned, either through negative or positive stimuli. For example, the fear of snakes is a learned reflex: young children are taught to fear snakes by the reaction of their parents, who will scream and pull their child away.
Pavlov used his dogs to demonstrate this reflex. Firstly, he would ring a bell as a sign for the dogs that he'd prepared their food. Over time he began to ring the bell without the food; the dogs would salivate profusely in association with the ringing bell even when the actual sight or smell of food was not there. Pavlov regarded this salivation as being a conditioned reflex.
Religion is seen by some as an illustration of this form of deep-seated conditioning. They argue that religious teachings restrict a person's true nature, as natural instincts are said to be sinful. From a young age children learn to associate certain natural impulses with sin. As the child grows older, their behaviour becomes fixed, opposed to what is natural. Whether religion acts as a form of conditioning or not, however, is highly debatable, as can be seen in this ongoing debate.
Hypnopaedia is also known as sleep-learning, or sleep-teaching. It is the technique used to convey information to a person while he or she is asleep, normally via a played sound recording. In the mid-20th century researchers found positive results from hypnopaedia, thus sleep-learning entered the popular consciousness. However, other research suggested that sleep-teaching does not work for everyone.
In 1942, Lawrence Leshan tested the theory of sleep-learning on a group of nail-biting boys attending summer camp. The experimental group consisted of 20 nail-biting subjects, aged 8 to 14 years. For six nights, the recorded message, "My finger-nails taste terribly bitter," was repeated fifty times. After the experiment, 40% of the boys quit biting their nails. The results supported Leshan's theory that recorded messages played during sleep incite mental activity, but, because the experiment was only 40% effective, hypnopaedia was not regarded as an effective method of learning. In 1956, the studies of Charles Simon and William Emmons led to their statement that learning by hypnopaedia is “impractical and probably impossible.” Today, the theory of sleep-teaching has been largely discredited and is not taken seriously. However, many people use sleep-therapy to attempt to break habits such as smoking or over-eating. The success of these treatments is debatable.
The name of Ford is used in place of God (e.g. Our God or Our Lord becomes Our Ford). Years are marked A.F. (After Ford), resembling B.C. (Before Christ).
Henry Ford was the founder of the Ford Motor Company and inventor of the assembly line, used for mass production. His most famous vehicle was the Model T automobile, which revolutionised transportation. The assembly line made it possible to mass produce inexpensive automobiles that were affordable to the average person. This has led to our current consumerist society built around mass produced, low-cost items.
Ford is also famous for paying a wage of $5 per day (double the pay of an average worker). This attracted many qualified workers and kept his assembly lines moving. It also meant that his workers could afford to buy his products, creating a circular economy. The working week was reduced from 48 hours to 40. Ford's philosophy was that consumerism was the key to peace.
In Brave New World, Henry Ford has become something of a god because his assembly line helped create the principles on which the new world is built: mass production, predictability, homogeneity, and consumption of disposable consumer goods.