I don’t think that anyone ever believed that science would become controversial, at least not in the sense that it is today. Today, there are factions that want to diminish the science of Charles Darwin by equating it with the myth of Creationism. Similarly, the work of climatologists whose work is largely based on predictive models is open to debate and ridicule until or unless their results prove true. Modern vaccinations are deemed the cause of illnesses that bear no relation to them. This Luddite like approach to science is quintessentially Utopian. The world is not.
A Dutchman wanted to start a sawmill in East London in 1663 and was prevented from doing so, for fear that the mill would put people out of work. The Romans had sawmills, as did the Germans over a century earlier. Even the Americans had sawmills as early as 1623-4. (This information comes from “Story of the Saw”, pp. 23-24, by P.d’A. Jones and N.E. Simon, published by Newman Neame in 1961.) The refusal to adopt and to adapt to modern tools meant that the building trades of all sorts had to import sawn timber. Clearly, any economist will tell you that this was pure folly.
Progress through science and industy is not only hard to understand, it is baffling to comprehend how far reaching it is. The American space race made America a technological leader, pure and simple. The benefits continue to redound to this day. The polio vaccine, polio was still quite rampant in the 1950’s, was nearly eradicated in ten years. The list of accomplishments that scientific enquiry has wrought is virtually endless. We seem to want to turn our backs on all that has been accomplished, keep the status quo. You really wouldn’t think the status quo could be dangerous. You would be wrong.