In another online community, somebody asked for the title and author of a story about humans encountering another race that seemes to live a simple agrarian life. When asked how they generate electricity, or other questions about advanced technology, the agrarian person responds that they don’t know.
Later, it becomes clear this other race is far advanced of humans, with great psychic powers. Asking them about electricity and such is like asking us about the best kind of wood to rub together to start a fire—something our distant ancestors knew but almost nobody today does.
Other people on the community had their guesses, even asking ChatGPT. But I said to myself, “That sounds like a story I read when I was a kid. The author was John Campbell.” And I did about 15 minutes of Googling and replied thus:
Sounds like “Forgetfulness” by John W. Campbell, writing as Don A. Stuart, in Astounding Stories, June 1937 https://archive.org/details/Astounding_v19n04_1937-06_-ibcbc_fiche-paper
I am feeling hugely badass about this successful act of Internet research.
The original questioner misremembered at least one key detail: The star travelers aren’t humans—they are aliens from a civilization in the distant future. They land on a planet called “Rhth” (get it?) and believe the simple agrarian folk to be the degenerate descendants of a once mighty high tech empire. They pity the simple agrarian folk, but then learn better.
The above link is worth following for the ads alone. The magazine has a gajillion small ads, and they are all like this: