%% Image and caption selected per Image Pickin' thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1327859697060264000
%% Please do not change or remove either without starting a new thread.
[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Knightwithsmartphone_894.gif]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Harold [[EyeScream pwned by arrow]] lol. William probs king by xmas. Bk home soon, cya then k? luv u x]]

->''"The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite."''
-->-- '''Thomas Sowell'''

While you don't need to know how a gun works to know how to use one, the society as a whole must be able to support the thinkers and builders of such a device for it to see widespread and sustained use. Not so when you have Low Culture High Tech; this is a faction, culture, or race that uses technology far in advance of their scientific and cultural knowledge, often for warfare.

Usually this group has pirated the technology from someone else. It may be LostTechnology that they have recovered and use, often very sturdy, self-replicating lost tech that only requires raw materials be input, if even that. Or it could be a BlackBox tech that none of their existing machines can do without. There may instead be a group of "thinkers and builders" who use the primitives as shock troops or even as a SlaveRace. It's also possible the tables are turned and the primitives have either taken the builders hostage or killed them all and taken all of their goodies (without bothering [[NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup with the instruction manual]]). If the original source of the tech is ShroudedInMyth, they may become a CargoCult.

Typically, the primitives will only use a fraction of the technology's potential and not know all of its abilities. At best they will be able to maintain the equipment without knowing how to repair it should a major malfunction happen. It's highly possible that the original creators, or a group with sufficiently advanced science (even just curiosity and a working knowledge of the scientific method), can pull the rug out from under these primitives by either confiscating, hacking, or better using their pirated tech against them.

It's worth noting that a civilization doesn't have to be at stone age or [[FeudalFuture Medieval]] levels of technology for this trope to apply. They just have to routinely use tech far in advance of their ability to comprehend. A story set in 21st century Earth could have this trope apply if the planet were given ImportedAlienPhlebotinum. Even space faring peoples can have LowCultureHighTech if they use stuff they don't understand.

Lastly, we want to draw attention to the following from the first paragraph "far in advance of their scientific and '''cultural''' knowledge". It's important to point out that not only are they using things they don't understand technologically, but for which they haven't considered the cultural, social, or ethical ramifications. It's one thing to give a hunter-gatherer society an EnergyBow, but giving them a cloning device? Their society may crumble from the onset of massive CloningBlues, not to mention the ecological disaster of the massive population growth. It's because of this that many aliens (and future humanity) tend to subscribe to an AlienNonInterferenceClause or a YouAreNotReady attitude.

Related to InsufficientlyAdvancedAlien, which is about a race that's interstellar, but every other tech they have sucks comparatively, ''and'' they probably don't understand it. Contrast RockBeatsLaser. The NobleSavage inverts this trope, being essentially High Culture, Low Tech. See also BambooTechnology, AliensNeverInventedTheWheel, ScavengerWorld, GivingRadioToTheRomans, and CargoCult. Not to be confused with "[[CyberPunk High Tech and Low Life.]]" Compare KlingonScientistsGetNoRespect, when a society undervalues the profession that make its desired lifestyle possible.

When adding RealLife examples, please use the RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement to avoid UnfortunateImplications.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The nations of Dissith and Anatore in ''Anime/LastExile'' qualify by virtue of not having anti-gravity technology which they lease from the Guild. The best they've developed is small fighter planes.
* In ''LightNovel/ZeroNoTsukaima'' there are caches of weapons from Earth scattered over the continent of Halkeginia, which is a MedievalEuropeanFantasy land. It is the result of a spell that is constantly pulling weapons from Earth for quite some time.
* The airships in ''Manga/NausicaaOfTheValleyOfTheWind'' rely on engines that reflect technology from before the [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt Seven Days of Fire]]. Several times throughout the manga, characters scramble to recover the engines from downed ships as they are the only components that are irreplaceable.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Done in one issue of ''ComicBook/{{Thorgal}}'', where a "sun sword" used by a minor warlord to conquer his neighbours turns out to be a phaser left after the villain of one of the previous arcs.
* Some of the civilisations of Skartaris in ''ComicBook/TheWarlord'' have access to advanced Atlantean technology, but no understanding of how it actually works.
* The early mini-comics from the original ''Franchise/MastersOfTheUniverse'' toyline, that were packed in with the toys. The primitive barbarian tribe He-man belonged to, the Eternians, used technology that had been left by their technologically advanced ancestors.
* In Richard Corben's ''ComicBook/{{Den}}'' comics, Neverwhere is a primitive SwordAndSorcery planet where Queen Kil has occasionally supplied weapons through magic, ranging from primitive knives to fully loaded automatic firearms.
* The Horde of ''ComicBook/StrikeforceMorituri'' are a race of alien invaders who [[PlanetLooters plunder other worlds]] for technology and resources, but have a culture built on tribalism and terror. Human characters who manage to board their spacecraft quickly note the numerous jury-riggeed systems used to adapt it for the Horde's needs.
* In Franchise/MarvelUniverse the nation of Wakanda is a subversion. It is a small yet high tech nation in the center of Africa with access to [[GreenRocks Vibranium]], a super element. While its people still live in tribal lifestyle and maintain an absolute monarchy, they single handedly developed high tech capabilities and a beyond first world industrial base. While many westerners think it's odd that such a technologically advanced society is still rooted in tribalism, the Wakandan's usually point out that they have a higher standard of living than most western countries ''because'' their social roots remain strong. For this reason it also retains a very isolationist stance. On the flip side, the post of king is open to KlingonPromotion. On the flip flip side, the ''current'' king happens to be Marvel's nearest analogue to [=DC's=] {{Batman}}.
* Also from the Franchise/MarvelUniverse, the Breakworld seen in Joss Whedon's run on ''ComicBook/XMen'' possesses some very impressive technology, but exists in a constant state of warfare and tyranny. [[BlueAndOrangeMorality Most of the Breakworlders don't think this is a bad thing]], and the one that does [[spoiler:is the true BigBad of the arc and an OmnicidalManiac who wants to blow up her own planet to boot.]]
* DC has the ComicBook/NewGods of New Genesis and Apokolips; they possess super high tech, and depending on how they are portrayed, are a super advanced alien race / or PhysicalGods. Apokolips are styled in Greek / Roman aesthetics, with slaves being lorded by the New Gods.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Twice in ''Film/BattlefieldEarth''. Much of the Psychlo's technology was stolen from their rivals, at one point they had a slave race of scientists which they later destroyed. They got away with this by using massive and sudden deployments of chemical weapons in their conquests, so that enemy races were defeated by the time they knew they were under attack regardless of technology. The humans end up this way towards their own and Psychlo technology.
* Played for laughs in ''Film/BillAndTedsExcellentAdventure'' when Beethoven gets access to modern synthesisers.
** And when we see cavemen chewing bubblegum.
* The aliens from ''Film/CowboysAndAliens'' give off this distinct impression. They have interstellar travel, powerful energy weapons, and all sorts of other advanced technology, but when it comes down to it, WildWest humans come off as more ''civilized'' (let that sink in for a second). They seem to prefer brutally ripping their enemies in hand-to-hand combat, and some even ''eat'' fallen humans, or at least go for the throat, despite having ubertech guns that can blow up houses. Also, [[spoiler: they have a bad case of [[PlanetLooters interstellar]] GoldFever]].
** It's also claimed that a single ship with a few scores of these things is enough to destroy all of human civilization.
* The Prawns from ''Film/{{District 9}}'' are pretty animalistic, but only because the ones we see are part of a rather unintelligent worker caste that don't know how to do anything unless they're told. All the more intelligent leaders died before their ship arrived at Earth. [[spoiler: Well, most of them did]].
* In ''Film/TheFifthElement'', ArmsDealer Zorg agrees to sell crates of ultra-cutting-edge assault rifles to OmnicidalManiac [[ProudWarriorRace Warrior Race]] the Mangalores in return for their finding him the {{Macguffin}}. And then as soon as he walks out of the room, he deconstructs this trope by pointing out that anyone smart enough to ''use'' the weapon would be smart enough to ''[[TooDumbToLive ask how it works]]''. The Mangalores promptly blow themselves up by accidentally triggering the Self Destruct button.
* The original ''Franchise/PlanetOfTheApes'' film has the apes wield repeating rifles (the movie props are modified M1 carbines), at least a century more advanced than any other tech they're shown using.
* In the Franchise/{{Predator}} franchise, the Predators are an ancient alien race that have advanced technology like [[EnergyWeapon plasmacasters]], [[InvisibilityCloak cloaking devices]] and [[AbsurdlySharpBlade advanced metallurgy for melee weapons]]. However, their society seems to be extremely primitive, almost [[NobleSavage tribal]] in nature, with no visible culture beyond [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy hunting and warfare]]. According to ExpandedUniverse and WordOfGod, this is because their species scavenged technology from failed [[AlienInvasion alien invaders]] and they neither [[MedievalStasis develop their own technology]] or [[InsufficientlyAdvancedAlien have any understanding of how the advanced stuff works]]. [[SchizoTech So, as a species, they're stuck]].
* A partial example in ''[[WebOriginal/StarWreck Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning]]'', where Pirk, Dwarf, and Info are stuck on modern-day Earth after traveling from their own time. When the FirstContact with the Vulgars is messed up by a rock star (the Vulgars are too busy partying and doing drugs), Pirk takes it upon himself to establish the P-Fleet by using a bunch of disgruntled Russians to build the CPP ''Kickstart'' ({{Expy}} of the ''[[Franchise/StarTrek Enterprise]]''-E) based on Info's remembered plans and the Vulgar AntiMatter reactor. He then allies with the Russian President and retools the Russian military with futuristic technology, quickly conquering the world and establishing the P-Union with himself as TheEmperor. However, Info reveals that the comparatively low level of human technology means that the ship's systems are not up to their usual standarts (due to impurities in AntiMatter, the ''Kickstart'' can only go to "twist" factor 2). As such, despite Pirk using the resources of the entire world to build a space station and dozens of ships, they lack the power to actually reach other stars in any reasonable amount of time (years at best). The CPP ''Kalinka'' (an {{Expy}} of the original ''Enterprise'') looks so crappy compared to the ''Kickstart'' because they ran out of good-quality materials and had to make due. During the SpaceBattle, the ''Kalinka'' sustains damage despite the fact that it was ''never fired upon''. Hell, the enemy doesn't even bother attacking the rustbucket, figuring it'll fall apart on its own. Pirk's entire reason for invading the [[spoiler:[[Series/BabylonFive Babel-13]] universe]] is to conquer habitable planets and get more resources.
* ''Film/YorTheHunterFromTheFuture'' has, as [[WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment Spoony]] called them "Cavemen with Lasers".
* The barbarian class in ''Film/{{Zardoz}}'' are given rifles and guns by more advanced humans.
* A bizarre example in ''{{Film/Idiocracy}}''. The futuristic technology was built before the human race began its slide into stupidity, so now the descendants of the people who built it have no idea how it works.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* The ruling class in ''Literature/BookOfTheNewSun'' have access to anti-gravity, energy weapons and genetic engineering. But since they get all these things by trading with aliens, they don't actually understand how any of these technologies work. The ''actual'' technological level of the society is more primitive than ours, though it's not clear how much of that is lost knowledge and how much is simply that their desperate material poverty makes it impossible to maintain a technological society.
* In the ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' series by Creator/IsaacAsimov, this is one of the major themes in the first book. As the Galactic Empire begins to come apart at the seams, planets on the very periphery of the Empire lose the ability to build nuclear reactors. Even in the heart of the Empire itself, scientific knowledge has stagnated so much that they can only perform routine maintenance on their power plants. As early as 25 years after Hari Seldon predicted the fall of the Empire, a reactor on a planet experiences a Chernobyl-like meltdown, and the response by the Empire is to restrict further nuclear testing. The Foundation first manages to establish hegemony in the fringes of the Galaxy by providing the independent Kingdoms around them with nuclear technology, as well as technicians able to run and maintain the devices (and keeping for themselves anyone smart and educated enough to design new technology).
* In the first ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' novel the Havenites gave a faction of the primitive Medusan natives flintlock rifles in an attempt to manufacture an incident that would give them an excuse to invade the system (and claim its wormhole) as a "peacekeeping action". Unfortunately for them Honor discovered the plot and sent a platoon of marines in PoweredArmor to curbstomp the offending faction.
** Also unfortunately for the Havenites, they underestimated the Medusan's skill and tech base, and found that the primitives were now [[GoneHorriblyRight mass producing the weapons]], leading to their Havenite handlers losing all control of the situation.
* ''Literature/KnownSpace'' has the Kzin, tribals bootstrapped by an alien race as mercenaries turned galactic conquerors. Had no idea reaction drives could be used as weapons. Their culture also is heavily influenced by what happens when Bronze age cultures get genetic engineering and try to engineer their men into Heroes, and make their women become less naggy. They make their women effectively non-sentient, and their men into buff warriors with few skills but leaping and yelling.
** This is a common theme in ''Known Space'', the Slavers, or Thrintun, have massive psychic abilities but are barely able to move. They are borderline idiotic, but they met the Tnuctipuns, who are insanely smart, and the Tnuctipun were instantly slaves to a society that could barely move. The Thrintun may still be around as the Grogs, who have at the very least learned to leave well enough alone: Grogs work very hard at appearing (and actually ''being'') harmless objects of ridicule, possibly, if they really are descended from Thrintun, because they still remember what happened before when they ''didn't''.
* ''Literature/TheIronDream'' by Creator/NormanSpinrad, features "The Steel Commander", a metal truncheon that has an apparent weight and mass of tonnes and yet can be effortlessly wielded by a person of sufficient genetic "purity". It was created by an enclave of scientists who'd survived "The Fire" (a global nuclear war) for Heldon, the father of a fascist movement to preserve a core of unmutated humans (and who slew them for their trouble).
* Novella "Minla's Flowers" and short story "Merlin's Gun" by Creator/AlastairReynolds take place tens of thousands of years after humans had colonized the Galaxy, and while protagonists (and their enemies) have interstellar flight and other technology far beyond 21st century, they are in awe of things built by people long lost in the past (but far future for us).
* In ''Literature/OldMansWar'' one alien faction was gifted a device by a more advanced species that allowed them to predict exactly when and where ships would be arriving via FTL. This immediately grants them a massive advantage in their war against the humans, who have to come up with an exceedingly risky plan to counteract it.
* The entire plot of the Creator/RobertAHeinlein novel ''Orphans of the Sky''. The novel's characters live on a GenerationShip whose crew mutinied several generations back. By the time the novel takes place, the crew has become so backward that they think the ship is the whole Universe, and a large portion live as subsistence farmers. The only reason the ship still works is that its reactor[[note]]The secondary reactor, actually, the main one having gone kaput during the mutiny[[/note]] can convert any matter into energy at pretty much 100% efficiency. Everything that is no longer useful, including the dead, are used as fuel for the reactor.
* In ''Literature/{{Uplift}}'' every single extant alien race was uplifted by another and got their technology from "the Library", several species uplifted as warriors seem downright barbaric to humans who had to develop a near-utopian society through trial and error.
* In ''Literature/WorldWar'' the British, unable to build a lightweight radar unit to install in their planes, cannibalize surviving radar units from the Lizards' planes that they've managed to shoot down, citing this premise in doing so. Similarly, the Nazis develop armor-piercing, discarding-sabot shells based upon shells they've captured from the Lizards.
** It helps that the Race's military technology is ahead of that of humans by a few decades at best. It's heavily implied that the Race arrived at just the right time in our history to pose a threat to humans without being able to ''completely'' steamroll over us. Had they arrived only a decade earlier, this is what would've happened. Had they waited a decade or two (as some of their superiors wanted), they would've faced a ColdWar-era world with thousands of nukes and two superpowers gearing up for war, not to mention the beginnings of space exploration (i.e. orbital delivery platforms) and advances in computing.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' is interesting in that ''most'' of the races qualify to varying degrees. Much of the Narns' technology is reversed engineered from captured Centauri examples, and while the Narn seem quite capable of building and using the weapons, they never acquired the ArtificialGravity technology used by the Centauri's ships, meaning they were still at a marked disadvantage. Similarly, the Minbari were given advanced technology by the Vorlons, and the humans ended up acquiring Shadow technology. In both of the later cases, the younger races were hard at work figuring out how the technology worked so they could apply it to their own designs.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' has a variation of this: A Sontaran [[GivingRadioToTheRomans gives rifles to a 12th-century English warlord]]. [[{{Recap/DoctorWhoS16E5ThePowerOfKroll}} The Power Of Kroll]] has the boss of a mining rig hire an arms dealer to sell defective weapons to the natives of a moon that orbits his planet. This is to justify removing said natives because his [[MegaCorp company]] wants that moon.
** In the early 21st century, humanity are in possession of a weapon that can one shot spaceships out of orbit, salvaged from alien technology that has been recovered from Earth. The ''Valiant'' was built with a smaller version of this weapon, in addition to using designs given to them by [[spoiler: the Master]].
* On ''Series/{{Earth 2}}'', the Terrians (underground-dwelling humanoids who share a symbiotic relationship with their homeworld) appear to be tribes of Hunter-Gatherers, but due to [[GreenRocks the green rock-like properties of their planet]], wield [[EnergyWeapons staffs that shoot lightning bolts]]. It's implied several times in the series that the Terrians used to be much more like humans, and may even have had more conventional, industrial technology, before they evolved into a species of benevolent symbiotes. It's also implied that the Terrians are also not native to Earth 2 and are colonizing it as well.
* The Pylons from ''Series/LandOfTheLost'' are remnants of a past civilization yet are more advanced than anything the Sleestaks could create.
** The Library of Skulls.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Lexx}}'', the Lexx visits a planet populated by a seemingly medieval-level society composed entirely of men. When Kai wonders how they reproduce, one of the elder members explains to Kai that their ancestors left behind special pods that produce new brothers. In the end, said elder reveals the truth: their ancestors wanted to create a simple society free of sexual competition, believing that was the only way to maintain peace. Their advanced knowledge was passed down only to a select few like the elder. Believing that Xev's presence has permanently "tainted" them, the elder triggers the self-destruct sequence of the entire planet.
* The alien invaders in one ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' sketch apparently had this problem. After landing and threatening the people of Earth with destruction, they overplay their hand, as the Earthlings do not, in fact, tremble before the power of their mighty flintlock muskets. It seems all their technology ''other'' than starships was woefully behind that of 1990s Earth. The police dealing with the situation suspect their ship was stolen.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'':
** It has this apply to humans and the slaves of the Goa'uld. SG-1 gets a lot of tech they only barely understand, and later on the Asgard gift humanity with a database and replicator for all of their advanced tech (which most likely will take centuries to reverse-engineer everything). The Goa'uld purposely make their (also pirated) tech user friendly for the Jaffa to use.
** The Jaffa, whose society is almost identical in theme to the page image. They expertly utilize the extremely advanced technology provided by the Goa'uld, even to the point of flying their motherships for them. Yet Chulak, the Jaffa homeworld, is apparently still stuck in the Middle Ages.
** The Tollan deliberately invoke this with "primitive" societies that haven't reached their technological level. They once gifted their technology to another species to help them, and as a result said species wiped itself out ''in a single day.'' Since then they have been extremely leery about sharing tech with anyone else, even Earth.
** One episode in particular has SGC retrofit a Goa'uld fighter with Earth-tech modifications and show it off to other members of the military. On a test run they accidentally triggered a homing program that tried to return it to its point of origin across the galaxy at sublight speeds. Given that SGC didn't have anything nearly fast enough to retrieve the ship and crew they had to call for help from the Tok'ra, who berates them for slapping an Air Force label on a ship they didn't understand. Later episodes showed they learned enough about the technology to build comparable fighters from scratch and eventually made their own battleships.
** It is often pointed out that the Goa'uld aren't all that different. They are just as 'unready' for certain Ancient technologies and this seems to be one of the things that causes the large amount of infighting that allowed human and Jaffa to overthrow them. Despite the Goa'uld having stolen the capacity for interstellar flight thousands of years ago, the Ancients and Asgard are still sufficiently far beyond them. Both of those races had reached intergalactic flight technology (with at least the Ancients even having traveled to galaxies outside their original local cluster long before their technological peak) before the Goa'uld even got off their original planet.
** An early episode had O'Neill resolve a problem late in the episode by giving a local Mongol warlord his handgun, which the warlord celebrates by FiringInTheAirALot, and O'Neill {{lampshades}} that they should get going before he uses up the ammo in the single magazine.
** Provides an EstablishingCharacterMoment in ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', when it's revealed that the Athosians are ''not'' the primitive society that they initially appear to be, but merely TheRemnant of an advanced society that had been repeatedly bombed into the stone age by the Wraith. For instance, not only does their settlement reside in the shadow of ruined high-tech city, but one of the rare pieces of Athosian technology to survive is a lighter that uses energy beams to ignite objects.
* The Ferengi in ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' were originally designed to follow this trope and were introduced by one of the characters explaining that they are a species who simply should not have been given access to advanced technology yet, as they have not yet reached a sufficiently developed state to use it responsibly. However, there was a very strong sub-human racist vibe to it and they mostly disappeared until being revived as a greedy merchant species in ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]''.
** The Pakleds are bright enough to steal whatever technology they can get their hands on (as well as abduct Engineer Geordi [=LaForge=]), but express themselves in infantile terms (they want [=LaForge=] to "make [their ship] go" so that they can be "strong") and are fooled into surrendering by a harmless, if {{Technobabble}}-laden, pyrotechnic display. Whether these two Pakleds are representative of their entire species is never really addressed, however.
* Another ''Franchise/StarTrek'' example has the episode "A Private Little War" from ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries''. Kirk and [=McCoy=] discover that the Klingons gave flintlock weapons to the natives who didn't have them before. To restore the balance of power, Kirk provides another group (a bunch of cavemen) with them. [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything McCoy compares their situation to the "Brush Wars" of the mid 20th Century]].
** This is also the origin of Klingons themselves. They were originally a slave race who overthrew their masters and stole their tech.
** The episode "Bread and Circuses" featured a world with 1960s-level tech(television, firearms) but a society that mirrored the RomanEmpire, complete with the slow rise of Christianity(albeit 2000 years late). It's implied that the captain who had been stranded on that planet gave the RomanEmpire the modern technology in exchange for being made emperor.
** The Kazon from ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' don't exactly inspire confidence with their technical abilities. However, they only recently acquired it, namely by overthrowing their Trabe conquerors. There's a reason [[TheAssimilator the Borg]] deemed the Kazon to have absolutely nothing worth assimilating.
* A sketch on ''Dave Allen at Large'' shows Allen as a native American chief who a British explorer is negotiating with; he is offered trinkets for various tracts of land. He wants the "stick that goes boom" (a rifle) but is refused. Finally he offers all the land they're trying to acquire for the "stick that goes boom," and the Brit, seeing this as a huge bargain, agrees. Brit gives Chief the rifle. Chief shoots Brit, and then he & his tribe members take the chest full of trinkets.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Pinball]]
* In ''VideoGame/MadDaedalus'', the ancient Greek kingdom of Minos is implied to be this, due to the futuristic inventions of Daedalus and his ImportedAlienPhlebotinum.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop RPG]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'':
** This is pretty much the [[PlanetOfHats hat]] that the orks wear. Some of their tech is either extremely basic, looted, or [[ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve only works because they think it's supposed to]]. Other technological knowledge is carried genetically in Meks.
*** And Meks themselves are by no means above this: One ransomed a dormant Necron tomb for a bunch of [[WaveMotionGun Doomsday Arks]], but couldn't resist trying to take one apart, with [[EarthShatteringKaboom predictable consequences]].
** The Imperium from the same setting has completely lost the scientific method, the closest it has to scientists and engineers are a priest class that does almost everything by rote and individuals hoard knowledge which is then lost when they die. A common feature of their technology is that you have to be advanced to design it, but not to build it (for instance the Lasgun laser weapons require less manufacturing ability than a modern assault rifle and is more reliable to boot). As a result their technology has been in decline for thousands of years, and they don't know how to build their best ships and weapons anymore.
*** Though this is more or less the "official" stance, in truth it is very much [[DependingOnTheWriter dependant on the author]] for the Imperium. Some characters, both in the Mechanicus and out, are depicted as clearly knowing how science and technology work. In some cases, the Imperium is not even in technological decline, but merely advancing extremely slowly - given the risks of [[AIIsACrapShoot historically developed technologies]], and recovered technological advancements will have a small chance of [[EldritchAbomination being tainted by Chaos]] to disastrous effect. Any new technology can take centuries of study before being approved for general use. And those centuries were an example involving a tougher material for kitchen knives, it's implied that more important technology that could be used in warfare would take even longer.
*** Demonstrated explicitly in the ''Priests of Mars'' novel. When asked how it's even possible to analyse the life cycles of stars, a tech-priest is forced to explain basic (as in high school) principles of scientific proofs and methodology. It's a testament to the state of the Imperium that her audience isn't even stupid or from a crude society; he's fairly intelligent and is the captain of a starship.
** Eldar Exodites seem like this trope, but are actually a subversion. They live in low technology tribal society, yet have access to laser- and fusion-weapons similar to Craftworld Eldar, as well Knight Titans (a smaller, but still quite large, class of the setting's HumongousMecha). However, rather than being a primitive society using high technology they don't understand, the Exodites have the necessary knowledge to make all the high tech stuff their Craftworld cousins have; but choose to only use as much technology as necessary, to avoid falling back into the decadence that caused the Fall.
** The Necrons are also an example, only a very limited caste has a clue how their technology works, all construction and maintenance is automated. The leadership caste comports themselves like bronze-age warlords, and the rest of the race is almost non-sentient.
** The Kroot are also an example, having gained their technology by eating Orks and inheriting their genetically encoded technology. As a result you have a tribal society with solid-propellant weapons (later chieftans are given plasma-based weaponry after they became a client species for the Tau Empire) and Warp-capable starships. Though they tend to have limited technological standing otherwise, though the reason for this appears that their philosophy is that having low levels of technology keeps the species strong.
** The RogueTrader RPG features the Rak'Gol, a race of aliens that makes the Orks look positively cultured. Though their technology is primitive compared to just about all races (for example, their spacecraft are powered by unshielded nuclear reactors instead of plasma drives) it's a wonder they have any technology at all, let alone FTL-capable ships, since they seem to be little more than extremely violent beasts. It's debated whether they can even be considered to have a culture of any kind. It's hinted they may merely be pawns of some other race that presumably uplifted them.
* A few societies in ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' are in this boat, most notably Lookshy of the [[ScavengerWorld Scavenger Lands]].
* In the TabletopGame/DarkSun setting of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the civilized halflings have actually lost most of their life-shaping technology (though it is still miraculous to anyone else). They can still replicate life-shaped tools and creatures, but only in a ritualized manner, much like using a cookbook for doing advanced chemistry when you don't know anything about chemistry, but still having it work.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Traveller}}'', the Aslan are a ProudWarriorRace with little social organization above the "clan" level. They somehow developed Jump drive and became a major race, it's been suggested often that they reverse-engineered it from one of the "true" major races.
* In ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'' the Successor States don't know how the LostTechnology they rely upon, most notable FasterThanLightTravel, works or how to replicate it. In a twist they're more or less the same civilization that invented them, it's just that most people who knew how it worked died in the first Succession War. In a subversion the Clans have a culture that seems like it would fit bronze age warriors (as opposed to the Successor's [[FeudalFuture feudalism]]) but they know how their technology works (or at least their scientist caste does) and have even improved upon what the Inner Sphere considers "Lostech".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Covenant of ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' bases most of their technology on [[{{Precursors}} Forerunner]] tech and consider it blasphemy to try and improve it or even change the settings to do things it's already capable of. Part of this is that they explicitly never developed a high enough level of mathematics to understand the base principles.
** While operating a captured ship, Cortana rewrites the firmware to make the ship's [[HomingProjectile slow-moving plasma mortars]] shoot [[WaveMotionGun pinpoint focused ion beams]]. The native shipboard AI is enraged by this blasphemy, to the point of making it one of its chief grievances in a distress signal.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', Professor Mordin Solus refers to the "uplifting" of the Krogan as this.
--> '''Mordin''': Like giving nuclear weapons to cavemen.
** Technically applies to ''all'' races in the setting, since they are purposefully manipulated from trying to explore or understand the technology and principles behind the Citadel and the Mass Relays. Before the Protheans altered the Keepers to prevent them opening the hidden Mass Relay built into the Citadel itself, millions of years worth of Cycles ended with the Reapers showing up and taking control of the Citadel, locking down the Mass Relays and declaring GameOver to the entire galaxy.
** Humanity freely admits that discovering the Prothean archives on Mars jumped their technology level ahead over 200 years. Upon their entry to the galactic scene they were roughly on par with the turians in term of technology development, despite having only having mass effect technology for 11 years at that point, while the turians had possessed it for little over a millennium.
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'':
** Every game is like this, with only a few of the most advanced factions (Brotherhood of Steel, Enclave) actually understanding any technology more complicated than basic firearms and explosives, although other factions do utilise them, thanks to it being a ScavengerWorld.
*** And all of the factions who understand the technology selfishly guard it because of the advantage it gives them. In Fallout games with a crafting system, this allows the player to become a BadassBookworm.
** Applies to the Pre-War society as well. Even in 2077, with an abundance of futuristic technology at their disposal, America (and perhaps the entire world) remained culturally locked in the 1950s.
** In ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', due to House's machinations the Mojave was spared the worst of the Great War, allowing for a lot of advanced technology to survive the collapse of civilisation. Later he would "civilise" three tribes into governing his casinos, while he himself maintained New Vegas' independence from NCR annexation by using his Securitron army to prevent any attempt to take over the Strip.
** Taken to new heights in the ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' add-on ''Honest Hearts." The entire reason the plot is in motion is because the White Legs tribe were given automatic weapons by Ulysses, as well as a huge store of ammunition and the knowledge of how to clean them. The White Legs are otherwise a stone age civilization, yet their "storm-drummers" have tommy guns.
* The Skedar from ''VideoGame/PerfectDark'', who have spaceships and cloning technology but no culture to speak of besides warfare and violence.
* ''Somewhat'' the case involving the Pieces of Eden in ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'', although by the time of ''[[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedRevelations Revelations]]'' (the fourth main game) the Abstergo Industries articles given to Abstergo Industries' secret insiders reveal that they knew a lot more about the Pieces than was let on in the first game.
* Shown in passing in ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'', with Kano supplying modern weaponry to the Tarkata who clearly have no idea how to use them. One nearly blew their own head off by curiously looking down its barrel.
* The people living aboard the GenerationShip [[AnalogueAHateStory Mugunghwa]] have somehow degraded culturally into something resembling Joseon-era Korea. It's implied that none of them understand the principles of how the ship works, or know anything about astronomy.
* In ''VideoGame/WingsOfDawn'', this is the case for the Nordera. Their spaceship technology is crude and primitive compared to the other species' (it works, but only just), but even that much was given to them by the Hertak. On their own, the Nordera had gotten about as far as discovering large-scale metalwork and explosives.
* The Cuotl in ''VideoGame/RiseOfLegends'' is a Mayincatec empire ruled by SufficientlyAdvancedAliens. Their warriors give off a distinct ''Franchise/{{Stargate|Verse}}'' feel. Their battle dress looks similar to that worn by Jaffa, and they wield energy weapons shaped as staffs.
* Humanity itself in VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown, where you spend the game furiously reverse-engineering alien tech just enough to know what it does and how to build more of it. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] by humanity being ''at war'', fighting against extinction or enslavement. Your R&D teams seem pretty confident that, given time, they could take the tech all the way apart and learn how it works. For now, though, "here's a new gun, it shoots plasma, we can build it, ASK QUESTIONS LATER" is pretty solid tactics. That being said, XCOM's Chief Engineer Dr. Shen openly states his fears about pretty much this trope coming into action after the war.
* ''Videogame/{{Starbound}}'' has Avians, who received spacefaring technology from a precursor race, and yet still have priest-castes and human...well, avian sacrifices to their god, with atheism being a crime. So, you have {{Mayincatec}} BirdPeople in space.
** Much, much worse are the Florans, a race of tribalistic, [[ManEatingPlant flesh-eating]] PlantAliens who somehow managed to reverse-engineer a crashed avian spaceship and subsequently became a menace to the galaxy, going so far as to drive the [[FishPeople Hylotl]] from their own homeworld. It's only recently that SOME of them are beginning to understand the concept of sentient animal life and the value thereof. Expect the occasional [[StealthPun tasteless]] [[IAmAHumanitarian remark]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Jix}}'' the Ambis acquired much of their advanced tech from another species who tried to invade their homeworld.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'': At one point, two [[BenevolentAlienInvasion time-traveling Thanagarians]] crash landed into AncientEgypt. They couldn't get home, so they spent their days giving technology to the nearby villagers. Naturally the village became a grand kingdom within a generation. The people never learned how to make the tools though - only use them - and when the aliens died, the society collapsed pretty quickly.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* When it was in power, [[ThoseWackyNazis the Third Reich]] was regarded as this trope embodied, by British and Francophone sources on one side and by the educated classes of German society on the other. German society before the Nazis had been very classist, playing on conservatism, modesty, classical German culture, Catholic and Protestant religion, and established social relationships. The Nazis, however, disregarding the British proverb which said "it takes 3 years to build a ship, but 300 years to build a tradition", judged everything by power as the universal medicine. They could build advanced weapons and industrial machinery, motorways, modern architecture, and public TV stations, and for this reason they felt no obligation to listen to anyone else. They could afford to disregard entirely the evolution of culture and arts before them, and throw anything not suited to their ideology into the garbage as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerate_art "degenerate and Jewish art"]].\\
\\
There was no surprise in the fact they were hated for it and treated like [[SelfDemonstratingArticle primitives suddenly endowed]] with power and technology. The ''nouveau riche'' attitude of the political leadership, with men like Robert Ley, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Weber_%28SS_general%29 Christian Weber]], and Hermann Goering ruling their departments and flaunting their wealth like [[TheDon Mafia bosses]], only made things worse. In more practical terms, the Nazis took the same attitude to Jewish scientists like UsefulNotes/AlbertEinstein and rejected their research in favor of promoting hare-brained ideas in physics and other fields simply because non-Jewish Germans came up with them. Among the results of that bigotry were that many of those scientists fled to nations like Britain and the United States, which gave them the advantage of the skilled personnel needed to develop nuclear weapons.[[note]]The (few) top-tier physicists remaining in Germany capable of designing atomic weapons (Heisenberg, for example) had no intention of doing so for the Nazis; several of them even managed to get themselves put in charge of atomic research specifically so that they could make sure nothing practical ever came of it.[[/note]]
* Global commerce can cause this too, with societies that have cell phones with more computing power than was available to put humans on the ''moon'', who also still have chunky water.
* Also kind of a hobby of most of the major powers in the Cold War, who were arming their various Third World allies with ultra-modern weaponry in an effort to stymie the other side. Of course, after the Cold War ended most of those alliances fell apart, leaving a [[NiceJobBreakingItHero lot of guns]] in some [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement rather questionable]] hands.
* Political scientist Basam Tibi termed the desire of fundamentalist organizations or societies to gain access to sophisticated technology (especially weaponry) while totally avoiding any social modernization whatsoever "the dream of incomplete modernity".
* The idea that [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters humanity in general]] is Low Culture, High Tech is a common thread of many primitivist and anti-industrial thinkers.
** This was a key part of the ideology of Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber. In his manifesto, he alleged that the behaviors and social organization needed to run a modern industrial society clashed with basic human instincts written by thousands of years of natural selection, producing most of the social ills of the modern world in the process. Therefore, he felt that humanity was biologically unsuited to any mode of organization and technology more advanced than [[NobleSavage hunter-gatherers]], and used this as justification to launch a terrorist campaign aimed at airlines, universities, and industrial and high-tech concerns.
* Let's just say, this trope + modern ''weaponry'' = Very Bad Things.
* Korean (and to a lesser extent, Chinese and Japanese) culture can be considered this when it comes to aviation, with the highly hierarchical "respect your elders" culture being in some cases ''lethal'' in airplanes. The co-pilot has to double check everything the captain does, yet co-pilots often are afraid to correct their captain's mistakes, as the captain is their elder. This has actually lead to ''crashes''. Korean Air has acknowledged this and is attempting to fix the problem with new pilot training.
[[/folder]]
-----