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Author Topic:   Is The World Getting Better Or Worse?
Phat
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Posts: 11416
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 1 of 56 (838333)
08-19-2018 4:05 PM


Percy writes:

There was some discussion up thread about Stephen Pinker's thesis that the world is on an improving trend of declining violence. Not that this isn't true, but it's an emergent property of increasing wealth. If/when wealth declines so will the trend of declining violence, along with other positive trends, such as declining wars, declining poverty, improving health and longevity, etc.
Ted Talks runs a weekly radio show of interviews and Ted Talk excerpts of people who have given Ted Talks, and this week's included Stephen Pinker talking about his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, the one that Tangle referenced up thread that sparked this side discussion.

Also on the show was Paul Gilding, former Greenpeace director and a Fellow at the University of Cambridge's Institute for Sustainability Leadership. Gilding spoke about his book The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World. Gilding's thesis is that The Earth is Full (the title of his Ted Talk), and that a number of current trends are running in the wrong direction, climate change being the most significant driver of change, but sustainability of resources, food production and pollution also being important. Gilding is optimistic, believing that civilization will survive, though not without massive catastrophes first.

Some conclude from Pinker's ideas that mankind is getting better, that we are learning. We are not. Evolution doesn't work that fast. We're still the violent, brutish thugs we were 200,000 years ago. Our wealth (i.e., our improving ability to take advantage of natural resources) has enabled us to evolve increasingly enlightened societies that emphasize freedom, happiness, and health. But there's only one Earth, and as Earth's human population presses toward and then past 8 billion it will reach its limit of how much humanity it can sustain, particularly as we spectacularly fail to address climate change.

It cannot be predicted whether this will happen as a gradual decline or as a crash. I suspect the former but punctuated by spectacular disasters of both climate and food. But whatever the pace of this change, it will bring with it increasing violence and decreasing freedom, happiness, and health as nation-states battle over resources with the nuclear threat ever present. Our primary hope must be that science and technology somehow win the race against climate change, but this possibility is in the hands of politicians who in many western countries, by far the most powerful block of countries in the world, are given power by electorates too dominated by blockheads swayed by the arguments of populists, scaremongers, haters and reality show hosts.

This deserves a thread of its own. Tangle would likely argue that the world is getting better. Faith (and I) would argue that the world is getting worse or at best still mired in the violent brutish thug phase that Percy mentions.


Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
You can "get answers" by watching the ducks. That doesn't mean the answers are coming from them.~Ringo

Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by jar, posted 08-19-2018 4:11 PM Phat has responded
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 Message 26 by Taq, posted 08-22-2018 4:31 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply
 Message 32 by Hyroglyphx, posted 08-23-2018 8:20 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 2 of 56 (838335)
08-19-2018 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
08-19-2018 4:05 PM


What the world is really is irrelevant.
As usual, subjects like this are simply silly. Some ares are getting better, others worse and it really is location, location, location.

What we can say is that in measurable areas there does seem to be a general trend of improvements.

But so far no one has shown any evidence of any general violent brutish thug phase and as long as we do not allow any religion to gain power we should do just fine overall.


My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 08-19-2018 4:05 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Phat, posted 08-19-2018 4:14 PM jar has responded

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 11416
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 3 of 56 (838336)
08-19-2018 4:14 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by jar
08-19-2018 4:11 PM


Re: What the world is really is irrelevant.
Perhaps, but if we don't do fine in this neck of the woods, there may arise some major conflicts.

Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
You can "get answers" by watching the ducks. That doesn't mean the answers are coming from them.~Ringo

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by jar, posted 08-19-2018 4:11 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by jar, posted 08-19-2018 4:47 PM Phat has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 4 of 56 (838340)
08-19-2018 4:47 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Phat
08-19-2018 4:14 PM


Re: What the world is really is irrelevant.
Phat writes:

Perhaps, but if we don't do fine in this neck of the woods, there may arise some major conflicts.

What is do fine? What is this neck of the world? And what major conflicts?

Edited by jar, : add do fine


My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

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 Message 3 by Phat, posted 08-19-2018 4:14 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
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Diomedes
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Posts: 741
From: Central Florida, USA
Joined: 09-13-2013
Member Rating: 2.9


(2)
Message 5 of 56 (838381)
08-20-2018 2:51 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
08-19-2018 4:05 PM


This deserves a thread of its own. Tangle would likely argue that the world is getting better. Faith (and I) would argue that the world is getting worse or at best still mired in the violent brutish thug phase that Percy mentions.

The world is most certainly getting better. It only gives the impression of being worse because we have access to so much more information nowadays. So every time something bad happens or some crisis manifests, everyone knows about it.

But a simple reference is look at how things were at the beginning of the 20th century. There were two large scale world wars. Hundreds of millions died in those conflicts. The poverty, infant mortality rates, death from diseases, etc. where all much higher. Both my parents lived through World War II as children and both lost siblings and family members either to conflict or childhood diseases. The Spanish Flu in the early 20th century killed between 50 to 100 million people. Nowadays, even the recent flu outbreak early this year killed only a handful. And the main difference is technology and access to medical care. And while wars are not completely gone, the likelihood of a conflict on the scale that occurred in the past is highly unlikely largely due to how globalization has made all economies too intertwined to make any conflict likely.

Now are there things that should be of concern? Absolutely. The biggest threat I see is climate change. It will radically change the biosphere of the planet and will likely displace millions of people over the next few hundred years. We could be taking better steps to mitigate this, but many individuals who have a vested interest in the status quo (Koch brothers), take steps to spread dis-information.

But as a species, there has never been a better time in our history to be alive. Would anyone honestly want to go back in time a few hundred years?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 08-19-2018 4:05 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
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Phat
Member
Posts: 11416
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 6 of 56 (838382)
08-20-2018 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Diomedes
08-20-2018 2:51 PM


Percy? Care to weigh in on this?
Diomedes writes:

The world is most certainly getting better. It only gives the impression of being worse because we have access to so much more information nowadays. So every time something bad happens or some crisis manifests, everyone knows about it.

I agree that we are getting better overall. I also agree with jar that no religion should gain (or maintain) power...secular humanism is inevitable. Oddly, I still cling to my belief that prophecy is real, however...and that God acts through others. I believe that there will again be a major war that will be bigger than WW II. In a way, we are already in the early stages of this war, and I believe that jar (and others) will see evidence of the brutish thug nature...that Percy claims we have never evolved out of and which some religious minds refer to as original sin.

Im not wishing for nor hoping for this scenario to play out...I have no need for the end times religious dogma to be proven true in any way simply to say that my belief was right.

I hope that we humans can sidestep this land mine.


Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
You can "get answers" by watching the ducks. That doesn't mean the answers are coming from them.~Ringo

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Diomedes, posted 08-20-2018 2:51 PM Diomedes has not yet responded

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 11416
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 7 of 56 (838383)
08-20-2018 3:18 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Diomedes
08-20-2018 2:51 PM


For Better Or Worse
The biggest threat I see is climate change. It will radically change the biosphere of the planet and will likely displace millions of people over the next few hundred years. We could be taking better steps to mitigate this, but many individuals who have a vested interest in the status quo (Koch brothers), take steps to spread disinformation.
The biggest threat I see is overpopulation combined with climate change. Humans will fight other humans in a competitive environment.

Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
You can "get answers" by watching the ducks. That doesn't mean the answers are coming from them.~Ringo

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Diomedes, posted 08-20-2018 2:51 PM Diomedes has not yet responded

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 11416
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 8 of 56 (838384)
08-20-2018 3:25 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by jar
08-19-2018 4:47 PM


Re: What the world is really is irrelevant.
Looking inward at my own "brutish thug nature"...and contemplating if I have the ability and the will to override it.....
jar writes:

What is do fine?living a comfortable life rather than a life of hurt and struggle..

What is this neck of the world? the aging middle class in the US. baby boomers used to having more than they may end up with

And what major conflicts? the ones we are in now...and our president creates more tension...showing resolution only with dictators...


Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
You can "get answers" by watching the ducks. That doesn't mean the answers are coming from them.~Ringo

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by jar, posted 08-19-2018 4:47 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by jar, posted 08-20-2018 4:50 PM Phat has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 9 of 56 (838386)
08-20-2018 4:50 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Phat
08-20-2018 3:25 PM


Re: What the world is really is irrelevant.
Phat writes:

jar writes:

And what major conflicts?

the ones we are in now...and our president creates more tension...showing resolution only with dictators...

What major conflicts are we in now?

Phat writes:

jar writes:

What is this neck of the world?

the aging middle class in the US. baby boomers used to having more than they may end up with

And just what will those aging middle class in the US. baby boomers who are used to having more than they may end up with do?

Edited by jar, : hit wrong key


My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Phat, posted 08-20-2018 3:25 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Phat, posted 08-20-2018 5:04 PM jar has responded
 Message 37 by 1.61803, posted 08-28-2018 2:24 PM jar has responded

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 11416
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 10 of 56 (838387)
08-20-2018 5:04 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by jar
08-20-2018 4:50 PM


Re: What the world is really is irrelevant.
What major conflicts are we in now?
Trade wars and ideology wars with other cultures.
And just what will those aging middle class in the US. baby boomers who are used to having more than they may end up with do?
The populists will want a dictator if necessary. The rest of them will try and patch the hole in the ship....in vain. the bill will get paid and we will die poorer, I suppose.

Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
You can "get answers" by watching the ducks. That doesn't mean the answers are coming from them.~Ringo

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by jar, posted 08-20-2018 4:50 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by jar, posted 08-20-2018 5:43 PM Phat has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 11 of 56 (838391)
08-20-2018 5:43 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Phat
08-20-2018 5:04 PM


Re: What the world is really is irrelevant.
Phat writes:

jar writes:

What major conflicts are we in now?

Trade wars and ideology wars with other cultures.

So far those would not count as major conflicts in the real world.

Phat writes:

jar writes:

And just what will those aging middle class in the US. baby boomers who are used to having more than they may end up with do?

The populists will want a dictator if necessary. The rest of them will try and patch the hole in the ship....in vain. the bill will get paid and we will die poorer, I suppose.

But that does not say anything about reality. There is a wannabe dictator now but what does reality show? What programs has he been able to actually implement?


My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

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 Message 10 by Phat, posted 08-20-2018 5:04 PM Phat has responded

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Percy
Member
Posts: 17875
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.3


(6)
Message 12 of 56 (838408)
08-21-2018 8:58 AM


A Couple Clarifications
My comment that "we're still the violent, brutish thugs we were 200,000 years ago" was in the context of evolution. We are not improving as a species regarding qualities like kindness, generosity, peacefulness, empathy, etc. To whatever degree we as a species possessed those qualities, and their opposites, 200,000 years ago we still possess them to the same degree today. Evolution doesn't work that fast.

Any improvements that we as a species appear to have demonstrated are actually societal and cultural improvements that result from increasing wealth. The more wealthy a society, the more generous it can afford to be. When that wealth dissipates then the positive qualities of the society and culture also drop away. We've seen this in all the hotspots around the world, from Somalia to Sudan to Gaza to the Boko Haram to ISIS to the Taliban.

As climate change and diminishing resources rob us of our wealth they will also rob us of the trappings of civilization. We see it already in the rise of right wing influences in the western world that encourages a culture of "I've got mine, I'm keeping it, I'm not sharing it, you're not like me, you keep away." The irony is that many of the people displaying such attitudes don't actually have much. They're much more in need of a culture of sharing and mutual support and working together across our differences toward common goals than those who do support such policies.

Not done but gotta go.

--Percy


Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Diomedes, posted 08-21-2018 9:56 AM Percy has acknowledged this reply
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Phat
Member
Posts: 11416
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 13 of 56 (838412)
08-21-2018 9:46 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by jar
08-20-2018 5:43 PM


Re: What the world is really is irrelevant.
jar writes:

There is a wannabe dictator now but what does reality show? What programs has he been able to actually implement?

Basically, the tax cut was his main one. Conspiracy theorists and end time nut jobs may well argue that if a global or domestic crisis ensued, he could legally implement martial law to a limited degree...which would make him more than a wannabe at that point.

Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
You can "get answers" by watching the ducks. That doesn't mean the answers are coming from them.~Ringo

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by jar, posted 08-20-2018 5:43 PM jar has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by ringo, posted 08-21-2018 11:55 AM Phat has responded

  
Diomedes
Member
Posts: 741
From: Central Florida, USA
Joined: 09-13-2013
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 14 of 56 (838413)
08-21-2018 9:56 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Percy
08-21-2018 8:58 AM


Re: A Couple Clarifications
We are not improving as a species regarding qualities like kindness, generosity, peacefulness, empathy, etc. To whatever degree we as a species possessed those qualities, and their opposites, 200,000 years ago we still possess them to the same degree today. Evolution doesn't work that fast.

Any improvements that we as a species appear to have demonstrated are actually societal and cultural improvements that result from increasing wealth. The more wealthy a society, the more generous it can afford to be.

I would concur that first world societies actually help mitigate those 'animal urges' to a degree. For a first world society to function, there has to be a fair level of empathy and altruism that exists. Otherwise, the society would collapse.

With that being said, if we get to a Lord of the Flies type scenario where we are starting to compete for rapidly dwindling resources, then our baser instincts of survival will start to manifest.

As Phat alluded to, we have to start to be honest about the size of our population and the ultimate carrying capacity of our planet. Technology and movement into the first world will also help. But ironically, we will be dealing with other problems if the population peaks and then starts to decline. While that likely will be good from an environmental perspective, it is going to have economic consequences because many of the systems in place currently were designed with an increasing or static population in mind. Social security, medicare, and so forth could start to run into problems with declining populations since they are designed to utilize current funds to pay for previous generations. So that will result in strains on the systems. Also, our economy itself is driven by growth and revenue and that could start to hit the skids with a population peak or a population decline. We could start seeing deflation manifest and asset prices in things like housing begin a downward spiral. Mind you I see this as more of an issue for countries that do not have good immigration policies or are not considered 'desirable' from a migration perspective. Like Japan, China and India.


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Tangle
Member
Posts: 6238
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.3


(1)
Message 15 of 56 (838414)
08-21-2018 10:37 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Percy
08-21-2018 8:58 AM


Re: A Couple Clarifications
Percy writes:

My comment that "we're still the violent, brutish thugs we were 200,000 years ago" was in the context of evolution. We are not improving as a species regarding qualities like kindness, generosity, peacefulness, empathy, etc. To whatever degree we as a species possessed those qualities, and their opposites, 200,000 years ago we still possess them to the same degree today. Evolution doesn't work that fast.

That's an assertion, but I'd say it's safe to assume that all those qualities still exist in us. But I think that you can also safely assert that with the influence of the cultural changes in our society over the last 500 years or so those very basal instincts have been highly moderated. Culture also affects behaviour.

Any improvements that we as a species appear to have demonstrated are actually societal and cultural improvements that result from increasing wealth. The more wealthy a society, the more generous it can afford to be. When that wealth dissipates then the positive qualities of the society and culture also drop away. We've seen this in all the hotspots around the world, from Somalia to Sudan to Gaza to the Boko Haram to ISIS to the Taliban.

I think you've thrown a red herring in here called wealth. All the hotspots around the world that were poor cf. Western standards also had functioning institutions which were overcome by various fundamentalist or just plain evil gits. At some point order will return to them.

If we ignore wealth for the moment, I think we can accept that progress in our civilisation has been made through the application of our growing knowledge which we've gained using our intelligence. That's a form of evolution, whether it's biological or not is accademic.

quote:
As climate change and diminishing resources rob us of our wealth they will also rob us of the trappings of civilization. We see it already in the rise of right wing influences in the western world that encourages a culture of "I've got mine, I'm keeping it, I'm not sharing it, you're not like me, you keep away." The irony is that many of the people displaying such attitudes don't actually have much. They're much more in need of a culture of sharing and mutual support and working together across our differences toward common goals than those who do support such policies.

Well there's a whole bundle of doomsday assertions there.

I'd say that there's plenty evidence that societies can break down when circumstances change. Riots and looting often break out when the lights go out in cities. Even in 'rich' European countries the rule of law breaks down over historical, cultural and religious grudges, Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland being obvious examples. But eventually order returns.

We now have international institutions that, in very imperfect ways, can step in to help resolve many of these breakdowns.

You may be correct that a sudden, global and monumentally disasterous happening might destroy lots of these institution's effectiveness but it's a hell of a leap to say that any breakdown would be permanent and that all institutional and human learning would be lost. It's also a leap to say that global warming could acheive such a thing. Change is likely be slow and not always bad for everyone.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


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