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Old 2012-10-02, 19:51   Link #41
Sumeragi
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A wise being that does not take action is not wise at all. That's my ultimate belief.
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Old 2012-10-02, 19:53   Link #42
willx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
-snip-
Hm, this is one of those occasions where I'm not sure what to say. Not that I don't have responses for each and every single one of your comments, but that you just seem angry and upset and that you feel emotionally about the topic vs. approaching it intellectually. I'm not sure why you feel angry, and it's unfortunate that you do, but you're entitled to feel what you do -- that's fine, that's your prerogative, but your emotions on the matter are not something that is likely to be "convincing" (feeling and passion is great for "inspiring" though)

Now, I will try not to offend, but what I wish to point out is this:

Your ability to have an intellectual debate with me from "across the world" wherever you are, is contingent on any number of factors that is due to our "society" and the "social contract" that we all adhere to certain degrees. You have a computer, internet, have gone to school and learned to write and read, you have "free time" to sit in front of the computer and you obviously have read books or watched shows to help form your opinion -- none of these things would exist without this society you decry.

Ultimately, you deny economic progress, and I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about increases in overall human productive capacity (proxy'd by GDP, but I'm talking about actual progress), the division of labour and the human ability to specialize. You can believe that if you wish, but unfortunately, the basis of your beliefs are based on a false premise. Our world isn't perfect, but it's intellectually dishonest to deny it's benefits. You deny society but fail to see that things would be so much worse without it.

@Sumeragi - What about the Dunning-Kruger effect? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning...3Kruger_effect

Last edited by willx; 2012-10-02 at 19:55. Reason: People post so fast..
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Old 2012-10-02, 20:02   Link #43
DonQuigleone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
Genetic modification is actually even harder than plant breeding, with the large amount of possible things to go wrong given we still do not have the complete information of how different genetics work. Basically, GMO is about as safe as regular breeding, taking both the best and worst cases together.
If we're talking about the here and now, you're right. We still don't have a full understanding of genetic modification, and so a lot of what we do is just trial and error.

However, I have high hopes that in the future we'll have a good enough understanding of Genetics that genetic modification will be no more difficult then computer programming. That's a really long way away though.

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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
That's the beauty of it, but also the problem. It is only when we're united that we can accomplish some really amazing feats. Otherwise you have various groups expending energy fighting one another, either for resources or to outright stop what they're doing. "Progress" means different things to different people, and I suspect that this desire to unite everyone is partly why people get so worked up and argue with one another, trying to change people's minds yet stubbornly clinging to their own ideas.
I don't see why we need to be absolutely united. I think it's fine so long as we aren't lobbing bombs at each other. In terms of efficiency, I think we're a lot more efficient then any previous civilization in human history, but we're still no where near as being efficient as we could be. But I think we're getting there.

Why?

Being efficient saves money!

Quote:
Are we really good enough to manage ourselves? Almost everything about our current society is based around an expectation of growth and unlimited resources. The resources aren't unlimited. Many fisheries are becoming exhausted, and oceanic life diversity is decreasing. "Easy access" oil supplies have been exhausted, and now we're forced to go on to the more difficult ones. Climate change is occurring, and we're not adjusting because people are hung up over whether Man or nature is to blame. Deforestation has been occurring at an alarming rate.

Is this sustainable? I don't think so.
If we mismanage ourselves, that's our own fault. It means we have to deal with our own problems. The minute we give up our self determination, we're giving up our own responsibility as well, we basically become adult children. Now with our current state of things some of us will be irresponsible, and other won't be. That's just the way of the world.
Quote:
It's not that we don't have options, though. We could change our energy sources, and we could more efficiently manage our natural resources (fisheries, forests, etc.). Yet these things cost money and take effort. It's the "smart" thing to do, something that will likely be deemed critical as time goes on, yet it seems to get the absolute lowest priority that society could give it. There are even some people who are against such initiatives.

It seems to be a problem of short-sightedness. It isn't a pressing problem today, and it may not even be a pressing problem in your lifetime. So, why should you care? That sort of attitude - the here-and-now, all-about-me thinking - is rather befitting of being termed "dumb monkeys willfully destroying everything." We may be building some impressive things, but if we're crapping up our fish tank to the point that we'll ruin ourselves and everything that we've built, how smart is that?
Your worries are not without merit, but I also think you're being unrealistically pessimistic about it. I've spent a lot of time being educated in the world of Engineering, and almost every Engineer I've ever met is well aware of our limited resources, and everyone's very keen on doing what we can to solve these problems. But we're also aware (as environmentalists often are not) that there aren't any easy solutions. Engineers are always thinking in the long term. If our society was so concerned with only short term stuff, how come most bridges are still standing long after they were built? It's because Engineers did their best to design them to last. And when Engineers design products they design them to last as long as necessary. They could design them to last longer, but that might cause waste of another kind. For instance, if you want a particular metal part to last a long time it's going to need to be larger, and hence heavier. That's not very good if you want to design an aircraft or car and you need it to be as light as possible in order to be fuel efficient. So you need to design them instead to last a specific amount of time, and then have the part be replaced at specific intervals.

We are becoming more sustainable (we have a lot more wind turbines today then just 5 years ago, just drive through the countryside, I don't know about in the US, but in Ireland they're now everywhere), but these things take time. Rome wasn't built in the day, and neither can a new sustainable energy infrastructure. We'll also need to make hard choices that the public may not like. For instance, if you want to absolutely replace fossil fuels, the only real alternative is Nuclear...

But you don't often hear guys like Peter Joseph talk about these hard choices, he thinks that if we sign on to some kind of radical new thinking and purge ourselves of greed we can get rid of all these problems, frankly he's wrong, these issues are not rooted in human greed, they're rooted in more mundane problems. Unfortunately you don't hear politicians do much either. I think we in the Science and Technology community need to do more to engage with and educate the wider public about the issues involved if we want to see real change.

Last edited by DonQuigleone; 2012-10-02 at 20:12.
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Old 2012-10-02, 20:20   Link #44
Ithekro
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If I recall, our species is designated: homo sapien sapiens. Wise Wise man? Wise Guys?
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Old 2012-10-02, 20:21   Link #45
Sumeragi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
@Sumeragi - What about the Dunning-Kruger effect? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning...3Kruger_effect
Acting in itself isn't much. What matters in my view is that if the supposed wise ones do not act, they're not being wise in the first place, thus I give little credit to their thoughts. Basically, being wise means having both the mental capacity and the will to act.
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Old 2012-10-02, 21:41   Link #46
kyp275
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
Hm, this is one of those occasions where I'm not sure what to say. Not that I don't have responses for each and every single one of your comments, but that you just seem angry and upset and that you feel emotionally about the topic vs. approaching it intellectually. I'm not sure why you feel angry, and it's unfortunate that you do, but you're entitled to feel what you do -- that's fine, that's your prerogative, but your emotions on the matter are not something that is likely to be "convincing" (feeling and passion is great for "inspiring" though)

Now, I will try not to offend, but what I wish to point out is this:

Your ability to have an intellectual debate with me from "across the world" wherever you are, is contingent on any number of factors that is due to our "society" and the "social contract" that we all adhere to certain degrees. You have a computer, internet, have gone to school and learned to write and read, you have "free time" to sit in front of the computer and you obviously have read books or watched shows to help form your opinion -- none of these things would exist without this society you decry.

Ultimately, you deny economic progress, and I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about increases in overall human productive capacity (proxy'd by GDP, but I'm talking about actual progress), the division of labour and the human ability to specialize. You can believe that if you wish, but unfortunately, the basis of your beliefs are based on a false premise. Our world isn't perfect, but it's intellectually dishonest to deny it's benefits. You deny society but fail to see that things would be so much worse without it.
Couldn't have said it better myself, you'd almost think nightbat would prefer to live in the stone age.
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Old 2012-10-03, 02:24   Link #47
Trans-Fat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone
I'm talking about Steel, Plastics, Cars, Airplanes, Iphones, Computers and most importantly of all: Energy. We will always find new and interesting ways to use energy, but alas, there's only so much of it.
From what I have experienced living in the USA, not everyone is willing to change or to look for long term results. It is about NOW not tomorrow or 20 years from now. Advancement in technology and science can help humans reduce energy consumption -- problem is that it will cost more now to reduce later and NOW is all that matters. The issue with burning fossil fuel has been brought up many times. Even if fossil fuel will not run out in the future doesn't mean that humans should continue with the consumption rate. Even if global warming or climate change is not true, doesn't mean that humans should continue neglecting the planet. Even if gas prices were low, doesn't mean you should still drive a Hummer everyday. "We know what is happening now. We need to change, but we are not willing to wait for 5-20 years. We want it NOW..."

Humans have gone (probably) millions of years without any of these. All these were never necessary. However, in today's world (at least in many, if not most, parts of the USA), these have somehow become "necessities" in everyday lives. Without these, energy consumption will not be so high. If humans can go back millions of years prior to facebook, cars, planes, phones, electricity, guns, etc-- and back to our primitive roots where humans hunt their own food (without guns, etc), grow and farm their own food with what mother nature provides (no GMO, pesticides, fertilizers, etc), walk and run instead of driving, live and survive like other animals-- we wouldn't be in this issue. And yes I know this will never happen. The closest this will happen will be when Homo sapiens are extincted. I mean, think about it, humans are the only animals (yes, humans ARE animals) that uses computers and phones. If other animals can do it, humans can too. Sadly, not many are able to nor willing too. It is like placing a house cat to survive on its own; it will not survive as it has been too domesticated and lost its animal instinct. IMO, a human raised by (real) wolves is more human that I am, and I truly respect that. Heck, if humans return to their primitive roots, then nudity will not be such an issue as there is no such thing!!
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Old 2012-10-03, 04:27   Link #48
SaintessHeart
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Originally Posted by kyp275 View Post
Couldn't have said it better myself, you'd almost think nightbat would prefer to live in the stone age.
We could do with some elements of simplicity of the Stone Age though like the unrestricted marriage of girls 16 or below..

Not all advances bring pure benefits. It is always about a trade-off; I am sure the advance in theoretical education being slightly curbed and putting more undergrads into practical internship instead of just mindless lectures in front of a telescreen could produce more prudent and pragmatic members of society.

The search for "advances" in today's society, unfortunately, seem to be the drive for "something new to sell" instead of something that truly improves our lives. There is nothing like the lack of self-respect for our own race when our propensity to explore is controlled by our desire for monetary prosperity.
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Old 2012-10-03, 04:42   Link #49
DonQuigleone
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I think one big threat is the "commercialisation" of universities. In times gone by Universities did research not based on profit motives, but just for the sake of it, just "to know". That's yielded many benefits to society by discoveries in unexpected directions.

But now, with the growing financial payoffs of much research in the last century, University research is increasingly being measured not just on the knowledge it yields, but also the funding or profits it yields for the university itself. I don't really think we need Universities to really do "for profit" research, private businesses will be more then willing to do that. We need Universities to keep expanding our boundaries of knowledge, not because it might yield real improvements in people's standard of living, or some kind of profit, but just for the sake of knowing.


If we want to talk sustainability, I don't think we need people to try to go "green", I think what we need to do is put a cost on harming the environment. If you buy a polluting product, you should have to pay for it. In that way people will naturally, due to price queues, turn to more environmentally friendly products.

As an example, the recent spike in Oil prices have basically caused SUV and particularly Hummer sales to plummet (and now they're not even getting manufactured anymore). Meanwhile, the auto manufacturers seeing a gap in the market are now designing new Electric cars. They're still new and quite expensive, but now almost every auto maker has come out with a fist generation Electric car. The market is responding to the new market demands that come with reduced supplies of Oil.

Contrary to what many say, the auto makers were never dead set against Electric cars in some kind of conspiracy with Oil companies. They just didn't think they'd sell (and they were right). Now, there's increasing consumer appetite for such things so...
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Old 2012-10-03, 14:44   Link #50
NightbatŪ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
Hm, this is one of those occasions where I'm not sure what to say. Not that I don't have responses for each and every single one of your comments, but that you just seem angry and upset and that you feel emotionally about the topic vs. approaching it intellectually. I'm not sure why you feel angry, and it's unfortunate that you do, but you're entitled to feel what you do -- that's fine, that's your prerogative, but your emotions on the matter are not something that is likely to be "convincing" (feeling and passion is great for "inspiring" though)

Now, I will try not to offend, but what I wish to point out is this:

Your ability to have an intellectual debate with me from "across the world" wherever you are, is contingent on any number of factors that is due to our "society" and the "social contract" that we all adhere to certain degrees. You have a computer, internet, have gone to school and learned to write and read, you have "free time" to sit in front of the computer and you obviously have read books or watched shows to help form your opinion -- none of these things would exist without this society you decry.

Ultimately, you deny economic progress, and I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about increases in overall human productive capacity (proxy'd by GDP, but I'm talking about actual progress), the division of labour and the human ability to specialize. You can believe that if you wish, but unfortunately, the basis of your beliefs are based on a false premise. Our world isn't perfect, but it's intellectually dishonest to deny it's benefits. You deny society but fail to see that things would be so much worse without it.
I'm not hostile about it, I point out that most of what you consider advancement is material
on a psychological (hell, call it spiritual) level we are none better off, we still are very much like the old societies only the technology got better

We are supposed to be talking about the 'growth of mankind'

getting better medicine and bombs doesn't make ourselves better, only more comfortable
and that comfort only made us drift apart even more
Say what you want, but the internet doesn't really let you 'get to know someone' any more than a friendly chat at the dentist or supermarket

Nobody looks further than having their direct surrounding in a 'safe situation'
Themselves, their job, their family, their belongings
Nobody is actually working to make the world better, if they were, they'd do it for free
"But a person has to make a living" you may say, and I would agree with the "a living" part
but how much more 'comfortable' does a person need to become to actual consider them 'a better man'

Quote:
Originally Posted by kyp275 View Post
Couldn't have said it better myself, you'd almost think nightbat would prefer to live in the stone age.
So, if you'd have the choice to live in a society where you had to kill to survive or kill for profit,... which would you choose
Please enlighten me which one makes one 'a better human' than the other

You're talking about a time when whole settlements helped eachother compared to today where people are being found weeks dead in their homes after the rent expires, because nobody
Family, friends, neighbours -except those that wanted the rent money- gave a crap

-

You'll have to take my word when I claim I'm not "holier than thou"
I'm a modern man and pampered by modern civilization just as much as you
But just because the past didn't have emoticons didn't mean there was no society or civilization
in 6 centuries we'll be seen as backwards 'old world', unenlightened people, while we're currently thinking we are the epitomy of man

but I stopped patting myself on the back when 'doing' good' because I'm not so sure I am doing good or just enabling current wrongs from continuing with my actions
I realized a while ago I was as much a hypocrit as the next guy, which made me 'change my ways' in a somewhat odd way
If i do some good, I don't want any kind of recognition for it, because there are more times I look at something that I'm apathic too while I shoudn't be

I'm not the most eloquent speaker, certainly not the brightest bulb , but I've got eyes, ears and a pretty good sense of rationality and logic
Yes I probably am a pretty jaded guy, which makes me appear like some cynical pessimist

But here's the kicker: I believe one day we will have unlimited resources, become immortal, colonize the universe and all that utopian BS

But we're gonna need hardships to get there, not the promise of a bright future
I don't agree with the need to try and solve (all) problems before they arise,.. that's impossible and giving a false sense of security
because if a problem drops on our heads out of the blue, we'll be so unprepared
and unable to act on our feet, that what could have ended as a small a calamity ends up in an utter catastrophe

there is no "solution" in making all people think alike or following the same plan
Only if we want to go the way of the dodo
We're gonna need diversity, strife, surprise, heroes and perseverance, not hybrid cars, skype, agendas and the next Messiah of civilization

No matter what, nobody can say for certain that/if we're going in the right direction, only that we've come a long way

I certainly am NOT gonna put my faith in a TV-preacher-of-a-new-age like that Mr. Joseph
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Old 2012-10-03, 16:29   Link #51
willx
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
-Snip-
I feel like you don't seem to understand that your very words convey that you do feel hostile about this topic. Or at the very least "feel strongly" about it. This may not be intentional, but the words you choose to use and the punctuation, spacing and phrasing all convey a sense of frustration and emotion. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps you are currently tilting your head and reading this all with a wry amused smile on your face, that is also possible -- but it is not conveyed in your words.

Let's set this out here -- by your own admission, you believe that we will have unlimited resources and immortality, etc.. and that those are good things. Fine. OK.

If that's the case though, if the amount of resources we can extract/make use of (ie. we discovered how to use coal? We discovered solar power? What will we discover once we can more easily go out into space?) has increased from what was possible previously.. isn't that progress? And outright increasing average human lifespans isn't progress? You don't seem to have a clear definition of what progress or "growth of mankind" is?

I'm not sure if you're aware but you're continuously make conflicting statements:

1) You talk about how you are a pessimist -- but ultimately am an optimist.
2) You talk about how it's impossible to ever know if you're on the right path, but that we have to work hard and work together to be on the right path.
3) You talk about "living" vs "living comfortably" but then think that someday things will be great and resources are unlimited.. so how great is great? And great how? How "comfortable" are we allowed to be "then" vs "now" ??
4) To cap it all off, based on your own argument of "we can't say we've made progress, we've just come a long way" and "it's impossible to know if you're on the right path" -- since we can't say we've even made progress by your argument -- you also can't say that we haven't .. therefore logically based on your premise "things are neither good nor bad" .. except .. you think it's bad?

So, ultimately, this is a difficult conversation to have, not because I necessarily disagree with what you're saying, it's because it is difficult to decipher if and what your point is? Maybe you don't have one. Maybe you're just complaining. That's fine too. It's just that that isn't clear either. Your own statements seem to be an argument espousing "another way" but they are contradictory and you make and seem to believe several logical fallacies as if they were true. We literally seem to be talking right past each other.

Last edited by willx; 2012-10-03 at 16:42.
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Old 2012-10-03, 17:33   Link #52
kyp275
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
We could do with some elements of simplicity of the Stone Age though like the unrestricted marriage of girls 16 or below..
Those "elements of simplicity", which I'm assuming you're referring to a simple lifestyle, aren't unique to the Stone Age, it's still there today for those who wants it (though not always possible).

and yea, people back in the old days do get married/have children much younger, but then again the average life span was also much shorter. Having a kid when you're 16 doesn't sound all that early when you can barely expect to make it much beyond your 30th birthday.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
The search for "advances" in today's society, unfortunately, seem to be the drive for "something new to sell" instead of something that truly improves our lives. There is nothing like the lack of self-respect for our own race when our propensity to explore is controlled by our desire for monetary prosperity.
And what's wrong with that? progress is usually brought about by a need, and in the commercial sector, that need is usually profit. And it's not as if all researches and advances today are all profit-driven, and implying as such is just being disingenuous. Take deep-space astronomy for example, you think those astronomers hits the jackpot when they discover some new phenomenons?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
I'm not hostile about it, I point out that most of what you consider advancement is material
on a psychological (hell, call it spiritual) level we are none better off, we still are very much like the old societies only the technology got better
that is very much subjective, and entirely too generalized. "None better off"? While things are hardly perfect, I'd challenge the idea that women's rights and human rights in general (in developed nations at least) have come a long way from the ancient times, where they literally don't exist. Philosophically and culturally there have been huge progresses made. For example, if this were the middle ages, chances are you'd be a peasant, unable to read or write, nor knows much about the world at all, and ironically wouldn't have even been able to be as cynical as you are right now

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
...and that comfort only made us drift apart even more
Say what you want, but the internet doesn't really let you 'get to know someone' any more than a friendly chat at the dentist or supermarket
Maybe for you, but don't try to cast everyone else with that blanket. People have met others over the internet and gotten married, and it allows me personally to keep in constant touch with my parents which lives on the other side of the planet, how did that "made us drift apart even more"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
Nobody is actually working to make the world better, if they were, they'd do it for free
"But a person has to make a living" you may say, and I would agree with the "a living" part
but how much more 'comfortable' does a person need to become to actual consider them 'a better man'
You heard it here first people, a good deed can only be a good deed if you don't get paid! That fireman who rushes into a burning building to save people? nope. The medical researcher looking for the cure for AIDS or cancer? not them either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
So, if you'd have the choice to live in a society where you had to kill to survive or kill for profit,... which would you choose
Please enlighten me which one makes one 'a better human' than the other
I don't know about you, but I certainly haven't killed for survival or profit, and I'd say most haven't either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
You're talking about a time when whole settlements helped eachother compared to today where people are being found weeks dead in their homes after the rent expires, because nobody
Family, friends, neighbours -except those that wanted the rent money- gave a crap
sure, except you're ignore the part where those settlements also killed and raped and pillaged each other on a constant basis


Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
in 6 centuries we'll be seen as backwards 'old world', unenlightened people, while we're currently thinking we are the epitomy of man
that may be so, but we currently ARE the epitome of mankind THUS FAR, unless you know about some super-advanced ancient human civilization.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
...if i do some good, I don't want any kind of recognition for it, because there are more times I look at something that I'm apathic too while I shoudn't be...Yes I probably am a pretty jaded guy, which makes me appear like some cynical pessimist...
I know what you're getting at here, and frankly it's not something that's possible for a human to do. It's physically impossible for you to care about everything as much as you think you should, your brain is not built, nor is it suppose to function that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
We're gonna need diversity, strife, surprise, heroes and perseverance, not hybrid cars, skype, agendas and the next Messiah of civilization
the two are not mutually exclusive.
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Old 2012-10-03, 17:34   Link #53
monsta666
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
I'm not sure if you're aware but you're continuously make conflicting statements:
The topic is difficult and complex so there are apparent contradictions but on close examination what he says is not necessarily a contradiction. I will explain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
1) You talk about how you are a pessimist -- but ultimately am an optimist.
To be honest I am on a similar boat to Nightbat so maybe I can explain where he comes from. Like him I am quite pessimistic that any meaningful action will be done to address the many major problems such as global warming, peak oil, excessive debt and resource depletion (which are all interrelated problems). However I am optimistic that once some serious hardship is experienced we will find some kind of way to manage this outcome. Notice I did not use the word solution because there is none, and this fact will have to be confronted by society at some point. I am hopeful however that we can change our behaviour and learn to value what is important in life so we will not fall into a mad Max or stone age scenario. I have enough faith in humanity that we will avoid that fate but as for immediate future I am pessimistic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
2) You talk about how it's impossible to ever know if you're on the right path, but that we have to work hard and work together to be on the right path.
Life is inherently complex and certain things are unknowable. Indeed the fact life is inherently chaotic is quite frightening for man hence his desire to monitor and control all aspects of life. Control is just a way of managing these unknowns. But to go back to the topic at hand, we can never truly know what we are doing is "right" but that does not prevent us from attempting to walk a path that is more right than the current one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
3) You talk about "living" vs "living comfortably" but then think that someday things will be great and resources are unlimited.. so how great is great? And great how? How "comfortable" are we allowed to be "then" vs "now" ??
I am not sure about the unlimited part but we can say we are comfortable, in the sense that our basic needs are met however when it comes to higher needs are we necessarily better off? It has been studied quite extensively that after a certain threshold of income is reached that further income does not translate into more happinesses. We only need enough money so that food, shelter and clothing are not ongoing concerns. Anything more is not needed to increase happiness.

To achieve happiness we need to fulfil other higher order needs such as strong relationships, self-esteem and spiritual fulfilment. These factors are not adequately addressed in modern society but they are important. The points I have described all relate to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. We can have a society that is less wealthy on a material standard but that does not mean we are worse off. In fact the opposite can be true as less wealth means we can focus more time on these higher order needs.

At the moment society places a huge value on material things and material consumption. Our social cues and rewards come from trying to accumulate wealth and a person who accumulates wealth is deemed successful. The reward of social status and recognition serves to reinforce mans' desire to consume more and more. This pursuit of wealth has however come at a cost of other things such as co-operation and deep empathy for human beings. If these cues can change then perhaps we can have a society that actively rewards these needs and thus be more enlightened if poorer (on a material basis).

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Originally Posted by willx View Post
4) To cap it all off, based on your own argument of "we can't say we've made progress, we've just come a long way" and "it's impossible to know if you're on the right path" -- since we can't say we've even made progress by your argument -- you also can't say that we haven't .. therefore logically based on your premise "things are neither good nor bad" .. except .. you think it's bad?
We have made much progress in terms of technological improvements and our knowledge of the world yet out of all this we still behave very similar to our ancestors of centuries ago. Humans have always had a desire to accumulate more resources and have shown little concern on their environment.

It is quite likely going forward that future generations will look at us in a very negative light. We came at a time were we were blessed with ample resources but instead of using this endowment wisely we squandered it on frivolous activities. Meanwhile the costs related to this behaviour have been deferred to the future as yet not born generation. What are these costs you may ask? Excessive debt, uncontrolled global warming a greatly diminished ecosystem/environment and a world of depleted resources. Now I am not saying this will all come to pass but what I am suggesting is while good has come from our age the negatives can be equally as bad. So it is quite reasonable to say this age is both good and bad. The current dialogue in mainstream society is to only focus on the good in society and not focus (perhaps even actively deny) the negative consequences.
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Old 2012-10-03, 21:41   Link #54
DonQuigleone
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I think people overestimate the materialism of our society. Certainly if you look at Tweenagers you'll get a vain consuming lot, but you know what? Tweens are idiots. Most people get fairly grounded once they have to pay their bills. That's not to say there isn't obscene consumption out there, but you know I think you'll find similar analogues in tribal societies (for instance in tribal societies men will compete to get the best exotic bird feathers to decorate their headresses. Ultimately, not too different from a Lamborghini).


Anyway, I think there's a very simple way to show how far we've come as a civilization since the days we were tribal. And that's to look at how long people live, and for what reasons people die. Now, contrary to popular belief, tribal peoples actually can live a long time. Go into any village and you'll usually see a few 60 or 70 year olds. But most tribal peoples die young. And the leading cause of death is Homicide. Other leading causes of death include animals, food poisoning, starvation, childbirth and fires.

Compare that to our own civilization, where the leading causes of death are all diseases largely related to old age. We've managed to tame our environment such that it won't kill us. And even more then that, but we have managed to devise a social system that allows millions of us to coexist without killing each other over every small dispute (which is a frequent occurence in tribes, that and might makes right in intergroup relations). That alone is a reason why modern society is great. That's not to say no killings exist, but most of us expect to live to a ripe old age. The traditional wish of "long life" seems a bit redundant.

Add to that such great achievements as myself in Ireland being able to directly communicate with a person in Singapore, and I think we can only say that we haven't ever had it so good. Even most of the poorest parts of the world are better off then at any other point in history.

I believe that things are only set to get better. But if things get worse, people will look back on this time as a golden age.
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Old 2012-10-04, 09:28   Link #55
willx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monsta666 View Post
-Snip-
The topic actually isn't that difficult or complex to understand. Ultimately it boils down to: 1) have we made progress and 2) are we better, the same, or worse, than we were historically. Everything else are simple arguments for or against, or at least, attempts at arguments.

You respond on nightbat's behalf, but take his statements out of his own context and you argue his statements aren't contradictory largely via sophistry. Don't forget he argues even the mechanization of the production cycle is a bad thing for humanity as a whole. Think about that for a second -- he literally argued that technological advancement is a bad thing because it made certain workers obsolete ..

I'm also quite familiar with Maslow's work, he argues the final stage is self actualization, but it's overly vague and constitutes everything from learning to play the piano, devoting yourself to charity and buying everyone around you a Ferrari. Read up on the criticisms of his work, it's quite interesting.

Also, everyone makes these big arguments about materialism and how it's a bad thing and debt and all these other things -- debt is a "capital structure" issue, regardless of that, real productive capacity proxy measured by "Real GDP" or "GNI" or whatever measure, has been increasing. This concept may be difficult for people to comprehend if they don't have a clear understanding of finance or economics, but it's very important to think about it. The "current" or "past" generation is mortgaging the future of the young .. but the young can also default on their obligations to the old.

Look, ultimately you and nightbat can believe what you wish for reasons that you wish. But when you're trying to convince people, state your statements are logical or factual, then you need to look objectively at the factset. This is not by any means all encompassing, but here's a link to the HDI -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index

Last edited by willx; 2012-10-04 at 09:34. Reason: For more politeness, extremely tired and hungover
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Old 2012-10-04, 10:31   Link #56
DonQuigleone
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When we talk about money, it's important to realise that it's fundamentally an imaginary construct. It doesn't actually exist.

You have to look at material advancements, and in that respect the evidence is standing everywhere around you. Today we work less physically to produce more.

If there's any fault I'd find with our current regime it's that too much money seems to be flowing to financial institutions when financial institutions don't physically create anything, nor do they provide any kind of materially valuable service (like healthcare, education or entertainment). They do aid in making the allocation of our resources more efficient, but I don't think that's enough to justify the obscene pay checks on wall street.

I'm not saying financial institutions aren't important, but I have the feeling that more and more of our political and social discourse is being viewed within a financial industry framework, when ultimately money is basically imaginary.
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Old 2012-10-04, 15:02   Link #57
NightbatŪ
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Originally Posted by willx View Post
Look, ultimately you and nightbat can believe what you wish for reasons that you wish. But when you're trying to convince people, state your statements are logical or factual, then you need to look objectively at the factset. This is not by any means all encompassing, but here's a link to the HDI -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index
Fact: not everything today is made of sunshine and fairies
Fact: not everything in the past is outdated or bad
Fact: Human ingenuity is equal to human stupidity


I'm well aware that more people have more rights and freedoms, we live longer/healthier, our quality of life in general is better than it has ever been
Like I said: I'm a hypocrit
Too pampered by todays comforts to be able to go back to 'yesteryear'
But I don't blatantly state that everything today is better than before

At least I'm also try looking at things from a different perspective
Something that everybody should be doing to try and prevent falling in pitfalls we already climbed out of once (or twice or,...)

Also, if you want to advance, you better start worrying about the animosity and estrangement that is growing in todays societies
(Oh how internet connects people, I'm betting a number in this topic already formed a negative opinion about my person, just because I didn't use emoticons )
In our race to the top of the ladder, we can bet our ass that the people we kicked off it along the way or left behind as 'useless/expendable' aren't enclined to make that view at the top better for us alone
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Old 2012-10-04, 15:18   Link #58
willx
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Originally Posted by NightbatŪ View Post
FFact: not everything today is made of sunshine and fairies
Fact: not everything in the past is outdated or bad
Fact: Human ingenuity is equal to human stupidity


I'm well aware that more people have more rights and freedoms, we live longer/healthier, our quality of life in general is better than it has ever been
^ Okay! Then we're done! You actually didn't admit to that earlier, which is the whole point of the conversation thus far.
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Old 2012-10-04, 15:52   Link #59
Ithekro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightbatŪ
FFact: not everything today is made of sunshine and fairies
Fact: not everything in the past is outdated or bad
Fact: Human ingenuity is equal to human stupidity
None of those change if you go backwards or forwards in time. They are sort of there regardless of the time period.

By expension these can also be true:

Not everything in the past was made of sunshine and fairies
Not everything in the future will be made of sunshine and fairies.
But it is possible somethings are made from "sunshine and fairies".
Not everything in the past is useful or relevant.
Not everything today is good or useful
Not everything in the future will be useful or good.
But some things from the present will also not be outdated or bad in the future.
If human ingenuity is equal to human stupidity, is not the reverse true as well?
But does that mean they are the same, or that we have equal portions of both in our species?
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Old 2012-10-04, 16:02   Link #60
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
Engineers are always thinking in the long term.
Over half of my undergraduate degree was spent in engineering. I feel confident in saying that it's not always about the long term, even with engineering

Case in point, you bring up bridges. It's a testament to civil engineering that those bridges are still standing, but I don't think it necessarily shows long-term thinking. Long-term thinking involves maintenance of the bridges. Within the past 10 years we had a major bridge collapse, and if I remember correctly, part of the reason was that they were behind on their maintenance.

This is an example of short-term and long-term thinking. Short-term thinking states that the bridge is currently standing and working, so the maintenance can be put off and money that would have been put toward it can be used for something else. Long-term thinking states that a bridge failure would be catastrophic and would inconvenience many other areas of society, thus it's better (and potentially cheaper) to do the maintenance on schedule, and not to cheap out on it.

Another similar example can be seen with America's nuclear power plants. We had a bunch of plants that were built in the 1950's and/or 1960's. The exact dates aren't important; what's important to know is that those plants were licensed to operate for 40 years, after which they were expected to be shut down, having served out their useful life. The expectation was that other nuclear power plants would have been built, so taking the older ones offline wouldn't be a big issue. The problem is that building a nuclear power plant is very expensive, and we reached a certain point where our rate of building new plants slowed dramatically. I think we even stopped for a while.

Now the old plants have been re-certified once (or twice, in some cases) and have been running for much longer than they were designed for. That they're still running is a testament to their design (and perhaps a bit to luck), not to long-term thinking. Long-term thinking would dictate that we should have been building new plants to replace these aging plants, because our energy needs have grown and the plants are an absolute requirement. If a plant fails, society served by that plant will suffer losses to productivity and lifestyle. But the plants are working now and it's a lot of money to spend now to build a plant that will service tomorrow. And so we continue to gamble on our luck and the strength of the original designs.
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