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Old 2013-01-28, 23:14   Link #21
ChainLegacy
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Originally Posted by willx View Post
But my faceless monolithic corporation gives me hugs ..

I just wish people were more informed in general about current events as well as the hundreds if not thousands of years of background behind our civilization (and comparative civilizations) around the world. There are a lot of reasons why things currently are the way they are .. it is probably somewhat important to know why.
And beyond even the utilitarian outcome of understanding sociocultural dynamics and how history plays a real and lasting role in the way modern groups think, I am simply disheartened and confused sometimes by the utter lack of interest in what preceded the current era. So many people either know nothing of history at all or can only stretch back 100 or so years. I can't wrap my head around not being interested and curious about human history, and even the history of the planet before humanity, and yet so many people seem utterly indifferent to the subject. So we're left with the 'doomed to repeat itself' prophecy hanging over our heads, and I'm left shaking my head at the withering of mankind's supposedly curious nature.
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Old 2013-01-29, 01:08   Link #22
DonQuigleone
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And then you get certain politicians who think they're no longer bound by the "rules" of history. That, in fact, they are "making history", and can define reality however they like.
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Old 2013-01-29, 02:05   Link #23
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Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
It's not really tryhards, just that they put everyone else's feelings, and the group, above themselves. "I may be having a tough time, but I'll put up with it, because the group is more important."
I hope you're not really using FFXI as a barometer for Japanese culture I myself have played 11 for a number of years, and still have a couple JP friends from that time, but IMO it's not a very useful tool for gauging the nuances of the Japanese social structure

They may be more outwardly polite (on your server ), and conform to the group > self mentality, but I'd hardly say that it's out of some altruistic intentions, but rather a result of their social conditioning - ie. as far as they're concerned, that's just how things are supposed to be, regardless of how they may feel about it personally. This is pretty much present in every culture, just in various forms.


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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
So many people either know nothing of history at all or can only stretch back 100 or so years. I can't wrap my head around not being interested and curious about human history, and even the history of the planet before humanity, and yet so many people seem utterly indifferent to the subject.(
Not everyone can/want to be a history-buff
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Old 2013-01-29, 08:42   Link #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyp275 View Post
I hope you're not really using FFXI as a barometer for Japanese culture I myself have played 11 for a number of years, and still have a couple JP friends from that time, but IMO it's not a very useful tool for gauging the nuances of the Japanese social structure
Which is why I pointed out a movie, too, that Japanese companies use as a guide of how not to treat American companies. But I also have various other sources, such as documentaries, news reports, etc. Such as the very real problem Japan has with old wives, when their husbands finally retire and thus are now actually home, since the men spend the vast majority of their life at work and rarely come home or interact with their wife(again, giving up their life for the good of the company). One of my favorite bits was a "Behind the development of Gran Turismo" where they showed the office cubicles that had mattresses in them, and one the programmers talking about how he had only gone home once that week, just to take a shower.

Quote:
They may be more outwardly polite (on your server ), and conform to the group > self mentality, but I'd hardly say that it's out of some altruistic intentions, but rather a result of their social conditioning - ie. as far as they're concerned, that's just how things are supposed to be, regardless of how they may feel about it personally. This is pretty much present in every culture, just in various forms.
Bold the part that is pretty much a base description of culture. Regardless of how they feel about it, they know that the group is more important then themselves, and thus will sacrifice their needs and wants to it. And yes, every culture has some semblance of group... but Japan is an extreme example of it. That's all I was getting at. As a result, they don't have much polarization of their society.

Edit: I suppose a better term for it, that would be the opposite of polarization, would be that they strive for "social harmony."

Last edited by Kaijo; 2013-01-29 at 09:12.
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Old 2013-01-29, 10:20   Link #25
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Originally Posted by kyp275 View Post
Not everyone can/want to be a history-buff
It's not about being a history buff. Hell I barely know much compared to an actual history buff. I'm terrible with exact dates, names, and such. But I can tell you a pretty accurate, but rough account, of specific US history and general World history. You won't find me reciting the Gettysburg Address or Emancipation Proclamation (outside of a few lines maybe), but I at least know who gave them....and I usually don't need to Google it.

I'm constantly reminded of Louis CK's bit about "everything is amazing, and no one is happy". People, generally, really do not seem to understand or appreciate how much progress has happened in our history, especially recently. Our parents and grandparents were born at or before television even existed, and yet today we have televisions so good you can count the molecules on Leonard Nimoy's butt. When my mom was born, they still used switchboards for telephones. When I was born, rotary was on the way out and touch tone phones were the big thing. No, not wireless phones. Just touch tone. Wireless didn't get big until I was older. And cell phones where giant bricks that gave you cancer (or something). Today we all walk around with supercomputers that put high end desktop computers that are, at most, a decade old, to complete and utter shame.

And yet, ask the average person basic questions. How does a computer work? Can you identify any parts? How does a television work? A phone? A cell phone? How about a car? How about your social systems? Explain where money comes from, how a bank works, how government works? How does a gun fire?

This is what makes those "Americans are dumb" videos so sad. And it's not just Americans, people all over the world, in places of supposedly advanced education and society, really have no clue about how things work, who made them....anything really. Zuckerberg wasn't the only person who made Facebook. Gates wasn't the only person who made Windows. Jobs wasn't the only one who made iProducts. And Tesla isn't just a car company.

And god forbid any of this shit breaks, or that you might need to recall an important historical event. It's full blown Idiocracy, with prominent public figures completely botching their own history, and companies engineering products and advertising them as if the demographic were five year olds who can't be trusted with shitty Chinese manufacturing, just to perpetuate a disposable society of planned obsolescence so the market "grows" and the board gets their quarterly profit increase.

And hey, I can be pretty dumb. But at least I try to be honest about it. If I don't know something, I'll say...."I don't know". I'll go look up the answer, so that next time, I do. I'm horrible at math, absolutely terrible. And while I won't be passing Algebra anytime soon, I at least know the basics of counting numbers and can get by with a pen and paper (gasp! long form!) or a calculator. Figuring out a checkbook, or mileage on a car isn't that difficult. I can balance the governments budget too.....but hey, anyone can be an expert at fuzzy math. So I certainly make no claims that I'm of superior intellect, and I've certainly shoved my foot in my mouth more than once when I've gotten ahead of myself.

That said, plenty of people are dumb. They make actual stupid people seem smart because at least actual stupid people have a legit excuse. No, most people would rather ignore, deny, and even invent bullshit just to pretend that their reasoning of how life is, is just fine.

YouTube
Sorry; dynamic content not loaded. Reload?

Polarization has always existed, but the perpetuation of human stupidity contributes immensely to it. People like to think that we're heading toward a 1984 future. The reality is much closer to Brave New World.

Sadly, many people couldn't tell you what is in either book, who wrote them, and even if they did, could barely offer more than an elementary level critical thought about them. We didn't need the government to create Fahrenheit 451. We did it to ourselves.
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Old 2013-01-29, 11:44   Link #26
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America is a bit more ignorant then Europe, but not much more ignorant.

I have met American's who don't realise that Ireland is a separate country from the United Kingdom (quite strange considering half of Americans claim to be Irish!), and who don't know basic facts about the continent.

On the flip side, I have met plenty of Irish people who have little real understanding of what America is like. They think of America as one huge monolithic bloc, where everyone is a racist with a poor standard of spoken English. They don't even realise that individual states are governed differently, and have different laws.

And it's probably even worse on the continent, where people are more limited in their exposure to information by their language.

And of course, the average European or American both share in common that they know laughably little about China.

The world is still quite parochial, but it's becoming less so...
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Old 2013-01-29, 12:07   Link #27
kyp275
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Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
Bold the part that is pretty much a base description of culture. Regardless of how they feel about it, they know that the group is more important then themselves, and thus will sacrifice their needs and wants to it. And yes, every culture has some semblance of group... but Japan is an extreme example of it. That's all I was getting at. As a result, they don't have much polarization of their society.

Edit: I suppose a better term for it, that would be the opposite of polarization, would be that they strive for "social harmony."
I guess what I was getting at is that it's not that they necessary think the group is more important, but they realize the pitfalls should they try to buck the trend - the ostracization of those seen as not following the norm is very real, especially in Japan.

Using your example, I would say they're striving for social harmony...with a "or else..." small text underneath

@ solace

I know, I was referring more to the "I can't wrap my head around not being interested and curious about human history" part of it, not everyone is going to be interested in studying history etc.
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Old 2013-01-29, 12:21   Link #28
ChainLegacy
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Originally Posted by kyp275 View Post
@ solace

I know, I was referring more to the "I can't wrap my head around not being interested and curious about human history" part of it, not everyone is going to be interested in studying history etc.
I can understand it not being someone's primary interest, but having no interest in studying history... yeah, like I said before, I can't wrap my head around that. Not looking down on anyone as I'm not some history guru or anything like that; I just can't fathom having no curiosity about it.
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Old 2013-01-29, 13:03   Link #29
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Originally Posted by kyp275 View Post
@ solace

I know, I was referring more to the "I can't wrap my head around not being interested and curious about human history" part of it, not everyone is going to be interested in studying history etc.
Eh, sorry. I got caught up in a rant anyway. My point was that people have fewer and fewer incentives to leave their comfort zones. The world is increasingly designed to affirm and cater to what people already (think) they know. For example, a conservative watches conservative tv, reads conservative literature and articles, listens to conservative radio.....and then doesn't get why anyone could have a different point of view. More than that, the urge to win over that "different" view kicks in. And then you have the other side, the liberal, who goes through the same thing, and suddenly you have a problem. Two sides, both with polarizing opinions, who have little to no interest in leaving their comfort zones to find common ground.

I do blame media to some extent. Aggregates for example are big offenders. They auto feed you information, then suggest something related. The idea is sound and reasonable. If you like something, have some more, right? The problem is your experience becomes nothing but that, and the opportunities to explore and see something new and different grow smaller. While people claim they want new and original things, the evidence is the exact opposite: given a choice between the familiar and unfamiliar, the familiar wins almost every time. Media realizes this, and feeds the flames.

The biggest risk familiar faces is overexposure, but when your media offers no way to change, you are faced with a similar choice: do I break away and risk the unfamiliar, or stick with the familiar and hope for the best? The end result is that now information has become "background noise", because it's too uncomfortable for people to break away from overexposure. They've become desensitized, and without realizing it, have become part of the perpetuation of the problem.
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Old 2013-01-29, 13:11   Link #30
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That said, plenty of people are dumb. They make actual stupid people seem smart because at least actual stupid people have a legit excuse. No, most people would rather ignore, deny, and even invent bullshit just to pretend that their reasoning of how life is, is just fine.

[...]

Polarization has always existed, but the perpetuation of human stupidity contributes immensely to it. People like to think that we're heading toward a 1984 future. The reality is much closer to Brave New World.
I'm not sure. I'm not convinced people have actually become dumber but rather believe other people have. This perception leads to a lack of trust towards others and greater polarization in society.

I've seen economic and psychological experiments where groups of rational and altruistic people (preselected) who participate in games immediately resort to selfish behavior when the *mere suspicion* is introduced that someone doesn't understand the rules and might act against common interests. However when a punishment system for dissent is introduced cooperation tends to resume.

I suspect two media developments have reduced the sense of community and solidarity between people in recent decades. One is the media bubble where like-minded people isolate themselves from society and reaffirm and reinforce their perceptions. The second is content that tries to make the viewer feel better by showing people who are worse off (read: dregs of society) to boost the viewers self esteem.
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Old 2013-01-29, 15:49   Link #31
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I'm not actually sure if people are really dumber, either. I wonder how many people in the 1950s knew how their modern technology worked? I wonder if it would be less or more than the folks who know how our modern technology works in 2013.
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Old 2013-01-29, 16:12   Link #32
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Some of the 1950s techology had to be repaired or adjusted at home quite often. Some would figure out how to do it themselves, others would hire people. Television repair was a good business until probably the late 1980s and 1990s. Now, most televisions are cheaper to replace than repair due to the components they use.

Similar with radios I imagine until they got so cheap you could just get another one for maybe ten dollars.

Digital cameras are like that now. I took one in to get the lens fixed (the mechanism had broken rather than the len itself) and was told I should just get a new one because it be cheaper than the costs of parts and labor to fix mine.
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Old 2013-01-29, 17:03   Link #33
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Americans may not have been as educated (thus making comparisons of intelligence difficult given the lack of information available), but people were definitely more self-sufficient in the past. The pioneers of this country, by and large, had robust skills for survival, and that's obviously a given seeing as what conditions they had to survive in. Now we're mostly helpless outside of our own little areas of expertise. This doesn't inherently make someone a mindless sheep, but it can certainly help people neatly line up into unthinking factions without ever examining or thinking about the ramifications of doing so.

Either way, I do think there were probably mindless idiots in all ages. There was no golden age in the past. The problem is, over time, governments and the upper class tend to abuse their power more and more, which is the case today, and these factions people join up in as if in some comic book battle of good and evil make it very difficult to break from the status quo (especially when, as is the case in the US, they are very similar in the way they operate).
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Old 2013-01-29, 17:33   Link #34
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On the flipside, it's much easier for people to expose themselves to viewpoints from half way around the world today.

10 years ago, I could have said I was chatting away with people in Singapore or San Francisco, and yet every day I'm doing that, right here in my room in Dublin.

That's progress.

And for those who say Americans are ignorant, the rest of the world isn't any better.
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Old 2013-01-29, 17:37   Link #35
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Because we don't have to focus energy on difficult, time-consuming pursuits like survival skills, hunting, subsistence farming and all that jazz, we have more time to dedicate to more intellectual pursuits. This is borne out heavily in how fast technology and science advance in the modern age.

This also enables women to have more say than they did back in the bad old days. Back then, men did most of the heavy lifting and women (and children) were sheltered, protected and denied agency. This was primarily because life was much more dangerous and hostile than it is now, and men are biologically expendable while women were certainly not. Society designed itself to protect females and their offspring, and protecting them often meant hoarding them away like treasures, denying them basic autonomy and freedoms in the name of self-preservation (among other reasons).

Now, though, making babies isn't quite as important as it used to be. We're more worried about overpopulation and resource scarcity than extinction at this point. So now, thanks to modern technology, modern science and medicine, and modern civilization, women can have the agency that they really never had in the past.

The "dumbing down" is more compartmentalized than this overall progress and can be strongly linked to media and political meddling. The 90s brought us a false sense of self-worth and self-esteem, the idea that "everyone's a winner" instead of accurately gauging a person's competence. The Dunning-Kruger effect is in, well, full effect here--those who have little knowledge in a given field tend to be completely unable to judge their own (or others') competence in said field.
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Old 2013-01-29, 17:39   Link #36
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On the flipside, it's much easier for people to expose themselves to viewpoints from half way around the world today.

10 years ago, I could have said I was chatting away with people in Singapore or San Francisco, and yet every day I'm doing that, right here in my room in Dublin.

That's progress.

And for those who say Americans are ignorant, the rest of the world isn't any better.
The internet is a powerful tool. Not to discount my education, which I did appreciate and informs me, but most of my knowledge comes from self-education on the internet. Like you say, knocking down the barriers of communication can also offer some unique perspectives into another culture, though it takes a degree of reflection and consistency to really see how culture informs the way people think from communication over the internet.

As for Americans, no, I really don't believe we're any worse than the rest of the world, on average. I think a large swath of people across all cultures, nationalities, and lifestyles are stupid.
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Old 2013-01-29, 17:42   Link #37
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The internet's a huge advancement for the human race, a paradigm shift in terms of how we accomplish things. But it's a double-edged sword. Lots of people I know rely so heavily on the internet that they have no earthly idea how to do old-fashioned library research...

Ask a college freshman in 2013 if they know how to use the card catalog and Dewey Decimal systems, and watch them give you a blank stare.
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Old 2013-01-29, 17:44   Link #38
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As for Americans, no, I really don't believe we're any worse than the rest of the world, on average. I think a large swath of people across all cultures, nationalities, and lifestyles are stupid.
Yeah, but for whatever reason America tends to get singled out. I think it's more because Americans have for a long time been worried about their education falling behind (dating from the cold war), and so often focus attention on their own ignorance. Due to the dominance of American media, we get to see the attention paid to it. In Europe people are just as ignorant, but we don't think we're ignorant, and so watching TV you'd never know it.

There's also a very old Anti-American line of thinking that pops up. The frequent accusation is that America is "without culture, without history", which is utter nonsense. They should watch some movies and TV and realise how American culture has overwhelmed their own. And America's history is rich and varied, and the average European isn't really aware of the period of Europe's history when America didn't exist anyway. Of course you can bring up the Greeks and Romans, but America has the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs(among others).

That said, America does have a worse knowledge of Geography then Europe. But not a lot worse. Neither Americans or Europeans tend to know about the geography of Togo or Laos.
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Old 2013-01-29, 17:46   Link #39
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Because we don't have to focus energy on difficult, time-consuming pursuits like survival skills, hunting, subsistence farming and all that jazz, we have more time to dedicate to more intellectual pursuits. This is borne out heavily in how fast technology and science advance in the modern age.

This also enables women to have more say than they did back in the bad old days. Back then, men did most of the heavy lifting and women (and children) were sheltered, protected and denied agency. This was primarily because life was much more dangerous and hostile than it is now, and men are biologically expendable while women were certainly not. Society designed itself to protect females and their offspring, and protecting them often meant hoarding them away like treasures, denying them basic autonomy and freedoms in the name of self-preservation (among other reasons).

Now, though, making babies isn't quite as important as it used to be. We're more worried about overpopulation and resource scarcity than extinction at this point. So now, thanks to modern technology, modern science and medicine, and modern civilization, women can have the agency that they really never had in the past.

The "dumbing down" is more compartmentalized than this overall progress and can be strongly linked to media and political meddling. The 90s brought us a false sense of self-worth and self-esteem, the idea that "everyone's a winner" instead of accurately gauging a person's competence. The Dunning-Kruger effect is in, well, full effect here--those who have little knowledge in a given field tend to be completely unable to judge their own (or others') competence in said field.
You bring up some interesting points, but I do not necessarily ascribe to the viewpoint that premodern life necessitated women as unequal members of society. There have been societies that did not operate like this, one example that springs to my mind is the ancient Britons (as described by Romans, anyways) who were even led in a military uprising by Boudica, a woman. I do think men made concerted efforts to consolidate their 'superior standing,' but I'd attribute it largely to cultural reasons than an inherent part of premodern life.
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Old 2013-01-29, 17:52   Link #40
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You bring up some interesting points, but I do not necessarily ascribe to the viewpoint that premodern life necessitated women as unequal members of society. There have been societies that did not operate like this, one example that springs to my mind is the ancient Britons (as described by Romans, anyways) who were even led in a military uprising by Boudica, a woman. I do think men made concerted efforts to consolidate their 'superior standing,' but I'd attribute it largely to cultural reasons than an inherent part of premodern life.
There were no truly matriarchal human societies, and it's obvious as to why--men are bigger and stronger than women on average. This is due to a lot of factors, but mostly because women are not expendable for reproduction while men are. A female's time, energy and health investment in making more humans is much, much greater than a male's.

If pre-modern life did not necessitate women as objects rather than agents, then they would not have remained objects. In fact, as soon as modern technology bridged the gap, women began pushing for their own agency, and thus far have mostly obtained it.

Some men make concerted efforts to consolidate their superior standing in society. Others don't. Some don't give any fucks and think humans should just be treated equally based on competence rather than sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race and so forth. I'm personally not a feminist--I don't hate men at all and I think a lot of feminists, even moderate ones, are trying to railroad men without thinking about the price men paid for their agency in pre-modern times.

Most of the time that price was paid in blood.
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