Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ten Steps to Improve the World

It's actually eleven steps...

  1. Give people a solid education in the working of their social, political and economical systems, combined with information literacy and critical thinking. How can you expect them to understand what's going on if they have no basis for that understanding?

  2. Allow people to vote where they live. You let them into the country, now if they have an interest about what's going on around them, give them a voice.

  3. Stop trying to rip off customers with special offers, discount rates, or things they neither need nor want. Declare unrequested advertisement illegal and put a tax on ads. Advertisements today are mostly void of information, and deliberately designed to skew consumer interests. We already have a society that is based on mutual distrust. How can one believe this to support the optimal use and distribution of resources?

  4. Abolish all wrappings of food items that can not be opened without tools. What kind of an absurd development is it to disable accessibility of groceries by insurmountable plastic barriers?

  5. Shut down all automated call centers, unless a caller has specifically requested an automated service. Hey, we're facing a dramatic increase in the unemployment rate anyway, why not actually make your service-free toll-hotline useful by populating it with people who can actually help the caller?

  6. Stop indoctrinating people from childhood on that career and profit is the only valuable goal in human life. Are you really surprised suicide and depression rates increase in the so-called 'Western Civilization'?

  7. Take secularism seriously. Religious believes have no place in political or scientific argumentation. There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.

  8. Recognize that trial and error has its limitations. We don't have enough wiggle room anymore to try out the success of institutions for social, political and economical governance. Most people have lost trust in politicians' abilities because well-founded argumentation has been replaced with rhetoric. A scientific method in these processes is the only way to address the challenges we are and will be facing.

  9. Take democracy seriously. A person's voice should not be weighted by the money he or she has. It can't possibly be so hard to understand that the functionality of the whole political system is at risk if one mixes economical success with political influence.

  10. Reestablish a culture of debate and acknowledge the importance of your country's intellectuals. Teach people the logical fallacies and how to lead sensible arguments. At the very least, teach them to shut up if they have nothing to say.

  11. Leave your suggestion to improve the world at your favourite blog :-)

49 comments:

Ben said...

Even just one or two of these would be great.

I guess it falls under #2, but adressing global warming should definitely be on the list if food packaging is.

Bee said...

Hi Ben,

I've tried to focus on the reasons why addressing global warming, and other issues, is so hard. Paying more attention to democracy - nationally and globally - combined with sensible ways to exchange and address problems and incorporate scientific insights are I think the key to this, as well as to other problems. I'd rather cure the disease, not the symptoms. Best,

B.

SoloGen said...

Not any suggestion, but to say I really liked this post!

sciencetourist said...

Teach body sciences and medicine at a much earlier age - start in elementary school. Make pre med a requirement in high school for all students.

Cap Board of Ed salaries at teacher pay - no one makes more than the highest paid teacher. Every school employee has to teach at least 10 hrs a week.

Outlaw garbage. There's a village in Japan that has gone zero waste. It's labor intensive but can be done.

Boycott fast food. Support local, non corporate food.

Live where you don't have to drive a car everyday.

Roll back the global supply chain with an international labor movement. Boycott goods where pay isn't fair. Not government led protectionism, union led protectionism. Vote with your wallet.

Stop judging the health of the body politic by the health of the financial markets.

Crush the militarists once and for all with international democracy. Use the military hardware for international disaster relief.

Hang all the lawyers (OK, that's a joke with respect to RH)

Daniel de França MTd2 said...

6. Forbid the sale alcohol, smoking or any kind of drug.
5. Forbid the personal posession of weapons
4. Forbid the sale of any kind of medication, unless with receipt.
3. Death punishments for the corrupt.
2. Forbid stock market.
1. End captalism.

Bee said...

Hi Sciencetourist,

Interesting points. Reg. military: I just yesterday read an interesting suggestion by Michael Moore to draft only children of the wealthy people. The argument is if the most privileged members of a society are willing to risk their life, then there's some chance a war is absolutely necessary, otherwise, forget about it. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Daniel,

Neither of what you mention is feasible, so it seems to me rather pointless. You are basically just stating your political opinion on these topics. I disagree with you on every single point. Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

Stop trying to improve the world?

Uncle Al said...

Arthur Jensen Network 1976, "...that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality... all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused."

Imagine everyone guaranteed equal lodging, clothing, sanitation, nutrition, and recreation in a uniform environment administered by omnipotent philosopher-kings. We call it "doing hard time in prison".

America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, Mark Steyn. Read it.

bellamy said...

Jesus, al, that's only because your human programming doesn't allow/enable you to comprehend beyond what you're familiar. I fuck off all day and am never bored. The key: lacking, and having no need of, ambition-competition-gain-achievement-etc.

Or, in other words, words that are the true answer to this topic:

Emotionally vibrant-yet-unattached.

Bee said...

Hi Uncle,

My Utopia is not Thomas More's. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Anonymous: Besides curiosity, dissatisfaction is the main driver of progress, like that or not. Best,

B.

bellamy said...

You see, it is a flaw in one's logic to assume that if one had no expectations placed on them, yet whose needs were covered (and perhaps more than that given) that they would have no desire toward expansion (ultimately emotional, but at the very least in experience). It is the same error prior generations have made in claiming 'new-fangled' this and that make people soft or feeble-minded or what-have-you.

Indeed, the more 'range of motion' one has, the more they are interested in expanding. Ultimately, in a funxional manner, I might think.

I suggest Iain M. Banks' Culture universe as a primer.

Arun said...

Dear Bee,
Did you know this?

"NEW YORK – Just two weeks after a Nobel Prize highlighted theoretical work on subatomic particles, physicists are announcing a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape. It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers."

No need to improve the world when it is full of such surpises :)

Plato said...

Uncle,

"philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize" (The Republic, 5.473c).

One would have to know what justice actually means, not in the "external sense" but to have fully grokked it:)

"And when they are fifty years old, those who have lasted the whole course and are in every way best at everything, both in practice and in theory, must at last be led to the final goal, and must be compelled to lift up the mouth of their psyches towards that which provides light for everything, the good itself. And taking it as their model, they must put in good order both the polis and themselves for the remainder of their lives, taking turns with the others (7.540a4-b1)."

Then such suggestion here would be more in line.

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

12. People who vote should be first asked at least one skill testing question before being able to proceed. For Canadians one example might read “ Our form of government would be best described as being:”

A. Democratic republic
B. Constitutional monarchy
C. Ochlocracy
D. Democratic Technocracy
E. All of the above
F. None of the above.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Everybody knows how to improve the world, if only other people would be just the way we want them to be. My personal idea would be to change the laws of physics and biology in such a way that some of your ideas might work.

Dylan Dog said...

Bee said: "I've tried to focus on the reasons why addressing global warming, and other issues, is so hard."

It's hard because people don't trust each other. Global warming: many people I meet suspect that advocates have an ulterior motive. They formulate their suspicions in some such way as the following:

"For many years there have been people preaching the standard anti-capitalist religion: hate cars, hate money, go vegetarian, pacificist, all we are saying is give peace a chance, etc etc etc etc. Now global warming has given these people the ideal excuse to ram their religion down our throats. I feel very tempted to tell them to take their sandals and bikes and stick them up [certain orifice]."

Now note that I am not saying that I agree with this [or that I disagree either]. The point is that if everyone suspects that a reform is motivated by somebody's self-interest, then they will resist. So Bee, the way to get everyone to address global warming is to convince them that you are not using it as an excuse to impose your will on them.

And I'm damned if I know how you are going to do that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bee,

It seems they are jumps rather than steps :) To me, the essence of your suggestions indicates *seriousness*. I would just say: Take seriousness seriously.

Best.

Mehmet

Bee said...

Reg. democracy and advertisement:

Confessions of a Phone Solicitor

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Bee said: “Stop indoctrinating people from childhood on that career and profit is the only valuable goal in human life. Are you really surprised suicide and depression rates increase in the so-called 'Western Civilization'?”

Such serious criticism should be constructive: What are the true, sustainable (and practically realised) “valuable goals in human life”, according to you? Just don't repeat any of those other, equally indoctrinated generalities like “peace and love”: they do not help either to stop suicide and decadence, as well as those millenia-old “new measures” of “education and progress” you propose. Those young Finnish (and American) guys commiting recent serial killings and suicides were all just in the process of intense, high-level education and top-level computer communication with the whole world (including their ways to kill people and themselves).

“Religious believes have no place in political or scientific argumentation. There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.”

Hop là, and a (bigger?) half of the world is totally excluded from the “world-improving” process. Any “nationalistic” doctrine is much less exclusive... “Probably” here means that there is a probability of the opposite, that God exists. If you think so, why that categorical practical advice? We are not going to play in “scientific” estimates of the probability of God's existence as a basis of practical actions, are we? It has been an old argument in favour of religious belief that God's existence is not directly perceivable (= “probability” is low) and that's exactly why one should (irrationally) believe: contrary to things from “ordinary reality”, God is a highly nontrivial entity, by definition, and therefore cannot be easily perceivable, or “probable”. Believe or not, but it's not without logic.

“Most people have lost trust in politicians' abilities because well-founded argumentation has been replaced with rhetoric. A scientific method in these processes is the only way to address the challenges we are and will be facing.”

So the “scientific method” (of trial and error!) that cannot explain behaviour of even the simplest world's objects, elementary particles (see “quantum mysteries” and other mechanically “postulated”, always unexplained properties), is now proposed as a way to solve problems of behaviour of world's most complex systems, highly interactive societies of living, intelligent organisms. Yeah, there is a lot to improve indeed in this world, starting already from the elementary logic of its “scientific” dimensions! Or else one should propose quite another kind of “science” that first can provide explicit, realistic and consistent solutions to lower-level, proper “scientific” problems before jumping boldly to dealing with human society.

“Take democracy seriously.”

Are you serious?! Unitary democracy (the only one known on this planet) is but a form of dictatorship of stupid majority over clever minority, even in the best case and irrespective of the role of “money”, and the fact that “dictators” are so numerous doesn't add efficiency to the resulting system dynamics. It's a common knowledge that democracy is simply the least of all competing evils. After having variously emphasised the importance of “intelligence-based” measures, you finally vote (together with the majority, alas!) for the stupidity-based way of social organisation. Taking democracy seriously, it should have a qualitatively different, intelligence-based extension, though practically unknown until now.

“Teach people the logical fallacies and how to lead sensible arguments. At the very least, teach them to shut up if they have nothing to say.”

I try not to be that rough, in my version it sounds as above: if you have nothing “great” to say, but have a strong dissatisfaction with the world (this point should not be omitted!), then just say what you have, dissatisfaction or even confusion. In the epoch of change it's completely normal, while remaining totally “calm” would rather be strange. As to bold “salvation measures”, well, everything is certainly permitted, but one could try to be either serious and efficient or else funny, but being serious and ridiculous is objectively ... less funny. It's always the same “dialectic” about freedom: yes, everybody is free to say/propose (almost) everything, but the more “complicated” the real situation is and the more “responsible” one tries to be (at least according to appeals), the more desirable it is to avoid any conventional “hype”, unless ... the whole such world is but someone's joke (what about a really existing but joking, even partially failing, or simply playing Creator?!).

If you (anyone) want the world to be better but don't know how to do it efficiently and realistically, it's better to say you don’t know (thus asking for discussion) than to pretend, apparently very seriously, for “intellectual” prescriptions and “scientific method” that already and evidently don't work (even in science as such!). Anonymous is right: stop trying to improve the world, try instead, I would add, to improve yourself. The world can only change by individual progress of its dwellers, and this is a complicated process that can hardly be accelerated with a help of standard external “measures” (actually already tried almost everywhere). Truly efficient communication on this would rather be sharing one's (genuine) personal progress, a real surprise (rather than well-known generality), like e.g. “ you know, I have just understood that all that conventional abstract science we practice everywhere in our “advanced” physics centres is but useless nonsense leading us nowhere and giving no problem solution”. I don't say it should be directly that, but it should be that kind of strong personal revelation of something “realy new” and “really important”, while your random mixture between better ways of consumer good wrapping and social progress generalities can only be champion of randomness and another case of Western decadence, sorry... I do hope that you're in a generally healthy mood (just a little lost) because otherwise we may need another, more personally supportive exchange... I don't think one should always try to avoid this by emphasising just that “indoctrinated” Western personal “strength”: being (temporarily) “weak” and communicating about it without ambiguity, even world-wide, should not be considered as something “shameful”, “negative”, or undesirable. This can be a more modest but practically efficient means to avoid sad cases and general degradation.

Anyway, have a good chance in improving the world but especially yourself! Because you (anyone) are in principle, potentially (I would really like to drop this specification) much greater than the world, in its current state.

Bee said...

Andrei:

- It is irrelevant what I think are valuable goals. Any kind of indoctrination is harmful.

- The sentence about God is a quotation from the article it links to.

- I am talking about representative democracy.

- The idea is to learn from errors to avoid further. Do you think that presently works very well in our political and economic systems? If all we'd be doing in science was trial and error we'd never get anywhere. We build up on an increasing body of knowledge and push the boundaries. Insights from the natural sciences have been incorporated into our daily lives, think architecture or drug testing. It seems you have an issue with 'quantum mysteries' or whatever, but that's totally not what I was I was concerned about here. Gee, do you think I'd make a case insights from quantum gravity have to be incorporated into our political systems, gimme a break. You're totally talking past me.

- And yes, I'm constantly working on 'improving mysef'.

Best,

B.

William said...

Have scientists speak out:

http://sefora.org/2008/10/22/even-more-avoteforscience-youtube-videos/

Palin and her ilk (see also Michele Bachmann) represent ignorance and mysticsm. (Warning: Bachmann is even scarier than Palin!)

Those representing knowledge and reasoning should let their views be known.

Tim said...

Capitalist Imperialist Pig wrote:

"Everybody knows how to improve the world, if only other people would be just the way we want them to be. My personal idea would be to change the laws of physics and biology in such a way that some of your ideas might work."

Having no particular or personal disrespect for Sabine, I'm quite happy that the laws of economics, physics, biology, etc. make her proposals impossible to realize.

However, in her job search, I hope she doesn't consider a move into politics or economics.

Really, Sabine, there are important problems to be solved, or at least worked on. I saw one of my profs in the early 70s essentially get so wound up, so spun up, over the Vietnam War that he threw away his career on this windmill, this silliness.

(Not that the war in Vietnam was not important, just the notion that some junior professor should spend his time organizing sit-ins and teach-ins. Google shows him to have no presence after about 1980. I have no idea what eventually became of him. Sad, in my view.)

Calls for banning this and that, outlawing various natural activities, all are wastes of your time.

--Tim May

Traums said...

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw


I was going to say unreasonable woman, but didn't want to misquote.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrei,

“Are you serious?! Unitary democracy (the only one known on this planet) is but a form of dictatorship of stupid majority over clever minority, even in the best case and irrespective of the role of “money”, and the fact that “dictators” are so numerous doesn't add efficiency to the resulting system dynamics.”

Your argument rests on the premise that only stupid people make mistakes. I would ask you then to explain the demise of the Mayan culture? Some years back when I walked through Chitzaniza, just one of the abandoned cities in the Yucatan and marveled at their observatory, pyramid, ball yard, temples and alike I wondered how a city planned and ruled by the intellectual elite could possibly falter. It was here I realized that even the educated are not immune to the folly inherent in human weakness(s), one of them being the most dangerous of them all in being arrogance.

Best,

Phil

Christine said...

"Abolish all wrappings of food items that can not be opened without tools. What kind of an absurd development is it to disable accessibility of groceries by insurmountable plastic barriers?"

Please, do give those food items to millions of hungry people over the world. Children die everyday because have nothing decent to eat.

Sometimes you make it difficult to tell when you are serious and when you are not...

The current emphasis on excessive competition, without any clear collective objective towards improving the human condition, is the main problem of the developed world. People live their lives just "competing" with each other, in order to get "better jobs" and "recognition" and "money". No one cares about working towards happiness and knowledge, and hence improving the human condition.

The only way to "improve the world" is improving ourselves. In order to achieve this, every single human being should have access to quality education and nutrition.

Quality education basically means the formation of critical thinking, social responsability, science, and learning of unbiased historical facts.

Also, the recognition of the human singularity: each of us are different people, with different qualities and potential. But we all should be equally respected.

A Krishnamurtian-like view of the world, in which each of us should look for the truth by ourselves, and try to trace our own paths in life with complete freedom of though and "emancipation from mental slavery".

Bee, I know that you have good intentions, but do realise that some of what you argue reflects your Western culture and point of view, that is, from someone who was raised and lives in a developed country. Yes, I do also have my bias, like anyone else, but I try to recognise it and state my opinions in a most general way.

You are trying to improve on some itens that many others would already think of a paradise. It appears that when you say "improve the world", you actually mean "improve my (your) personal world".

I do not mean to be unkind to you, but just feeling myself free to comment on my impressions. It is not that I disagree with your points, it is just that one must get to even more basic and fundamental issues, before attempting those that you propose.

Since I am presently pessimistic, I do not see that these could be accomplished.

So the best one can hopefully to is to try to improve oneself (but not in a selfish way). At least, perhaps you would feel better this way.

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

I didn't say throw away all food that's wrapped in plastic you can't open without tools, but don't use such food wrappings. I'd think the hungry children should appreciate that. But no, that point wasn't really serious though I indeed think it would considerably improve the world. Best,

B.

Bee said...

However, in her job search, I hope she doesn't consider a move into politics or economics.

No, in my present job search I don't consider a move neither into politics nor economics. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Interesting you mention that because I've suggested something similar a long time ago when we were discussing the age limit to participate in local elections. I basically said the relevant question isn't the age, but whether the voter is responsible enough, so if they are below the age threshold, why not let them make a really basic test, mostly to make sure they are serious about it. Best,

B.

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

I know that you were not suggesting to throw away all food that's badly wrapped, but merely not to buy it. What I was trying to say is that you focus on improving the nth order of the expansion, while in other countries people are still trying to figure out how to write the expansion in the first place. This is typical of those who have already achieved a point which the basic needs are all solved, and, sorry, you show it. This is the meaning of my previous comment.

It appears that you are trying to improve the developed world (that which you were raised and live). If your suggestions are to improve the "world", then you will have to go back to the basics even more. However, as I suggested, I am pessimistic that people are interested in (or really understand what it means) improving the human condition, except their own condition.

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

What I wrote was in now way meant to be the ten most important points that should be undertaken, and as I already said, the point with the food wrappings wasn't meant seriously, it's just something that annoys me occasionally. I also didn't mean to not buy these items, but to not have these wrappings altogether. Since I just posted a quotation by Jeffrey Sachs, did you by any chance read his recent book "Common Wealth"? I think it is very well balanced one these issues and I'd really like to hear your opinion. (I didn't finish it. If I come around to, I'll probably post a review.) Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Hi Bee,

I can't make any suggestions. A verse of a song says: "Things will happen while they can".

Things always take their natural course. What happens happens because it can happen and nothing happens if it can't happen. In that sense everything that happens in the world is natural. For example injustice, poverty, the destruction of the environment are all natural because they are real. If they weren't natural they wouldn't happen at all and every suggested improvement is unnatural because it doesn't happen. In other words the world's situation is the way it is because it couldn't be otherwise and thus it will be improved if it can be improved, otherwise it won't. Either way what will happen will happen because nothing else could happen.

BR

Christine said...

did you by any chance read his recent book "Common Wealth"?

Well, no... But I look forward to. Thanks for your suggestion. I have a long list of books to read, and I am already reading several in parallel... But eventually I might have the opportunity to read it... I look forward to read your review, their are usually quite useful.

Best,
Christine

Christine said...

correction: their -> they are (ie, your reviews)...

Anonymous said...

Be The Change You Want To See In The World.
- Gandhi

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Yes it is a strange world where one has to go to much more trouble to adopt a pet from a animal shelter then what’s required to have a child, get married or as with this here being able to choose our leaders and with it the direction of the future of all. This of course doesn’t address the fact that many don’t actually ever participate in the process other then to complain. Perhaps there should be some reward for those who do and a loss of privilege for those who don’t. We have spoken for weeks about the checks and balances being inadequate in regards to our economy while I would contend that it all stems more from the fundamentals related to our society in general.

Best,

Phil

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Anonymous said: “Be The Change You Want To See In The World. - Gandhi”

OK, I am, then what? Oh, those “politically correct” and “officially great” wise men and “guiding sources”, with their never-ending citations supposed to give us the maximum possible truth and the whole way of salvation... In reality it's but a “nice looking” play on words and nothing more. They never tell you that most essential, real-change-bringing part of the truth, “what then”. Others here say “education”, bla-bla-bla... Come on, don't you see that there are so many places where a very high level of (universal) education exists for a long time and not only heavy problems are not solved but there is often strong degradation towards ever more simplistic, cruel and destructive attitudes and actions (should I really cite very recent, ever more evident examples?)? I would even say that there is such kind of “well-educated” degradation practically everywhere today, though, of course, at very different levels and speeds.

This is the true curse of all world-saving programmes and revolutions, they don't really know what exactly should be done in the case of “our great victory”: what then, after our triumph? An unconditional and automatically guaranteed happiness, of course, what else? (cf. today's purely populist Obamania, very “intellectual” contributors including). What should and actually will they do, Christine and Bee, all those exponentially growing crowds of “poor children”, when they all get the necessary food, education and the rest? Will they automatically become different, wise and kind (whereas without it they are stupid and cruel)? It is multiply and massively confirmed that they won't.

In case of the above Gandhi's “great wisdom”, one evidently needs that the decisive majority of the whole world becomes the necessary change, for which it is needed that the “necessary change” is not only the truly right one but also the same one for billions of people living in very different conditions and having hugely different mentalities. Another realistic proposal... It could of course be just an advice of strictly personal “spiritual progress”, which is a purpose in itself, without any relation to the “world below” (Buddhism, etc.), but it seems we are talking here just about things, “spirit” including, that can influence reasonably big world segments. And then, it's a fact that “spiritual progress” can hardly be a solution in itself, because of the same unanswered question, what then. Nirvana? But we have it already in the West, for many (e.g. Perimeter Institute :-)) and in the East for some (“spiritual” versions including), and the impression is that something essential is still missing...

As to Gandhi's “original” attitude as if trying to reverse usual practices, one should still acknowledge that practically all changes in the world, including the best “spiritual” ones, have actually been produced by the conventional, “world-changing” attitude. It is rather Gandhi (as well as his country) that has never succeeded in any desired change, despite efforts and popularity...

So, just be the change I want to see in the world, now! (By the way, isn't it the same attitude as that behind Bee's “measures”?)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

13. The word “charity” should be deemed as being incorrect and replaced with the term “logical compassion”.

Best,

Phil

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Bee said: “It is irrelevant what I think are valuable goals. Any kind of indoctrination is harmful.”

Can it imply that you would consider any “valuable goals” as being “harmful”, or at least “not really necessary as a universal element of human existence/society”? Or is it that you just doubt in today's particular goals you can see? Are you lost with goals?! Any difference between “indoctrination” and “conviction”? Or do you see goals that are so special and important that they need to be kept secret? Something here should be relevant, I guess...

Bee said...

Hi Andrei:

I don't know whether values are 'necessary as a universal element of human existence/society', but necessary or not they are there. Yes, I think striving for the wrong values can have outcomes that run counter the wellbeing of the society. The sentence you quote is a reply to your question what are “valuable goals in human life”, according to you? and meant to say that it's not up to me to decide what is valuable and what isn't, and my opinion on that topic isn't better informed than anybody else's. I have expressed here and elsewhere repeatedly that I think e.g. wealth is not a sensible value to strive for since once the immediate survival needs are fulfilled it becomes increasingly empty. Similarly, I have again and again said that striving for derived secondary criteria generally leads to similar problems. Valuable goals I'd think are happiness and self-fulfillment, mentioned e.g. here. But I wouldn't want to impose them on anybody else. What do I know what makes other people happy? Best,

B.

Christine said...

What should and actually will they do, Christine and Bee, all those exponentially growing crowds of “poor children”, when they all get the necessary food, education and the rest? Will they automatically become different, wise and kind (whereas without it they are stupid and cruel)?

Also, evidently there are educated (I wouldn't say wise) and cruel people, as well as ignorant (I wouldn't say stupid) and kind people.

The point is: no one "asks to be born". There is then this very basic fact which should be taken care of before anything else, if we really want to talk about the human condition in its very essential meaning.

I believe every single human in world should have a minimum, equally distributed, starting point: [decent] education and [decent] nutrition. Specially if one realizes that the lack of such basic items are mostly a product of irresponsible and predatory historial facts involving currently wealthy nations.

This will not make people "good", because it is evident that we, humans, have an innate aggressive component, with different degrees.

There is a long way to turn the current stage of humankind into a "civilization". Perhaps it will never happen.

bellamy said...

I've said this before, here: just goes to show scientists are as human as regular folk.

Aiyy.

Bee said...

Yes. Time for everybody to notice that. Scientists are part of the society they live in, for better or for worse, and should play a more active role in shaping its future. And end to reticence. Amen.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post, Bee. Really enjoyed reading it. Reminded me of Russell's liberal decalogue, which you can read here:

http://users.drew.edu/~jlenz/decalog.html

Bee said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the reference, I didn't know that, these are really good points. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Andrei Kirilyuk said...
"It is rather Gandhi (as well as his country) that has never succeeded in any desired change, despite efforts and popularity..."
To refresh your knowledge of history, Gandhi sought out the freedom of his country from the colonial rulers and got it succesfully! Of course it was not a solo act but he was THE pioneer. What he started as a change in his country was emulated in many other nations. He showed us a change he believed in and got successful results....it is a different matter altogether what you see in his country now, 60 years later. A society is a dynamic institution and has to be in a flow else it will staganate, so if you say you don't see his desired change now, it is irrelevant, for times have moved on! but his philosophy is for all times.

Bee said...

There is hope regarding the wrappings:

NYT: Packages You Won’t Need a Saw to Open

"A number of retailers and manufacturers have a gift for holiday shoppers: product packaging that will not result in lacerations and stab wounds.

[...]

Impregnable packaging has incited such frustration among consumers that an industry term has been coined for it — “wrap rage.” It has sent about 6,000 Americans each year to emergency rooms with injuries caused by trying to pry, stab and cut open their purchases, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission."