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Posted by: HangarXVIII ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 01:53PM

As TBMs we were constantly reminded how wicked and horrible the world is, and how it will continue to get worse and worse until the 2nd coming. But in reality, are things really that bad?

Although challenges exist, I think overall life is actually getting better for most people. Advances in technology have automated much of our physical labor. We are living longer than ever before due to advances in science and medicine. We are becoming more tolerant. Information on virtually any subject is instantly available whenever we want it. We are connected to each other like never before. Our knowledge and understanding about our world and universe continues to expand.

Of course, there are challenges. Global warming, accelerating depletion of natural resources, energy, terrorism, the economy, increasing income inequality, and more.

So, for mankind overall, are things getting better or worse?

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Posted by: elciz ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 06:34PM

I don't put much stock in that article. There have been previous predictions of doom that were famously proven to be wrong (Parson Malthus, the "we'll run out of oil by 1985", etc). In fact the world is getting better--we are living longer, we have eradicated many diseases (and we are on the cusp of permanently preventing major disease), the world responds to famine with assistance rather than a blind eye. The selfishness we see manifested in conservative political philosophy is doomed to fold under the pressure of practical reality. A world of billions of people will not survive by denying certain basic necessities like health care. If humans are good at anything it is in adapting to reality.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2014 06:34PM by elciz.

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Posted by: thedesertrat1 ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 02:19PM

I firmly believe that the world is becoming worse exponentially.
Due to the slave to owner mentality we are deteriorating rapidly and I see no near solution

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Posted by: behindcurtain ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 02:25PM

I read that car dealerships are currently giving great deals to people with bad credit because they have no choice: if they don't do so they won't find enough buyers. This is a symptom of the general financial decline. Look around outside. You see magnificent cars everywhere, while years ago such cars were few and far between. When the car owners can't make their payments we will have another bubble burst, like the housing bubble did in in 2008.

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Posted by: ec1 ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:15PM

It could also be an indicator that cars are lasting longer and people don't need to buy them as often.

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Posted by: Alpiner ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 02:26PM


Every couple decades or so, the scary long-term problem changes And both the right and the left have different ones. Going back to the 50's, how many of these sound familiar?

-- Military/industrial complex
-- Communism
-- The War on Poverty
-- Overpopulation
-- Global cooling
-- Islamic fundamentalism
-- Global warming
-- Peak oil
-- The hole in the ozone layer
-- Technology-triggered asexuality
-- Global climate change

Technology has allowed us to get around resource depletion. For that matter, it's also allowed us ready access to energy as well.

Global warming doesn't keep me up at night. 40 years ago, it was global cooling. Then in the 90's it was global warming. I don't trust dooomsday scenarios. Most of the misery of the past 100 years has had human greed and folly as the root cause. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot -- we don't need to dream up scenarios for terrible things to happen when we've got monsters walking in our midst.

Russia just annexed a chunk of Europe. I'll put that in the "regression" column, since European border issues tend to unleash the worst kind of violence.

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Posted by: Carol ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:28PM

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Posted by: dreamed up anon ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:36PM

and which of those things were just dreamed up?

Yeah we have monsters walking around us, always have, always will - it's the dark side of humanity that we can't escape but how does that translate to Global Warming or the hole in the Ozone layer being "dreamed up" problems? That makes as much sense as calling the ACA socialism or calling taxes "thievery" (unreasonable taxation would be a separate issue with the key word being unreasonable).

40 years ago it was something different because that was 40 years ago, new data, new technology, new ideas, new perceptions, and new eyes on the problems reveal new information and the nature of what we know about the problem changes. Does that mean we might change our perception of it again with new data, of course! but it doesn't translate to "dreamed up".

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Posted by: Alpiner ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 05:09PM

My point is that too many people -- on both sides of the aisle -- worry about some far-off Doomsday they're powerless to control, when there are better things to be worried about within their power.

Your analogies to ACA or taxes don't really make a fair comparison to what I was trying to state. Global warming/cooling/climate change may be happening, but I do not think it's going to lead to the end of the world. Hence the 'dreamed-up doomsday' scenarios comment. When the people that tell me it's a problem (Al Gore, other myriad environmentalists) act like it's a problem (by selling their 10,000sq foot mansions with a carbon footprint 100x mine, stop flying internationally, and stop opposing GMO food that can grow with less energy input), then I'll contemplate their doomsday scenarios.

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Posted by: MarkJ ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 07:56PM

It is such a clear threat that many true-green environmentalists are pushing nuclear energy. They understand that we can't stop the economy or make ourselves martyrs for a low carbon lifestyle by going back to being hunters and gatherers. But we can't keep peeing in the pool.

As for talk of global cooling 40 years ago, I was taking climatology courses at that time and it was a well-known fact even then that CO2 was increasing at an alarming rate. The basic mechanics of heat gain in the atmosphere were also pretty well understood, and the projections were for warming, not cooling. I remember magazines like "Popular Science" writing articles about global cooling, but nothing from the real science world.

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Posted by: RPackham ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 02:31PM


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Posted by: donbagley ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:00PM

I agree and disagree.

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Posted by: cantresign ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 02:38PM

More tolerent yes, better noooooooooo. Are country is screwed right now. 26 trillion is a big deal. Making money on debt is a big deal. Our military buying civillian ammo.

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Posted by: blueorchid ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:24PM

It's worse for the animals. It's worse for the rain forests. It's worse for the oceans. The most educated and well-adjusted have the fewest children. How can it be better for us?

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Posted by: schmendrick ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:30PM

Overall the world is getting better, but it is also getting bigger, and thus there is more bad stuff in an absolute sense.

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Posted by: Carol ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:30PM

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Posted by: anagrammy ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:31PM

Depends on how you define "world."

All people or just us?

All people or just worldwide rich?

All living beings, including animals?

The world, meaning the Earth?

Check out the movie "Happy" about satisfying lives around the world.


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Posted by: outsider ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:32PM

Steven Pinker wrote an excellent book, "The Better Angels" which talks about how things are actually much better now than in other times in history.

"A provocative history of violence—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Stuff of Thought and The Blank Slate

"Believe it or not, today we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species' existence. In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Exploding myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly enlightened world."

If you look at the 1950s, it seems to have been a better place with quiet houses in the suberbs, but if you were black or trying to raise kids as a single mother, forget it.

We are actually doing much better.

Remember this quote:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

― Socrates

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Posted by: Ten Bear ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:33PM

I think it honestly depends on who you are and where you live. For some life is great and getting better. For others, it's a living hell. For every good thing we have now I can point to something bad that we didn't have before.

I don't think there is one, overall answer to that question. In the most basic of terms, the earth will still be here millions of years from now. No guarantee that we will be here but some life form or another will be - and it will be good for them.

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Posted by: Jonny the Smoke ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 04:39PM

Neither.....its just getting different. Assigning a better or worse judgement is a human thing from an emotional place.

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Posted by: jujubee ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 06:25PM

the world is vastly different now with technology than it was 70 years ago. do we have problems? yes. big ones. we only have our own perception of our time, in our corner of the world. what does "worse" mean? there is no way to tell.

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Posted by: anonnn ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 06:26PM

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Posted by: hausfrau ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 06:34PM

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Posted by: ladell ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 07:09PM

Considering life expectancy in the 1700s was 36, from a very self centered point of view I will go with better

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2014 07:10PM by ladell.

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Posted by: MarkJ ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 07:36PM

Here is a great quantitative analysis of why.

1. Fast population growth is coming to an end.
2. The "developed" and "developing" worlds have gone.
3. People are much healthier.
4. Girls are getting better education.
5. The end of extreme poverty is in sight.

There are many other indications that life is better, both in the world in general and in the U.S. (crime rate and the economy, for examples).

There are strong, manipulative reasons to preach the gospel of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). Among other things, FUD keeps people reactive and less inclined to experiment and explore, keeps defense spending up, keeps tithing up, keeps people focused on the near-term and the personal instead of the long-term and the social. Whenever an institution or movement advocates a FUD point of view, we need to look behind the facade presented and determine the facts and motivation for fear mongering.

(That said, sometimes it is brightest just before the lights go out.)

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Posted by: judyblue ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 07:39PM

The Bill Gates Foundation addressed this question in their annual letter recently. Interesting read:

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Posted by: flo, the nevermo ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 09:16PM

Always love to share my favorite response to this Q:

(That page has a place where you can click to hear a recording of the talk or read the text of it.)

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Posted by: behindcurtain ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 10:41PM

I read that the lifespan of the average American has decreased because we are bombarded by pharmaceuticals that are often toxic.

Also, antidepressants clearly cause damage and sometimes suicide, but most people are too ignorant to address the problem.

Another point: the number of suicides is steadily climbing, so people are increasingly dissatisfied.

And something else: sex, mating, and child rearing habits have changed, possibly for the better, but divorce laws have changed for the worse, making marriage very risky and giving government more control over married people.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2014 10:46PM by behindcurtain.

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: March 19, 2014 11:08PM

Putin is doin' a "Mines bigger than yours" with the West....and there is no leadership in the west to call him one it....can't be good....all the other criteria could be moot if this goes badly.

Ron Burr

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Posted by: Heresy ( )
Date: March 20, 2014 12:17AM

There is less starvation, poverty and war. That doesn't make for very good headlines so we don't hear it.

Of course, that pales in comparison to the horror of gay marriage in some eyes.

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Posted by: Hair Like Stalin ( )
Date: March 20, 2014 12:35AM

Our poor live better than the Pharoes ever dreamed of living.

And they weigh a hell of alot more too.

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