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scott712
2003-Oct-28, 12:54 AM
It seems to me that our scientific revolution was something of a fluke of history. If there had been no Crusades and collisions of Eastern and Western cultures there might have been no Rennaisance. If there had been no Protestant Reformation then people might not have considered other ways of looking at the world. Burning people at the stake puts a real damper on people's creativity. Some might argue that the one great invention of the printing press made progress all but inevitable. I just don't know.

kashi
2003-Oct-28, 01:32 AM
Fascinating topic. It's obviously hard to conclusively prove whether or not the development of technology was inevitable or, as you say, happened by chance (a small chance at that). Personally I think that humans making technological progress is inevitable. Religion slowed down our progress (eg. burning people at the stake during the Middle Ages), but there were always individuals who rebelled against the authorities and made scientific discoveries (even if they were ignored for a couple of centuries). Human ingenuity and curiosity are partly what allowed us to survive many thousands of years ago. They are too strong an instinct for the technological revolution to be a fluke of history (in my opinion).

zephyr46
2003-Oct-28, 02:02 AM
Do you think it becomes more inevitable today as more of us are sucked into TV and Multinational companies focus on making profit, and tech companies try to make money with Gimic technology. Have you noticed that Playstation X box and Game cube all play CD DVD and there own games, but you can't buy one computer that is cross compatible ? Do you remember the palm pilots and not pads, they are still around, but the average mobile phone does just about everything and more that they do. When we do get to the stage of tv on our mobiles, with video and bradband, what then? can we think beyond? There are sections of the community who live in perpetual rejection of technology because it doesn't address human concerns. Revolutions are invetable as are revelations. I think they are born of a sense of desire to better ourselves, to change things we don't like or to improve to add to and understand. Change is inevitable

Matthew
2003-Oct-28, 06:59 AM
It was inevitable. The technical revolution could have happened sooner, it could have happened later.


Do you remember the palm pilots and not pads, they are still around, but the average mobile phone does just about everything and more that they do. When we do get to the stage of tv on our mobiles, with video and bradband, what then?

zephyr46, there are mobile phones which have TV on it. ;)

Haglund
2003-Oct-28, 07:27 AM
Originally posted by scott712@Oct 28 2003, 12:54 AM
It seems to me that our scientific revolution was something of a fluke of history. If there had been no Crusades and collisions of Eastern and Western cultures there might have been no Rennaisance. If there had been no Protestant Reformation then people might not have considered other ways of looking at the world. Burning people at the stake puts a real damper on people's creativity. Some might argue that the one great invention of the printing press made progress all but inevitable. I just don't know.
I see one of the greatest technological revolutions to be the agricultural revolution about 10000 years ago or so. This led to people living at the same spot all the time as farmers. This both required as well as permitted technological advancements. Technology wasn't inevitable if we go back to a time before we started to develop anything like that, before we first started to make simple tools or learn to control fire. It seems to me that in the end it was a result of evolution that made it possible for us to make better and better tools.

From the little I know about the crusades, you are probably right. But maybe there would have been a rennaisance anyway, and I do believe it would have come sooner or later. The sad thing is that it was needed in the first place, after centuries of theocratic oppression. The Dark Ages is said to have started with the christians burning down the great library of Alexandria.

The printing press was extremely important for progress. All of a sudden it was easy to print huge amounts of texts quicker than ever before. Possibly the first information revolution, with the second one being the one that started well over a hundred years ago with the invention of the telegraph (which is in some ways a distant ancestor of the internet).

Matthew
2003-Oct-28, 08:10 AM
There may be a third information revolution, but any future revolutions won't be all that big, there'll probably not be as important (they won't start as much development). But a big informational revolution will come if we discover how to send information at speeds faster than light.

ulgah
2004-Jul-18, 05:01 AM
Originally posted by Parker@Oct 28 2003, 07:27 AM
The Dark Ages is said to have started with the christians burning down the great library of Alexandria.

Were there Christians before Christ? As I understand it, Julius Caesar burned the great library, about 48 BC. I always thought, there were no Christians until after Christ. Little do I know. :unsure:

stevenowens23
2004-Jul-18, 09:56 PM
Were there Christians before Christ? As I understand it, Julius Caesar burned the great library, about 48 BC. I always thought, there were no Christians until after Christ. Little do I know.

That's one version, but Edward Gibbon in his "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" noted that some of the library survived and was later ultimately destroyed by Christian zealots in the reign of Theophilus in about 390AD, round about the start of the Dark Ages...

GOURDHEAD
2004-Jul-19, 12:14 AM
That's one version, but Edward Gibbon in his "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" noted that some of the library survived and was later ultimately destroyed by Christian zealots in the reign of Theophilus in about 390AD, round about the start of the Dark Ages...

The destruction of the library was probably a blessing. It would have entrenched a culture that gave too much respect to Plato and Aristotle whose ideas were "protected" from logic by the "early church. It is better to think in terms of evolution than revolution. Evolution tries all that is attemptable regardless of its contemptibility. That which works best will float to the top and form the crest of progress in technology development. Lets not be too hard on the formulators of christianity. Had the ethics of the founders been followed, sans the cultural power struggles, the dark ages (for Europe) would not have occurred. The concepts of freedom, love of truth, mercy, and compassion promoted by them are even today (finally) coming to fruition and will progress more rapidly as these concepts are more fully embraced.

Our technological development is no fluke even though its fits and starts may be. Neither is that of our galactic competitors. Of the many solutions available to the universe for becoming aware of itself, we are only one and only one will prevail in the end. Let's hope for our progeny's sake that it is us or at least includes our progeny.

MoonZeroTwo
2004-Jul-21, 12:57 PM
The destruction of the library was probably a blessing.

Whoo, I can't agree with that one! The destruction of the Alexandria Library - (a long spanning process, that was completed by the Catholic Church) - is for me perhaps the most disgraceful events in human history.

I think Plato strove for logic, but intuition/superstitition crept into it a lot. Aristotle tried somewhat to trim off this "intuition" and hone in on the core logic. Basically if it wasn't for these Greek heroes, we wouldn't have science today.

I can still read Plato & find creative insights into life & death and things...

Floored_Music
2004-Jul-23, 07:21 PM
Many aspects of the "technical revolution" have not occured just once, or even within a single culture. For example, the Hellenistic age of the Greeks saw people like Archemedes inventing advanced gears used for tracking the astrological positions of the planets to a degree of accuracy only repeated since the invention of the modern computer. It was these gears that enabled the odometer which played a pivotal role in the military advances that created the Roman Empire. Recall that this was long before the Renaissance, which was actually in many cases only a rediscovery of science once known in the Classical and Hellenistic Greek periods. Like mentioned previously, much of this knowledge was collected for over 800 years in the Great Library of Alexandria. The library's destruction, had our propensity for creating technology been a fluke, should have been a death knell.

In the 1200s, Francis Bacon envisioned the camera and the television based on his observations on the nature of light. Most of his research was destroyed as well(again by those that view truths in absolutes, hmmmm...). Yet here we sit with cameras and television.

Less specifically, how many human cultures developed similar paper and basket weaving technologies independent of each other? Technology is nothing more than the science of human tool use. Whether you are talking about the earliest of stone tools, or the most advanced computer calculations, all technology is built on the foundation of creative tool use. Tool use was essential to the development of pictographic languages, which in turn led to more creative tool use through the sharing of ideas. It is cyclic.

No, I'd have to say if our technology is a fluke, it's a fluke only because we managed to evolve far enough to pick up the opposable thumb. The rest, as they say, is history.

ASEI
2004-Jul-24, 01:53 AM
I think technology development is probably a function of population and population concentration. As people become more concentrated and can interact more, greater levels of specialization and efficiency are achieved. This leads to more and more free time and available effort to apply to technological development. This trend would probably happen with any group of people if you give it enough time.

Tom2Mars
2004-Jul-24, 02:31 AM
Hey Asei!, You've been gone awhile! How ya doin?

What you said makes sense. Although, maybe something has to provide an impetus for change sometimes. I just read an article on an archeology site,
http://cnn.netscape.cnn.com/news/package.jsp?name=fte/findinutah/findinutah&floc=wn-np, and the Indians occupied the site for 3,000 years. Didn't move past basic arrowheads. I finished a major in Anthropology, and we learned that when the climate was consistent, change was very slow. They lived in good harmony with their environment and didn't need to change much to meet the basic needs for survival.

For the people of today, I'm sure that if a 30 Kilometer asteroid was detected early enough to "innovate" a response, all kinds of technical responses would happen very quickly, especially in the 'population centers'. I'd love to see the 'specialists' hustle on new priorities.

bossman20081
2004-Jul-26, 10:55 PM
If my knowlledge of history is right , the Europeans fought more often the Indians did. (Native Americans is the correct term I believe)War brings better technology. (rockets, computers, guns, nuclear) After the war, industry makes it better and uses it for peaceful reasons. (well sometimes) That could be the reason Native Americans were less devolped, though Im no expert; its just my opinion.

DarkChapter
2004-Jul-28, 03:49 AM
For example, NASA spent $9million developing a pen that could write in space

The Russians took pencils for a grand total of $5....

GOURDHEAD
2004-Jul-29, 08:03 PM
I still say the destruction of the great library at Alexandria was a blessing and the untimely demise of the dinosaurs was a curse. Our rate of ascension to higher intelligence and better technology would have been advanced had the dinosaurs survived and retarded had the library survived. Lucky for me there's no way to prove me wrong. Although I'm not so sure our blood sucking ancestors and their mammalian cousins didn't do the dinosaurs in. Parasites and their potential for being disease vectors can be very destructive.

StarLab
2004-Jul-31, 07:13 AM
Hey, GH, there was more in the Library other than the works of Aristotle and Ptolemy, the two historical figures whom I hate more than Heisenberg.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Jul-31, 05:38 PM
Hey, GH, there was more in the Library other than the works of Aristotle and Ptolemy, the two historical figures whom I hate more than Heisenberg.

Tsk!tsk! Hate is a ubiquitous detriment to good health, sound thinking, and other forms and categories of problem solving. Each of those folk were valuable contributors, just not worthy of worship. I cited the cream of the crop, which should also include Archimedes, in an attempt to put a cap on the loss.

Don't you guess that whatever knowledge of lasting value that was stored there was also loose in the various adjacent cultures in the cults and schools of the time and evolved into what we "know" today and was as well more free of the formal dogmatization that the library would have imbued?.

StarLab
2004-Jul-31, 07:13 PM
OK, so maybe it wasn't perfect...but everyone else is right in saying that its destruction began the Dark Ages, a perilous time for science.

Bobunf
2004-Aug-06, 10:13 PM
Middle Eastern and European history from the fall of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance are immensely rich and deep stories, which can’t be summarized in a few sentences, and interpretation of which certainly isn’t enhanced by factual errors.

For instance, Francis Bacon lived from 1561 to 1626, not in the 1200’s. He was contemporary with Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Hobbs, and Galileo. I think he would be immensely surprised at any association of his writings with cameras or televisions. I didn’t find anything about TV in “The Great Instauration” or “Novum Organum.” He wrote in Early Modern English, and so is a little difficult but, as with Shakespeare, is completely accessible to modern readers with a little effort. One of his most famous statements was, “If it be barren, set it to ought,” which I’ll leave my readers to interpret.

To evaluate the importance of the Crusades in terms of cultural transfer, one must consider the role of Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Lands for centuries before the First Crusade, and the role of the Byzantium Empire, which did exist as part of the Roman Empire for centuries and which was a continuous intact political, religious and cultural entity until 1453. Byzantium had many libraries and centers of learning and art during its 1123 years, and was easily and frequently accessed by Europeans, Arabs, Persians and others.

There was substantial trade with many European entities such as Venice and Genoa. The Byzantines maintained a strong presence in Greece for centuries. One can still visit vast elaborate, nearly intact structures at Mistra near Sparta.

The role of the early Christians can’t be dismissed as simple library burners, or as Gibbon might maintain as the sowers of the seeds of Rome’s destruction. The effect of Christianity on the Roman economic system, particularly on slavery, was profound; and I think most modern people would agree, desirable. The end of slavery as a principle mainstay of the economic system caused tremendous dislocations and problems, which did not look like progress. Byzantium was never as dependent on slavery as Rome.

The other truly significant political role played by Christianity into the modern age, was as a countervailing power to that of the state, which really meant the monarch. Learning how to run large, complex political units with large numbers of individuals participating in decision making was a difficult and very long drawn out problem that humans had to solve.

Until the modern era large, complex political entities were ruled by one person; no other way seemed to work or last. Depending on one person is dangerous, and the issues of succession even more so. Representative democracy was the answer, a new thing under the Sun. And it’s hard to see how the philosophy, understanding, examples, and opportunities could have arisen without religion.

Bob

StarLab
2004-Aug-06, 10:55 PM
Yeah, nothing against Christianity though, but when the Roman Empire was destroyed, Christianity was the only aspect of Roman life which truly survived! This religion was abused by a family of people, who created Holy Nations and made everyone else work for them, via a dark blanket of Christianity, for a near millenium!

Bobunf
2004-Aug-06, 11:38 PM
”when the Roman Empire was destroyed, Christianity was the only aspect of Roman life which truly sur-vived!”

I don’t think this is true at all. Byzantium, a direct off-shoot of Rome survived for another millenium. Roman institutions, architecture, engineering, art and literature survived in what is now Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Romania, and much of North Africa. The ideas, institutions, and examples of Rome contin-ued to have on impact on the world to the present day.

“This religion was abused by a family of people”

On what basis do you determine a religion—a faith system—is abused? With what doctrines do you dis-agree and why is your view of this matter of faith correct as opposed to those who actually lived it? And who were these “family of people?”

“who created Holy Nations”

Which nations were these? Venice? Sicily? The Papal States? The Holy Roman Empire?

“and made everyone else work for them, via a dark blanket of Christianity, for a near millenium!”

That’s not an interpretation one is likely to get from any historian. I don’t think that’s how it really worked. But you do have to work at understanding very diverse and different cultures from ours, intellec-tually challenging philosophies, very complex politics, as well as much different economic systems.

If it’s not worth the effort, maybe you shouldn’t say too much that might be too revealing.

KeiZka
2004-Aug-08, 06:06 PM
Originally posted by stevenowens23@Jul 18 2004, 09:56 PM

Were there Christians before Christ? As I understand it, Julius Caesar burned the great library, about 48 BC. I always thought, there were no Christians until after Christ. Little do I know.

That's one version, but Edward Gibbon in his "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" noted that some of the library survived and was later ultimately destroyed by Christian zealots in the reign of Theophilus in about 390AD, round about the start of the Dark Ages...
Quite harsh to go all out on christians, because nothing can be confirmed. I checked my sources, and there's three suspects: Romans, Christians and Moslems.

And that Christianity was only aspect what was left? Nonsense! As Bobunf stated, there was Byzantium. And Roman empire as only existing, it brought new things all over western europe, like baths, proper roads and engineering (castles can't be built without engineering, aye?), to name few. Later on there was Holy Roman Empire, led by Barbarossa, though it was short time. (This holy Roman empire consisted of most of current Germany, parts of France and Italy) It is to believed that Barbarossa was inspired by Romans.

About cultural transfer and such things, crusaders did reinvite spa, and therefore hygiene was greatly increased.

StarLab
2004-Aug-14, 03:19 PM
This religion was abused by a family of people
A lot of the kings and queens of Europe, as I understand it, are related.In essence it essentially boiled down to a conflict between a few wealthy families who indoctrinated, successfully, the ENTIRE population of Europe (almost) to fight wars for them, and one excuse they used was a promise in Heaven, as guaranteed by Christianity, if all the peoples of Europe served them loyally. In the Christian, monarchial, Teutonic Europe, Roman achievements and advances in the sciences were held back a millenium because a few families in Europe were competing over LAND, of all things and, as I said before, used Christianity as one of the primary means of subjecting the public masses to their rule. They kept very few aspects of Western Roman Empire life alive.
I apprecieate your input, Bobunf, but all I'm doing was reasoning with dear ol' GH.

Bobunf
2004-Aug-16, 06:20 AM
“Roman achievements and advances in the sciences were held back a millenium because a few families in Europe were competing over LAND”

I think the historical period you’re talking about is from the fall of the Western Roman Empire (say 476 AD) to about 1453 AD, the end of the Hundred Years War and the fall of Constantinople. I also don’t think any historian of the period would interpret the events, the movements, the changes of this near mil-lenium in the way you describe.

In the first place, Roman achievements and advances in science were pretty modest. Roman success was based on political acumen and effectiveness, not technological advance. They were reasonably quick to adopt better technologies from others, but they were not generally innovators in this area.

Secondly, in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa during this period there were literally thousands of more or less independently operating political units at various points in time. Lots of familial relationships were formed because of the principle of the inheritability of political power, and because of the use of mar-riage as a means of securing political alliances.

But lots of groups were entirely unaffiliated: the Arabs who occupied all of North Africa and Spain. The Arab occupation of parts of Spain lasted for seven centuries, until 1492. North Africa is still Arab. The Vikings occupied large parts of England, Ireland, Normandy, Russia; eventually, as the Normans, even Italy. The Mongols invaded Eastern Europe. And hundreds of other outlying groups affected Europe.

With these huge changes in populations, political, economic and religious systems occurring in a sea of thousands of political entities, a monolithic conspiracy to impose Christianity on the populace so they would work for nothing sounds kind of off the wall.

Europe being invaded by Arabs, Vikings, Mongols and lots of others did not do a lot to preseve Roman institutions--but none of these people were Christian.

The Roman system, for many, many reasons, didn’t work anymore; and the whole population in and around Europe was evolving new approaches to economics, politics and religion. And Christian Byzantium carried Roman and Greek culture (they were Greek speaking), with its own substantial modifications and additions, for nearly a thousand years after the fall of the Western Empire.

StarLab
2004-Aug-16, 12:03 PM
And Christian Byzantium carried Roman and Greek culture (they were Greek speaking), with its own substantial modifications and additions, for nearly a thousand years after the fall of the Western Empire.
Yeah, well, of course THEY WERE EVENTUALLY DESTROYED. :rolleyes:


Europe being invaded by Arabs, Vikings, Mongols and lots of others did not do a lot to preseve Roman institutions--but none of these people were Christian. You're right about one thing - other than Arabic Algebra, no Western culture made much scientific advancement. Over in China, however, they were partying with the latest explosives! :lol:


In the first place, Roman achievements and advances in science were pretty modest. Still, it was the Church - not so much the empire, and see which one survived - that adopted the unquestioned Aristotelian system.


But lots of groups were entirely unaffiliated: the Arabs who occupied all of North Africa and Spain. The Arab occupation of parts of Spain lasted for seven centuries, until 1492. North Africa is still Arab. The Vikings occupied large parts of England, Ireland, Normandy, Russia; eventually, as the Normans, even Italy. The Mongols invaded Eastern Europe. And hundreds of other outlying groups affected Europe. Well, the vikings and the various n-goths all took christianity, I believe, and the Mongol empire, while pretty dang huge, was also pretty dang short-lived. And, as I said only the Arabs came out with something constructive - algebra - and I'm never going to forgive them for that one.

antoniseb
2004-Aug-16, 03:07 PM
Hey folks,

This is a topic about the history of science, and it is inescapable that there will be some discussion of religeous groups. Please be careful about what you write here. It already reads like some tensions have been raised.

Bobunf
2004-Aug-17, 01:16 AM
"THEY WERE EVENTUALLY DESTROYED"

While Byzantium was eventually conquered, it seem to me that any civilization that lasts for 1123 years, as did Byzantium, has to be viewed as an unqualified success. Precious few have achieved such longevity.

“in China, however, they were partying with the latest explosives”

I think the role of the Chinese with respect explosives and rocketry is highly exaggerated. The Byzantines used Greek Fire very effectively as early as the 4th century.

It’s not known who, when or where the rocket was first developed even though its development occurred entirely within historical times. A Chinese chronicle called T-hung-lian-kang-mu mentions the use of devices, which could have been rockets, in AD 1232 during the Mongol siege of a Chinese city called Kai-fung-fu. This first historical reference to something that could have been a rocket reads like this: “The defenders also had arrows of flying fire. They attached an inflam-mable substance to the arrow. The arrow suddenly flew away in a straight line…” Of course, these things could have been arrows tipped with fire, and not rockets—no pictures.

Rockets may have been used in Poland by the Mongols at the Battle of Legnica in 1241, and by the Arabs in Spain in 1249. We do know, however, that some Europeans had a through understanding of primitive rockets by about 1248; the Englishman, Roger Bacon, wrote a description for producing rockets in his Epistola. Even if rockets were used at Kai-fung-fu, the 1232 date for the first use of rockets seems pretty suspect since it’s hard to believe that the innovation in the 13th century would have diffused to Poland, Spain and England within seventeen years or less.

Historians haven’t been able to determine the date and place for the emergence of this most important invention. We know only that the inventor lived in Eurasia near the beginning of the 13th century. Everything else, except the invention itself, is unknown--nationality, occupation, whether one person, or a group, young or old, motives. But, then, we know failure as a very frequent companion of rocketry.

Bob

GOURDHEAD
2004-Aug-19, 02:06 PM
This topic must be viewed from the broadest of perspectives. "The Civilization" is that which has resulted from the interactions of each of the ethnic variations being cited. Here again evolution is working its magic. We are being forced to "know the truth" and become ever more free.

aries_4_5_48
2004-Aug-23, 07:34 AM
...I think it is human nature to think that 'your' civilization is the best one yet. One of the most provocative statments I have ever heard was stated by Mr. Nisbet: "No single idea has been more important than, perhaps as important as, the idea of progress in Western civilization for nearly 3,000 years."

Technology as progress, is to us, a given. I don't totally disagree, but the type of technology, the application and the rampant technology for the sake of technology I do question. Resources determined where and how technology was directed initially, with little or no thought of the effect, immediate or long term. A phenomena of innovation is that what is invented, often ends up inventing you, as well as taking on a 'life of its own'. Television has many positive aspects. The inventors, in their wildest dream, never envisioned it becoming what it is today. In many cases, a screen with three different colored dots, defines reality and its ability to influence a nation of people is as yet unknown. If Henry Ford could see what he started he would not be able to fathom it. Oil, gas, highways, concrete parking lots, rubber, insurance, 50,000 fatalities a year. And possibly the most detremintal of all, the god-like status that no matter what problems arise, as a result of or independently of, technology will ride in on a big white stallion to save the day. No doubt it can be of tremendous value, it cannot save us from our continued foolish ways......

Technology could have developed in an all most infinite number of directions. Perhaps in the near future it will be applied in a more day-today meaningful way. How advanced can we be if 7 out 10 people on this rock can't read. Close to the same number do not have decent places to live, decent diets, clean water to drink, any type of medical care. I don't have the answers, but I know there is something wrong with this picture, that disparity can only go on so long..... :ph34r:

"If progress were defined as every human being having at least one bowl of rice a day, a safe place to lay down at night to rest their bodies, and the very basic medical care, it would be that way." R.M. :unsure:

Bobunf
2004-Aug-23, 12:20 PM
“How advanced can we be if 7 out 10 people on this rock can't read. Close to the same number do not have decent places to live, decent diets, clean water to drink, any type of medical care.”

Where do these numbers come from? I don’t think literacy figures will bear out the 7 out of 10 number. Of course, one can always define literacy such that any given number is illiterate—say 99%. The same definition issues, of course, apply to a “decent place to live?” But where does that number come from?

As for “decent diet,” with worldwide obesity exceeding 20%, I can see where this could have some merit. But isn’t obesity only a symptom of our genetic heritage—coming from a time when food scarcity was a real issue? It’s easy to show that the world is starving by adjusting average required caloric intake to an inaccurate high level, which many “hunger” organizations regularly do.

Close to 7 out of 10 do not have clean water to drink? Another arbitary standard?

“any type of medical care” Any? No, I think one is dealing with an arbitrary standard--or numbers just pulled out of thin air.

“disparity can only go on so long”

We’ve had economic disparity for about 1500 centuries. But for centuries humans have experienced rising life expectancies, increasing caloric consumption per capita, and an increasing level of civil liberties. In other words, people are healthier, wealthier and wiser today than 100,000 years ago, or 10,000, or a thousand, or a hundred, or ten.

And in the last sixty years, in addition to these benefits, we’ve seen caloric consumption increase faster in developing countries than in developed countries, suggesting a relative decline in economic disparity, which, I think, is supported by other measures.

It is so monotonous, this mantra that “Everything is so terrible because humans are so short-sighted, unenlightened, and morally deficient.” Except, of course, for the noble elite. Besides being boring, the mantra is not based on facts.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Aug-23, 12:36 PM
It is so monotonous, this mantra that “Everything is so terrible because humans are so short-sighted, unenlightened, and morally deficient.” Except, of course, for the noble elite. Besides being boring, the mantra is not based on facts.

Amen! and Amen! However, the Great God Truth insists that we not forget that we have much to learn and will continue to make a mistake now and then (perhaps every few microseconds). Evolution will continue to drive us to ever more competent levels of tecnology development, but like snowballs that roll downhill, we can't be sure of the exact path. Be ye not caught off guard (especially not in the backfield).

aries_4_5_48
2004-Aug-23, 07:36 PM
....Mr Bo: I'm not certain what planet or dimension you live in but everyone of those figures are verifiable. When you cross the southern border of the US, potable water is not to be found from there to the Tierra del Fuego. That is a FACT.
How about India, !,000,000,000 +, China 1,5000,000. In all your wordly wisdom do you have the slightest idea what the per/centage of people are who can read at 6th grade level. The answer is, you most definitely do not!

Regarding the automobile: my mantra was that fossil fuel was not the ONLY way to provide transportation. That was the most Profitable. Technology could have taken many paths, arbitrary is what you call the direction and consequences of the world we live in today, or the one I live in at any rate..... :blink:

Nothing is so enertaining as the discussion of a book no one has read..... :huh: :unsure: :lol:

Bobunf
2004-Aug-24, 04:23 AM
Aries, you said, “In all your wordly (sic) wisdom do you have the slightest idea what the per/centage (sic) of people are who can read at 6th grade level. (sic) The answer is, you most definitely do not!”

I wonder what your source is for that assertion since you know absolutely nothing at all about me. Lets try some beastly facts instead; starting with the ten most populous countries in the world. From the United States Bureau of the Census, International Data Base, Table 060:

Population Rank, Country, Percent Literate, Listed in order of population rank:
1 China, 84% of those over 15 years of age. 1995 most recent data
2 India, 52% of those over 10 years of age. 1990 most recent data.
3 United States, 97%. 1980 most recent data.
4 Indonesia, 84% of those over 10 years of age. 1990 most recent data.
5 Brazil, 81% of those over 15 years of age. 1990 most recent data.
6 Russia, 98% of those over 10 years of age. 1989 most recent data.
7 Pakistan, 35% of those over 15 years of age. 1990 most recent data.
8 Bangladesh, 36% of those over 10 years of age. 1991 most recent data.
9 Japan, 99%. 1970 most recent data.
10 Nigeria, 51% of those over 15 years of age. 1990 most recent data.

These countries constitute 61% of the world’s population and have an average literacy rate of 72%. This does not comport with your assertion that “7 out 10 people on this rock can't read.” Not even one country has an illiteracy rate of 70%. If one added in the other 180 countries and political entities, the average literacy rate would rise.

I might observe that it appears that you most definitely do not have sources for the statistics of your assertions, which seem to be plucked out of thin air.

Bob

Bobunf
2004-Aug-24, 04:34 AM
Aries, you said, “When you cross the southern border of the US, potable water is not to be found from there to the Tierra del Fuego. That is a FACT.”

I guess I’m from a different planet than you. I’ve spent a whole lot of time in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador over the last 30 years, and I’ve had lots of water to drink in those countries. You can buy bottled water on practically every street corner, and all reasonable hotels and restaurants, and most private homes have safe drinking water.

The standards are not as rigidly adhered to as in the United States, and Gringos need to be more cautious about water in Mexico and Central America, but potable water is very definitely and easily found.

I can't speak for the rest of Central America, nor for South America; having spent very little time there. But I've never heard reports that would suggest serious water problems from the hundreds of people I've known from these locales.

Bob

aries_4_5_48
2004-Aug-24, 05:22 AM
....I myself have spent considerable time south of the border, (3yrs) in Mexico, Belize, Guatamala, Honduras, and a short stay in Cuba. The very fact that you have to buy drinking water means it is not potable. Not Clean. There are no water treatment plants. Now that I think about it, you are right. Just buy your water, no problem, except if you don't have the money.

Those literacy figures are not representative of the whole country. It pertains to a given age bracket, not total pop. It has been a most enlightening experience, I appreciate all the info, and I know that you all know much :blink:

Bobunf
2004-Aug-24, 06:12 AM
Aries, you said, “Those literacy figures are not representative of the whole country. It pertains to a given age bracket”

Well, yes. Children ages 0 through 9 are not counted in determining literacy. I’m really not at all disturbed that hardly any three year olds read. This doesn’t seem to me an objection that makes any sense.

These figures can, and should be challenged, on many other grounds. Japan’s claim of 99% literacy, for instance, is clearly absurd; obviously not taking into account mentally incompetent people, such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of senile dementia, severe mental illness, and other handicaps.

They probably use a definition of literacy as a reading ability in someone capable of achieving that reading ability; and this could be a very slippery slope indeed. Age is so much more definite.

On the other hand, I’m not too concerned that someone with severe autism is unsuccessful on reading tests.

These types of problems with data are very common, but demography is a science, and not an easy one. So tremendously much effort is put into developing the mechanisms for gathering data, in actually using those mechanisms to collect data, in verifying and analyzing data. And the product is an imperfect set of numbers about literacy, for instance.

I think such great efforts on the part of so many very talented people require that the data be re-spected; that it be given time, attention and close study. One needs to work at trying to tease out the meanings behind the data. It’s so very hard to figure out how things work, what’s going on, what’s real and what’s not; it’s almost blasphemous to ignore all that work in favor of a prejudice arrived at without struggle.

The data, the work, the talent only achieve the full respect they deserve when it enlightens some-one, changes their mind, gives them a deeper insight. That requires the involvement of the inter-locutor as well.

aries_4_5_48
2004-Aug-24, 07:45 AM
...Nationmaster.com

India-average years of schooling, 5.1
Literacy female, 48.3
Literacy male 70.2
Literacy Pop-59.5%

China-average years of schooling, 6.4
Literacy rate pop-86%(86% of 1.5 billion people have a 6th grade education.) Please forgive me for such a blatent skewing of the figures. If they were one half of that it, is excessive to me. In my philosophy if humankind doesn't make it as a whole he won't make it at all.(personal opinion) Evolution is a theory, it is not the only viable one. Complexity is far more likely to me, and that necessitates that we move in the direction implied. Technology is not my god, it is not a given that every new toy is worth the price or an indication of an advancement of civilization. I personally can think of no meaningful accomplishment, that generations from now, people will look back and say: Logic-Greeks, Social refinement and organization-Romans. Perhaps touching the moon if it weren't for leaving a junk car and a sack of crap. I don't expect you to agree, I would be disappointed if you did. At the same time you bear in mind that we are creatures with a brain capable of infinite concepts within an infinite Universe, logic prevailing, anything is possible... Peace unto you :rolleyes:

"I would never die for what I believe in, I might be wrong." B. Russell :huh:

Bobunf
2004-Aug-27, 06:04 AM
Aries, you said, “I personally can think of no meaningful accomplishment, that generations from now, people will look back…”

I don't think you're working at this very hard.

How about the Germ Theory of Disease? The Theory of Evolution? The worldwide abolition of slavery? The on-going emancipation of women? The widespread adoption of representative democracy? The emerging effort to save Earth and life from the inevitable impact of a global extinction asteroid?

What won’t they say about Pasteur? Who would want to volunteer to live life before antibiotics?

There are literally thousands of accomplishments of modern civilizations that have so improved human survival, understanding and pleaseure. One word isn't enough.

Bob

StarLab
2004-Aug-27, 02:14 PM
Well, yeah, one word is enough: appreciation.

Bobunf
2004-Aug-27, 04:14 PM
If Aries view prevails, I think the one word will be "Ungrateful."

aries_4_5_48
2004-Aug-27, 04:52 PM
.....poorly stated granted, I was referring to technology. How much importance do you place on the telegraph, steam engine, light bulb, newspaper, transcontinental railroad, suspension bridges, sky-scrapers, subways, escalators, trollies, wrist watches, etc? At the time the world had never seen anything like it. There is nothing to make me think present day "Wonders" will be viewed any differently. Sorry, that's the way I see it. No offense intended. (actually just a little, a 'wake-up call' so to speak. What if 100 years from now, history had recorded that through the concerted effort of those on the planet, hunger ceased to exist? Aggressive actions of one nation against another had been resolved thru alternatives, the global basic education level tripled, no child went blind from vitamin deficiencies? Technological advancements, in my opinion, are NOT synonymous with advancement of civilization.) :unsure:

"No single idea has been more important than, perhaps as impotant as, the idea of progress in Western civilization for nearly 3,000 years. Nisbet :o

Bobunf
2004-Aug-28, 03:27 PM
Aries, you said, “I personally can think of no meaningful accomplishment...[such as]...Aggressive actions of one nation against another had been resolved thru alternatives”

To which, I say, open your eyes. We don’t live in paradise, which would probably be awfully boring anyway. But consider the way in which the great confrontation between the Soviet Union and the West was resolved.

It was really an even broader conflict than that—between the philosophy of Communism and that of Liberalism; and about very important issues. To many, including me at various times, it seemed near certain that the conflict would end in thermonuclear annihilation.

The scenarios ranged from the destruction of these two superpowers and their allies, to the end of civilization, a thousand year dark age, the end of Homo Sapiens, the end of all life. None of it something to look forward to.

I remember, in the 1950s, reading George Kennan’s analysis of the issues. He advocated the twin policies of containment (effective resistance to any further Communist advances), and transformation—holding our way of doing things as an example, demonstrating to and convincing the Communists that our way was better; converting them to Liberals like us.

The question I asked myself was, “Has this ever happened before?” And the answer, of course is, “No.” Conversion after conquest, Yes, and either way; but never as a policy in lieu of conquest. The whole thing to me seemed pretty unlikely, and, actually, a little nutty.

Nonetheless, it worked. Instead of a billion dead, the conflict was resolved almost without bloodshed. This is not to diminish the sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of others who did die in the conflict. That Holocaust was avoided makes their acts even more greatly to be treasured and respected.

Here we have a great war, the greatest ever known to mankind, avoided. We blinked, and it never happened. Almost a miracle; I didn’t know we had it in us. And the mechanism of resolution was something entirely new to the species--something truly different from anything that's gone before.

What an accomplishment!

Bob

StarLab
2004-Aug-29, 04:15 AM
Wasn't much of a resolution or accomplishment. Didn't do anything except create more political borders. As a matter of fact, it may have begun what I call the third Gathering of Central Asia. Yes, third. First were the Teutonic tribes and huns, the caucasians who now dominate America and Europe. Then came the short-lived Mongol dynasty. Now, this: fundamentalist Muslims in central Asia bent once again on continental domination, using modern technology to advance and unleash ancient dilemmas once believed resolved with the advent of Industrialism. Didn't reach central Asia, though. I fear this one is worst than the last two. The first GCA was forced West by geological problems. The second batch had nothing to gain but more political land - no more, no less. And they couldn't handle it, and thus collapsed. But now we are dealing with Holy War people, who are BENT on the destruction of advances in Teutonic civilization. The Cold War was not a resolution of any sort; on the contrary, it opened up a whole new era of possible Central Asian values of violence and destruction. Evil has just begun. For a third time.

Bobunf
2004-Aug-29, 06:00 AM
StarLab, you said, “The Cold War was not a resolution of any sort, on the contrary, it opened up a whole new era of possible Central Asian values of violence and destruction.”

This statement doesn’t make sense to me. I assume you meant something like, “the end of the Cold War did not result in a resolution of any problem.” Or, “the Cold War conflict did not solve anything.”

Of course the ending of the conflict between Communism and Liberalism didn’t resolve all Earthly problems, anymore than paying your water bill solves the problem of the electric bill. There were two different, dangerous philosophical movements afoot. Defanging one doesn’t make the other more dangerous.

How did resolving the conflict between Communism and Liberalism open “up a whole new era of possible Central Asian values of violence and destruction?”

I can’t imagine that you believe the current difficulties with Fundamentalist Islam carry danger of the same magnitude as existed with the Damocles sword of thermonuclear Holocaust hanging over the World for decades.

I also don’t think your history would stand much analysis.

Bob

ASEI
2004-Aug-29, 01:09 PM
for the preservation of the nature of this thread, I've deleted my political stuff.

Sorry, sometimes I can't help but respond to some things.

antoniseb
2004-Aug-29, 02:33 PM
Originally posted by ASEI@Aug 29 2004, 01:09 PM
That's crazy.
You can see why political discussion is forbidden here. Starlab is too young to know what happened. Older people take offense at his ignorance. All of you: Please return back to the astronomy related parts of this topic.

StarLab
2004-Aug-29, 06:07 PM
Well, gee, Anton, why don't you PM me about

what happened.

In the meantime, guys, yes Anton's right...let's get back to the original discussion.

aries_4_5_48
2004-Aug-30, 05:03 AM
.....it seems to me that every time civilization, technology, and meaningful advances are mentioned the answers, for the most part, are about the USA. We are not the sole representative of civilized man. When the 20th century is studied and a global picture is 'painted', I do not think the accomplishments of mankind will exceed those of some earlier periods. It is a purely subjective assessment. Great gains by a few does not translate into great gains for humanity. Is planet Earth in an overall better state than it was in say, 1874? B)

"Life is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." A. E. :unsure:

StarLab
2004-Aug-30, 07:03 AM
One word: globalization.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Aug-30, 12:37 PM
Great gains by a few does not translate into great gains for humanity. Is planet Earth in an overall better state than it was in say, 1874?

Great gains will always start with a few and then spread to the masses at large. Perhaps the spreading is slower than we like; we are better off than in 1874. Is there something special about 1874?

ASEI
2004-Aug-30, 12:38 PM
If you see the technical revolution as a game of exponential development, then Europe merely pulled away from the rest of the world in developmental terms during the Rennaisance, and America managed to pull ahead of them when they were ravaged by two world wars.

But one must also keep this in mind - in such exponential development scenarios, even though a few countries develop at a fantastic rate, the whole world is developing as well, just slower: they are behind on the curve.

Of course, we could also be on a normal curve type development trend, seeing as how the developing world actually seems to be developing faster. That would lead to an eventual evening of the development playing field (which in turn would probably lead to a few more world wars. :( )

aries_4_5_48
2004-Aug-30, 04:30 PM
.....the theoretical 'great gains eventually are realized by all' appears to function much like the 'trickle down theory' of economics, to me. World history is a repetition of one 'Break-Away' nation dominating and expanding until it surpasses the ability to sustain itself. Then the next exceptional nation takes center stage. (ie Rome, French, Spanish, British, etc.) One could come to the purely logical conclusion that the One Dominant Domino scenerio will produce the same result. If that result results in another World War, I am inclined to agree with Mr. Einstein"s assessment: "I don't know what weapons WWIII will be fought with, but I do know what WWIV will be fought with. Sticks and stones." It seems the ability to avert self-annihilation would, at least in part, define what degree of intelligence a species had achieved. Earthlings are the only species on the planet that produces exceptional individuals, but as a group, achievements are questionable... :unsure:
(My intent is to present the 'problem' as an Earth problem, not a USA problem)

"Forgive me for the banality of this observation, but there is something very wrong with the human race." D. Lessing :ph34r:

StarLab
2004-Aug-30, 06:49 PM
The only thing in the way of advancements are economics, now; purely, economics. When we learn values are more important than morals, we have only one enemy left: viruses. As in AIDS, SARS, etc. Once we conquer these, we can set our minds to anything we like, as long as it's peaceful.

aries_4_5_48
2004-Aug-31, 06:04 AM
....are you certain the problem is economics, or is it priorities? As I have said before, the species, as a whole, does not appear to be a priority. I know you are familiar with the term 'critical point'. The point at which an entity is unable to sustain itself. One could, with little bias, look at the Planet today and see definite trends.....I hope your assessment proves to be the more accurate.... :)

"Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true for humans in the finite space of a planetary eco-system as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who survive." Dune B)

StarLab
2004-Oct-22, 05:41 PM
Except we've gone so far technologically that it's too late to correct the mistakes we've made that've caused harm to our planet...therefore, it is in humanity's best interest to leave earth. Pehaps we may encounter problems there, but if we choose to stay down here I think we will be always close to that Critical Point.

aries_4_5_48
2004-Oct-22, 06:07 PM
....your assessment appears to valid, although, it is not totally inconceivable that conditions and circumstances could change to the point that the Earth and its life forms achieve a sustainabilty. It seems the population would need to be greatly reduced but that is an area in which modern Homo/Saps excel.... :o

John L
2004-Oct-22, 09:09 PM
During the time of the Roman Empire the first steam engine was developed and the plans, writings, and a model were stored at the Great Library in Alexandria. The burning of the Great Library destroyed this and an untold number of inventions and scientific ideas that had to then wait a further 1,000-1,500 years to come again. Had the Great Library and its contents been preserved who can say whether the Romans would not have put the first man on the Moon. Would the industrial revolution have occurred in 200 AD rather than in the last 250 years? Had the advancements of the last three centuries happened 1500 years earlier in history, where would we be today?

Matthew
2004-Oct-23, 12:47 AM
The burning of the Great Library destroyed not just details on inventions, but also medical details. I've heard that there were details on cancer, who know's we may have been living in a cancer free world.

Unfortunatly we won't know the sheer scope of the knowledge that was stored in the Library, there could have been things that we haven't re-discovered yet. :mellow:

Nerdman20
2004-Oct-26, 08:07 PM
Well I hate to sound naive but I ask you this.

Why does it matter what happened in the past? Yes we can learn from it, but should we not focus our efforts on the future? If we stop debating about what COULD have happened i belive that we could move further faster.

A few notes on earlier replys

Somebody said that once we conquer viruses we will be able to set our minds free to think about anything.

Good point but in my oppion there is a flaw (assuming that there are no wars hunger etc)

If we have nothing to work for why work? With out a neccesity why invent? Give me just 1 invention that wasnt built to fix, or make better a part of our lives.

One the fact that only Chirstianity has survived from The Roman Empire

What are you wrghting in now? I belive it is English, a language directly decending from Latin

Roman alphabet for Latin
The Romans used just 23 letters to write Latin:

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z

English Alphabet

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

And lets look at the word Alphabet

Alpha - A

Basicly Latin pops up in our culture alot! (Can anyone say Halflife? or Faternity?)