Is the world getting better or worse?

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Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Merle » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:59 am

More importantly - is there any good way of measuring the rate at which it is improving or degrading?

This Cracked article brought it to mind, but I'm often given to thinking that the world today is better - that humanity is better off, on the whole - than it ever has been before - but am I just fooling myself? I can think of a few criteria that can be measured - poverty rates, rates of malnutrition and crime and disease, freedom of thought and expression, statistics about war - but what I'm curious about is, have any of you ever put real thought into mathematically measuring the progress of humanity?
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Horizon » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:16 am

Ask Mr. Kardashev.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Merle » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:17 pm

Horizon wrote:Ask Mr. Kardashev.


That's a good measure of the total energy available to a civilization, but I was thinking more along the lines of measuring something like the total oppression/suffering rate of humanity, with an eye towards tracking that function to determine whether we're getting better or worse in particular areas year-to-year.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby RyukaTana » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:34 pm

Suffering is not measurable, what causes suffering in one person could please another. It's impossible and unreasonable to try to determine how much suffering exists.

I read that article, and it pisses me off... For instance, it suggests that drone bombings (a thing towards which I have really little positive or negative feelings) are a better alternative to much worse things. However, if that's true, then that's far more negative than positive. That flying death machines are the better alternative to something else is not a way to suggest the world is a better place. That we have never, and likely will never (according to the article at least), have equality, is not a good thing, no matter how 'realistic' it is.

The question, I feel, isn't: 'Is the world better or worse?' It's more important to ask: 'Could the world reasonably be better than it is right now?' I know that my answer to that is a resounding 'yes'.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby snowyowl » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:08 am

Life expectancy is going up. Literacy rates are going up. Information flows more freely. Technology is advancing. There haven't been any World Wars in the last 60 years. Yes, I think the world is getting better.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Horizon » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:03 am

Yes, with that information comes common knowledge of enjoyable poses. You don't need to tell us that.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Merle » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:36 am

Well, yeah - but is the rate at which it's getting better increasing, decreasing, or staying steady? Or is that too simplistic a question?
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby RyukaTana » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:30 pm

snowyowl wrote:Life expectancy is going up. Literacy rates are going up. Information flows more freely. Technology is advancing. There haven't been any World Wars in the last 60 years. Yes, I think the world is getting better.


Life expectancy is a shitty way to measure how good the world is, since population rates go up with it, and with an increase in population comes overpopulation issues, an increase in poverty rate. People living longer in shittier situations is a negative, by my reckoning. Not saying that that's what is happening, I'm just tired of seeing an overvaluing of just existing, rather than valuing quality of life.

Also, before the 1900s, there had never been any world wars EVER, so...

Merle wrote:Well, yeah - but is the rate at which it's getting better increasing, decreasing, or staying steady? Or is that too simplistic a question?


Basically, my point is, yes... Oversimplifying things to 'is it better or worse' marginalizes so many things. Ask yourself, what is really the value of the answer to that question? If the world is better, is it good enough? Or should we more focus on how to make it continue to be better still?
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Alex Starkiller » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:37 pm

RyukaTana wrote:The question, I feel, isn't: 'Is the world better or worse?' It's more important to ask: 'Could the world reasonably be better than it is right now?' I know that my answer to that is a resounding 'yes'.

I agree with you. Well, about what question matters. Technically I agree with your answer, but I am not sure whether or not it's possible to make the world better. Or rather, if we can get humans together on what matters long enough to do so.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Merle » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:11 pm

RyukaTana wrote:Life expectancy is a shitty way to measure how good the world is, since population rates go up with it, and with an increase in population comes overpopulation issues, an increase in poverty rate. People living longer in shittier situations is a negative, by my reckoning. Not saying that that's what is happening, I'm just tired of seeing an overvaluing of just existing, rather than valuing quality of life.


I'd rather live for a thousand years in crappy conditions (with the possibility of improving them) than a hundred years in a palace.

Also, before the 1900s, there had never been any world wars EVER, so...


Very true.

Ask yourself, what is really the value of the answer to that question? If the world is better, is it good enough? Or should we more focus on how to make it continue to be better still?


If we track the changes in the rate at which the world is improving or decaying in various respects, we can look for trends and perhaps spot areas that may need improvement.
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