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News Are we or have we always been teetering on the edge?

  1. Nov 25, 2009 #1
    As I'm reading my morning news stories, I can't help but feel like everything is slowly building up to some sort of great climax. That everything is getting so bad or so good as the days progress eventually everything has to maximize or peter off, before everything becomes incredibly boring or collapses.

    Has it always been like this? Can some of our older (more experienced) PF members tell me whether or not it was always like this?

    Should we be looking out for some major catastrophe or life altering event?

    Nuclear War?
    World War?
    Total Economic Collapse?
    Mars Colonization?
    People evolve a third arm?

    I mean does it ever really peak or should I just buckle down and expect to always be told that everything is about to be the worst it has ever been?

    I know that this is kind of light-hearted for the political forum, but it is also a little heavy for the GD forum. Even though I am asking in a little off-color way, I am asking a serious question.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2009 #2


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    Yes, it always like this. The news always carries the best news and the worst news and the news had better be significant and interesting or people won't care about it.

    Actually, it's a little worse than it's ever been, since you can have national coverage about purely local events. Wacko in a small, backwater Arkansas town slaughters half the town (which had a population of 32 prior to the slaughter), and the entire nation will feel a little less safe that night as they realize the same thing could happen in their very own neighborhood. Two weeks later, drunk in Spokane, Washington kills his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend (that used to be the drunk's best friend) and the nation has proof that that some wacko will definitely come around and slaughter them, personally, that night.

    Why are more people afraid of flying than are afraid of driving? Because plane crashes make the front page news and most car crashes don't.

    Best bet:

  4. Nov 25, 2009 #3


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    News?!?!? Of course, one forgot Paris, Britney, Nicole, Lindsey, . . . . :rolleyes:
  5. Nov 25, 2009 #4
    I always thought of celebrity news as the sock-puppet of mass media.

    "Ohhhh, your a crazy person. Well let me pull out Mr. Sprinkles to explain everything in a way you might understand."

    *respond with laughing and clapping of hands.:rofl:
  6. Nov 25, 2009 #5
    You forgot catostrophic global climate change that kills us all in your list too :smile:

    The media always seek to scare and sensationalize. Imagine if for example they only reported on all the good things happening in society? But they find the bad things as well.

    Things go up and go down. During the 1970s, the crime and murder rate I believe were a lot higher for example, now it's lower, just the media report the murders a lot more.

    From what I have seen, whenever people think there's a catastrophe on the horizon, there usually isn't one. The REAL catastrophes take everyone by surprise (for example, 9/11 or the financial crises). Yes, a few people saw these coming, and in hinsight, they should have been obvious, but leading up to them, most were oblivious.
  7. Nov 25, 2009 #6


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    Fear sells. Don't buy into the fear, and things will be fine.

    When someone is using fear as a motivator, it's best to parse the message very well and put it through the Truth-o-Meter. Here in Maine, there is an anti-health-care ad in heavy rotation during the local and national news, featuring an old woman who is claiming that health-care reform will cripple our economy AND ruin Medicare. She says that she was chairman of the CBO, but apparently, she disagrees with the assessments of the current CBO, despite having been out of the saddle for a long time.

    Who watches the news religiously? Who is probably least equipped to get on-line and investigate the wild claims? Who would be most impacted by reductions in Medicare coverage? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the insurance lobby is trying to stampede elderly people with unsubstantiated claims.
  8. Nov 25, 2009 #7
    Britney's going to sing at us.We're doomed.........doomed.:eek:
  9. Nov 25, 2009 #8
    You mean the same insurance lobby (http://www.ahip.org [Broken] that represents 1300 companies that insure 200 million Americans) that is pushing for:

    "Guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, fixing the health care safety net, giving tax credits to working families and enacting an individual coverage requirement", among other things that the Democratic Party is trying to enact?

    The same insurance lobby that is on the verge of having their tools in Washington force people to buy the type of policy they won't buy voluntarily because most people don't want it?

    Are we really going to let the insurance industry succeed in having their Washington cronies actually pass a law forcing citizens to buy their product? And the version of their product so ridiculous that they can't currently sell it to hardly anyone?

    What does your "Truth-o-Meter" say about the claims by these same politicians that they are "fighting against insurance companies" for "the people"? Mine says :yuck: :confused: :eek: :uhh:.
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  10. Nov 25, 2009 #9
    Looking into my crystal ball (Made in China), is see this health care deal pushing through. Then soon down the road, smoking will be severely penalized (I don't entirely object), drinking will be severly penalized (some objection there), hazardous recreational activities will be penalized, etc. Basically, anything that makes one high risk for insurance companies now will simply be penalized by the government later in order to control costs.

    Liberty? What's that? We are just sheep for Uncle Sam to herd and shear.
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  11. Nov 25, 2009 #10
    Ah - no need to panic, it's all over in 2012 anyway

  12. Nov 25, 2009 #11

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    That you know this song dates you, BobG.

    (That I recognized this right off the bat dates me, too. :uhh:)

    Back on topic, back when that song was written (1971) things seemed to be going down the toilet. Maybe not so bad as when I was a kid and we had to practice inane drills in case the Commies nuked us. Even worse, 1963, when, within a month, Kennedy was assassinated and my parents went to the country, bought an old home. They planted a big garden, and expected us to find Jesus. The. World. Was. Over.

    The world has been over many, many times over, and yet the world still survives.
  13. Nov 25, 2009 #12
    You ain't seen nothin yet, DH. It's not about being over, it's about change. The world of people is in exponential evolution. In three and five years you will have concerns that, today, you would find unfathomable.
  14. Nov 25, 2009 #13
    There was an interesting article I read quite some time ago, doubt I could find it, that discussed several of the more popular end of the world stories through out history. The paper concluded speculating that since the end of the world has been averted over and over again for thousands of years there really seems to be some sort of mentality inherent to humans that they want to "live in interesting times". The idea that this ol world will keep spinning around long after they are gone hints too strongly at their own mortality and finite existence.
  15. Nov 26, 2009 #14
    Like it or not, some times are more interesting than others.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_you_live_in_interesting_times" [Broken]
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  16. Nov 26, 2009 #15
    All the world changes on the days when I don't read the world news. It has always been the same place but you would see it in different colors depending on what you see IMO
  17. Nov 26, 2009 #16
    Yes, many people simply cannot imagine the world continuing to exist once they themselves cease to exist in this world.
  18. Nov 26, 2009 #17

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    I doubt that. I don't put much stock in the singularity.

    I think the winners of the interesting times award goes to those who were born in the last part of the 19th century. Most of them were born on a farm, just like their parents, their grandparents, their great grandparents, and so on. The world was changing back then, but that change was slow. They entered this world in a horse-drawn era and a few left it at the dawn of the space age. In between, they lived through two world wars and some nasty pandemics. They were teetering on the edge. We are not.
  19. Nov 26, 2009 #18


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    What does any of that even mean? What is "exponential evolution"? and of what? What concerns are you talking about? What is going to be different about the next 3-5 years than the last 3-5 years?

    Heck, I remember the 1ghz race between AMD and Intel, just 10 years ago. People were excited by their 1ghz chips but even more excited at the prospect of what we could do with our 100ghz chips that we'd have in 10 years! Oops.

    IMO, the pace of technological advancement (if that is what you are talking about) is slowing.
  20. Nov 26, 2009 #19


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    That would be a very interesting pace to measure, and very difficult to measure I expect.
  21. Nov 26, 2009 #20


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    Well, let's ask someone who's a little older.

    "Today's youth are in rebellion, society is crumbling, it appears to be the fall of mankind"

    Who said this?

    Plato. 2500 years ago.

  22. Nov 27, 2009 #21
    The most absurd thing in all of this is to hear the word "extremist" thrown around to describe those of us who oppose such government power.

    But those in favor of government exercising the kind of power over people that Caesar (and King George) could only have contemplated in their wildest dreams are called "moderates". :uhh:
  23. Nov 27, 2009 #22


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    One could argue that he was right. The golden age of Athens ended catastrophically. Society eventually reconstitutes itself, but it might take 500 or a 1000 years of darkness.
  24. Nov 27, 2009 #23


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    Not as difficult as you might think. You could pick a handful of benchmark technologies and compare them almost quantatively. Game changers like the airplane, steam engine, car, computer, etc. Or you could look at a particular aspect of the human condition such as life expectancy, which covers an awful lot of technological progress.

    The other thing is with science, advancement is mostly a matter of tightening your error margins. And over the past 100 years, they've been tightened so much, there isn't much distance left between our theories and The Laws of the Universe.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  25. Nov 27, 2009 #24


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    Lets actually try this one. Here's a few:

    -Computers: Invented in 1946, started to affect the masses in ~1980, fully mature around 2000.
    -Airplanes: Invented, 1903, started to affect the masses in around 1935, fully mature by 1958.
    -Cars: This one's a little tougher to pin down. I'm going to pick 1880 as the start, fully mature by the 1950s. While they have continued to evolve, since then, they haven't in a "game changing" way. Perhaps there is a game changer still to come for them, though...

    Probably the biggest difficulty I see in this, though, is that the last "game changer" only matured in the last 10 years and since there are only a handful of these a century, it probably can't be measured that the pace is slowing. We have to look around and see if there are any "game changer" technologies that have been invented but might take another 20-30 years to mature. I don't see any.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  26. Nov 27, 2009 #25


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    There's a difference between tech progress and impact. I'd argue that most of the impact occurs in the early game of tech progress. Thus raising the life expectancy from 45 to 75 by progress in the understanding of infectious desease was relatively easy compared to the progress in genectics required to go from 75 to 105. Big advances in, e.g. genetics are occuring, but that next 30 years of LE is much harder than the earlier 30.

    Second, aside from increasing difficulty in making 2nd and 3rd generation advancements in planes, cars, and computers, there's the question of 'is it good enough?'. That is, now that we have 500 mph commercial air travel, how much effort need go into 3000 mph exo-atmospheric hyper planes? Do we really need them? Perhaps today's equivalent of the Wright brothers decided 'not interested' and turned their attention instead to Mars lander probes.

    Third, as soon as one decides to take the measuring stick to existing tech like cars, planes and computers, then we admit to a blind eye in other brand new, developing technologies - some of which is bound to be hype and useless - and some of it very much the opposite.
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