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Reasons to be optimistic

  1. Feb 12, 2017 #1

    StatGuy2000

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    Hi everyone. Given the events that have occurred over the past decade (or the past 20 years if you want to take a longer view), combined with the rapid advent of technology, it can be easy for people to feel troubled about the state of affairs of the world, and to fall into despair.

    I thought I would pose the following question: what are some of the reasons for optimism about the future? What are some reasons to be hopeful?

    I appreciate any insights or thoughts you would like to share on this regard.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2017 #2

    berkeman

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  4. Feb 12, 2017 #3

    jedishrfu

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    In every decade there are those who worry for the future and yet we still move forward. We have always faced crises and have always resolved them one way or another.

    One hundred years ago, the biggest crisis was World War I and the Spanish flu which followed. We had no defense against it but humanity did survive, we've had many wars since but each time the conflicts are somewhat smaller in scope and scale so perhaps that is a good trend.

    Arguably the biggest crisis today is global warming and the potential for a pole shift. In any event, we will have to survive with less travel, solar energy, electric cars or some combination thereof.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
  5. Feb 12, 2017 #4

    Student100

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    ? Is this the pole shift hypothesis? I didn't think there was any evidence for that. (Not that the poles don't shift, but the time scales/events predicted by the hypothesis )
     
  6. Feb 12, 2017 #5

    PeterDonis

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    Don't forget nuclear power.

    I assume you mean shifting of the Earth's magnetic poles?
     
  7. Feb 12, 2017 #6

    jtbell

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    When I was a kid in the early 1960s, Consumer Reports magazine had an article about building and stocking home shelters to protect against radioactive fallout from a nuclear bomb attack. Many schools held drills to instruct students what to do in such an event. I don't remember going through such a drill myself, but I was pretty young at the time, so I wouldn't be surprised if my school actually did it.

    [added] Here's an article from the Consumer Reports web site with a picture of the cover of that issue (January 1962). Scroll down to the 1960s.

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cons...worthy-80-years-of-consumer-reports-magazine/
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
  8. Feb 12, 2017 #7

    jedishrfu

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    I remember going to the mall to see a big dirt pile covering a fallout shelter. The company wanted to show how livable they were and were taking orders to build one in your backyard for a few grand.

    I also remember the classic Twilight Zone story about the fallout shelter and the battle with the neighbors panicking and trying to get in.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shelter_(The_Twilight_Zone)

    For a long time, I thought the craze was just that until the more recent NOVA show on the Cuban missile crisis and that Russia had dispatched four subs to break the blockade and they were carrying nuclear tipped torpedoes with a plan to fire on the aircraft carrier USS Randolf.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/27/vasili-arkhipov-stopped-nuclear-war
     
  9. Feb 12, 2017 #8

    jedishrfu

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    I read a couple of articles on Flipboard about its potential for happening. Here's the three that describe it the best:

    http://theconversation.com/does-an-...ic-field-portend-a-coming-pole-reversal-47528

    http://www.salon.com/2017/02/08/doe...field-portend-a-coming-pole-reversal_partner/

    from an interview with John Tarduno, Professor of Geophysics, University of Rochester and Vincent Hare, Postdoctoral Associate in Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Rochester

    and this one on ExtremeTech

    https://www.extremetech.com/extreme...-epicenter-geomagnetic-pole-reversal-progress

    I haven't seen any peer reviewed stuff about the anomaly in Africa or for a prediction only that it may be overdue probably I should remove it from my comment before people start selling their property and moving to Mars.

    Jedi
     
  10. Feb 12, 2017 #9

    russ_watters

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    I'm really not sure to what you are referring -- in general, life for Westerners has been awesome for the past 10, 20, 50 years and gets awesomer almost every year.
    The biggest way to remain hopeful is to not lose track of the big picture and over-sweat the small and far-away stuff.

    And if you really are feeling despair about the state of the western world, you may want to seek therapy about it. That isn't a normal/healthy thing.
     
  11. Feb 13, 2017 #10

    StatGuy2000

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    Hi russ. I believe you are misunderstanding the purpose of this thread. This is not about me or how I'm personally feeling (it may not be immediately apparent, but I'm actually a rather happy, cheerful person, and my life is quite good). I should also add that I'm not feeling despair -- that's not a feeling that I'm particularly prone to.

    I'm speaking more broadly about things or trends about the future that members here on PF sees that is a reason for optimism.
     
  12. Feb 13, 2017 #11

    StatGuy2000

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    As an aside, I had a post in this thread which was a direct quote (which seemed relevant to the themes of this thread) from the late sci-fi author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke, whose works I have long admired. I had posted it because I thought it exemplified his wit, but which was deleted by the moderators, for understandable reasons.
     
  13. Feb 14, 2017 #12

    Student100

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  14. Feb 15, 2017 #13

    aa

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    If a nuclear war occurred, tens of millions of
    people at least would survive. Technological progress would salvage itself back
    from the wreckage and continue on again. (Michael Crichton in Jurassic Park)
    There is no archaeological evidence
    that people have been blasted back to the Stone Age once before. If we are here
    experiencing the Nuclear Age, and the destiny of humanity is to blast itself back
    to the Stone Age then grow back to the Nuclear Age repeatedly, it seems unlikely
    that we'd be experiencing the first time it happened. (Although, this argument
    may be a fallacy similar to anthropic principle.)

    Bacteria are no threat.
    A simple organism cannot win out on a
    global scale over an advanced super-organism. "Gray goo" is a possibility but
    it's unlikely that 5000 educated and healthy humans would band together and
    cooperate on the construction of an endeavor, for years, to wipe
    out the human species. Also, the progress of Life/Organization
    is intrinsically tied to increases in communication, which would make it hard for
    the 5000 to work unmolested by the other 6,995,000.

    The fear that less intelligent people breed more is only a
    momentary blip before engineered evolution (biotechnology, or any device that
    would fit the moniker of "cyborg" devices, is engineered evolution. Evolution
    that proceeds by choosing to make the organism more productive, as opposed to
    evolution that feels its way around in the dark and with 25 years between
    iterations. A personal computer
    is an example of a cyborg implant, one with low bandwidth.) takes over.

    Some think that A.I. and robots will leave humans sitting around in ennui,
    dejected. Robots are labor saving devices, a subset of tool use that's been with
    us, and improving the quality of life for us, forever. A.I. crosses the
    line into "consciousness" so we will merge, as Fortune.com reports Elon Musk
    saying on Feb.13 2017 and Isaac Asimov (The Last Question) and others foresaw.
    The merger is an expansion of
    consciousness as growing a front cortex was an elevation.

    Global warming is worrisome but technology
    and infrastructure and general knowledge base have advanced to the point where
    there is enough productive power to solve the problem before it becomes fatal.
    (In other words, the seeds that planted the potential for self-destruction give
    more than enough juice to power the construction of an aversion.)
    Look at all the people working to avert global warming. There are
    dunderheads opposing them, but in the end, Right Has Might because organized
    systems have superior power over less-organized
    systems. (Looking at Arthur C. Clarke as StatGuy2000 mentioned him,
    he says this as "One cannot have superior science and inferior morals.
    The combination is unstable and self-destroying.")

    Some of the best people, after considering potential problems that may befall
    humanity, devote their life to heading those problems off. We are grateful to
    them and perhaps you should be one of them.
     
  15. Feb 15, 2017 #14
    The "sphere of influence" angle.
    There are also others, such as forgetting about improvements from the past to the present, or being unaware of improvements, age related memory storage and retrieval, perception and discourse of information, local events, personal beliefs.

    I would tend to think that a blend of optimism, pessimism, and realism has kept the human species on a path since the time from walking out of Africa. I am optimistic that the path leads to progressively better things along the way, pessimistic that there are no directions and fraught with danger, but realistic enough that, well, the thing to do with a little bit of effort is to just carry on.
     
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