Epilogue is, appropriately enough, the final chapter of “Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future” by Johan Norbert. Readers should be aware that we do not have direct contact with reality, but that we build mental models on the basis of our interactions with the external world. This book, and it is hoped that the posts based on this book, provided ample data that contemporary people believe that things are bad and are getting worse. The reason why people think this is based on the availability heuristic formulated by Kahneman and Tversky. People base their estimates on information that is available. The media focuses on what goes wrong and what is being done wrong. This is the cause of the pessimistic assessments. This is not a matter of a conspiracy by the media. This is the type of news that sells. A headline that there were no significant data comprises would be boring, unless the headline came after serious data comprises.
The final chapter begins with the following Inscription on a stone from Chaldea in 2800 bce :
We have fallen upon evil times
and the world has waxed very old and wicked.
Politics are very corrupt.
Children are no longer respectful to their parents.
So it appears that pessimism and alarm might be the defaults for our species. The subtitle is “SO WHY ARE YOU STILL NOT CONVINCED?
Frankly if you are not already convinced on the basis of these blog posts, HM would say that it would be pointless to read the book. But this would be because HM has concluded you are intellectually compromised. But the truth might be that HM failed to communicate effectively and perhaps you should read the book. Even if you are already convinced, HM touched only barely on the books content, so it would be worthwhile for you to read it.
HM must confess to have been already convinced of the book’s thesis before reading. He has long thought that he would rather be a person of modest means living in the present than a rich, influential individual living in the past. This book has strongly justified this sentiment. Moreover, HM would likely bet on a better life in the future.
Of course, this better life is not given. Matters could go wrong. We must to continue to grow our minds, think critically, and work for a better future. The risk here is that there are indications that too many people do not use their minds much, and do not think critically. Unfortunately there is a tendency for too many not to think critically and to fall under the influence of demagogues. Demagogues succeed by inducing fear via big lies about the present and what they will do in the future. It is remarkable, but people are convinced by promises absent any plans as to how this will be done. Moreover, they exhibit an ignorance of government and a rejection of science. Unfortunately, if the President of the United States thinks that global warming is a hoax, this places not just
the United States in jeopardy, but the entire world. And, unfortunately, at present this appears to be a risk.
If you have yet to do so, go to http://www.gapminder.org. It is a very interesting website. You might find the documentary “Don’t Panic End Poverty” well worth viewing. This is the last call for this important and informative website.
© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.