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Maciamo
18-12-16, 11:50
Pew Research Center conducted a survey asking Americans what were the 10 most significant historic events of their lifetimes (http://www.people-press.org/2016/12/15/americans-name-the-10-most-significant-historic-events-of-their-lifetimes/). Here are the results broken down by generation.

http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2016/12/14140526/PP_12.15.16_history-NEW-01.png


This list looks incredibly US-centric for a European, but what shocked me the most is how people completely ignore advances in sciences (besides some applications in tech) and appear to be obsessed by extremely mediatised, emotionally charged and overwhelmingly political events.

What's more, many of the historic events listed can be combined together. 9/11, Bin Laden and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are essentially the same event, as the two wars wouldn't have happened without 9/11. It is part of the greater pattern of war against terrorism and Islamic extremism. I think that should be a single category and should include all linked terrorist attacks. On the other hand the tech revolution should be split in several events as many of them are completely unrelated and could be more important separately than many events listed above.

We are living in an era of extremely fast scientific and technological development that is radically changing the way humans live (https://www.vitamodularis.org/articles/new_technologies_that_will_change_civilization_as_ we_know_it.shtml) on the planet and will inevitably redefine what it means to be human (think of life extension, brain–computer interface, gene therapy and so on), and all people can think about are local shootings/bombings, a space shuttle exploding, or (most surprising of all) the election of president Obama or the JFK assassination. These are not events that have a true impacts on the rest of the world or that will define the last 50 years in human history. When looking back, what people will remember are things like:

- The Internet, social media, GPS, smartphones & tablets and the multitude of apps for everything that go with them (I think that is what most people meant by 'tech revolution').
- The emergence of artificial intelligence and robots that will lead to the suppression of most jobs. It's only starting but we are already living it.
- The Human Genome Project and the avent of cheap DNA tests leading to precision medicine, gene therapy and the cure of many diseases (including cancer, AIDS and genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis) that were until then incurable.
- 3D printing and organ printing, making all products considering cheaper and making the search for organ donors (and organ trafficking) obsolete.

How is it that people are so blind that they do not even realise that all these development are well under way now and far more important than anything else on the list. Gay marriage? Are you kidding me? Marriage is itself is already an obsolete institution in the age of civil unions. It may have been a symbolic change for the LGBT community, but the effect on most people's lifestyle are in no way close to the above scientific and technological changes.

Wanderlust
18-12-16, 13:55
How is it that people are so blind that they do not even realise that all these development are well under way now and far more important than anything else on the list. Gay marriage? Are you kidding me?

Maciamo, are you actually shocked that science and technology don't factor more significantly into the cultural zeitgeist of the American audience? lol Unfortunately, I'm not. But to be fair, the US has always been a "special case" with its own "logic" and comprises a world unto itself.

If we consider 1.) how much the military–industrial complex has factored into US socio-political life and the subsequent conflicts carried out (in part) because of it and on its behalf; 2.) the extent to which race (down to even the modern sociological construction of "race" itself being a distinctively Western/New World phenomena) and race relations have factored into US socio-political life; and 3.) the almost existential trauma inflicted by 9/11 on the most powerful, most militarized, previously invincible, now vulnerable nation on the planet, it then becomes clearer to see how wars, the election of the first African-American president and 9/11 loom large in the American socio-cultural and socio-political "mind."

Alongside being a European, I'm also an American and with my American "millennial" mind, thinking in an American context, I'd agree with the top 5 and in that order. And to make matters worse, I work in a STEM field and still believe that within an American context, science and technology come in at 5th place as far as overall life changing "impact" of the aforementioned events. Moreover, in the US, "signs and symbols" of the times are infused with emotionality, sentimentality and superstition and so they matter a lot, i.e What 9/11 meant as a sign to the American people, what President Obama's presidency meant as a sign and portent, what Gay Marriage meant as a sign of progress to come, etc.... In comparison to Europe and other places in the world, the US is still a child, or at best, a teenager or young adult--visual aides are very important. lol

Maciamo
18-12-16, 15:02
Maciamo, are you actually shocked that science and technology don't factor more significantly into the cultural zeitgeist of the American audience? lol Unfortunately, I'm not. But to be fair, the US has always been a "special case" with its own "logic" and comprises a world unto itself.


Yes, I am actually shocked, considering that practically all the science/tech innovations I listed above were developed mostly by American companies. How can Americans give more historical significance and long-term impact on the fabric of society to Sandy Hook or the Columbine shooting than to the combined innovations of Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and other tech giants? That's ridiculous. People are using their technology everyday, all the time.

I think that before answering to such a survey, people should think carefully of how different their life would be if something had never happened. Phrased like that, do you think it is reasonable that most Americans would think that their life would be far more different today if the Columbine shooting had never happened, or if they didn't have the Internet, smartphone and all related technologies of the last 20 years? The survey is all about the historical significance, so we have to think about the answers in the context of the whole of human history.

What were the main historical events of the last 12,000 years? Well, I'd list the development of agriculture, pottery, masonry, metal working, horse-riding, wheeled vehicles, writing, currency, mathematics, the scientific method (and all sciences that derive from it), ocean-going ships, gunpowder, steam power, combustion, electricity, vaccination, and so on. Among the few civilisation-altering technologies that were developed during our lifetime are those I listed above. In comparison, none of the other events in the Pew Research survey have any real historic significance, except WWII, the Cold War (including the Korean War, Vietnam War and the fall of the Berlin Wall), and the war of terrorism/Islamic extremism. The rest wouldn't make history books in a few centuries.


If we consider 1.) how much the military–industrial complex has factored into US socio-political life and the subsequent conflicts carried out (in part) because of it and on its behalf; 2.) the extent to which race (down to even the modern sociological construction of "race" itself being a distinctively Western/New World phenomena) and race relations have factored into US socio-political life; and 3.) the almost existential trauma inflicted by 9/11 on the most powerful, most militarized, previously invincible, now vulnerable nation on the planet, it then becomes clearer to see how wars, the election of the first African-American president and 9/11 loom large in the American socio-cultural and socio-political "mind."

Even taking into account the importance of the military in the American psyche, millennials could only list the War of Terror (9/11, Bin Laden, Afghanistan, etc.) during their lifetime, and that is only one series of related event.

I am not sure if we live on the same planet, but in what way if the religious or societal significance of gay marriage more important than creating Artificial Intelligence that can simulate a human brain, including emotions, then develop a conscious AI that exceed all human intellectual, emotional or sensory faculties. We are creating life from machines. This is the ultimate blow to religions. There are also people working on uploading the content of one's mind into a computer, making us so-to-say immortal (although I have my reserves (https://www.vitamodularis.org/articles/mind_uploading_will_not_lead_to_immortality.shtml) ). Gay marriage is just a drop in the ocean compared to that.



Alongside being a European, I'm also an American and with my American "millennial" mind, thinking in an American context, I'd agree with the top 5 and in that order. And to make matters worse, I work in a STEM field and still believe that within an American context, science and technology come in at 5th place as far as overall life changing "impact" of the aforementioned events. Moreover, in the US, "signs and symbols" of the times are infused with emotionality, sentimentality and superstition and so they matter a lot, i.e What 9/11 meant as a sign to the American people, what President Obama's presidency meant as a sign and portent, what Gay Marriage meant as a sign of progress to come, etc.... In comparison to Europe and other places in the world, the US is still a child, or at best, a teenager or young adult--visual aides are very important. lol

Even Obama's election didn't happen by accident. He was democratically elected twice by the American people, so that means that society was more than ready to elect a president that was only of half-European descent. By the way, it is completely wrong to say that he was the first Black president as he is mixed race, and just as much European as African in terms of DNA. I never understood why so many Americans didn't want to recognise that undeniable fact. It's not a matter of opinion, point of view, value, or anything else. Its just the way it is and it's not debatable.

That being said, I think that this survey is symptomatic of a much deeper problem in American society, and increasingly also in other democracies - namely that most people cannot realise that modern politics is just a big show and that politicians, even presidents, do not make the decisions. The moneyed elite - not the 1%, but rather than 0.001% - are the ones who pull the strings behind the scene, and politicians are merely puppets.

It's also telling that Global Warming did not make it to the top 10 of any of the four generations in the US. I would think that this is one of the top historical event that would spring to most Europeans' mind. Americans did mention Katrina, but few seem to realise that it happened because of global warming and that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Sile
18-12-16, 19:11
Yes, I am actually shocked, considering that practically all the science/tech innovations I listed above were developed mostly by American companies. How can Americans give more historical significance and long-term impact on the fabric of society to Sandy Hook or the Columbine shooting than to the combined innovations of Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and other tech giants? That's ridiculous. People are using their technology everyday, all the time.

I think that before answering to such a survey, people should think carefully of how different their life would be if something had never happened. Phrased like that, do you think it is reasonable that most Americans would think that their life would be far more different today if the Columbine shooting had never happened, or if they didn't have the Internet, smartphone and all related technologies of the last 20 years? The survey is all about the historical significance, so we have to think about the answers in the context of the whole of human history.

What were the main historical events of the last 12,000 years? Well, I'd list the development of agriculture, pottery, masonry, metal working, horse-riding, wheeled vehicles, writing, currency, mathematics, the scientific method (and all sciences that derive from it), ocean-going ships, gunpowder, steam power, combustion, electricity, vaccination, and so on. Among the few civilisation-altering technologies that were developed during our lifetime are those I listed above. In comparison, none of the other events in the Pew Research survey have any real historic significance, except WWII, the Cold War, and the war of terrorism/Islamic extremism. The rest wouldn't make history books in a few centuries.



Even taking into account the importance of the military in the American psyche, millennials could only list the War of Terror (9/11, Bin Laden, Afghanistan, etc.) during their lifetime, and that is only one series of related event.

I am not sure if we live on the same planet, but in what way if the religious or societal significance of gay marriage more important than creating Artificial Intelligence that can simulate a human brain, including emotions, then develop a conscious AI that exceed all human intellectual, emotional or sensory faculties. We are creating life from machines. This is the ultimate blow to religions. There are also people working on uploading the content of one's mind into a computer, making us so-to-say immortal (although I have my reserves (https://www.vitamodularis.org/articles/mind_uploading_will_not_lead_to_immortality.shtml) ). Gay marriage is just a drop in the ocean compared to that.



Even Obama's election didn't happen by accident. He was democratically elected twice by the American people, so that means that society was more than ready to elect a president that was only of half-European descent. By the way, it is completely wrong to say that he was the first Black president as he is mixed race, and just as much European as African in terms of DNA. I never understood why so many Americans didn't want to recognise that undeniable fact. It's not a matter of opinion, point of view, value, or anything else. Its just the way it is and it's not debatable.

That being said, I think that this survey is symptomatic of a much deeper problem in American society, and increasingly also in other democracies - namely that most people cannot realise that modern politics is just a big show and that politicians, even presidents, do not make the decisions. The moneyed elite - not the 1%, but rather than 0.001% - are the ones who pull the strings behind the scene, and politicians are merely puppets.

It's also telling that Global Warming did not make it to the top 10 of any of the four generations in the US. I would think that this is one of the top historical event that would spring to most Europeans' mind. Americans did mention Katrina, but few seem to realise that it happened because of global warming and that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In USA like in Australia......people do not want radical changes, they want to keep a way of life they remember when they grew up. They will vote more so this way than vote for in another way...........With this, it is estimated that 4 to 5 generations need to pass before there is a change.

LeBrok
18-12-16, 20:09
Perhaps the problem is with questions and people who formulated questions. Did they list smartphone, TV or jet engine separately on questionnaire, to remind people what technology is?

Anyhow, we are still wired for life in simple tribal hunter-gatherer life. When most important issues were: who died, is enemy coming, social life of my people, who is going to sing by fire tonight, share food equally to keep harmony of the tribe, fresh supply of mushrooms to talk to ancestors for good hunting. Yeah, the important stuff.

Maciamo
19-12-16, 11:48
Perhaps the problem is with questions and people who formulated questions. Did they list smartphone, TV or jet engine separately on questionnaire, to remind people what technology is?

I checked the survey's methodology (http://www.people-press.org/2016/12/15/methodology-80/) but they don't mention whether respondents can choose their own answers or if they must obligatorily choose from the available choices. It would be terribly biased from the start to impose a limited choice of answers, and I doubt a serious organisation like Pew Research would fall so low as to resort to such twisted methods.

They do hint in the survey's results that tech revolution includes the internet, personal computers and smartphones, but there is no mention of AI, robots, 3D-printing, the biotech revolution (DNA tests, precision medicine, immunotherapy, gene therapy, stem cell therapy, etc.), or global warming anywhere in the article.



Anyhow, we are still wired for life in simple tribal hunter-gatherer life. When most important issues were: who died, is enemy coming, social life of my people, who is going to sing by fire tonight, share food equally to keep harmony of the tribe, fresh supply of mushrooms to talk to ancestors for good hunting. Yeah, the important stuff.

It may be true, but economic and health preoccupations should also rank high on that list. Yet all we see here are political events, none that really improve people's lifestyle or lifespan. Why is that that people care more about a bunch of strangers getting killed in a mediatised shooting than about the 2.5 millions people who die in the US each year in less mediatised way? It is part of human nature to care first about one's own survival and well being as well as those of one's close relatives. Therefore a cure for cancer or other life-threatening diseases should feel much more important than the media coverage of some murder/terrorist story. Statistically Americans are still thousands of time more likely to die of cancer than in a mass shooting or terrorist attack (about 600,000 US citizens die of cancer every year).

So the problem is not about priorities or hunter-gatherer mentality. It's about the majority of people being far more emotional than rational even when it comes to their own survival or well being. It's really no wonder that half of Americans are now living under or near the poverty line if so many can't think rationally when it comes to managing their own lives. I think this survey is first and foremost a reflection of this societal disease. Too many people have become uncritical, irrational, mind-numbed zombies easily brainwashed by news channels and preferring to sit in front of the TV all day eating junk food than to do something useful with their lives or care about their health. It's all very dystopian.

LeBrok
19-12-16, 18:12
It may be true, but economic and health preoccupations should also rank high on that list. Yet all we see here are political events, none that really improve people's lifestyle or lifespan. Why is that that people care more about a bunch of strangers getting killed in a mediatised shooting than about the 2.5 millions people who die in the US each year in less mediatised way? You might not know them personally but still members of your tribe got killed. Survival of your group carries uttermost importance.
From survival of a genome point of view (natural selection), in the past in small tribes genome of a group was more important than genome of one member. Look at some secluded Amazon jungle tribes of today, they all look like twins, they all have identical genomes or almost. It is like one big family anyway. Few members can die without having kids but "their" genome still lives on in other members. As long as couple of members survive in your group, your DNA lives on too. For that reason, we have ability to sacrifice our life for others, for our group, tribe, nation, religious "tribe", etc, - our tribe.
Give young people a bit of ideology, to complement their inborn eagerness for war, to protect the country, religion, brothers and sister, honor of the nation, or anything else to do with survival of our group, and we have invincible army who will sacrifice their lives for our group.



It is part of human nature to care first about one's own survival and well being as well as those of one's close relatives. Therefore a cure for cancer or other life-threatening diseases should feel much more important than the media coverage of some murder/terrorist story. Statistically Americans are still thousands of time more likely to die of cancer than in a mass shooting or terrorist attack (about 600,000 US citizens die of cancer every year). Terrorist attack or murder is much more traumatic to our psyche than any deaths due to accident or sickness. Terror, war or murder denotes someone's bad intention. Means that other tribe is planning to kill your tribe and you as well. You should take notice and plan action against it. You can attack, defend yourself, negotiate, surrender or hide. When accident or sickness happens we are (were) hopeless.
So possibly, we pay attention to intentional loss of life, because we can do something about this. It makes us said, angry, scared or furious and pushes to action to save our lives. In accidents not so much. Millions dies every year in car accidents and cancer, we shrug it off with not much emotional effect and move on.

bicicleur
19-12-16, 19:13
I'm surprised the silent generation don't mention the fall of the Berlin wall.
The millenials percieve a lot of trivial things as historical.
great recession, Obama, Katrina, I don't think much about all this will be spoken within a generation or 2
on the other hand, not much historic events could have happened during their lifetime, it is to short