Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 16th Mar 2012 19:47 UTC
In the News "This American Life has retracted an episode that focused on working conditions inside a Foxconn iPad factory, calling the source material 'partially fabricated'. The episode - the most popular in TAL history with nearly a million streams - was partially based on the work of artist Mike Daisey, who apparently lied to fact-checkers about his experiences visiting Foxconn's facility. Some of the lies were discovered during an interview with Daisey's Chinese translator, who disputed the facts presented in his show and on the air."
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RE[3]: really?
by Tony Swash on Sun 18th Mar 2012 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: really?"
Tony Swash
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This sounds very Hobbesian; I'm not sure that the introduction of say, the industrial revolution, improved many lives. I can be quite certain that it made many worse. Most of us are certainly better off now than then.

Hobbes made the mistake of assuming the suffering he saw around him was the default human condition. For most of human existence (which I do not call history since it was prehistory and pre-agricultural), humans existed as hunter gatherers. Food was everywhere, there was no competition, no need for agriculture, no Malthusian constraints. The default human condition is unfortunately one we cannot easily afford now.

Lately you can find many science books on how the rise of agriculture has negatively influenced aspects of our life, from psychology to sex to general health.

Back in the prehistorical period, when things were apparently so groovy, average life expectancy was around 30, most women could expect multiple pregnancies starting in their teens, most of their children would die in infancy, very few people made it past 50, toothache or a broken bone could kill you. There has never been a golden period of human history except the current one as it is enjoyed by those societies that have made the transition to modern, urban, industrialised and democratic states.

Moving from the default condition of humanity - subsistence peasant farming, grinding poverty, early death, oppressive and arbitrary political power - is not easy and has it costs but what is the alternative? Nobody, except a few pathetic, ignorant and privileged dreamers in the west, wants to live their lives as peasants. It's a horrible way to live. Everybody on the planet, except a few pathetic, ignorant and privileged dreamers in the west, wants to live lives just like those that the mass of ordinary people do in the west.

The basic living condition of more people has significantly improved in the last 30 years than at any other period of history. Only the privileged think economic development is a bad thing. Progress has costs, protest and highlight them, seek to ameliorate them, but don't start pretending that this great adventure of human progress that is unfolding in places like China is a 'bad thing'.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: really?
by Jondice on Mon 19th Mar 2012 05:16 in reply to "RE[3]: really?"
Jondice Member since:

Note that I'm not talking about peasants; peasants imply the existence of an agricultural society which is where the problems start.

I recall hearing a statistic where the average height was also about 3 feet, because like life expectancy - everyone was counted. Including infants. True, modern hospitals and care do significantly increase the number of infants to reach adulthood, but I hardly think this should be weighted quite so heavily as it is in rating life expectancy and quality of life.

"Of folks who hit age 15, the percentage of hunter-gatherers who make it to age 45 is higher than the percentage of forager-horticulturalists who make it to age 45, but not by much – 64% to 61%. Acculturated hunter-gatherers excel here; 79% of their 15 year-olds make it to age 45. You might even say the study’s acculturated hunter-gatherers were essentially Primal, eating and moving traditionally while enjoying access to modern medicine.

From age 45, the mean number of expected remaining years of life is 20.7, 19.8, and 24.6 for hunter-gatherers, forager-horticulturalists, and acculturated hunter-gatherers, respectively. Give or take a few years, they could all “expect” to live about two decades if they were still alive by age 45 – a far cry from a “nasty, short, and brutish” existence.

Read more:

And the original article:

I believe that if we are lucky science and modern medicine will win out against our other plights, but it isn't cheap, and we are running out of methods to expand our existing economies:
There are many diseases we get today, and many diseases we get in greater numbers, that aren't an issue in the few remaining forager/hunter/gatherer populations. Many of the diseases we get are no doubt related to stress from jobs. Humans used to be lazy, and didn't have to work all that hard to find food. They didn't have bosses, and spent over half their days doing very little work.

Each year, about 30000 new chemicals are introduced into our environments on average. Some in lesser quantities and some in greater. It adds up. Will it kill you? Probably not easily. Will they make you feel better ...ehh ... I doubt it.

Edited 2012-03-19 05:33 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3