This is going into my "best ever" box of forum threads

by phil on Monday May 18, 2009 8:26 AM

This question and its responses (752+ comments) on reddit totally blew me away: "So many of our grandparents were racist, and some of our parents are homophobes. Which of our own closely held beliefs will our own children and grandchildren by appalled by?"

(Link to the Reddit thread.)

Here's a selection of responses that I liked:

  • That drugs were illegal
  • Eating meat
  • Privacy
  • Our lack of racism
  • Religious overtolerance
  • Monogamy (or anti-polygamy)
  • Nationalism
  • Nudity and Pornography taboos
  • Charging money for information
  • Representative democracy over direct democracy
  • Our aversion to eugenics or designer babies
  • Imprisonment vs. rehabilitation
This kind of thought experiment is so important to me. One of my strongest beliefs is that I will believe something different years from now (maybe even this belief itself). We all too often approach our mental states as something static, which I think leads to our collective hubris. Everybody understands that they think differently now than when they were younger, but we cling to narratives of this sort: "I was blind, now I see." The reality is, we're more likely in this mode: "I'm still blind, and I'll see slightly more clearly later."


sethaurus said on May 19, 2009 4:03 AM:

Another, less optimistic resolution of the "I was blind, now I see" fallacy: I was once blind about certain things, and could see others. Now I can see things to which I was once blind, and if I have become blind to things which once I saw, my new blindnesses hinder me from noticing.

Mike said on May 20, 2009 12:32 PM:

"Representative democracy over direct democracy"

Can't agree that this will be an improvement, though. Direct democracies fail because mob rule is finicky and tyrannical.

"Eating meat"

Interesting response. My take would be that the kind of meat (factory grown, heavily processed) will be what disgusts rather than eating meat in general.

Winston said on May 21, 2009 7:39 PM:

Of the items that you found compelling, which of them do you already find appalling?

For the most part, these are things that most progressive thinkers are already uncomfortable with, so I don't see this as a particularly eye-opening exercise.

Richard said on May 21, 2009 8:11 PM:

In response to Winston's comment that "these are things that most progressive thinkers are already uncomfortable with," I think it's important to remember that we have very few records of failed social movements of the past.

We know that there was an abolition movement, so progressive thinkers who disapproved of slavery were eventually vindicated. We know that, say, the Shaker movement and their belief in celibacy has largely dies out. How would you distinguish between the two movements 200 years ago?

Contrary to Winston, I would say that this could be an eye-opening exercise.

Info said on December 5, 2010 6:19 PM:

I think it will be the "Our aversion to eugenics or designer babies". This is because our children will accept technology as something good and new and everything that goes with it. Just like every previous generation has embraced all that the technology of their times has brought to them.

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