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Tronyn's 20 Year Prediction Challenge
Tronyn asks:

But I do say this: what do you, and anyone else who is reading: actually EXPECT in the next twenty years. What do you really expect.
 
Fric will release his Doom3 map with a custom drum'n'bass soundtrack.






Fuck me I am on top comedy form this morning. 
Everything Will Be 
Largely the same with slight differences. 
Expect From What? 
The games industry? Impossible to project that far off. More polygons probably. Can't get enough of those polygons. Actually in ten years everything will be mostly the same as everything else, last three hours tops, rely on micro-transactions to nickle-and-dime at least 50% of the game content, use the latest shitty gimmick mo-cap controller du jour, and probably be rendered with some sort of sparse voxel octree shezzizligans to give arbitrary detail on every surface and working as a rank-and-file in the industry will be even more like being in some soulless impersonal sweatshop than it is now. And the functionality of every electronic device will be buried under a mountain of indie and pretend-indie games that will all be mostly the same as each other and will all cost 10p.

Actually all this is happening now. Trolololled! 
20 Years!? 
I think the first world will be plunged into financial turmoil, leading to WW3 in the next 5 years. After 80% of the world's population dies in the war, nobody will have a computer powerful enough to run anything before Quake, and we (those of us who survive by turning our mapping skills to bunker design) will therefore be ahead of the curve because of our 20 years of mapping experience. Quake will be the only played game, and will become a new religion.

The world that is rebuilt in place of the one we have no will be brown... not post apocalyptic brown, but Quake palette brown. Man will develop 16-bit filters for natural light so that we get strange artifacts and banding even in the real world.

Just kidding!

I was kind of half serious about the WW3 prediction though :/ 
Oh 
and we'll all be back to 600 r_speed maps only, because our computers will be too shit and starved of energy to run anything more. 
Than 
Apart from the WW3, I think you are wrong... though... cause after the WW3, with all the nuclear weapons around, nobody will survive... hence nobody willplay Quake or any other games...
... and I can tell you WW4 will be done with stones and pieces of wood, like monkeys :( 
Than 
that sounds like heaven. Brown heaven. Bring on the nukes. Not only will we be the master architects, but we will be the leaders and generals of the new humanity because our years of experience playing FPS's will have taught us how to deal with the roaming hordes of mutant hellions that stalk the radiation-scorched overworld. 
I Think, 
the financial crisis will bring about a new age of enlightenment where people consider the world in terms of real value rather than monetary value. This will lead to the downfall of giant multinational companies which will initially have a negative effect on international communications networks and privatised education and healthcare but after a few years of turmoil people will voluntarily pool their own resources in to socialist ventures to replace them. When international communications networks are reestablished through good old fashioned hard graft we will be so pleased with our brave new world that we choose to share our skills and knowledge with each other without contractual agreements and debts. Occasionally a capitalist scumbag will try to act in their own interests but they will be unsuccessful due to a lack of competition. And we'll all eat Love flavoured moon bubbles for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Someone's got to take a positive stance, right? 
 
It will finally dawn on those in power that exponential growth forever on a finite planet is impossible.

The USA population will elect nutters who promise to maintain their four thousand mile Caesar Salad despite that being impossible.

John Romero will create a Kickstart page for Daikatana 2. 
Text Fish 
The socialist calculation debate has been over for quite a few years. Maybe you should read up on it. 
Jt_ 
I'm well aware of the difficulties traditional socialst ideas present, but capitalism has hardly proven to be perfect either so perhaps it's time to reopen the debate -- afterall, a new generation might be able to bring some entirely new ideas to the table. 
 
World politics: same shit business as usual.

Games: Valve will finally announce Episode 3, saying it's going be done "soon". Shambler will be the only person left mapping for Quake. RMQ will have switched engines several times and is now waiting for dark matter-powered hardware to be developed which can hopefully run the maps. CoD 25 will be so realistic, governments will use it to fight wars in instead. Penny Arcade will still suck. 
 
In twenty years people will still believe the soviet union was socialist :p 
Text Fish 
Maybe we should revisit the idea that the world is flat, our that 1+1=3? A new generation might be able to bring some new ideas about those topics too? Socialism isn't feasible because of the so called "real value" of goods (which is just the labor theory of value under a new name). Only under a system that embraces the subjective theory of value has a society flourished and increased the standard for everyone, not just the people who call themselves the State like under socialism.

Swyped on my phone. 
Hive Brains 
Trend: An ever more socially interactive world.
Today: Wikipedia, Facebook, Message boards
Tomorrow: Interoperating human knowledge machinery of scale.
Results: Advances in complex sciences that can be modeled: physics, human genome project.
Possibly: Open source of scale displaces commercial software in non-government/non-business oriented software (areas that not pure knowledge based, but oriented around human rules).

Trend: More sophisticated government.
Today: "No questions" asked government benefits.
Tomorrow: Puppet strings. Certain behaviors or signs of problems attract government attention and government help that cannot be easily refused.

Unexpected event #1: Someone uses a nuke somewhere or a large scale nuclear accident happens in Middle East, India, Pakistan or Russia causing world-wide cultural changes and call for a world government.

Unexpected event #2: Western governments shift to a semi-unlimited currency policy. Money becomes valueless, except you must pay your taxes with it therefore it isn't. Governments are no longer constrained by budgets, but rather physical resources available. Some form of imperfect full-employee is achieved as a result.

Unexpected event #3: New fossil of human ancestor is found somewhere in Africa. The fossil is of a species that is not indigenous to the world eco-system. 
Someone 
will invent a longer lasting lightbulb.

The world hopes they do, anyway. 
Stereoscopic Cameras Become The Norm 
Snap a pic from your phone and an algorithm can turn it into a 3D model on the fly. 
Jt_ 
When did anyone argue that 1+1=3?

Anyway, the "real value" of something doesn't necessarily have to refer to the total value of its composite parts and labour. Instead you could come up with a set of criteria that all products need to be judged against and introduce margin guidelines for companies, which if they choose to cross then they have to contribute a much greater amount of tax to the government which then gets put back in to social ventures.

Ultimately both capitalism and socialism will only ever work if the people in charge are basically good, competent people, but at least in a socialist society the people in charge have been elected. 
Daz... 
you watched this recently?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzM84IzXCnw&feature=related

Maybe in the future, planned obsolescence will be made illegal and people will stop buying new things because their old ones do the job. This will causes technological progress to gradually slow down and the human race will fail to escape planet Earth before the dying Sun burns the shit out of everything on it (not looking at the next 20 years for that one!). However, someone will have sent a pc, copy of Quake and some mapping tools into space, whereupon it is found by a super intelligent lifeform who worship it, even though it is made with technology vastly inferior to their own. They eventually create a remake of Quake that is 100% faithful in spirit, but using technology that we cannot even begin to imagine.

Through their worship of Quake, the alien race decide that the creatures that created it can't have been all that bad and journey to our galaxy to search for any remainders of our DNA that they can use to rebuild us.

Long story short - Earth burns, aliens find and worship Quake, remake Quake super awesome then finally bring back humanity from extinction. Everything is still brown. 
Oh Man 
some of these answers are so wild it's hard to tell who's joking and who's not, though I assume many of them are joking.

Last 10 years have seen a huge revolution in polycount in 3d engines / games, and a huge revolution in communications tech. Last 30 have seen, at least in North America, a huge revolution in political corruption, getting worse by the year, but it also seems like at least some growing awareness of that.

What I'm mostly interested in is the future of science/technology (ie how immersive/VR will games be, how will communications tech affect the world, and what weapons on the one hand or medical tech on the other will be invented), along with politics.

As a pessimist I frankly suspect that there's a decent chance we just might be all fucked. On the other hand, that doesn't preclude RMQ coming out, and an id sequel to Q1 which is also awesome coming out ;) 
Than 
seek help ;) 
Tronyn 
"and a huge revolution in communications tech. Last 30 have seen, at least in North America, a huge revolution in political corruption"

Yeah, I keep reading stories like this:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/feb/19/science-scepticism-usdomesticpolicy
http://news.slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=story&sid=12/02/15/1515208

It really does seem sometimes that they want an unintelligent electorate that they can feed with lies and easily control. You feel like a conspiracy nut for believing this kind of idea, but there is so much evidence that suggests it's true. I'm not saying the government wants dumb people that don't care about the big issues and won't oppose them (maybe they do too), but I really think that corporations do, and it is absolutely hideous that these slimy fuckers have corrupted the political system just so their board members can buy new yachts. Why lobbying is allowed at all is something I can't quite understand. It's the same with donations for election campaigns. I heard Obama has raised 1bn dollars for his 2012 campaign... 1 fucking billion dollars that will mostly be spent on adverts. When you have massive national debt and millions of homeless? Great use of money there. I guess it's because they all know that the national debt is phoney and paying any of it off is pointless. And the poor and homeless? Fuck them. They had their chances and blew it all. If they didn't become rich and successful, it's because they didn't work hard enough. Bastards.

Monsanto are perhaps the most despicable of all corporations, since they are ostensibly trying to control food by patenting their genetically modified seeds, that are resistant to their pesticides and suing any poor sucker who's land ends up being contaminated by them. How it isn't the reverse, with Monsanto getting sued into the ground in massive class-action lawsuits is beyond me. Oh... it's because Monsanto has a fuckton of money and lawyers.

There was this story recently though: http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/02/15/1956248/300k-organic-farmers-to-sue-monsanto-for-seed-patent-claims
I hope something becomes of it. The problem is that when big companies do lose court cases and have to pay damages, the damages are usually so small it's not a deterrent for whatever bad practice they were carrying out in the first place. You run a chemical company that poisons hundreds of people or a bank whose gambling and mismanagement basically ruins the economy? You should fucking go to jail and the company should be *massively* fined, or nationalised and dissolved. That NEVER happens. Steal a TV set and you might go to jail though.

As you point out, more and more people do seem to be realising how much corruption infests our political systems and anger is brewing. There have been a lot of protests and riots over the last couple of years, so I think maybe some western governments might be ended violently. Don't know where, but it does feel like we are gradually headed for more totalitarianism as a late attempt to crack down on all the awesome freedom the internet gives people. 
Than Was Close. 
Almost. What will actually happen is this:

long after the human race is extinct, aliens find Mankind's only surviving legacy - an ancient PC floating in space, containing nothing but a vanilla install of Quake (dos Quake, natch). With nothing more to go on but this, the aliens honour the memory of Man by recreating Quake as a real place - on the scorched and pitted surface of the long-dead Earth. Their re-creation of the architecture is eerily accurate. An oppressive purple cloud layer is engineered to blanket the planet that - using advanced alien technology - provides both heat and dim light to compensate for the fact that the Sun is now a fading white dwarf.

The aliens also recreate all of Quake's monsters - genetically engineered living, breathing organisms with unlimited natural lifespans - populating them in such a way as to perfectly reproduce the monster placement from the levels. Items and weapons are also constructed, and placed in their correct positions in the new environments; advanced alien science causing them to float and spin above the ground.

The aliens do not otherwise interfere with this strange new place; monsters are left alone to guard this esoteric, sprawling construct for no apparent reason. If one of the aliens were to decide to pick up a weapon and enter the gates of one of their realms, they would indeed find that the monsters would provide them with a tough, but balanced and ultimately satisfying challenge. But, the aliens leave them alone instead.

But then, after about eight million years of maintaining the same patrol, one of the creatures (a fiend I think) accidently wanders into a teleporter, causing an unanticipated release of teleporter energy that engulfs the entire complex and sends the whole thing back in time to Earth's ancient past, before life had even evolved. Cells and dna from the monsters, from bits of rubbed off skin and other...detritus seeds new life on this primordial planet under its young Sun which flourishes and evolves to become the ecosystem that we see today, its children being every living thing we know so far, inculding...us.

Meanwhile, the now unfathomably ancient dungeons of Quake remain, but aeons of shifting tectonics and changing climates has buried them somewhere under the antarctic ice; I think it's in the location of Lake Vostok.

Under the ice, Quake's immortal denizens wait.

But wait...what's this?...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/antarctica/9069588/Lake-Vostok-Russia-scientists-reach-underground-Antarctic-lake.html 
Awesome. 
nice prediction, Kinn. I think this sounds more likely than anything I've heard so far. 
Seconded 
awesome backstory for/excuse for Quake;
"Meta-Quake"!
Maybe id will use it for their new Quake. Certainly the story they used for the New Doom (3) was shit, and the one for the movie even shittier.

Than: I agree 100% with everything you said in your post (coincidentally I also read those two articles: "strategies to dissuade the teaching of science" wtf!); any punishment corporations, lobbyists (yes why is this allowed at all, it's just buying legislation), ceo's, government officials, bankers ever get, is never more than a slap on the wrist and does nothing to dissuade criminal behaviour.

It also is hard to know, from sheer pressure of numbers, when you're not crazy (re: corporations and government brainwashing people). I always tell myself, well my beliefs are based on evidence that I know about and if I get new/different evidence I'll adjust them; and I remind myself that for most of history people's beliefs about everything science now knows were completely delusional; science is the biggest intellectual revolution of all time and it's sickening to see it attacked on all fronts these day, even as it improves everyone's lives. 
Heh 
I'm just gonna use that as the backstory for my new episode thingy for added what-the-christ-ness. 
Tronyn 
I stay out of the religion thread for a reason, but...

Does't science deserve to be constantly attacked? Shouldn't it be constantly prodded and questioned and (even rhetorically) assaulted?
I think so.
I think society has to continue to interrogate what science may mean in the lives of humans every day. We have to acknowledge, I think, the broader cultural narrative of which scientific discourses are an insistent and authoritative (and often legitimately contested) component.
EG Social Darwinists who kind of use evolutionary theory to promote selfishness etc
In totalitarian regimes, dissidence is treated as a mental illness. In apartheid regimes, interracial contact is treated as unnatural. In free-market regimes, where corporations can buy scientific results almost if not as easily as they can votes, self-interest is treated as hardwired. 
^^ 
Does't science deserve to be constantly attacked? Shouldn't it be constantly prodded and questioned and (even rhetorically) assaulted?

Short, accurate, concisely stated, precision in the definition, explains what is wrong in the world, smacks you in the head with simple truth that is easily forgotten --- expresses concept in brevity ---

Drew, you are a genius. 
Well (sorry For The Rant) 
however much social darwinists, racists, authoritarians, marxists, and others, might claim that their views are "scientific," these things are all about as scientific as "creation science," aka intelligent design.

Real science is basically just critical thinking applied rigorously. It is possible to have an extremely skeptical view of the "scientific establishment" because (from the right) "scientists are a bunch of politicizing atheist liberals, global warming is a hoax and evolution is a lie" or (from the left) "scientists tend to be mostly white and male (less true every day both in the west and given the rise of india and china but that aside) and their 'way of knowing' suppresses "indigenous knowledges (such as what, voodoo?)." Yes, one can be that skeptical of science, and science should be questioned, but the thing is it's a self-questioning and thus self-correcting process: it produces increasingly accurate conclusions over time, whereas the VAST majority of anti-science comes from religious fundamentalists with theocratic agendas, people paid by corporations to confuse the public with propaganda, or misguided humanities intellectuals basically jealous of science's prestige.

I find it pretty sad that people can say, "oh I think critically about evolution" and what they really mean by "think" is "not think, but rather accept dogma" and what they really mean by "critically" is not "critically in general" but instead "critically toward anything which might oppose conclusions I've already accepted without thinking." Lol at the term "global warming skeptics." Skepticism means to wait for the evidence, not simply disagree with something! One can be "skeptical" of "establishment history" and be a holocaust-denier or a conspiracy theorist, just like one can be "skeptical" of "establishment science" and not believe in evolution or the germ theory of disease. Republicans are now attacking Einstein's General Relativity for promoting "relativism" (sigh), and there are even some religious fundamentalists who will deny heliocentrism (the sun is the centre of the solar system) or even that the earth is round.

None of this is good, and none of it comes from an authority-questioning, critical thinking, skeptical attitude: instead it all comes from irrational, anti-intellectual emotionally misguided authoritarian impulses, the defeat of which was what made the modern world with democracy, technology, free speech etc in the first place.

Global warming is accepted by 97% of scientists. THAT is the science, not the 3% of denialists paid for by corporations. 
Btw 
hopefully that didn't sound harsh, it wasn't intended that way. I do agree with your points that the name of science has been misused. 
Walk Down The Street ... 
Find the average guy hanging around. Talk with him. Find out if knows algebra, if he uses good grammar, ask him what the capital of Mexico is and tell him about clinical research on how fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and see if he agrees.

By now ... you're probably damn sure you don't want to hear his ideas on evolution or global warming.

But people like this, you are very concerned about their thoughts on evolution and global warming? 
Well Yeah 
this might be a fanatical position, and obviously there are still lots of blue collar / non-intellectual jobs that need to be filled, but the more educated a society is the better it is to live there, in general.

You've probably seen this chart, but it seems to be no coincidence that awesome places to live are at the top:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/acceptance-of-evolution-by-country 
Also 
anyone can have a pro-knowledge position, a high school dropout could and some certainly do; all you have to say is, "I'm willing to listen to anybody who knows more than me on the subject they know more on." Being misinformed is one thing, being anti-intellectual is quite another. 
Your Problem 
""I'm willing to listen to anybody who knows more than me on the subject they know more on."

For your guy who doesn't know algebra and has bad grammars, that might be 99% of the people out there that he should be listening to.

And he probably does listen to them. And they say conflicting things. And he turns on the TV and they say conflicting things.

So he not only doesn't understand the topic, he has a literal sea of ideas presented to him on any given subject from a million sources.

He doesn't really know what to believe on any given topic, so he just picks one. Occasionally the conversation comes up and he shares what he knows.

But there are millions of people who know more about any given topic than himself, but if you want special status in his mind that he should be listening to you specifically over the other million sources ... you will have to make that case to him. 
Well 
not that he should listen to me specifically, and of course part of education is knowing who to listen to (or take seriously) and why (aka real critical thinking). the main point of that is that this attitude is the opposite of viewing knowledge, especially science, in a denialist manner. I don't want to go door to door promoting science (lol at the image; "have you heard the good news? the earth is 4.5 billion years old?"), I just think every society ought to encourage education or at least a pro-knowledge attitude as much as it ican. 
Math, Biology, Maybe History Need To Be Fun 
And maybe one day in the future it will be.

I made this a few weeks ago:

http://quake-1.com/docs/opengl/solar1.png

http://quake-1.com/docs/opengl/solar2.png

And you navigate around. That's kind of a lite engine I made with many similarities to a subset of Quake functionalit.

Of the very few people who have tried in real life, they find it rather enjoyable and spend longer messing around with it than I usually want

(I'm thinking, ok, you've seen it, quit navigating the solar system and trying to find Pluto ... )

I think math, science and biology get an F in the area of inserting themselves into the public consciousness.

In the 1950s when Sputnik occurred, it changed the world and made science and scifi popular for 20-30 years. 
Very True 
while I blame corporate interests and well-organized religious fundamentalists for trashing intellectual subjects like science, math, history, etc in public, I definitely don't let intellectuals off the hook, many of them are publicly funded, and popularization is extremely important: if you can't explain to the public why you are taking their money then why should you get their money. Carl Sagan (one of my heroes) said in The Demon Haunted World, that many scientists thought of popularization as either a waste of time or even "fraternizing with the enemy." My god what a ridiculous, ACTUALLY elitist attitude. I firmly believe that the average person could find science, history, etc fascinating, if it were presented in an interactive, jargon-free, less technical way. So on this last post, 110% agreement.

I like the model you made too. For me looking at stuff like that shows how local our ideas, all the way to basic concepts like up and down, really are. 
... 
I have most of Carl Sagan's books. But the best one was one I saw on bookcase one time and borrowed (well, I still have it so ...) and it was from the early 1960s if I recall.

He predicted planet atmospheres and we hadn't even been into space back then (no probes, etc).

Due to a complete lack of data, he projected and explained the likely atmospheres describing what would and would not likely be in them due to chemical reactions, escape <insert right world> ... does planet have right gravity to retain each molecule, etc.

It was unreal.

However, in time I have concluded Carl Sagan's points-of-view on religion were incorrect. I was not easily persuaded out of a finalistic Carl Sagan-like view of religion, but it was through more science and questions.

Rather there are some very large unknown factors in play in more advanced scientific ideas and theories that are definition of reality level altering.

These aren't even the "good" ones:

http://www.physorg.com/news126955971.html
http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/time.html
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/08/26/scientist-smackdown-are-solar-neutrinos-messing-with-matter/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren�_Descartes 
Well 
I thought Sagan was one of the least "dogmatic" pro-science public intellectuals of the last 30-40 years (as opposed to say, Dawkins - who I think is a great if imperfect communicator). Maybe you've read more Sagan than I have but I think of him as a person who never took a stance on things he didn't know enough about to judge, including cutting-edge issues in physics and astronomy.

In my view, Sagan, and others like him (say Hawking now, who just recently said no God need be invoked to explain the origin of the universe, or Krauss who goes further) can talk about how bizarre these questions are, and acknowledge that they have no clue at all, but none of that legitimizes religion in any form. Every religious thought we have now was thought thousands of years ago.

But in science, and any other investigative enterprise (say journalism, math, history, archaeology, philology, etc) there is presumably some progress. Today's religious people haven't learned anything above what their old-testament-writing, knuckle-dragging forebears "knew." Or if they have they've learned it from secular progress ie the enlightenment.

I don't think I know everything, I'm aware that I know a tiny amount. Sagan to me was extremely humble in exactly that way. But anyone with a basic knowledge of science still knows ENOUGH to know that ancient cults, are based on factually inaccurate information.

This is what scientologists actually believe, said South Park. Would I be too much of a Saganist, to laugh along with Parker and Stone at that belief rather than reserving judgment on whatever that psycho Hubbard wrote? Evidence is the only way to win, and I don't know is a great, and often the only appropriate, answer. Sagan was never a finalist! Most of his ideas were speculative and he admitted it. But there's a huge difference between informed speculation, and dogmas enforced by social pressure (ie religion).

Sorry for the length. 
Another Angle 
I think the major religious texts were made specifically to help people avoid making the same mistakes in the past.

Stories of doing wrong and the consequences.
Stories of doing right and being punished by your fellow man, but ultimately persevering.
Stories of wise rulers.
Stories of unjust rulers.
Stories of weak selfish people who will hurt other people.

I think they were made by wise people specifically to help people.

Specifically to make them think. To reason. To see the value in morality. To teach them the foundations of right and wrong. To see to value of compassion.

Anyone can misuse benign and enlightened ideas. This isn't new in the world. 
Well 
AFAIK the Old Testament and the Koran are both pretty crazy and sadistic.
I love mythology, as literature the Old Testament is great, it's really creepy and fucked up (the Abraham story, the Passover story, the story of Job, etc), but I would not under any circumstances call the foundational texts of any western religion/monotheism "enlightened." 
In The Context Of The Times. 
Certainly the Old Testament is quite a bit harsh. That being said, in Israel do they still do "an eye for an eye"?

The Old Testament was definitely enlightened for its time. Prior to the Old Testament, the "king" was not held accountable to the same standards as the subjects.

The Old Testament was the first written body of laws that also applied to the "king". It was not for the peasants, but for everyone.

This was, according to historians a radical idea in those times.

The Code of Hammurabi was the first set of written laws according to historians and introduced the idea of a set body of laws; this preceded the Old Testament. There are some similarities to Hammurabi's Code and the Ten Commandments, one can easily come to the conclusion that the Ten Commandments was inspired or possibly derived from the former.

In the context of modern times, the Old Testament is very harsh.

The Koran may just be common best practices of the time transcribed to writing for that part of the world. Perhaps better, more clear and more fair.

I would like to point out that the oldest parts of the world, presumably Africa and the Middle East, have larger cultural challenges because they have multiple thousands of years of cultural history. And in climates that do not require too much effort to survive.

So you have a possible nature versus nurture cultural issues that perhaps are more of a factor than any belief system present. Solely attributing behavior to a belief system in such parts of the world is possibly inherently unfair and maybe not entirely scientific. 
Oh Man 
as an amusing side note, I just looked up "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" and found a Christian aplogist who claims, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live - If there had been no witches, such a law as this had never been made. The existence of the law, given under the direction of the Spirit of God, proves the existence of the thing." Amusing line of reasoning.

I think that the Old Testament and the Koran were both harsh within their cultural context. Hell, Muhammed BEGAN by preaching tolerance, and then when he got power he changed his tune and became intolerant, so clearly the idea of religious tolerance was around in his context. The OT contains what we would now call war crimes, even genocide, as well as slavery; I find myself incapable of believing that no one in that region during the period the OT was written had any better ideas on ethics than those. 
True By Evidence? 
In the 1960s, you had spankings in school in maybe most of the civilized world. Mao starves 20 million Chinese.
In the 1920s, even in the West I think corporal punishment might have existed in places (like whippings). What do you think Stalin did to his people, btw?

Late 1870s, hangings for horse theft in the USA.

You do know the native americans scalped people, right?

Middle 1840's, in Charles Dicken's "more gruel please" inspired England you had literally "chimney sweeps" --- children (male) given away at ages like 5 to 8 years old who would literally go down chimneys to to clean them. Most would become fatally ill and die at an earlier age.

1799 French Revolution. Guillotine mania.

1600s. Bloody Mary? The Spanish in the Americas. Pizarro?

Middle Ages. The punishments were brutal. Kings and other nobles were ruthless.

And this isn't even going to back that far. Rome. Sparta. Persia. Ghengis Khan. Pyramids. The Vikings.

War used to be rather normal for every corner of the world until maybe as recently as the 1950s. Much of the third world has stabilized by now, except some parts of Africa.

Peace is a relatively recent development in history. 
Get A Room You Two 
Arguing about this kind of stuff is so futile, especially using an indirect impersonal medium like the internet. 
... 
I wasn't under the impression we were arguing. I wasn't. Just expressing alternate views. I will say conversing with Tronyn has forced me to articulate things I really wouldn't have been able to explain well prior to this thread. 
Yeah 
I think of this as a discussion rather than an argument. notably we've been jumping from topic to topic and agreeing on many of them. I find this interesting, it's not hurting anyone.

I'd just like to say, that the French Revolution, was awesome.

Also just because war is a universal human phenomenon, all kinds of good ethical ideas (such as "not war"!) have come out of various places where bad things were happening. Thankfully, despite the media (24/7 news channels and the fact that you can see footage of civilians being shot and beheaded online) human violence seems to be decreasing, or at leasat that's the argument in Steven Pinker's new book which I haven't read yet.

I guess my general point is, Muhammad was largely a bad guy in the context of his own time, as were many of the Old Testament patriarchs. We're talking David Koresh types here, fanatical but unfortunately charismatic patriarchal men who hear voices, stockpile weapons, bully their followers and encourage hatred of outgroups. These guys were conquerors. It's not like war was absent from ancient Greece or China, but people in those places were able to articulate ethical ideals light-years ahead of most of monotheistic tradition. 
Ingroups / Outgroups 
First, I'm not sure whether or not you can factually make the statement that Muhammed was a "bad guy" in his time and in his part of the world. Versus the idea that improved ethics and consistency. Accounting to accounts, he freed a huge number of slaves and promoted such.

The in-group/outgroup angle is an interesting one. What were the ethics and behavior of out-groups in that region at the time. Were they better or worse than Islam?

And a better question: in times long gone past, perhaps written religions are superior to unwritten ones? Perhaps there is a superior angle to a "single way to do things that is known" versus unwritten religions with only general ideas.

And is literacy better than illiteracy? Not that the common man in those days would be literate. But in many cultures, written holy books increased the need for literacy and the development of written language.

In commoner Europe, to the best of my recollection of history, it was the Bible that was used to spread literacy especially after Gutenberg and the printing press. And the Bible was the main literacy teaching tool in pre-1900s United States.

I think of history in many ways as something less to judge and more to learn from.

I feel negative judgment is often a result of failing to take into account other factors or reframing modern environments unto the past.

But moving forward, how can alter behavior towards outgroups in modern times where it is a problem? It is perhaps the main issue in our world. 
Some Thoughts 
Muhammed was a warlord who built an empire, I guess it's possible he was better than other warlords at the time, but I kinda doubt it. Not that everything he did was bad.

The issue of written religions vs unwritten ones - basically, ones with a theology/dogma/institutional establishment, vs pagan ones that are basically just folklore and oral tradition - is super interesting. Folk-religions certainly can lead to some crazy practices (killing witches, thinking people are, or you can, use magic for things, head-hunting, heh, etc), and certainly the Catholic Church did keep classical learning alive in the Middle Ages (so did the Muslim empire of the time), when it might have died out due to all those illiterate barbarians taking everything over.

My view of the Catholic church's role in the middle ages, at least in the earlier middle ages, is more positive than average I suspect. They were trying to get really violent superstitious tribes of people to settle down, stop raiding/warring, and unite into bigger political units; they also promoted some ethical ideas that were ahead of the warrior-style ethic many of these tribes had. In the later middle ages it's a different story though, it became a massive corrupt bureaucracy trying to control power politics on the entire European continent and beyond, and then there was all that Inquisition stuff: lol like the KGB that office quickly got such a horrible reputation that it had to keep changing its name; the office's current name is "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" and, you guessed it, just like Putin used to work for the KGB or whatever they were calling themselves, that Inquisition office is exactly where Ratzinger used to work. 
Uncommonness Should Be Studied/appreciated 
Muhammed was an orphan with -- by accounts of history --- better ethics and started as a merchant.

He ended up having tens of thousands of followers within this own lifetime. These followers were attracted in large part of his idea of ethics.

Certainly, this is not common in history and quite unusual. I don't think such achievements can easily be dismissed.
---
Spanish Inquisition was in part in solidify control over Spain and weed out past traitors or enemy sympathizers. Probably at least as imperfectly done as French efforts looking for Nazis after WWII and shaving women's heads and whatever else they did.

The Spanish Inquisition was the aftermath of Christianity reclaiming Spain which had been taken over for a century or 2 by the Moors (Muslim control of Spain). In particular, the Spanish Inquisition targeted Jewish people who may have profited during Moor rule and were indifferent to the whole Christianity/Islam issue. 
Catholic Church In Middle Ages 
More of a political body/empire than anything else, as far I can tell.

I'm not saying this is "wrong". Someone has to have power and provide stability to the people.

People do not do well in a power vacuum.

And in the modern world, it appears that the top minds in control of Western policy (the think tanks and secret societies of the powerful wealthy people that make western policy) abhor the results of a power vacuum and the effects on those people who suffer as a result.

And it is kind of cool that Western thought and said power brokers look for ways to reduce human suffering. I like the idea that humanitarian concerns are major consideration in policy. 
Ingroups / Outgroups Continued 
Isn't part of the problem with the ingroup/outgroup thing:

To outgroup: "Your culture sucks"
To outgroup: "And your beliefs suck too"
To outgroup:"And the people your culture admires suck too too"

Is that kind of thinking helpful if that kind of thinking is what "got us into the mess in the first place"?

Does society solve outgroup friction by using more outgroup friction?

Maybe it does. Or maybe there are other ways. Or maybe at this time it really is beyond human ability to control.

But I can make the argument that this is no more enlightened or intellectual than what we already have. 
Ingroup/Outgroup Add ... 
To outgroup: "And I will define your outgroup by taking worst behaving members of your outgroup and then calling that 'normal' for your outgroup" 
Yeah 
I know how Muhammed started. I wish he would have stayed that way - a peaceful, tolerant merchant who wanted to reform local religion. At first he never even said there was only one god he just emphasized the primacy of the one god he was talking about over other ones. I don't think ethics so much as political advantages attracted people to Islam, at least not after he became a warlord. It's like Christianity in Europe, the church made the benefits of joining (ie a bureaucracy to collect taxes, write law codes, etc) clear to barbarian rulers who then converted for political rather than ethical reasons.

Like I said I'm not bashing the church in the middle ages, and I certainly don't think that warring barbarians would have been better; I'm not an anarchist and I think that you need a state of some kind (on the political spectrum I ended up being about -6 and -6), and hell even if you don't want one you're going to get one, the question is just of what kind. Power vacuums resolve themselves, the question is just how nasty the resulting social hierarchy is.

Re: ingroup/outgroup. Of course cultures need to negotiate. Still, too much negotiation leads to the west bartering away its own values in exchange for... what? Sharia is one example. Many western citizens are so (correctly) sorry for the imperialistic excesses of the past that they are willing to sanction almost anything in the name of tolerance (for example, http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/2042/full). In my view, culture stops where human rights begins. I can and do appreciate the literature, philosophy, history, architecture, art, legends, technologies, etc, of other cultures, but I think things like free speech, women's rights, democracy, etc, are up for negotiation about 0 %. There's such a condescending double standard going on too. When fundamentalist Mormons practice polygamy and underage marriage, the cops raid them. When fundamentalist Muslims do the same, suddenly the attitude is "it's just their culture" as if "well they aren't from the west, so they can't be expected to know any better." That kind of "tolerance" is condescending. 
Hehe 
Well, first I agree.

And second, I think it only looks like the "West" is bartering away anything, just mulling over how best to play the chess game subtly.

If an advanced civilization has the sophistication of a human, and a less advanced one the sophistication of a dog ...

Often the human will trick the dog with a treat. Often the dog does not notice and eventually the human will have the dog trained.

Which is why the West continually moves the goal posts. And eventually, the West only rarely feels the need to monitor.

Look at how China is rapidly evolving. It has been a slow bumpy ride with more bumpy rides in the future, but China has been progressing perhaps far faster than would have been imagined in the times of Tiananmen Square. I bet hosting an Olympics helped them too. 
What If He Did Stay That Way? 
"I know how Muhammed started. I wish he would have stayed that way - a peaceful, tolerant merchant who wanted to reform local religion."

What if he did stay that way and his intent was to better his fellow humans for that time and place?

What if as he was more experienced and learned more about human nature, had to add other factors into the equation.

Muhammed, first off had to be a very intelligent man. He also had to have progressed to be very wise. Likewise, he had to have arrived to great insights into human nature, and the limits taking culture into context.

He had a pretty good understanding of religion for his time and place and a pretty good grasp of regional history. Both of which I think in modern times we are pretty unclear about.

And clearly his intentions were benign and helpful. And meant to educate and to teach. And it is clear from history, he sought to further the conditions of slaves and by his example encourage freeing them.

He also clearly sought to moderate outgroup thought, painting other monotheistic religions as brothers --- while not the same as an in-group -- offers respectful consideration of these outgroups.

And perhaps it is the destiny of belief systems to eventually become rigid and regressive when maybe at first they were actually meant to be progressive and reformist.

But that is the past. Change is the one constant in this world. 
Heh 
"tricking the dog with a treat" I found this analogy very funny. Islamic cultures have had less time to evolve than Christian/post-Christian ones, it's a younger religion (Christianity 1300 years into its history wasn't all that peaceful either), but I don't think the west is manipulating the middle east in that way. We unfortunately just pick to be allies with Saudi Arabia but Iran is this big threat; one's Shiite and the other's Sunni but they're both oil-rich fundamentalist governments that oppress their own people. I guess it's become a cliche to bitch about oil dependency but it's not like every western government hasn't known about it and done next to nothing about it for 3 or 4 decades.

It looks to me like, whereas Soviet Russia tried to liberalize their politics but their economy stayed a command economy until it fell apart, China has liberalized their economy to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to them, but they haven't really liberalized their politics. Maybe they will one day. The fact that the economies of China and India are rising seems like great news to me, I understand both countries still have a huge amount of poor/oppressed people but at least it's getting better. 
PS 
this may be extremely cynical but I suspect that next to nothing will continue to be done on issues like pollution, climate change, the environment, etc, for the next two decades. I don't know that short-term election cycles in western countries actually even make it possible for governments to implement long-term plans that require a shared sacrifice in standard of living, that could easily just get them kicked out next election, to say nothing of all the money corrupting the political process away from doing anything useful. 
The West Earned Its Freedoms 
Through hundreds of years of forcing our own leaders to capitulate. French Revolution, American Revolution, Magna Carta, the Civil Rights movement, Civil War, Fall of the Berlin Wall, etc.

Enough so that it is part of Western culture on a personal level.

That's why we do human rights commission, attach strings to humanitarian efforts, have Hillary Clinton go scare third world countries like Syria.

I think that it is a mistake to underestimate Western culture. But even more than that, it is part of Western culture's plan that you mistakenly will think you can do so.

Dog: "I can take that treat. There are no strings attached to that treat. Hey look, I won."

The West: "You are supposed to think you won. That's the point of my stick and carrot game. You did exactly as I intended *and* you think you won." 
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