Sunday, July 17, 2016

The answers are out there, just not easily accessible

Well that's interesting. It's sociology so caveat lector. From Scientific progress, risk, and development: Explaining attitudes toward science cross-nationally by Anne M Price and Lindsey P Peterson. Their abstract:
Declining public confidence in science is a concern in the US and Europe, but it is unclear what predicts confidence in science in developed countries, let alone in developing countries. This article examines how development and ‘risk society’ shape individual attitudes toward science across 47 diverse countries, using four theoretically driven measures of risk society. It is found that people in affluent societies have lower support for science than those in less affluent societies. Specifically, individuals holding post-materialist attitudes and living in countries with greater human and economic development (measured by higher internet access and tertiary enrollment, and lower infant mortality) have lower confidence in future-oriented science. The article concludes that the scientific gains that are brought by affluence are accompanied by heightened fears of human-made risks.
There are a number of observable correlations which are difficult to reconcile with one another or in a logical framework.
Countries that become more secular also experience a drop in total fertility rate, usually to well below replacement (Germany, Japan, Italy, Spain, China, etc.)

This is complicated by the fact that it also correlates with increased prosperity.

People who self-identify as progressive and open-minded show a strong correlation with bigotry and close minded behaviors.

Countries that try and foster female empowerment end up constraining women's capacity to compete in all fields of accomplishment.

The less religious a country becomes, the less future oriented it becomes.

The safer a country becomes, the less risk-taking, particularly commercial risk-taking, it displays.
You would think, at only a first order of sophistication, that:
The more prosperous a country, the lower the relative cost of having children and then, therefore, the more children people would have.

The more secular, the more rational and fact-based decision-making people would become.

The more supportive of women as a distinct group, the better outcomes women would experience.

The more prosperous a country becomes, the more it would be able to afford the financial consequences of risk and therefore more risks it would undertake.

The more progressive a person regards themselves as being, the more generous, tolerant, and open-minded they would behave.
Given the observable facts, that's not how the world works. Dropping to next order of sophistication gets to a lot of complications very quickly. The answers are out there, just not easily accessible.

It is actually relatively straightforward to construct a logical explanation for the above observable facts but it involves a more tragic estimation of the human condition than our default utopian/optimistic view.

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