No, I want you to admit there are equal problems with avoiding change. There is vast inertia and desire to avoid change if at all possible and to only change out of absolute necessity. Change is conscious, difficult, and visible. Concerns and costs, risks and uncertainty are palpable and preeminent. Meanwhile not changing is camouflaged, easy, and unconscious. How much easier it is ignore it until it can't. There can be problems with either, but too rapid change is subject to its own losses which limit its advancement, while too slow result in crises forcing change. Those who think change is too fast, also need to consider that actually it may have been too slow and the baseline is not stasis but trend.

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This raises my valuation of persistently luddite cultures, such as the Mennonites. It raises it from a very low prior value, of low education and very low technological progress, but it does raise it (somewhat).

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Culture wars as the real exploration frontier strikes me as a particularly accurate model of our stage in human evolution. It also offers, in my view, the most plausible answer to the Fermi paradox -- who cares about manipulating stars and galaxies when the interaction (possibly virtual) of gadzillions of neurons and synapses is so much more interesting.

However, as a metaphor for human civilization Spaceship Earth assumes that deliberate, global and permanent (as opposed to emergent, local and temporary) coordination is even theoretically possible. This strikes me as pretty inaccurate. Similar assumptions motivated experiments with communism in the past.

Edit: While the Spaceship Earth metaphor may steer thinking into dead end solutions (UN?), the risks of rapid cultural change are definitely real. This post is at odds with Robin's skepticism when reviewing Ted Kaczynski's book in January. The reason why we haven't seen factor-of-two declines is that humans only started to achieve global scale 50 years ago with ICBMs. Give it time.

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No, I don't deny that. In fact, I rather think the world is now experiencing such effects, spawning reactionary movements from Islamic fundamentalism to the Tea Party and to Trumpism.

But I don't see the rate of cultural change as under our control, being primarily driven by technological innovation (which both of us approve of and don't want to throttle).

Superstructural changes of the sort you're concerned with primarily serve to mitigate the effects of the technological change.

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Your #3 was pondered by Rudyard Kipling, in his poem, "Arithmetic On The Frontier". If you don't wish to read the whole thing, consider just the following lines:

Strike hard who cares - shoot straight who can The odds are on the cheaper man.



A great and glorious thing it isTo learn, for seven years or so, The Lord knows what of that and this, Ere reckoned fit to face the foe -The flying bullet down the Pass, That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."

Three hundred pounds per annum spentOn making brain and body meeterFor all the murderous intentComprised in "villainous saltpetre". And after?- Ask the Yusufzaies What comes of all our 'ologies.

A scrimmage in a Border Station-A canter down some dark defileTwo thousand pounds of educationDrops to a ten-rupee jezail. The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride, Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

No proposition Euclid wroteNo formulae the text-books know, Will turn the bullet from your coat, Or ward the tulwar's downward blow. Strike hard who cares - shoot straight who canThe odds are on the cheaper man.

One sword-knot stolen from the campWill pay for all the school expensesOf any Kurrum Valley scampWho knows no word of moods and tenses, But, being blessed with perfect sight, Picks off our messmates left and right.

With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem. The troopships bring us one by one, At vast expense of time and steam, To slay Afridis where they run. The "captives of our bow and spear"Are cheap, alas! as we are dear.

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I like the spirit of this, but it's an uphill battle; a large number of factors make rational group decision-making harder on Spaceship Earth than on a typical exploration ship. As a starter list, Spaceship Earth's crew is: -bigger -strictly involuntary -not selected for ability, dedication, etc. -much more diverse in general (ok this cuts both ways) -not cast in a heroic role by the fact of taking big risks on behalf of a safer home population -faced by risks that are longer-term and more global than those faced by a typical exploration ship

OTOH, this "Spaceship Earth Exploring Culture Space" (SEECS:-) metaphor has at least one thing going for it that no actual exploration ship has had: -There is no safety net. In this true story, we must collectively be the heroes.

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You do seem to assume that this spaceship Earth is crewed entirely by logical Vulcans, who can put aside considerations of personal status and emotional affiliation if something is "logically" proved to them. Humans seem much more resistant.

Also, you make the mistake of assuming differences are always over means rather than ends -- that an ISIS leader, if shown that educating women improves standards of living, would shrug and send his daughters to school for instruction in birth control and the proper pronouns for genderqueer individuals. But the ISIS leader would say you are wrong to think material well-being is more important than morality as defined by the Koran, and cut off your head.

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"...arranging for repositories of old culture practices that might help us to reverse changes if things go badly."

I think I'd be a much bigger fan of rapid cultural change if I thought that we could walk it back in this way. But even if we thought birthrates could increase if we dusted off that old culture of sexist discrimination, we just can't go back to that. Parents aren't going to stop helicoptering and schools aren't going to close, even if Caplan is right and that stuff really is causing more harm than good. Change has too much inertia, and anyway, making our course respond to human will seems to me less likely than in earlier epochs. If we don't want to be somewhere in the future, our best chance is to fight the change that would get us there. We have no "reverse."

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Really, neither of you want to admit that there are any risks at all from rapid cultural change?

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An obstacle to this is the failure to recognize risks and to assume change avoidance is risk avoidance when the opposite is so often the case. The world changes whether we like it or not, whether we want it to or not, and to think we can avoid it is likely the greatest risk of all.

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Those who love new changes could admit that we are taking some chances in adopting them so quickly, while those who are suspicious of them could admit that many seem to like their early effects.

This would correspond to the personality dimension of "Radicalism," but it bears only faint resemblance to the actual political spectrum.

When there are sharp changes in economic conditions, does it really demonstrate an abundance of caution to maintain the status quo?

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