Category Archives: Advancement

There’s a reason they say that ignorance is bliss.

The above title is taken from a comment on a Youtube video that I watched just before writing this post. It will be linked at the bottom but the part I took from it is that the creator of the video was finding more enjoyment from keeping less plugged into the political and news world.

My first experience of this outside of being a child was on a trip to London in which for a few days I ignored any news. Now it is of course important to be aware of the world around you as it is important to be well informed on topics. It is important for social advancement for people to be aware of what is going on in the world just as much as it is to be aware of the history. Tricks of politicians being an example as with media moral panics.

“why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars. Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” –  Hermann Göring

I am unsure as to if this quote is real but it does spring to mind in regards to Iraq war, a media storm followed by a moral panic which still clearly exists most notably in the U.S.A. So perhaps being well informed is a very important and good thing but does this come at a cost?

Being humans we seem to have two traits in my mind. The first one relates to gossiping and the juicer or more outrageous or negative the better. The media likes the focus on sad stories and I personally see this for three reasons.

  1. They tend to be important stories with great significance
  2. If something potentially or actually effects us we take more of an interest in it.
  3. Feel good stories do not fulfil this as much being more of a novel story unless based on some miracle of heroic act. ‘The micracle plane landing on the Hudson River’ springs to mind.

A recent story that has been in metal-head circles tossed around a lot relates to the proposed picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church of a rather prominent musical figure. As more widely known as the church that picketed military servicemen’s funerals. The topic is more or less the same although the significance is of course subjective. In both cases it is upsetting and it is also rather controversial effecting not us directly but effecting us all on an emotional or personal level. Be that of a person who has died for their country or somebody who has had an impact on others in some other way.

Jeff Hanneman – Slayer.

Rather than looking at the need to have knowledge, or to know what is going on in the world I wonder what this does to us on a personal level. A constant bombardment of negative news with a few ‘sob stories’ often of a motivational nature. Perhaps this contributes to a degree in the need of a person to look at videos of a cat do something cute or humorous.

We all at times need to have a little personal time and for a lot of us a part of that will involve surfing the internet with a lot of information at our fingertips and in many cases a bombardment from news. If not from an RSS feed of the news it will be from Facebook or some other form of media. An interconnected world is hard to switch off for a few hours.

Of course this presents a catch22 position of the benefit of being informed and the benefit from taking a break from all of this. I would argue that it is vital that a person is informed on a wide variety of topics in addition to being able to take a mental break. Being wrapped away from the world is not healthy nor useful but clearly we should also peruse a level of happiness.

Looking towards my own personal example I found I was calmer rather than wondering what will be happening in whatever part of the world or being mildly upset at various stories. A sense of moral indignation also arises and I am sure any reader of this post could sympathise. Although there remains the desire to know and learn more about the world, burying ones head in the sand is not a good idea.

We instead should take a middle ground approach. We should put what we read into perspective not only generally but in our own lives. We also need time reflect on the things that we read in the news in addition to our escapes. This is perhaps why to use video games as an example Call of Duty with it’s Hollywood depiction and ease of play is a successful brand wherein the game Spec Ops: The Line which left a clear lasting impression on me is a rare example in the media form.

So perhaps it is not correct to say that ignorance is bliss but it is also perhaps not far off the mark of what is true. I would assert that it is also true that just because something gives us a sense of ‘bliss’ is not always a good thing. What we don’t know does hurt us and we can’t simply escape the reality of the world we live in. Rather than escaping from the news reading it in chunks on-line and the single block that is the morning newspaper beats the constant barrage that we otherwise subject ourselves to. A middle ground between the extremes of avoidance and news sponge has to be the way forward.

Still in an increasingly integrated world is this simply just something we all need to get used to?

Youtube video which lead to the motivation to post this:

Is Competition Important?

Is competition vital to advancement despite the drawbacks and backsteps it can cause?

This is my question in the general sense, even when working together is it a good thing to want to be the ‘winner’?  In a larger sense is having a sense of competition better than having a global community spirit, of course we should seek to have a little bit of both. 

I once heard somebody describe the moon lands as something along the lines of fuck you, look what we can do. I think this does have a sense of being true. The need for weapons in nations and the need to do better than other schools. The need to be above something or somebody else in some regard seems pretty strong in human nature.

While it’s true that we have great examples of behaving good there is an argument that can be made that these are something along the lines of a scratch my back and I will scratch yours mentality. Something that has some credence in the ideas of a stable strategy. A developmental situation wherein something is done to give a reaction that benefits us in some way. This can be looked on a far grander scale in the idea of an evolutionarily stable strategy. So while it may be true we do things to be nice why that is the case could be a little more complicated than that.

I put forward the assertion that competition is a similar thing. It’s no question that sometimes a little friendly competition is a good thing but even if to the detriment of the team spirit somebody racing a head can lead to mixed results but they do stand out and gain an advantage.

I think this is something that nations also do linking to my Ego Of Nations post. The creation of the Warsaw Pact as a response to NATO was clearly a good idea from a defence perspective. It also has the benefit of prolong an arms race but what it also does is provide a sense of community and contribution which is greater than what individual members could do on this scale. I do think it is also about having a sense of a club and pride.

After the First World War the Treaty Of Versailles  did have an element of blaming Germany for the first world war. This provides nothing more than a dig at a country which is often here at least described as a proud nation. A proud nation of course being a compliment.

It is perhaps important that nations have developed a sense of pride and identity for the reason of advancement. A Swiss watchmaker has a reputation to live up to and this is given in the Chronometer stamp. This of course extends to individuals the pursuance of fame being a good example.

To want to do better is the easiest way to achieve being better. In previous posts I have discussed that the Cold War lead to many advancements because of competition I do however wish to pose a question. If rather than a Cold War we had a ‘lets all get together for the sake of mankind’ party what would be the outlook of the world? We do live in a world where others are a threat but in the media it seems more of a hopeless cause than a rallying cry to do better generally.

I think we while would have lived in a more peaceful world may not have advanced as much. The space race was a race for a reason. It was a battle of advancement and ego the ending of the Cold War seemed to make this sort of thing less important.


I think Kennedy here was right. We do the things because they are hard, because we want to be the best. I also think this is an appeal many far right parties go for one example being the EU. Yes there is a lot to say on the advantages and disadvantages and the need for sovereignty but I do think a small part does come down to the fact we as a nation want to feel that we are not subject to anybody. I imagine a reader thinking that of course they would not want their country subject to political or military rule by another and I would agree but why do we?

The French and the English is a good example. There is a national rivalry to an extent between these two nations. One of the reasons for this is the Hundred Years War. It these days is a little tongue in cheek but it is true that as with a football teams derby or competing in the Olympics in your own country has an effect. While war is not a positive the lasting impact of the French – English connection I feel is a good thing.

Good for business? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt)

To conclude to keep this short and simple I feel that competition is something that is vital and something that is important be it in the school or on a national international level. The push to be better than you currently are and to do better than those around us while not feeling weak or vulnerable. Perhaps the reason that we have an ego of nations is because simply put those with the ambition did better. While this can be applied to economics don’t think I am putting this as a universal true. It is however imperative that we exploit and create harmless competition but to also work together. As humans we work better in a society than as ourselves but it seems more of a carrot to do it to be better than that society down the street or because we could than to say we did this for advancement.

Still I invite comments on this. I have made this more of an argument than previous posts. Do you think that we work better trying to reach the top than to rise to the top with a sense of comradeship?

“It’s the taking part that is important but the only important thing is winning”

The importance of scientific education.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22382756

The issues relating to a psudo-scientific nonsense interrfering with vaccines is still striking hard. There are anti vaccine groups for example most well known in the United States. While this has real demonstrable damage and it is quite clear looking at the rush for MMR vaccines in Wales that it can swing from one panic with a proposed Autism link to a panic about the diseases these vaccines were meant to combat.

This boils down to two things, firstly there is anti scientific thought. This is the most dangerous in my opinion as it forms a anti science viewpoint. While it is easy to wonder what harm this really takes thinking of a person sitting at a computer ironically wondering what has science ever done for me. My argument against this is two fold.

Firstly this breeds an anti scientific atmosphere which allows impressionable people or those who have not been informed otherwise to rely on the nonsense being put out.

Secondly this can lead to extreme examples in where people die from very easily preventable issues such as diabetes. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/02/us-daughter-pray-death.

Now the issue also expands to other things a good example being the ‘anti climate’ lobby. A delay in how serious we take climate change and the political power these ideas have is very dangerous. We live in a world where the country to first reach the moon in some states has issues with the teaching of ‘evilution’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District.

Now I’m sure you may be thinking that as a general person what does this have to do with you? Politicians make the political decisions right? Well yes and no. There needs to be a need to teach children better skills of comparing information as well as knowledge of the scientific process.

This ties into perhaps the most important thing media responsibility. There will always be those on internet forums who take an anti/apathetic to scientific advancement view. There will always be those who can benefit from any anti scientific feeling in the public but the media is in the important position to be trusted and able to inform the public. The daily mail being a massive offender in anti-scientific nonsense there is also the issue of the need to create sensualist stories rather than accurately reporting.

‘The need for balance’ is also an issue. The idea that if an opposing view simply exists it should have an equal view in many media debates. This of course is nonsense when it comes to issues of hard facts. But in addition to this the knowledge that correlation does not equal causation should be something we are all engrained with.

 Look at the chart. It’s all chartlike it must therefore be true!

This of course leads to other issues with the media normally relating to X causes violence because of a one off event or stretched connection the blame usually in these cases falling on extreme music or video games. It seems to be a sad consequence of the human nature of being scared of what we cannot properly understand.

Of course they are some that can gain from the lack of scientific understanding, we also can’t rely on politicians and education to give us all the information we need. People should always be somewhat self informed. I am not proposing that children need to know the finer points of biochemistry but rather they know how science works. Technological advancement can bring great economic rewards to a country and also provide a benefit to humanity as a whole.

I can understand why somebody might think that this post is pedantic and seems to be missing the point. With all the important things going on in the world how much of an issue is this really? Well my answer to this hypothetical point is that well a lot of the damage here is far easier avoidable. Refrigeration, packaging and improvements to food production have a clear advantage and general scepticism over GM foods is an issue but to sum it up perhaps more eloquently. What is the price that we can put on the advancement of the human race?