Modern hairshirts

less than 1 minute read

John Horgan writes “Why A.D. 2011 beats 100,000 B.C.: More choices, free will, freedom”.

I would have thought it was simpler: “Fewer dead babies, most people have long lives, less starvation”. But I’ll take iPods over a kick in the shins. Horgan describes the work of some “thinkers” who argue that we’d be better off in the Stone Age – and then:

After describing Sale's radical nostalgia to students taking my history of science and technology class, I asked them to write an essay on this question: Would you rather be alive today or in the Paleolithic era?

Happily, the students mostly recognized the advantages of modern life. This is not a foregone conclusion – I’ve had some arguments with students who actually think we’d be better off dying at age 30. I sensed there might be something personal in that one.

I’d find the “modern hairshirt” types more entertaining if they’d actually walk the walk.