This Isn't Normal
“That’s just the way it is!”
It amazes me how easily bad ideas fool humans.
If a bad idea has a lifespan of more than a decade, then a generation of people will consider the idea self-evident and normal.
If a bad idea has a lifespan of more than a century, then generations of people will live with the idea without ever questioning it. It won’t just be “normal” – it will be, in their minds, an intrinsic property of reality itself.
It’s easier to see these bad ideas in hindsight:
- Our ancestors eventually figured out that human sacrifice was a bad idea.
- But some people today still haven’t figured out that animal sacrifice doesn’t work.
- It took a couple thousand years to figure out slavery was a bad idea.
- Of course, we still do that too.
- We literally just figured out (in 1993) that a husband raping his wife is a bad idea.
- But some societies still think killing homosexuals is a totally good idea.
These are extreme examples, but there are more mundane ones too…
- It took roughly 80 years to figure out cigarettes were unhealthy.
- And about 60 years to figure out seat belts were a good idea.
- But we’re still struggling with the fact that sugar water is a really bad idea.
This makes me think: what bad ideas do we consider to be “just the way it is”?
I humbly propose a few contenders:
- Advertising consists of paying teams of humans to brainwash us to buy their product. Their livelihood is dependent on their ability to manipulate us into giving them attention and money.
- Capital punishment consists of the state legally murdering innocent citizens.
- For-profit prisons incentivizes a corporation to lock up as many people as possible.
- The idea of a job.