The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Great Debates

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-25-2013, 02:07 AM
Jim B. Jim B. is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,347
The 1913 World v. the 2013 World.

Is the world better off than it was 100 years ago? I know some countries definitely are. But what about the world as a whole?

__________________
"Love takes no less than everything." (from "Love Is", a duet by Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight)
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 09-25-2013, 02:10 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Infinitely.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-25-2013, 02:22 AM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Yes: people are living far longer, women have the right to vote in most countries, blacks no longer suffer de facto legal oppression in most of the United States, far more information is available at our fingertips on the Internet, medicine can cure and treat countless diseases and disorders before which people will were helpless a century ago.

Now there are some better aspects of the 1913 world (at least for the West): less cultural degeneracy, superior fashion (especially for males), orthodox Christianity being far stronger (although only in the West, the reverse is true in the rest of the world), and a stronger spirit of faith in progress and science.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09-25-2013, 02:36 AM
panache45 panache45 is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 23,163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qin Shi Huangdi View Post
superior fashion (especially for males)
Do you want to dress that way, in summer, before the advent of air conditioning?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-25-2013, 03:45 AM
Malden Capell Malden Capell is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
I would say so. The internet, for one thing. And video games!
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-25-2013, 04:20 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,566
Better now? I would say so. Imagine the SDMB in 1913. We'd all be telegraph operators, communicating in Morse code.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-25-2013, 04:29 AM
DagNation DagNation is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
2013 would win, hands down. We have a way better army.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09-25-2013, 04:40 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Heck, I'll take 2013 over 2003.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:05 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 15,204
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qin Shi Huangdi View Post
Now there are some better aspects of the 1913 world (at least for the West): less cultural degeneracy
Really? Are you in any way familiar with the expression "The Great Binge?"
Quote:
, superior fashion (especially for males)
Hells to the no. Suits are still around, and we have other choices too. So we have even broader fashion today, and also more fabric choices, and generally cheaper too. In what way is 1913's fashion superior? Clip-on collars?
Quote:
, orthodox Christianity being far stronger
Naah, that's not "better"...
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-25-2013, 07:02 AM
casdave casdave is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 7,562
Definitely better in 2013.

This may come as something of a shock, but just five years earlier, 1907, infant mortality figures were such that fully 25% of all children did not make it to their teens - at least in the industrialised cities in the UK.

Even so, this was actually a significant improvement on public health just 70 or so years earlier, I have figures that suggest that mortality in those cities was absolutely startling. According to a Royal Commission report by Edwin Chadwick, the life expectancy of labouring workers was just 19 years, and for Gentry it was 44 years - and those figures were very heavily dragged down by abysmal infant mortality.

I do not have the exact figures for 1913, but it is not likely they will be any better than 1907, since the greatest improvements in public health were heavily influenced by the provision of clean public water supplies, and it was not until after WW1 that the required large scale investment was made in water storage, filtration, distribution and effluent treatment.

Plans and schemes for public health investment were in place prior to WW1(and had been mooted as early as the late 1870's) however most of these were delayed due to that war.

There are also social conditions to compare, such as universal suffrage, social mobility, education, working conditions, imperialism and colonialism and international accountability.
You might give yourself a wry smile, but the fact is that military adventurism is absolutely miniscule in 2013 compared to 1913.

Couple of references for you that give you an idea of the situation in 1840 through to near the present day.

"The Sanitary conditions of the Labouring Classes" Edwin Chadwick

"Hidden beneath our feet - The story of sewerage in Leeds"
David Sellers.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 09-25-2013, 07:59 AM
zoid zoid is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Chicago Il
Posts: 8,429
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qin Shi Huangdi View Post
Now there are some better aspects of the 1913 world (at least for the West): [snip] orthodox Christianity being far stronger
This is not a good thing and this is my opinion as a Christian. The RCC is just now beginning to discuss (never mind actually addressing) the acceptance of homosexuals, the role of women in the church, and the issue of celibacy for priests. It sure as heck wasn't any better an environment 100 years ago and the more fundamental sects of Christianity aren't exactly leading the charge either.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 09-25-2013, 08:05 AM
Smapti Smapti is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Olympia, WA
Posts: 7,317
Keep in mind that antibiotics hadn't even been developed yet in 1913. It was entirely possible for routine surgery to lead to gangrene and amputation or death.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 09-25-2013, 08:23 AM
Bozuit Bozuit is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: London, UK
Posts: 2,826
Unlike in 1913, we're not a year away from a world war.

Right?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 09-25-2013, 09:37 AM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
Is the world better off than it was 100 years ago? I know some countries definitely are. But what about the world as a whole?
Overall, vastly better off. Few people ever stop to think that how much of the world's population lived in squalor one hundred years ago. There are, of course, still hundreds of millions of people trapped in third-world slums, but percentage wise the portion of the world's population that could fairly be described as 'middle class' is much larger. Moreover, life has gotten better even for the poor. The average Brazilian has access to running water and electricity now; not so much in 1913. The typical Chinese person has adequate food now; not necessarily a century ago.

There are, of course, some trends that are negative: the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East with resulting censorship and oppression of women, the 'War on Drugs' that punishes millions of mostly innocent people, etc.. But we shouldn't let the existence of some problems blind us to the good that has occurred.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 09-25-2013, 11:50 AM
casdave casdave is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 7,562
Quote:
There are, of course, some trends that are negative: the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East with resulting censorship and oppression of women
I actually think that this is a sign of something rather different. For centuries women had been oppressed but didn't even know this was happening to them, they assumed it was normal.

With the far greater spread of westernised culture, this has presented a challenge that Islam simply cannot cope with, the accessibility of information has made this private oppression far less viable, Islam is struggling to cope, radical Islam is merely a reaction to the modern collision of cultures but its one that Islam will have to deal with, and that will mean a type of reformation.

The information age cannot be but back in the box and forgotten about.

We have seen this long ago with the rise of non-conformist Christianity, where Catholicism has slowly had to drag itself out of the 14thC, Islam has yet to do the same.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 09-25-2013, 12:10 PM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by casdave View Post
I actually think that this is a sign of something rather different. For centuries women had been oppressed but didn't even know this was happening to them, they assumed it was normal.

With the far greater spread of westernised culture, this has presented a challenge that Islam simply cannot cope with, the accessibility of information has made this private oppression far less viable, Islam is struggling to cope, radical Islam is merely a reaction to the modern collision of cultures but its one that Islam will have to deal with, and that will mean a type of reformation.

The information age cannot be but back in the box and forgotten about.

We have seen this long ago with the rise of non-conformist Christianity, where Catholicism has slowly had to drag itself out of the 14thC, Islam has yet to do the same.
+1

As I tell Euro friends who think the U.S. is one vast religious sea...people get the most vocal when in decline. Relgion is in decline in the U.S. you are just hearing the reaction of people to it.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 09-25-2013, 12:24 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 10,135
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
In what way is 1913's fashion superior?
Hats.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 09-25-2013, 12:27 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bozuit View Post
Unlike in 1913, we're not a year away from a world war.

Right?
OK, if there is a world war a year from now, we know exactly who to blame!!
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 09-25-2013, 01:28 PM
Buck Godot Buck Godot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
I agree that by almost every measure we are better off now than we were back then. But there are a few areas in which we are worse off.

1) larger population and less untouched natural land.
2) Although in many ways pollution is better now than it was before the environmental movement, our increased industrial capacity has made us capable of affecting the natural world in ways that were not possible in 1913 (massive Oil spills and Global warming).
3)The existence of nuclear weapons has in many way made the world more peaceful, but their existence allows for the possibility of an Armageddon undreamed of in 1913.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 09-25-2013, 02:47 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Anaheim, CA
Posts: 21,919
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
Is the world better off than it was 100 years ago? I know some countries definitely are. But what about the world as a whole?

It has me in it now, so it's gotta be "Yup."
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 09-25-2013, 02:55 PM
XT XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 27,346
The porn is MUCH better than in 1913. No contest really.

(and pretty much in every other quantifiable measure it's better today than 100 years ago as well...but porn is my key metric)
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 09-25-2013, 04:14 PM
Prof. Pepperwinkle Prof. Pepperwinkle is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Chateau Pepperwinkle
Posts: 22,522
Here's an infographic of 1913 vs 2013.

They didn't even HAVE infographics in 1913.

Last edited by Prof. Pepperwinkle; 09-25-2013 at 04:14 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:00 PM
Great Antibob Great Antibob is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qin Shi Huangdi View Post

Now there are some better aspects of the 1913 world (at least for the West): less cultural degeneracy, superior fashion (especially for males), orthodox Christianity being far stronger (although only in the West, the reverse is true in the rest of the world), and a stronger spirit of faith in progress and science.
So basically things that can't be objectively measured? Kind of pointless things then.

Last edited by Great Antibob; 09-25-2013 at 05:01 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:05 PM
Max the Immortal Max the Immortal is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Hats.
Good riddance.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:09 PM
Finagle Finagle is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Somewhere near Boston
Posts: 8,519
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
Here's an infographic of 1913 vs 2013.

They didn't even HAVE infographics in 1913.
I was thinking that 2013 was a slam dunk. Then I started reading the comments on that infographic. So it's 2013, as long as you can ignore the fetid black hole that is the comments section of just about any article that appears on the internet.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:19 PM
Blakeyrat Blakeyrat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Unless you're a huge fan of filthy outhouses... 2013.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:21 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
Here's an infographic of 1913 vs 2013.

They didn't even HAVE infographics in 1913.
Thank God we are no longer subject to the economic tyranny of Dutch Boy Paint and Campbell's Soup!
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:29 PM
Buck Godot Buck Godot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finagle View Post
I was thinking that 2013 was a slam dunk. Then I started reading the comments on that infographic. So it's 2013, as long as you can ignore the fetid black hole that is the comments section of just about any article that appears on the internet.
There were lots of ignorant people back in 1913 as well, its just that you don't hear much about them because their thoughts weren't preserved for posterity.

Last edited by Buck Godot; 09-25-2013 at 05:29 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:29 PM
XT XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 27,346
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
Here's an infographic of 1913 vs 2013.

They didn't even HAVE infographics in 1913.
Adjusted for inflation it looks like the average individual income was $18,899.15 in 2013 dollars. Still bad, but not quite as bad as it looks in the raw comparison (though better than China is today at $5,680 in 2013 US dollars). The life expectancy figure really tells the tale though.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 09-25-2013, 05:31 PM
Blakeyrat Blakeyrat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Godot View Post
I agree that by almost every measure we are better off now than we were back then. But there are a few areas in which we are worse off.

1) larger population and less untouched natural land.
There's a larger percentage of "touched, but then left untouched" land now. National parks didn't exist in their current form until 1916. The logging industry was at its height in 1913. I'm not 100% sure that's true, at least not in the US.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Godot View Post
2) Although in many ways pollution is better now than it was before the environmental movement, our increased industrial capacity has made us capable of affecting the natural world in ways that were not possible in 1913 (massive Oil spills and Global warming).
Compared to 1913, when almost all cities on Earth were heated with coal, coke, and wood-burning stoves? Ridiculous.

The population growth might be responsible for more carbon output, but our use of burning fuels is orders of magnitude more efficient than in 1913.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Godot View Post
3)The existence of nuclear weapons has in many way made the world more peaceful, but their existence allows for the possibility of an Armageddon undreamed of in 1913.
I'd rather be nuked than be in a 1914 trench, I think.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 09-25-2013, 06:33 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
For hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indians, yes, things are much better. For AIDS-ravaged western Africa, maybe not so much. Your average American is better off than in 1913 but is on a downhill slide, economically, but perhaps it's reversible. Perhaps not. There doesn't seem to be much will to reverse it, even among average Americans.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 09-25-2013, 06:42 PM
Eonwe Eonwe is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Burlington VT
Posts: 7,268
I think "better off" is a pretty useless concept when comparing eras like that.

What does better off mean? Is there an objective measure? It's very easy to just kind of arbitrarily pick things you wouldn't want to change about today and say that they're better than they used to be.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 09-25-2013, 07:05 PM
panache45 panache45 is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 23,163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malden Capell View Post
The internet, for one thing.
Yes, not only was Al Gore not born yet, but his father was only 6.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 09-25-2013, 07:37 PM
XT XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 27,346
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe
What does better off mean? Is there an objective measure? It's very easy to just kind of arbitrarily pick things you wouldn't want to change about today and say that they're better than they used to be.
Seems easy enough to me. Do people live longer? Do they live better? Do they have access to more services, entertainment, higher standard of living? Do they have better access to essentials like clean water and wholesome food (hell, do they HAVE access to those things at all)?

All of these things seem objective enough to me, and quantifiable. What do you disagree with?
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 09-25-2013, 07:53 PM
Aquadementia Aquadementia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
The porn is MUCH better than in 1913. No contest really.

(and pretty much in every other quantifiable measure it's better today than 100 years ago as well...but porn is my key metric)
I thought prostitution was significantly more available back then. From the point of view of a moral degenerate that's a sad turn of events.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
Here's an infographic of 1913 vs 2013.

They didn't even HAVE infographics in 1913.
What's baffling is how people are so much more educated now yet baby names have become ever so much more stupid.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 09-25-2013, 07:56 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
Posts: 28,807
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bozuit View Post
Unlike in 1913, we're not a year away from a world war.

Right?
One hopes.


Then again, so did they....
__________________
Weltschmerz
~~~Literally "world pain" in German, the term describes the pain idealists feel upon realizing that the world does not live up to their expectations of what it should be.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 09-25-2013, 08:02 PM
XT XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 27,346
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
One hopes.


Then again, so did they....
Yeah, but at least the Europeans could see the writing on the wall, and for the most part they didn't look on the confrontation with dread but were actually excited by the prospect (of course, they all thought THEY would win and fairly quickly). However, in the US we were still several years from war and I don't think many at that time thought that we'd be embroiled in a world war.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 09-25-2013, 08:16 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Cloud Cuckoo Land
Posts: 23,463
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Better now? I would say so. Imagine the SDMB in 1913. We'd all be telegraph operators, communicating in Morse code.
Yes, we would.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 09-25-2013, 09:20 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Really? Are you in any way familiar with the expression "The Great Binge?"
I meant more in the way of art of literature (admittedly by 1913 the first strand of modernism had popped up, but even they are better than the stuff produced these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Hats.
This.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Captor View Post
For hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indians, yes, things are much better. For AIDS-ravaged western Africa, maybe not so much. Your average American is better off than in 1913 but is on a downhill slide, economically, but perhaps it's reversible. Perhaps not. There doesn't seem to be much will to reverse it, even among average Americans.
I don't think western Africa was much better off. The people there would have been dying of other, more contagious diseases. The only places in the world that might have been better off in 1913 is North Korea (even though it was a Japanese colony) and Zimbabwe.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 09-25-2013, 09:35 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquadementia View Post
I thought prostitution was significantly more available back then.
And more dangerous to all concerned. At least nowadays, most STDs are treatable.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 09-25-2013, 10:46 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smapti View Post
Keep in mind that antibiotics hadn't even been developed yet in 1913. It was entirely possible for routine surgery to lead to gangrene and amputation or death.
Beat me to it, I already knew that the allies had Penicillin and it was an advantage for the Allies over the Axis in WWII, I just learned how big that advantage was:

http://www.historytoday.com/gilbert-...est-penicillin
Quote:
In the years following its discovery, penicillin was to gain a reputation as a useful laboratory tool, but it was the work of two Oxford scientists that was to reveal the drug’s true potential. In 1938 Howard Florey and Ernst Chain set out to study natural antibacterial substances. Early in their investigations they chanced upon penicillin and in a short space of time made enormous progress with their research. Their first achievement was to purify it. This allowed them to show that penicillin could protect animals infected with large doses of normally fatal bacteria. It was these results that convinced the Oxford scientists that they were dealing with an extraordinary new drug. Following normal scientific practice, and the war notwithstanding, they published their results in the medical journal The Lancet.

Florey’s results attracted world attention – including that of German scientists. The latter were only able to read The Lancet because it was sent to Germany from neutral countries such as Sweden and Switzerland. Scientific publications received through these channels were somewhat prized and went first to those with Nazi Party connections. Among them was Theodore Morell, Hitler’s personal physician, who was later to receive the Iron Cross for his discovery of antibiotics. Copies of Florey’s Lancet papers were also dispatched to Japan by submarine.

On hearing of penicillin’s alleged efficacy, senior officials from the German pharmaceutical industry hatched a plan to obtain Fleming’s mould. A Swiss company agreed to act as proxy and approach Florey for it: once they had received it they would simply send it to Germany. However, Florey was tipped off and acted immediately to frustrate the attempt. He wrote to Fleming asking him not to send out cultures to persons or organisations who might then pass them on to Germany.

Quote:
Why did the German project fail? Firstly, research was too unco-ordinated. Those involved seemed to have had no difficulties collaborating with one another but what was lacking was a central body to co-ordinate research and eliminate duplication of effort. Prior to the discovery of penicillin the best antibacterial drugs available were the sulphonamides. These were a German discovery and although far less effective than penicillin, had earned the pharmace-utical industry there a great deal of money. While these companies now came to dominate penicillin research, their experience in manu-facturing the sulphonamides proved of little relevance in the quest for penicillin. What was needed was industrial experience of cultivating microbes – such experience existed in Germany, but it lay outside the pharmaceutical sector and was never exploited. In the USA, by contrast, firms with industrial microbiology experience played a key role, while a central body co-ordinated research and production. Ironically some participants, such as Merck, were the American subsidiaries of German companies. Merck was to become one of the biggest producers of penicillin in the USA, while its parent company, E. Merck of Darmstadt, was years behind, still experimenting with penicillin production in small metal flasks. Meanwhile, German frustration at not being able to get hold of Fleming’s mould led to allegations in some quarters that the drug was no more than an Allied propaganda weapon. It is impossible to assess to what extent such claims influenced research, but they would certainly not have helped.

Prior to the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, British units in North Africa were severely depleted because of the number of troops suffering from sexually transmitted diseases (STD). After some debate as to its efficacy, penicillin was finally released to treat these men. The effects were miraculous: a single dose of penicillin was sufficient to eradicate STD in a single day in cases where, previously, huge doses of sulphon-amides administered over several days had virtually no effect. There can be no doubt that if penicillin had been widely available in Germany at this time, it would have transformed the treatment of battle casualties and resulted in fewer amputations and deaths. The German armed forces must have been afflicted with STD at comparable rates to those found in British troops – if penicillin has been used to treat such cases it might possibly have tipped the balance in Germany’s favour in some of the key engagements late in the war. As it was, the number of Germans given penicillin in some form or another probably did not amount to more than a few hundred. Interestingly, this number may have included Adolf Hitler who is reputed to have received some for an injured hand following the July 1944 bomb plot against him.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 09-25-2013, 11:05 PM
Great Antibob Great Antibob is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qin Shi Huangdi View Post
The only places in the world that might have been better off in 1913 is North Korea (even though it was a Japanese colony) and Zimbabwe.
Nah, even there, things are better off. Both were and still are well below average, but the kids are mostly vaccinated (in N Korea's case, probably better than the US), life expectancy is higher, and there's at least some access to clean water, electricity, etc.

And Zimbabwe isn't even close to being worse. It's a political and economic hellhole but people still make out better in several ways than 100 years ago. You're letting politics influence you if this even came up as a potential example.

One place where things are not better off are probably the Andaman Islands and uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. Of course, things aren't worse for them, either.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 09-25-2013, 11:44 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Yeah, Great Antibob is correct, lets go to the Gapminder from Hans Rosling

The average Life Expectancy in Zimbabwe (Blue) was 34 years in 1913.

In 2012, the last data recorded, the expectancy is 58:

http://www.gapminder.org/world/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=5.592 90322580644;ti=2012$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj1jiMAkmq1iMg;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS ;iid=phAwcNAVuyj2tPLxKvvnNPA;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL_n5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uni Value=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=283;dataMax=110808$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=18;da taMax=87$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=i256_t001912,,,,;i116_t001912,,,,;modified=75

Warning: you need flash to see the results. You can see the catastrophic drop in the 90's and early 00's but it got better recently by 2013.

North Korea is in red: back in 1913 the life expectancy was 25, nowadays it is 70.

(link is not parsing fro some reason)

Last edited by GIGObuster; 09-25-2013 at 11:49 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 09-26-2013, 12:01 AM
Great Antibob Great Antibob is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by GIGObuster View Post
North Korea is in red: back in 1913 the life expectancy was 25, nowadays it is 70.
I'd take any stats out of the DPRK with a block of salt, but it is almost certain that infant mortality is much better now, which would be the major source of low life expectancy pretty much anywhere.

And exaggerated or not people are certainly living longer, as hitting 60 used to be considered an unusual event worthy of a massive celebration among friends and family (70 is the new mile stone in South Korea and it's also much more commonly reached than even a generation ago).
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 09-26-2013, 02:37 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 15,204
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Hats.
Not familiar with hipsters, I take it?
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 09-26-2013, 02:50 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 15,204
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Captor View Post
For hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indians, yes, things are much better. For AIDS-ravaged western Africa, maybe not so much.
AIDS isn't ravaging West Africa quite as much as it is Southern and East Africa. Meanwhile, in 1913 West Africa was just five years away from this...

AIDS is survivable with treatment (which, yes, most poor Africans can't afford), genocide, not so much. Of course, that sort of thing continues on today, so overall it's a wash.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 09-26-2013, 03:46 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 15,204
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qin Shi Huangdi View Post
I meant more in the way of art of literature (admittedly by 1913 the first strand of modernism had popped up, but even they are better than the stuff produced these days.
Most people were reading pulp magazines and enjoyed whatever the equivalent of velvet Elvises and Thomas Kinkade was - Hell, it probably was Dogs Playing Poker, actually.

Believe me, what you think of as typical of the 1913s was as exceptional as good novels and art today (of which there are lots, if you know where to look - not all of it Modernist or Post-, either).

Look at 2 nowadays critically-esteemed novels that came out in 1913 - Sons and Lovers and Swann's Way - the former received quite a hostile reception, the latter "a muted and generally bewildered response". As for fine art, what was the response to the Armory Show?
Quote:
News reports and reviews were filled with accusations of quackery, insanity, immorality, and anarchy, as well as parodies, caricatures, doggerels and mock exhibitions. About the modern works, former President Theodore Roosevelt declared, "That's not art!"
. And in other arts, we all know how The Rite of Spring was received...
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 09-26-2013, 07:22 AM
Bozuit Bozuit is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: London, UK
Posts: 2,826
It's a pet peeve of mine when people talk about "the good old days". I wonder if it's polio or racism that they miss more. But, having said that, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that people in 1913 were generally happier than in 2013. How this is objectively measured is hard to say - if you took a thousand people from 1913 and transplanted them to 2013 they'd probably say they prefer things now - but I expect people are a lot less likely to feel content with what they have nowadays.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 09-26-2013, 10:55 AM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
Seems easy enough to me. Do people live longer? Do they live better? Do they have access to more services, entertainment, higher standard of living? Do they have better access to essentials like clean water and wholesome food (hell, do they HAVE access to those things at all)?

All of these things seem objective enough to me, and quantifiable.
I agree with the general thrust of your argument. However, one could point to exceptions. Between 1929 and 1939, the standard of living probably improved for the average German. Nonetheless, Germany was not a better place in 1939. So while improved physical standards of living are usually a sign that life is better overall, there are a few solitary exceptions.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 09-26-2013, 11:04 AM
Eonwe Eonwe is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Burlington VT
Posts: 7,268
Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
Seems easy enough to me. Do people live longer?
Sure. But every person who is born still ends up dying. Is indefinite prolonging of life a good measure of a better world?

Quote:
Do they have access to more services, entertainment, higher standard of living?
Probably.

Quote:
Do they have better access to essentials like clean water and wholesome food (hell, do they HAVE access to those things at all)?
I'm sure that in general they do.

Quote:
All of these things seem objective enough to me, and quantifiable. What do you disagree with?
Yes, those are all, for the most part, objective, quantifiable things. My question is what any one or a group of those an indicator of a "better world"?

I'm sure there's a way to describe this kind of argument in Latin, but basically it sounds to me that people in general define "better" to mean whatever outcome of whatever measurement they're chosen, and then point to that outcome as proof that things are better: "A better world is one that has more access to entertainment than people who lived in a worse world. Look at how many movies I can watch on Netflix; see, this is a better world!"

I agree (well, I assume it to be true) that we are healthier and there are fewer vectors for illness and death than in 1913. I am glad for this, but I am not sure if it makes this world a "better" one. Who can say?

I am inclined to feel that the world gets better as more people become happy and/or content. I'm not sure how one measures that, but I'm fairly sure that humanity hasn't been increasing its happiness over the course of its existence with each medical advancement and each increase in GDP.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:58 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.