If a time traveler from the future showed up in our world today,.....

… which of our practices would strike him as most barbarous?

The author of this: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/15/magazine/15IDEA.html asks that question. He then answers it with “punishment by imprisonment”. He gives some darn good reasons on why, but I’m thinking that many of you may have different opinions. For me it’s obvious: killing animals for food. Society, for the most part, agrees that murder is wrong and that we should respect life. I really feel that in the near future, most civilized humans will not eat meat because there is no good reason to end a life for your pleasure. Anyway, that’s my answer. What’s yours?

Probably the sport of Boxing. Strikes me that there’s plenty of ways for two individuals to compete without potentially causing each other permanent disfigurement and brain damage.

I’d shoot him and see if anybody’s grandfather fell over dead. :slight_smile:

That link requires a logon; how far in the future are we talking?

Under a hundred years, I’d say human rights violations in first-world countries.

100-300 years, I’d say commuting. Think of how many billions of miles get driven by people who could work from home with a decent Internet connection.

300+ years, I’d say pollution, because if we don’t have totally green power generation & recycling down by then, there’s no way they’re building time machines.

I’d say homelessness and racism. A society capable of time travel would, in my opinion, have eliminated those scourges of humanity’s history.

Except, says my biology teacher, particular amino acids we can only get from animal flesh or animal by-products like milk and honey. Of course, if it’s feasible to farm the latter, or produce these artificially, we could get around actually slaughtering animals for food.

Most barbarous practice of today? Factory farming? Fur farming? Death penalty? People who commit violence against homosexuals or people of a particular ethnic group? Dumping all sorts of crap into the oceans? Going to war over political disputes? Recreational trophy-hunting?

I’d say the same thing as the OP. Industrial farming. Pigs who never see the light of day and chickens who spend their whole brief life packed in a cage the size of a sheet of typing paper.
(I’m extrapolating from the past. Two-hundred years ago, slavery and childlabour were normal. Those have been abolished. Acknowledging the intrinsic rights of animals is a logical next step).

And bad rulers. I suspect that a 22-century Khadafi of Saddam or Muagbe wouldn’t stand a chance to take a country hostage; the World Police would have their asses in the World Court in no-time. (Again, I’m extrapolating from the past)

Reality TV. I’m not a time traveler and I can’t help but be emberresed by it.

No No No. You’d have to start shooting grandfathers and see if he fell over.

So I’m thinking this time traveler would really object to the random shooting of potential grandfathers.

I have to agree with the author of the article cited in the OP. Imprisonment as punishment is an astonishingly barbaric and cruel custom.

Just like a society that was able to spilt the atom and landed on the moon was able to make war a thing of the past.

I dunno… you aren’t looking close enough… the article linked talked about the perceptions of people “centuries hence.”

I’d say medicine.

“Can you believe that they actually had to cut people open and drill into their teeth?? They pricked them with needles and drained their blood? Ewwwww!!” :eek:

Failing that, unrestrained capitalism and overconsumption of resources:

“Can you believe that they actually let people set policy according to what would most benefit the elite? It’s like total Darwinism… how barbaric. The vast majority of the world’s population lived in mud and feces while a fraction of one percent enjoyed the majority of the world’s resources. And the waste! My God, they knew that there was only a finite amount of oil, and that they were depleting the world’s forests and oceans, and that their children and grandchildren would suffer for it, and they didn’t care.”

Thank god I wasn’t drinking anything, or you’d owe me a new keyboard! :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, for the OP, I’d say living conditions in general, especially if this is the distant future. I know, at least, if I went back to around the year 0, that would be what catches my attention first.

What makes you think the future will be better than present day?

A time traveler may come back to 2004 and go “you don’t know how good you’ve got it!”

Abortion for anything but dire physical health reasons

I doubt this time traveler would be much different from us. They probably just have cooler weapons.

I agree with homelessness. As advanced as we are economically, the phenomenon seems pretty anachronistic.


I agree with bughunter on medicine being viewed as totally barbaric. Particularly the way we treat cancer.

Yeah, a time traveler could come back say: "Gay people? Ewww. We got rid of them when they started editing out the gay genes back in the twenty fifties. "

Surgical abortion, maybe, but since the world’s population is predicted to be lower in the future than it is now, I doubt that’ll be going away.

The rate at which animals are going extinct might be alarming to a future visitor, I don’t think anyone’s mentioned that yet. But I think homophobia is probably #1… in my opinion it’s beginning its death throes now, so to someone from ‘centuries hence’ it would seem like a really bizarre aberration.