Is there any U.S. achievement that is cited as an example by other countries?

Whenever something in the U.S. needs improvement, I often see people citing examples from other countries that happen to achieve a greater success in that specific area than we do.

For example, the British traffic system happens to be much better in preventing accidents than the U.S. system.

There are countless articles on how other countries eat better and are a lot skinner than Americans are.

Is there anything in which America sets the example for other countries?

You guys have the market cornered on motivational speakers. Does that count?

And twinkies.

Mmmmm… twinkies…

Movies and TV-shows. Exported throughout the world.
Self improvement books. (see also the post on motivational speakers)
PR, in the largest sense.

Levels of obesity.


In nearly every report I’ve seen on TV etc. on rising levels of obesity in Ireland the results are always compared with the levels in the US.

Everyone around the world admires shopping in the US. Compared to Europe, prices are much better in America.

I would also point out how many foreigners attend US universities and travel to the US for medical treatment.

Declaration of Independence count?

How does the US compare in scientific achievement these days, compared to other countries?

The US is still the world’s leader (according to this week’s Economist I just finished) but the rest of the world is closing the gap. Asia is still lagging.

In a good way, the free market, which allows good enterpreneurs to get rich.

In a bad way, imprisonment without trial and torture.


I’ve always found that its something Americans are very proud of, and fair play for that, but it really isn’t as big a deal elsewhere as you might think.

Same goes for the Constitution really.

That’s not to say that it wasn’t important (or that it shouldn’t be a huge thing for you guys). Just that there are lots of examples of “freedom fighting” and “democracy” all over the world - many of which are more closely tied to people culturally and/or geographically than the US experience.

Not saying that was always the case, but certainly seems to be the way these days.

Not really. You may have been early to do it but IME other countries don’t really hold it up as relevent to them.

For example if you said “Declaration of Independence” to a Irish person the first thing that would come into their heads would be this

That’s hard to say from the stats alone. Most top researchers from other countries, especially smaller countries, will at some point in their careers work at, or work together with, some USA researcht institute.
So I don’t know if that says something about how good USA research institutes are, or perhaps about how large the US is, so how specialized each institute can become. Probably both.

Any others been to the Moon lately?

Oh, please - WE haven’t been to the Moon lately, either!

In general what I admire about US society is that you manage to correct all major internal social malignancies (like slavery, unequal rights for women, hysterical anti-communism, homophobia) eventually yourself, without needing a kick in the pants by others (a good example would be the US justice system ending Japanese American internment, even as the war against Japan was still on).

This admirable trait is a bit tempered IMO by that of, as soon as the problem has been corrected, to assume the US is not just now, but inherently on the side of the angels on the subject, and to regard societies where attitudes are out of synch by mere decades or centuries as inherently (as opposed to situationally) bad.

Some incidental US achievements that I’d like to point out:

  • not having invented Big Brother (don’t you agree, Maastricht ? :smiley: )

Two features where e.g. Germany enforces personal responsibility too much, and the US does it right IMO:

  • easy personal bankruptcy (not available at all in Germany until a few years ago; now you can achieve personal bankruptcy after a six year court-mandated austerity and repayment plan)
  • a more incremental education system (e.g.: when you do the German rough equivalent of a masters program and fail just before the end you have no tertiary education degree at all. A more incremental scheme on the Anglo-American model is being phased in in Europe, the so-called Bologna process).

No. There is nothing. America does nothing right and should be annihilated immediately.

Kidding. Cranky, half asleep kidding.

I think the Germans are probably on the right track, in this respect.

The New Deal, the Moon Landings, the Shuttle, the Hoover Dam, the economy, the amazing entrepreneurialism, the best TV in the world (since HBO started getting hot, anyway), the fast food, Hollywood, saving our asses in WWII, and the hugely successful democratization of the Middle East.

(I was kidding about one of the above.)

Scientific achievement is hard to cover to cover quickly because it includes so many different areas. Still, the U.S. dominates most of science research at a ridiculous level and usually outpaces all other countries combined. Just looking at our universities overall, look at rankings of world universities like this one. Isn’t hard to spot the trend by eye. If you focus on science graduate programs, it gets even worse in the U.S. favor. The U.S. simply does higher education better than any other country. However, there is a complicating factor that has been mentioned. A very significant percentage of science graduate programs have a disproportionate number of foreign students. Some will stay in the U.S. once they are done but many will pack up and go home once they earn their Ph.D.

A list of critical scientific inventions over the last century are also heavily U.S. centered whether it is the airplane, the transistor, space flight, computers, or most of biotech.