Bumper Crop

“Simple Living Saves Lives.”

So proclaimed the window sticker I saw on a car today, the words written around an old-school windmill. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the naturalistic fallacy stated so succinctly and so wrongly.

Yes, Simple Living Saves Lives. Unless you’re an infant. Or a premature birth. Or deformed. Or exposed to common viruses and bacteria as a child. Or injured in accidents with “simple” technology. Or injured by animals. Or ingesting parasites from insufficiently sanitized food and cooking utensils. Or infected through unsanitary living conditions. Or infected with one of many dangerous STIs from insufficiently-protected/informed sexual encounters. Or pregnant. Or infected with a disease that’s only treatable by modern medicine. Or requiring modern surgery. Or a cancer patient. Or a person with a heart condition. Or someone with a propensity for strokes. Or an elderly person. Or a myriad of other things that endanger people’s lives, and that are only correctable through modern, “complicated” living.

The sentiment is na├»ve pastoral nonsense, and what’s more, we’ve known it for at least four hundred years. Sure, technology causes new problems, but the whole reason we have it in the first place is because it solves problems as well. Pastoralists forget that, which means they also implicitly forget an important part of that: in the past, we still had problems.

So, yes, there are lives that would have been saved if we all still lived in agrarian societies with limited technology. You wouldn’t see people dying due to radiation poisoning or plane crashes or air pollution due to car exhausts. But you’d probably see a lot more people dying of heatstroke or injuries from domesticated animals or ergot poisoning. The increasing world population, the increasing number of healthy elderly and the decreasing infant and child mortality rate in the developed world are testaments to the point that the complexities of modern life save more lives than they end.

And no lives are saved by forgetting history and idealizing the past.


Great view, but terrible atmosphere

Apparently CNN’s website had a poll yesterday to coincide with the launch of the LRO, which should be taking some neat pictures of the moon and doing an impact study to see what lies below the surface. One of the stated purposes of the mission is apparently to scout out potential sites for lunar colonies, which I’m sure is what inspired the CNN poll.

I didn’t get a chance to vote before the poll disappeared from the CNN site, but I think I can sum up my answer thusly:

Incidentally, I have similarly expressed positions on maintaining a healthy fantasy life, methods for combating insomnia, and how best to handle fowl.

This post was brought to you by Wonkette (notice), Pillow Astronaut (image), and the letter N.