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The science of well being

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On the last video I began to explore the issue of the utilisation of the scientific method for social concern, comparing it to other forms of governance and decision making, such as democracy, technocracy and how the market forces influence those. The video received an overwhelming positive response from many of you, and I was really surprised. As expected, there were also a few questions and critiques, and I thank you for those, we shall explore each of them individually. One of the criticisms raised was that there is no universal definition of well being, therefore we cannot possibly address the issue in scientific terms. OK, let's examine this statement with the help of a graphic. Imagine we have two persons. The one on the left is in the quintessential perfect well being. Now, we do not know what that looks like, but we can imagine a hypothetical scenario where such a person in such a state exists. On the opposite side, you have a unfortunate individual in the worst possible misery, both physical an mental. If you can imagine something going bad in your life, it's there. And if you can imagine something worse that, it's also there. Between these two conditions there are millions of degrees of variation, from left to right. Somebody here, for example, may have the following scenario: - she never gets sick - she never broke an bone in her body - she can run a marathon and finish up with ease - she is generally very happy with her life and never displayed signs of depression or mental illnesses - she has a stable and balanced diet, as well access to proper nutrition - she follows her interests with passion and is intellectually stimulated - her social relationships are strong and healthy - her sentimental life is more than satisfying and she enjoys it thoroughly Clearly, these are not all the best traits one person can have, and it's far from being the ideal situation of well being. It's just a point of reference. Similarly, a person here is in the following condition: - she was never fed properly, due to a lack of access to food. As a result, serious growing deficiencies affected her body and her mind - she is crippled and underdeveloped, both physically and mentally - she is constantly being abused sexually - continuous tortures and harassment have worsen her conditions over time - she is in a constant state of pain. Whenever her body adjusts to a level of suffering, new pain is added, and the torture continues - due to the enormous amount of physical and psychological abuses, she was never able to create any social bond - she developed psychoses and she is mentally unstable I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Now, it is true that we don't have a univocal and universal definition of well being, but that doesn't stop us from recognising that there are certain positions on this line that are more desirable than others. And these can be evaluated objectively and scientifically. But we still don't understand everything about the human condition, you might say. We don't understand everything about aerodynamics, either, but that hasn't stopped us from building airplanes and move across the skies of the world. One could make a similar argument about life. Nobody really knows what life is. Yet we can safely say that a rock is not alive, but a squirrel is. What about corals, and viruses, and artificial intelligences? Yet again, there is degree of possibilities within the line, and it’s an open discussion. But when somebody stops breathing, grows cold and starts to decompose... well that might be a sign that the person is not alive anymore. Surely in the future we might discover that we got it all wrong, that rocks are alive and we are not, who knows. But at any given time, we have a context and a frame of reference, which we utilise to make an argument. This is not a philosophical discussion about the nature of Truth in the realm of platonic ideas. This is a very practical argument, where we pose a question: can we try and maximise well being, and can we use a scientific approach to achieve this goal? The answer is yes, in both cases. And given the disastrous results that politics and modern economics have given us, it would be utterly irresponsible not to do so. It really saddens me the fact that, even though we have an abundance of food and medicines in the world, millions of people continue to die. This is completely unnecessary, and avoidable. We let economics and politics deal with this problem for far too many years, and they have failed. On 9-11-2001, 2,966 died in US soil. People still talk about how this could have been prevented. There is an intense debate about that. Today, 23,987 people, mostly children, died of hunger. There is not debate about that. We can prevent this holocaust that keeps repeating every fucking day of the year. It’s time evolve. Let go.

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 6 seconds
Country: Italy
Language: English
Producer: Federico Pistolo
Director: Federico Pistolo
Views: 49
Posted by: michaelycus on Oct 30, 2011

The science of well being

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