Recalibrating Respect for fertile subcultures

Robin Hanson

I’ve recently come to estimate that the world population and economy will suffer a several centuries fall, with innovation grinding to a halt, ended by the rise of Amish-like insular fertile subcultures, much like how Christians came to dominate the Roman Empire. And even though this hasn’t actually happened yet, my new estimate pushes me to recalibrate my respect. I not only want to respect such cultures more, I want guess which of their choices and features are most responsible for their coming success, to more respect those choices and features. And to contrast those with the features of others, to be respected less.

As a result, I’ve been watching many documentaries about various insular fertile subcultures, trying to get a feel for what it is that distinguishes them, and which of those distinguishing features we should credit for their successfully achieving persistent high insularity and high fertility. While they may not seem very impressive to my eyes according to my prior intuitive impressiveness scoring system, we all need to figure out how to change our scoring systems to assign them the much higher ratngs that their future success deserves. 

Robin Hanson So far I can see that I haven’t gotten very far; I still have much recalibration to do. I can see a lot of raw emotional energy due to adults being surrounded and respected by so many basically happy children, kids who are themselves happy due to being around so many other kids. I can see a strong communal bond and lack of resentment of communal obligations due to their pretty egalitarian practices and strong communal autonomy; each group of roughly a hundred can do what it wants, but does whatever that is together. Their isolation, limits on tech, and fundamentalist religion clearly serve well to insulate them and to make their basic policies seem beyond question. And just being typically very busy in activities that are clearly valued by associates seems important.