Do you ever wonder what beliefs we hold now that will be completely disregarded as ridiculous someday in the future?
We like to think we’re at the height of human evolution, but we’re just another part of history. And a lot of the things we do and believe now will most likely one day looked on as folly.
Folks on AskReddit shared their ideas about what they think future societies will look back and laugh at us for.
“Linear-No Threshold hypothesis (LNT) that says any radiation dose, no matter how small, can cause cancer.
LNT is not compatible with the scientific evidence. It’s already very controversial in the scientific community, adds burdensome and unnecessarily high costs, and foments needless fear of low dose radiation among the general public.”
“Our naive trust that genetic monocultures aren’t a problem in agriculture when CRISPR technology is involved.
That’s a dense statement so to unpack it, a genetic monoculture happens when everything in a field is a clone of everything else. The great Irish potato famine, that was a genetic monoculture: once a fungus came along that could exploit a weakness the entire country’s crop failed. The Irish had been propagating potatoes asexually so every potato in Ireland was a virtual clone of every other potato.
Yet there’s never been a great Peruvian potato famine even though potatoes are native to that part of the world. That’s because the Peruvians cultivate a huge variety of potatoes. So if a blight comes along and destroys a few plants, the other potatoes in the field are different enough that they don’t have the same vulnerability.
Europeans had actually been cloning potatoes for the better part of a century before the Irish famine. A single shipment during the eighteenth century had introduced the plant to European agriculture and it became a staple in some areas because it produces a high yield nutritious crop that can be grown in a small space. Nobody really considered genetic variation as a risk factor.
Other agricultural monocultures have led to crop failures: the French wine industry nearly collapsed from a blight during the late nineteenth century until they started grafting their vines onto root stock from California. Now another blight is slowly taking down the French wine industry again.
The world’s banana production collapsed in the mid-twentieth century for similar reasons: banana plants are reproduced asexually. The Gros Michel banana succumbed to a fungal disease and every Gros Michel banana plant was vulnerable. The Cavendish banana took its place for commercial cultivation. Cavendishes are also reproduced asexually. It’s taken about fifty years for a different fungal disease to devastate the Cavendish, but right now the reason bananas are still on grocery store shelves is that the new fungus hasn’t spread to the Caribbean and Latin America. Asian and African banana export farming has been ruined.
So genetic monoculture farming has short term and medium range advantages in terms of crop yield, shelf stability, etc. Yet on a time scale of fifty to a hundred years it’s prone to catastrophic collapse.
What are we doing with GMO crops now? We’re patenting them, which ensures they get raised as genetic monocultures.
This doesn’t necessarily mean GMOs are bad per se. It’s an implementation problem. The OP asks about a hundred years. Suppose the Midwestern prairie states are raising genetic monocultures seventy years from now.
It’s a risk our generation is capable of anticipating, and that we’re capable taking steps now to prevent. Prevention would involve making genetic modifications of several different varieties of staple grains so that if one variety ever falls to a blight we’ll have enough backups implemented to prevent real devastation.
Yet this type of precaution would be slightly more expensive to implement now.”
3. Not scientific
“In all likelihood, it’s going to be something that isn’t actually “scientific” in this day and age.
See, a lot of the things that we take for granted as “scientific facts” — particularly those having to do with cultural mandates — haven’t actually been studied or examined in any meaningful way. For example, it used to be that corporal punishment was regarded as the only effective means of disciplining a child, and everyone “knew” that other options would result in adults who were spineless, entitled twerps. Along similar lines, everyone “knew” that homosexuality was the result of either abuse or some other sort of mistreatment… and not only was it potentially contagious, it was also psychologically harmful to anyone who was exposed to it.
We understand that both of those beliefs are ridiculous nowadays, but we haven’t gotten any better at approaching things from an actually scientific perspective. Chances are that there are several things which we “know” today which are actually false… and furthermore, it’s equally likely that many of those suppositions are difficult to challenge, simply because questioning them goes against the societally mandated grain. For example, what if someone suggested that rape only caused mental harm because we expected it to?
That’s obviously absurd, but look at the way you reacted.
Now, think about other things that might make you react in similar ways. Have you ever read any scientific papers on those concepts? Have any impartial, peer-reviewed studies even been done on the topics in question? Do you have any evidence that supports your beliefs, other than personal anecdotes and culturally reinforced feelings?
It wasn’t too long ago that transgenderism was looked at as being a mental illness, and there are still people who approach it from that perspective, despite the actually scientific evidence to the contrary. Popular points of view are difficult to shift, and they’re even more daunting to challenge… and yet, chances are that something we all take for granted is completely and utterly wrong.
Just don’t ask me what it is. I won’t know until after I’ve seen studies.”
4. Climate change
“That by 2100 the world will just be beginning to suffer the more truly globally calamitous consequences of climate change.
Because by 2050 that s*** will have already happened.”
“How we used to get meat. 100 years from now, it will all be grown in vats on an industrial scale.”
“Every belief about how small, efficient, powerful, etc any given technology can get. It will all be beyond anyone’s current expectations.”
7. The universe isn’t everything
“The premise of our universe being the original, and not contained within some larger structure, whether as a simulation or a bubble in a fractal patter of multiverses. From the big bang to the laws of physics, there are a lot of clues that are universe isn’t everything…”
“That caffeine isn’t super harmful.
I wonder if we’re going to look back in a hundred years, incredulous there were so many products that you could legally buy with caffeine in it. Similar to how we look back at legal products containing cocaine and heroin from the early 1900s.”
9. Heavy metal
“That we use metals to hold together the damaged bones. That we are not able to develop any collagen that have density of bones and can function like a bone.”
“That meat and (post infancy/non-human) dairy products are actual dietary requirements, rather than cultural preferences or economically dominant industries.”
11. Mental illness
“I suspect a lot of the ways mental illness is viewed and approached. Scientists don’t even know what things like bipolar disorder actually are in any physical sense, other than the cluster of symptoms presented. So really, you could even expand this to – many of our current views of the brain/mind. It’s really uncharted territory.”
12. The things we do today…
“Not beliefs per se but things we do today…
Amputations of any kind “They used to cut off their legs and stick metal ones on that they couldn’t move”.
Organ transplants “They’d harvest organs from the dead and place them in sick people!”
Longevity “People used to only live to around 80 on average, that’s like a child now!”
Meat “people used to slaughter animals for food and not grow it in a lab!” “
“Back in the early 2000s, people just had to live with migraines. They treated them with painkillers- which, as we know today, is ineffective against the root cause of the migraine. In those days, if the painkiller didn’t work, the person just had to live with the migraine, sometimes for days or weeks at a time.”