[ExI] note from a foaf in japan

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Wed Mar 23 04:07:53 UTC 2011

On Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 9:27 AM, Mirco Romanato <painlord2k at libero.it> wrote:
> Il 22/03/2011 0.46, spike ha scritto:
>> I don't know this person, but will pass along this anyway:
> The mail is interesting.
> Do we had talked about the genetics and the cultural parts of this
> behavior?

It seems unlikely to me that humans are genetically diverse enough to
account for highly social behavior in the face of disaster as a
genetic issue. It seems much more likely to be a 100% cultural issue.
The difference between behavior in New Orleans and Sendai must be
almost entirely cultural. The attitude in New Orleans seemed to have
been the end result of decades of socialism at work in the inner city.
The attitude in Sendai seems to be the result of centuries of dealing
with things with a certain stoicism, the Samurai ethic, a collective
view of the world and a sense of public politeness.

> The advantages and the disadvantages?

In disasters, the advantages of the Japanese ethos seems clear. But
not all of life is disaster, and if every society were tweaked to be
as perfect at disaster as the people of Japan, then we would not have
the benefits that come from individualistic societies. It is a kind of
diversity that is necessary for the world to be the way it is. The
Japanese have a reputation for not being particularly good at radical
invention. I think they are overcoming it by approaching invention in
a "factory" way... the Edison approach to invention matches the
Japanese psyche pretty well. It is hard to imagine a "Stroke of
Insight" type of inventor being very common in Japan.

> What allowed this and what would not allow this to happen?
> What are the difference in behavior between Sendai (Japan) and Bam
> (Iran) or Indonesia, Italy, Chile and China or New Orleans (US)?
> If we were able to select/create genetic traits and teach cultural
> traits, what would we teach and select?

I think we would want to select for diversity. Some societies that we
all benefit from just don't react very well to disaster situations.
When the big one hits Los Angeles, I'm afraid it will be more like New
Orleans than Sendai... however, the world would be a poorer place
without Los Angeles.

> What is good during normal, peaceful days, when infrastructure work as
> expected probably would not work during calamities and when
> infrastructures are not working for an extended periods of time.

Exactly. We can be proud of the stoicism of the Japanese. We can try
to learn from the forgiving nature of the Ahmish (especially after
that terrible school shooting). We can emulate the preparedness of the
Mormons. We can appreciate the creativity of Hollywood. We can not,
however, have a perfect balance of all of these things in one society
because the creativity of Hollywood apparently comes with a decrease
in a lot of the other things that we appreciate.


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