On Technology, Prosperity and Dysfunctional Ideologies

We take it as a given, almost a fact of nature like the seasons or the geography of continents, that different parts of the world enjoy different levels of prosperity. But there’s nothing “natural” about this since this is almost entirely within human control. The differences are stark, and at one end of the scale, heartbreaking. Consider the extremely rich first. Luxembourg has an annual per capita income of over $110,000, Norway over $100,000, Switzerland around $85,000. Those are small countries and outliers with perhaps little to tell us. But the US is large and has an annual per capita income of $53,000. Why is it so rich?

At the other end of the scale are Burundi and Malawi with only $200 or so annual per capita incomes. Why are they so poor? The richest countries are around 500 times richer in per capita terms than the poorest. What accounts for this inequality in incomes of countries? That question has engaged the attention of people for hundreds of years — starting with of course the great Scottish economist Adam Smith who inquired about “The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” in his famous 1776 book.
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Richard Dawkins on the Monotheistic God

The god of the Old Testament is the same god that Christians adopted in their New Testament. Following the Jews and the Christians, Islam proclaimed the same monotheistic god. Who is this god? Richard Dawkins, a non-believer, characterized that god in his book The God Delusion thusly:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Every word in that description is justified — within the so-called “holy” books. Chapter and verse can be quoted to show why that god is “the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”

On Ideas & Ideologies

I mainly criticize ideas and ideologies because ideas fundamentally affect human welfare. Most of the time my focus is on ideologies and not people. That distinction is worth keeping in mind. If ever someone misconstrues my criticism of an ideology with animosity against a group or a person, it reveals at best a reading comprehension problem and at worst guilt associated with a hidden prejudice of the reader against the group I am accused of opposing.
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