29 September 2010

True American values

"American parents, for example, were the only ones in a survey of 100 societies who created a separate room for their baby to sleep"

"....only Americans preferred a choice from 50 different ice cream flavors compared with 10 flavors."

"American society is also anomalous, even relative to other Western societies, in its low relational focus in work settings, which is reflected in practices such as the encouragement of an impersonal work style, direct (rather than indirect) communication, the clear separation of the work domain from the non-work, and discouragement of friendships at work."

I can see two values from that:
1) Americans do not like other people in their business. Including their infants. Everything is individual centered. Me, me, me. Me too. And so on.


2) We like ice cream, and more is always better for us.

I can also extrapolate one other thing: I'd rather have just 10 ice cream flavors than 50.

This was also interesting:

"Perhaps it is this extreme tendency for Americans to punish free-riders, while not punishing cooperators"... I'm not sure that we don't punish cooperators, but we certainly go overboard sometimes in our thinking of what constitutes "free-riders" and in some cases, not enough. Vaccines, not enough I think. That's a clear free-rider problem. Same with taxation supported education (but not publicly run as we have). Drug testing welfare recipients, yes, that's gone too far. Accusing people of something without probable cause with no demonstrated harm to themselves or no "free-rider" problem to begin with that isn't already caused by having a welfare state in the first place.

And so was this. Happiness comes in many guises. It's best not to knock it when other people seem to be experiencing it, and how they're experiencing it. People derive pleasures from many things. Your method is not intrinsically superior, it just works for you. You may share it with others, or wish to, and that's fine. But what business is it of yours to assess another's hedonic benefits from activities as lesser simply because it's not what you would have done. If they would in fact share some degree of greater joy by doing something you have done or would do, demonstrate it, prove it. Don't whine about it.

It's also not surprising that drugs and mysticism/religion are lumped together here as extreme versions of joyful responses, though my understanding is that religion is closer to orgasmic sexual responses in the brain chemistry than to drugs, it's also commonly believed that many mystical experiences like the Oracle at Delphi were brought on by chemical responses to substance use. And it's not hard to find people who've tripped on acid or been high and seem to think they've had strong religious experiences or depth and clarity of thought that often mirrors what strongly religious people claim to have. I'm guessing the religious simply don't like feeling like they have competition. (and this would also help explain my general indifference to both path sets of experiences).
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