Author Topic: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?  (Read 9620 times)

FamVestor

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Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?

-Agriculture
-Sports
-The Printing Press
-Sweets:Chocolate, Ice-Cream...
-Cars/Combustion-Engine
-Gunpowder
-Television
-Contraceptives
-Modern Medicine
-Electricity/Light-Bulb
-Smartphone
-Social Media
-The Internet
-Computers

So I spent the past week at a sports tournament, playing non-stop Volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee - thoroughly enjoying myself. Very limited cellular signal there, and it got me to thinking about the progress we have made as a civilization - All these inventions and technology that we have created to make lives "easier" and more interesting.
I figured sports themselves were an invention, and started thinking of all the positives of sports. Not sure this is true, but I believe the Olympics was founded with the idea of having nations compete in a non-violent way as a way to bring solidarity to the world and prevent the need for war.
And then I started thinking about other inventions, and how so many have been a double edged sword for humanities overall happiness.
So I guess from this list of very impressive inventions of Man-kind I will pick sports as the invention that has most increased humanities happiness.
Any thoughts on my Monday morning random ramblings?
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egillespie

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2017, 08:19:34 AM »
Refrigeration. 

The ability to store food, keep it fresh and tasty.   

It also greatly reduces food borne illness.

No longer the need to constantly hunt for food or be worried by next meal is going to kill me. 

Laura33

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2017, 08:26:11 AM »
Birth control.  Just about anything's better than dying in childbirth at 40 with my 13th kid that I didn't want.
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J Boogie

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2017, 08:46:02 AM »
The washing machine

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2017, 08:49:27 AM »
The sanitary sewer.
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Louisville

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2017, 08:56:02 AM »
The scientific method.

GuitarStv

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2017, 09:00:26 AM »
How are we defining happiness?  I mean, crack cocaine is pretty effective at increasing happiness for short periods of time . . .

While I love playing sports, I'd argue that they're simply a structured surrogate for the instinctive need that all people have to fight and dominate others.  Not so mucha creator of happiness as a reducer of unhappiness.

Contraceptives is a tricky one.  If you argue that it is a source of happiness, then you're implicitly arguing that children are a source of unhappiness.  :P

The internet is an incredible tool and the dissemination of information has the potential for tremendous good but it's also the cause of tremendous melancholy and sadness.  Easy access to pornography, social media, Twitter, casual sex apps, misinformation . . . Is this a net benefit to us?

iowajes

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2017, 09:11:10 AM »
Electricity
Sanitation
The wheel
Antibiotics/Vaccines (heck "modern medicine" might be a good way to put this, that would include birth control)
Agriculture
Refridgeration


Although, perhaps I should offer
1. Fire
2. Language
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 09:15:23 AM by iowajes »

scantee

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2017, 09:14:05 AM »
Birth control.  Just about anything's better than dying in childbirth at 40 with my 13th kid that I didn't want.

+1

This gets my #1 vote. Second would be sanitation, third a tie between antibiotics/vaccines.

Zaga

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2017, 09:26:55 AM »
I'm going to go back a bit further and say a weather-proof house.  Being clean and dry in a clean and dry and safe place is really just amazing and the best!

GuitarStv

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2017, 09:27:25 AM »
Birth control.  Just about anything's better than dying in childbirth at 40 with my 13th kid that I didn't want.

+1

This gets my #1 vote. Second would be sanitation, third a tie between antibiotics/vaccines.

But vaccines give you autism and antibiotics are unnecessary since we have homeopathy now.  :P

Spork

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2017, 09:42:07 AM »
Refrigeration. 

The ability to store food, keep it fresh and tasty.   

It also greatly reduces food borne illness.

No longer the need to constantly hunt for food or be worried by next meal is going to kill me.

Not to mention it gives us air conditioning!  Maybe if you don't live in a 100 degree/90% humidity area, you don't appreciate this as much as I do.
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robartsd

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2017, 10:10:02 AM »
The sanitary sewer.
I'll disagree with this one. I'm with Victor Hugo, "A sewer is a mistake."

If I could opt out of my sewer bill, I probably would have opted to remodel with a foam flush composting toilet instead and greywater system rather than spending nearly $5500 on a recent sewer line replacement.
http://www.compostingtoilet.com/
http://www.clivusmultrum.com/

Of course, fancypants foam flush toilets are nice, but not really neeeded http://humanurehandbook.com/.

At least some NGOs are doing good work spreading more appropriate human sanitation systems in the less developed world https://www.oursoil.org/.

JustGettingStarted1980

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2017, 10:35:40 AM »
Water treatment plants. All health starts with clean water.

Lentils4Lunch

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2017, 10:37:04 AM »
Birth control.  Just about anything's better than dying in childbirth at 40 with my 13th kid that I didn't want.

I second this.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2017, 10:41:59 AM »
Guess it depends on what you mean by invention...agriculture is probably the biggest, but agriculture is really a series of inventions, and people weren't necessarily happier (although there were more of them).

I'd go with writing.

Laura33

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2017, 10:50:28 AM »
Contraceptives is a tricky one.  If you argue that it is a source of happiness, then you're implicitly arguing that children are a source of unhappiness.  :P

It's not about the kids, it's about being able to control your own life.

Although, yeah, I grant you:  if I had 13 kids, I'd be fucking miserable.  2 kids, couldn't ask for better, 3 nope, 13 is right out.  More is not always better.
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koshtra

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2017, 11:02:40 AM »
Ha-Joon Chang makes a compelling argument for the washing machine.

J Boogie

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2017, 11:25:21 AM »
I'd argue that contraception has actually decreased the happiness of humanity overall.


I think it can be great for those in committed relationships, but for everyone else it can change the way they view sex.  Before contraceptives, you knew that if you slept with a person you might have a child and become inextricably linked forever.  You would be highly incentivized to act accordingly, ensuring that your values aligned and that your potential partner showed virtues like responsibility, generosity, integrity etc.

With contraceptives, you are incentivized to sleep with whoever you find the most attractive.  Questions of virtue and long term compatibility aren't as important.

I think we on this board would mostly agree that one night stands/casual sex are not a recipe for happiness.


GuitarStv

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2017, 11:36:46 AM »
I'd argue that contraception has actually decreased the happiness of humanity overall.


I think it can be great for those in committed relationships, but for everyone else it can change the way they view sex.  Before contraceptives, you knew that if you slept with a person you might have a child and become inextricably linked forever.  You would be highly incentivized to act accordingly, ensuring that your values aligned and that your potential partner showed virtues like responsibility, generosity, integrity etc.

. . . Or you can just use a fake name, or you could just run away, or you could force the woman to get an abortion, or you could put the baby up for adoption . . .

You kinda make it sound like before contraceptives only those in committed loving long term relationships had sex.  In reality it just meant that 100% of the risk/burden fell to the woman in a relationship.  :P

Pigeon

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2017, 11:38:25 AM »
Having more kids than you want is far more damaging to happiness and economic well-being than just about anything I can think of.  So no, contraceptives are one of the all time great inventions.

I also think that there's nothing wrong with casual sex, if the people involved are careful and both on the same page. 
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 11:40:09 AM by Pigeon »

ketchup

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2017, 11:51:42 AM »
I'd probably go with the antibiotics/vaccine answer.  Or maybe the printing press and all else it's led to.

caffeine

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2017, 11:53:25 AM »
The written word.

The exchange of information without having to demonstrate it or verbally explain it is pretty powerful.

I just imagine humanity's beginning would fit well with a comedy. A group or person discovers something and perish just before they could explain to others. The discovery is to be rediscovered again and again until immortalized in written word.

scantee

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2017, 12:05:57 PM »
I'd argue that contraception has actually decreased the happiness of humanity overall.


I think it can be great for those in committed relationships, but for everyone else it can change the way they view sex.  Before contraceptives, you knew that if you slept with a person you might have a child and become inextricably linked forever.  You would be highly incentivized to act accordingly, ensuring that your values aligned and that your potential partner showed virtues like responsibility, generosity, integrity etc.

With contraceptives, you are incentivized to sleep with whoever you find the most attractive.  Questions of virtue and long term compatibility aren't as important.

I think we on this board would mostly agree that one night stands/casual sex are not a recipe for happiness.



This is a naive view of how sexual relationships worked throughout most of human history. Most people didn't have any choice about who they married, they married whoever their family/community told them to. Once married, women had almost no say in when they had sex. They had sex whenever their husband felt like it. Rape was an acceptable practice within marriage. Women who had sex outside of marriage could be ostracized or killed. Prostitution was considered (quietly) acceptable for married men. And it's not as if prostitutes never fell pregnant. Many or most of them did at one point or another, and with no formal way to get financial support from the father, they were often left destitute or reliant on continued prostitution to support their children. Likewise, even married women could and frequently were abandoned by their husbands, with no recourse to compel the father to financially support the family he left.

Very little about sex throughout human history could be described as responsible, generous, or full of integrity. Birth control actually provides a way for sex to be something more than just reproduction or a man's right to his property (his wife, slaves, prostitutes).

Milkshake

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2017, 12:13:12 PM »
Seriously? Birth control is being considered the greatest addition to all of humanity? Most people alive on earth don't even know what that is, much less ever used it. Now consider how many humans have ever lived, how many of them benefited from birth control? Not many.

Language allowed our species the ability to think a thought, something intangible and incommunicable, and relay that thought by compressing air in your throat and shooting it hundreds of feet away to another person at 340 m/s, who in turn interpreted that thought and could make a decision/reaction based on the transmitted information. Language has saved countless lives ("Hey! Watch out for that mammoth!") and is practically a superpower. I would say language has made a lot more people happy than birth control.

scantee

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #25 on: August 14, 2017, 12:17:50 PM »
Seriously? Birth control is being considered the greatest addition to all of humanity? Most people alive on earth don't even know what that is, much less ever used it. Now consider how many humans have ever lived, how many of them benefited from birth control? Not many.

Language allowed our species the ability to think a thought, something intangible and incommunicable, and relay that thought by compressing air in your throat and shooting it hundreds of feet away to another person at 340 m/s, who in turn interpreted that thought and could make a decision/reaction based on the transmitted information. Language has saved countless lives ("Hey! Watch out for that mammoth!") and is practically a superpower. I would say language has made a lot more people happy than birth control.

Language is not a man-made invention, it's the result of an evolutionary process that behaviorally and physiologically distinguished humans from other hominids.

Milkshake

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #26 on: August 14, 2017, 12:23:13 PM »

Language is not a man-made invention, it's the result of an evolutionary process that behaviorally and physiologically distinguished humans from other hominids.

Who made language if humans didn't? The fact that it sets us apart from all other species kind of proves it was made by us. But even if that is the case, we certainly invented writing, which would be my second vote after language as it gives permanence to human thoughts and allows almost all other advancements to occur. (As caffeine mentioned before me.)

FINate

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #27 on: August 14, 2017, 12:25:18 PM »
Sanitation. More specifically: clean drinking water, food safety, and proper disposal of sewage. Daily life was pretty grim before science and society figured this out. You had a fairly high likelihood of dying from cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, or any number of other water/food borne diseases. And parasites were expected, even for the aristocracy (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-23878424).

I don't think we fully appreciate how incredible and wonderful most of us have it. We generally don't worry about a glass of tap water killing us, or walking through layers of raw sewage on the streets (https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/05/the-high-heel-a-brief-history.html), or living with parasites. These types of illnesses are now the exception rather than the rule.

madgeylou

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #28 on: August 14, 2017, 12:27:50 PM »
Seriously? Birth control is being considered the greatest addition to all of humanity? Most people alive on earth don't even know what that is, much less ever used it. Now consider how many humans have ever lived, how many of them benefited from birth control? Not many.

You try having 13 babies in 10 years and watch half of them die in front of you and see how happy you are.

Totally agree that contraception is the correct answer to this question. 

Milkshake

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2017, 12:32:53 PM »
Seriously? Birth control is being considered the greatest addition to all of humanity? Most people alive on earth don't even know what that is, much less ever used it. Now consider how many humans have ever lived, how many of them benefited from birth control? Not many.

You try having 13 babies in 10 years and watch half of them die in front of you and see how happy you are.

Totally agree that contraception is the correct answer to this question. 

Let's approach this from another perspective. Would you rather POTENTIALLY (not guaranteed) watch your children die, or never communicate with anyone ever again? I'd rather be able to talk about how sad I was that we didn't have birth control than be stuck with my own inexpressible feelings.

I'm not saying birth control is bad. I think it's great. But the one thing that brings the most happiness to all of humanity? Not even close.

J Boogie

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2017, 12:33:47 PM »
I'd argue that contraception has actually decreased the happiness of humanity overall.


I think it can be great for those in committed relationships, but for everyone else it can change the way they view sex.  Before contraceptives, you knew that if you slept with a person you might have a child and become inextricably linked forever.  You would be highly incentivized to act accordingly, ensuring that your values aligned and that your potential partner showed virtues like responsibility, generosity, integrity etc.

. . . Or you can just use a fake name, or you could just run away, or you could force the woman to get an abortion, or you could put the baby up for adoption . . .

You kinda make it sound like before contraceptives only those in committed loving long term relationships had sex.  In reality it just meant that 100% of the risk/burden fell to the woman in a relationship.  :P

No doubt there were unscrupulous, smooth talking don juans who would leave their woman when they got pregnant.  So you'd think contraception would result in less single mothers.  But the introduction of contraception actually seemed to coincide with a dramatic increase in single motherhood.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/12/18/the-unbelievable-rise-of-single-motherhood-in-america-over-the-last-50-years/?utm_term=.e4843d6fa821

In theory, I agree - contraceptives remove most of the risk of pregnancy that was borne by the woman alone.  But in practice I don't think contraception has increased our collective happiness, with committed couples being the exception.

madgeylou

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2017, 12:37:30 PM »
I'd argue that contraception has actually decreased the happiness of humanity overall.


I think it can be great for those in committed relationships, but for everyone else it can change the way they view sex.  Before contraceptives, you knew that if you slept with a person you might have a child and become inextricably linked forever.  You would be highly incentivized to act accordingly, ensuring that your values aligned and that your potential partner showed virtues like responsibility, generosity, integrity etc.

. . . Or you can just use a fake name, or you could just run away, or you could force the woman to get an abortion, or you could put the baby up for adoption . . .

You kinda make it sound like before contraceptives only those in committed loving long term relationships had sex.  In reality it just meant that 100% of the risk/burden fell to the woman in a relationship.  :P

No doubt there were unscrupulous, smooth talking don juans who would leave their woman when they got pregnant.  So you'd think contraception would result in less single mothers.  But the introduction of contraception actually seemed to coincide with a dramatic increase in single motherhood.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/12/18/the-unbelievable-rise-of-single-motherhood-in-america-over-the-last-50-years/?utm_term=.e4843d6fa821

In theory, I agree - contraceptives remove most of the risk of pregnancy that was borne by the woman alone.  But in practice I don't think contraception has increased our collective happiness, with committed couples being the exception.

Speak for yourself -- I am an old married lady now but I went through some epic slutty phases in my life and being able to do so without getting pregnant contributed greatly to my happiness. Not everyone values the same things you value.

And language is not a human invention. There are many other animals who communicate in similar ways.

scantee

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #32 on: August 14, 2017, 12:39:16 PM »

Language is not a man-made invention, it's the result of an evolutionary process that behaviorally and physiologically distinguished humans from other hominids.

Who made language if humans didn't? The fact that it sets us apart from all other species kind of proves it was made by us. But even if that is the case, we certainly invented writing, which would be my second vote after language as it gives permanence to human thoughts and allows almost all other advancements to occur. (As caffeine mentioned before me.)

Describing language as an invention is analogous to describing bipedalism as an invention.

The word "invention" implies some sort of pre-planning: you see a problem, you recognize it is a problem, you develop a solution to the problem, you implement the solution. No such foresight was involved in the development of language in humans. There are of course varying theories about how language did evolve, but none of those theories include any planning on the part of humans.

omachi

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2017, 12:41:06 PM »
I like the writing answer, but would argue culture brings the biggest increase in happiness with its sense of belonging and group achievement.

Alternately, nothing at all. A dog is the happiest thing in the world if you just give it a little attention, and dogs haven't invented a damn thing. Maybe people would be happier if we paid them more attention, too, rather than just kept inventing things.

caffeine

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #34 on: August 14, 2017, 12:46:11 PM »

Language is not a man-made invention, it's the result of an evolutionary process that behaviorally and physiologically distinguished humans from other hominids.

Who made language if humans didn't? The fact that it sets us apart from all other species kind of proves it was made by us. But even if that is the case, we certainly invented writing, which would be my second vote after language as it gives permanence to human thoughts and allows almost all other advancements to occur. (As caffeine mentioned before me.)

Describing language as an invention is analogous to describing bipedalism as an invention.

The word "invention" implies some sort of pre-planning: you see a problem, you recognize it is a problem, you develop a solution to the problem, you implement the solution. No such foresight was involved in the development of language in humans. There are of course varying theories about how language did evolve, but none of those theories include any planning on the part of humans.

Written word is different that verbal communication. It similar to telepathy through time and space. Invoke thoughts in another mind without being present is incredibly useful. We're doing it with each other even now.

I like the writing answer, but would argue culture brings the biggest increase in happiness with its sense of belonging and group achievement.

Alternately, nothing at all. A dog is the happiest thing in the world if you just give it a little attention, and dogs haven't invented a damn thing. Maybe people would be happier if we paid them more attention, too, rather than just kept inventing things.

Absent of higher forms of happiness, anyone would be happy with water, food, and company. Humanity has achieved higher forms of happiness that makes it harder to appreciate the lower forms of happiness. But dogs do get happiness very well. I'm pretty envious to their reaction of just being called "A Good Boy/Girl".
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 12:47:57 PM by caffeine »

scantee

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #35 on: August 14, 2017, 12:50:08 PM »
Quote
Written word is different that verbal communication. It similar to telepathy through time and space. Invoke thoughts in another mind without being present is incredibly useful. We're doing it with each other even now.

I agree. I would describe the written word as one of the most important developments in human history, but not necessarily one that has contributed the most to human happiness.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 12:53:15 PM by scantee »

Rubic

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #36 on: August 14, 2017, 12:55:41 PM »
Obligatory Life of Brian reference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7tvauOJMHo

"All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and
education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system
and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?"


Milkshake

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #37 on: August 14, 2017, 12:56:42 PM »

Language is not a man-made invention, it's the result of an evolutionary process that behaviorally and physiologically distinguished humans from other hominids.

Who made language if humans didn't? The fact that it sets us apart from all other species kind of proves it was made by us. But even if that is the case, we certainly invented writing, which would be my second vote after language as it gives permanence to human thoughts and allows almost all other advancements to occur. (As caffeine mentioned before me.)

Describing language as an invention is analogous to describing bipedalism as an invention.

The word "invention" implies some sort of pre-planning: you see a problem, you recognize it is a problem, you develop a solution to the problem, you implement the solution. No such foresight was involved in the development of language in humans. There are of course varying theories about how language did evolve, but none of those theories include any planning on the part of humans.

Valid points. In that case I would argue writing wins as humanity's most happiness-inducing invention. Writing was invented as people realized the lack of permanence problem with language.

How many happiness-related inventions have required the use of writing? In that case, I would say writing has in fact contributed the most to humanity's happiness.

J Boogie

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #38 on: August 14, 2017, 01:02:40 PM »
I'd argue that contraception has actually decreased the happiness of humanity overall.


I think it can be great for those in committed relationships, but for everyone else it can change the way they view sex.  Before contraceptives, you knew that if you slept with a person you might have a child and become inextricably linked forever.  You would be highly incentivized to act accordingly, ensuring that your values aligned and that your potential partner showed virtues like responsibility, generosity, integrity etc.

With contraceptives, you are incentivized to sleep with whoever you find the most attractive.  Questions of virtue and long term compatibility aren't as important.

I think we on this board would mostly agree that one night stands/casual sex are not a recipe for happiness.



This is a naive view of how sexual relationships worked throughout most of human history. Most people didn't have any choice about who they married, they married whoever their family/community told them to. Once married, women had almost no say in when they had sex. They had sex whenever their husband felt like it. Rape was an acceptable practice within marriage. Women who had sex outside of marriage could be ostracized or killed. Prostitution was considered (quietly) acceptable for married men. And it's not as if prostitutes never fell pregnant. Many or most of them did at one point or another, and with no formal way to get financial support from the father, they were often left destitute or reliant on continued prostitution to support their children. Likewise, even married women could and frequently were abandoned by their husbands, with no recourse to compel the father to financially support the family he left.

Very little about sex throughout human history could be described as responsible, generous, or full of integrity. Birth control actually provides a way for sex to be something more than just reproduction or a man's right to his property (his wife, slaves, prostitutes).


How does birth control provide a way for sex to be something more than a man's right to his property?

I think you have a naive view of contraception.  It doesn't prevent rape.  It doesn't stop a man from committing adultery (it actually makes it easier for him to get away with).  If the sex is not consensual, then contraception is only effective at stopping a pregnancy if she is on the pill (which she might not be taking if she doesn't have sex often or if her abusive rapist husband threw them away).  For prostitutes, I guess it helps them continue to provide for themselves without any bumps in the road.  That's a pretty marginal gain if we're talking about the happiness of humanity.  I'll by saying again, I concede that contraception is a happiness booster within a committed relationship.




dividendman

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #39 on: August 14, 2017, 01:05:48 PM »
I'd probably go with the antibiotics/vaccine answer.  Or maybe the printing press and all else it's led to.

I thought you'd go with ketchup.

J Boogie

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #40 on: August 14, 2017, 01:23:01 PM »
I'd argue that contraception has actually decreased the happiness of humanity overall.


I think it can be great for those in committed relationships, but for everyone else it can change the way they view sex.  Before contraceptives, you knew that if you slept with a person you might have a child and become inextricably linked forever.  You would be highly incentivized to act accordingly, ensuring that your values aligned and that your potential partner showed virtues like responsibility, generosity, integrity etc.

. . . Or you can just use a fake name, or you could just run away, or you could force the woman to get an abortion, or you could put the baby up for adoption . . .

You kinda make it sound like before contraceptives only those in committed loving long term relationships had sex.  In reality it just meant that 100% of the risk/burden fell to the woman in a relationship.  :P

No doubt there were unscrupulous, smooth talking don juans who would leave their woman when they got pregnant.  So you'd think contraception would result in less single mothers.  But the introduction of contraception actually seemed to coincide with a dramatic increase in single motherhood.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/12/18/the-unbelievable-rise-of-single-motherhood-in-america-over-the-last-50-years/?utm_term=.e4843d6fa821

In theory, I agree - contraceptives remove most of the risk of pregnancy that was borne by the woman alone.  But in practice I don't think contraception has increased our collective happiness, with committed couples being the exception.

Speak for yourself -- I am an old married lady now but I went through some epic slutty phases in my life and being able to do so without getting pregnant contributed greatly to my happiness. Not everyone values the same things you value.

And language is not a human invention. There are many other animals who communicate in similar ways.

You are right, not everyone here shares the same values.  Well maybe we do NOW, but we have different recommendations for single people.

Out of curiosity would you have still have engaged in the same behavior back then if you didn't have contraception? If not, do you think you would have been unhappy because you weren't having casual sex?

Admittedly, I'm one of those "there is no free lunch" types, especially when it comes to something as significant as reproduction.  I'm always interested in learning what the easily ignored negative side effects can be.  For example, no one here has suggested the internal combustion engine or the industrial use of lead as they have well documented negative side effects.  Something like contraception or the smartphone have clear benefits but I am very interested in digging into what we might be ignoring as we prematurely celebrate our accomplishments.


scantee

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #41 on: August 14, 2017, 01:40:13 PM »
Quote
How does birth control provide a way for sex to be something more than a man's right to his property?

Control over reproduction > Allowed women to enter the working world > Which provided financial independence and ability to support themselves > Meaning they could leave abusive or controlling marriages > And have sex (i.e., pleasure, happiness) without fear of lifelong consequences > Which is also good for men

PoutineLover

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #42 on: August 14, 2017, 01:52:00 PM »
I'd be very curious to see the gender split on who considers contraception one of the most happiness-increasing inventions. My life would be very different without it, and I am so much happier with access to birth control, since it allows the (mostly) carefree sex I can have, and the fact that I don't have like 10 babies already.

Louisville

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #43 on: August 14, 2017, 01:55:15 PM »
The scientific method.

GuitarStv

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #44 on: August 14, 2017, 01:57:16 PM »
Alternately, nothing at all. A dog is the happiest thing in the world if you just give it a little attention, and dogs haven't invented a damn thing. Maybe people would be happier if we paid them more attention, too, rather than just kept inventing things.

This is my favourite answer in the thread to be honest.  A large part of happiness is related to state of mind, not things or technology.  Food, warmth, and friends . . . Dogs are on to something.

J Boogie

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #45 on: August 14, 2017, 02:01:40 PM »
Quote
How does birth control provide a way for sex to be something more than a man's right to his property?

Control over reproduction > Allowed women to enter the working world > Which provided financial independence and ability to support themselves > Meaning they could leave abusive or controlling marriages > And have sex (i.e., pleasure, happiness) without fear of lifelong consequences > Which is also good for men

Ah I see.  The sex is more meaningful because the marriage is hypothetically based more on desire rather than financial need.

PoutineLover

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #46 on: August 14, 2017, 02:03:17 PM »
Alternately, nothing at all. A dog is the happiest thing in the world if you just give it a little attention, and dogs haven't invented a damn thing. Maybe people would be happier if we paid them more attention, too, rather than just kept inventing things.

This is my favourite answer in the thread to be honest.  A large part of happiness is related to state of mind, not things or technology.  Food, warmth, and friends . . . Dogs are on to something.
Yeah but dogs are so happy because we provide them with everything they need and they have nothing to worry about. Feral dogs who have to scavenge for food are not very friendly creatures. Maybe we haven't reached peak happiness yet because we haven't found our caretakers..

Milkshake

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #47 on: August 14, 2017, 02:07:08 PM »
I'd be very curious to see the gender split on who considers contraception one of the most happiness-increasing inventions. My life would be very different without it, and I am so much happier with access to birth control, since it allows the (mostly) carefree sex I can have, and the fact that I don't have like 10 babies already.

Let me preface this by saying this is not meant to be a personal attack, but a genuine statement.

The original question was "Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of humanity?" It hasn't asked for which several inventions are cool or useful or life saving. Which single invention is by its very existence able to cause the most happiness for all of humanity? Writing. Birth control was able to be made because we invented writing. Same goes for refrigerators, vaccines and almost everything else. I do not understand how we are still discussing any other inventions. Birth control has affected literally almost NO ONE in human history.

Again, not directed against you personally. Let's all just answer the actual proposed question.

msilenus

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #48 on: August 14, 2017, 02:09:44 PM »
I just finished reading SAPIENS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND, which I highly recommend.  Harari tackles the question of human happiness throughout history toward the end, approaching it from a few different perspectives.

At one point he proposes that brain chemistry correctives like Prozac are not only the most impactful invention for human history, but the only impactful development.  The reasoning is that our brain chemistry is wired to keep us at an even keel, via mechanisms like hedonic adaptation (and whatever the reverse process is called.)  Therefore, the only things we ever could have done to make long-term changes in human happiness were things that directly change the day-to-day functioning of brain chemistry --which is something we've only started doing recently.

Another possible answer is Buddhism.

He goes down several roads here, in part because the very idea of happiness turns out to be very difficult to pin down.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 02:13:03 PM by msilenus »

GuitarStv

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #49 on: August 14, 2017, 02:16:34 PM »
Alternately, nothing at all. A dog is the happiest thing in the world if you just give it a little attention, and dogs haven't invented a damn thing. Maybe people would be happier if we paid them more attention, too, rather than just kept inventing things.

This is my favourite answer in the thread to be honest.  A large part of happiness is related to state of mind, not things or technology.  Food, warmth, and friends . . . Dogs are on to something.
Yeah but dogs are so happy because we provide them with everything they need and they have nothing to worry about. Feral dogs who have to scavenge for food are not very friendly creatures. Maybe we haven't reached peak happiness yet because we haven't found our caretakers..

In the developed world how many people have food, shelter, and friends but are absolutely miserable?  Feral dogs don't have the very basest of their needs met . . . and yet it's still possible to give many of them food and shelter and watch them turn into cheery little beings.