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Old February 13 2014, 09:07 PM   #31
Morpheus 02
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
In a 'Private Little War' there were 3 sorts of people - the Hill People, the Villagers and Nona's people.. In the Cloud Minders there were the Haves and the Have Nots. Also in Spock's Brain there was a great difference between the 'cultures' of the women and the men. In 'The Omega Glory' there were the Comms and the Yangs. In 'Bread and Circuses' there were the Christians and Romans. Even in 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield' there was that obvious difference between Lokai and Bele.
In ENT in 'The Cogenitor' there were the elite and the sort of slave race.

In most of these cases , it was an "us vs. them" situation...not a spectrum of difference.

The reality is that we need to have several episodes to get a sense of a culture..where we can see people from the same "side" yet be different in personality, how they approach things.

I think too often it was made simplistic by the storyline.
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Old February 13 2014, 10:42 PM   #32
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

To answer that I think we need first to ask ourselves two questions:
1/ Why do we have so many cultures in the first place?
2/ Is the reason why applicable to other planets?

1/ We have different cultures because us humans have continuously expanded our habitat after having outgrown it (because, mainly, of population surges). With expansion comes geographical separation and impossibility to communicate (pre-internet!).

Since the concept of evolution isn't just a biological one - as Richard Dawkins theorized and even dare I say proved, there is "sociological" evolution - we have to assume that any culture is constantly changing and evolving.

For example, languages shift at mathematically predictable rates - it's not just a question of adaptation. But then there's the matter of adaptation to new environment, etc. Wars, interaction with some peoples rather than others, alliances, religions etc.
All of these (and more) are the reasons why we have different cultures. In the end, peoples who are separated coninue to have their own evolving cultures, and in case of no communication, there is little statistical chance for them to evolve exactly the same way.

2/ If we're talking about a life form that we would be able to communicate with, a life-form that we recognize as close enough to our own that we can consider them "intelligent life-forms" by our standards, they have to have "evolved", and follow "evolution" in a way that is close enough to ours that many principles apply.

Is it possible to imagine a recognizably intelligent culture that would 1/ not multiply and outgrow its habitat? b/ not expand when it did? c/ still be able to communicate continuously when they did? d/ stay exactly the same all the time (no cultural, linguistic shift) yet be able to evolve technologically to the point we could communicate with them?

I think the answer to that is no. So the answer to the broader question "can there be a monoculture" (even more so is it the norm) is a resounding no in my opinion.
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Old February 13 2014, 10:51 PM   #33
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

FreedPhotons wrote: View Post
So the answer to the broader question "can there be a monoculture" (even more so is it the norm) is a resounding no in my opinion.
Daniel Quinn (& I) disagree. But hey.
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Old February 13 2014, 11:28 PM   #34
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

FreedPhotons wrote: View Post
To answer that I think we need first to ask ourselves two questions:
1/ Why do we have so many cultures in the first place?
2/ Is the reason why applicable to other planets?
This is a good beginning, but what it's missing is a projection of what we are going to look like in the future. If human culture will evolve into a "monoculture", say because of global communication, the global economy, and global travel, say over the next several hundred years, then that undermines the use of humanity as an example of monocultures not being the rule. Thanks to technology, our global society is qualitatively different now than it ever has been in the past.

A few more quibbles:

1/ We have different cultures because us humans have continuously expanded our habitat after having outgrown it (because, mainly, of population surges). With expansion comes geographical separation and impossibility to communicate (pre-internet!).
Expansion isn't the only reason why ancient people migrated. Climate, lack of food, and competition played their part.

Since the concept of evolution isn't just a biological one - as Richard Dawkins theorized and even dare I say proved, there is "sociological" evolution - we have to assume that any culture is constantly changing and evolving.
Richard Dawkins is hardly the world's seminal sociologist. To imply that sociocultural evolution is an idea due to Dawkins or to suggest that his work was instrumental in proving that it occurs does a disservice to the scientists who actually deserve credit, including those such as Childe who made significant contributions to the field before Dawkins was even born.

2/ If we're talking about a life form that we would be able to communicate with, a life-form that we recognize as close enough to our own that we can consider them "intelligent life-forms" by our standards, they have to have "evolved", and follow "evolution" in a way that is close enough to ours that many principles apply.
While many of the intelligent species encountered in Star Trek did evolve in ways similar to how humans (in-universe) evolved, that was by no means universally true of all aliens with whom communication was possible. The Companion in "Metamorphosis" and the cloud in "One of Our Planets Is Missing" have unknown origin, they do not belong to any recognizable cultures, and they are life forms of a completely different order, and yet communication was still possible with them and they were recognized as intelligent. That alone is enough to take the "have to have" out of your statement.
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Old February 14 2014, 05:32 AM   #35
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

I can imagine non-humanoid monocultures easily enough, but for humanoids whose evolution parallels our own, I don't think monocultures are very probable. Not unless the humanoids are capable of modifying their environment completely to their needs (negating the need to adapt to it in any way, an Inuit would not do well on the African savannah, nor would a Maasai survive for long in Greenland with the skills he learned and the technology he used in Africa) and have at least one class of people who are telepathic, negating language drift and ensuring communications even before the development of communications technology. However, if the entire people is telepathic, it would obviate the need to develop communications technology altogether, indeed, the species in question would probably not even have a spoken language, making communications with non-telepathic species problematic at best.
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Old February 14 2014, 05:55 AM   #36
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
Of course Earth had a Babel event. Aboriginal tribes decided to leave Africa and walk thousands of miles.
I was under the impression that the Tower of Babel happened in the Middle East, not Africa.
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Old February 14 2014, 06:12 AM   #37
Nerys Myk
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

Timewalker wrote: View Post
JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
Of course Earth had a Babel event. Aboriginal tribes decided to leave Africa and walk thousands of miles.
I was under the impression that the Tower of Babel happened in the Middle East, not Africa.
I assume a "Babel event" is something different than the Tower of Babel myth seen in the Bible. Though I wouldn't call the earliest humans leaving east Africa a Babel event, since it would take time for the the original language to mutate into new ones. The first of those mutations probably took place in east Africa as groups of humans became isolated from each other.
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Old February 14 2014, 09:43 AM   #38
grendelsbayne
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

maneth wrote: View Post
However, if the entire people is telepathic, it would obviate the need to develop communications technology altogether, indeed, the species in question would probably not even have a spoken language, making communications with non-telepathic species problematic at best.
Depending on how telepathy would work, exactly, it could just as easily make it a great deal easier to communicate with other species. If they can look in my head, after all, they may also be able to project their communications straight in there, or else learn from my thoughts how to speak my language (assuming they have the physiological capability to do so).
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Old February 14 2014, 08:07 PM   #39
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
FreedPhotons wrote: View Post
To answer that I think we need first to ask ourselves two questions:
1/ Why do we have so many cultures in the first place?
2/ Is the reason why applicable to other planets?
This is a good beginning, but what it's missing is a projection of what we are going to look like in the future. If human culture will evolve into a "monoculture", say because of global communication, the global economy, and global travel, say over the next several hundred years, then that undermines the use of humanity as an example of monocultures not being the rule. Thanks to technology, our global society is qualitatively different now than it ever has been in the past.
Fair enough, although even in a single country or city there are dozens of subcultures and communities. Ex: rappers, star trek fans, farmers... etc. - at least in humans, I don't think complete uniformity is possible. If aliens were to visit only NYC for example, they would see people with widely different clothing, hairstyles, attitudes, walking the same streets. Even in 2506 (if we survive that long) I have great difficulty imagining that people in Jakarta and NYC would be impossible to tell apart (as they would be on all Planet of Hats ST monocultures).


Richard Dawkins is hardly the world's seminal sociologist. To imply that sociocultural evolution is an idea due to Dawkins or to suggest that his work was instrumental in proving that it occurs does a disservice to the scientists who actually deserve credit, including those such as Childe who made significant contributions to the field before Dawkins was even born.
Well, like everyone I can only refer to what I know. I happen to know Dawkins' work, and he did coin the word "meme" if I'm not mistaken. But I will definitely check those names out, thanks.

While many of the intelligent species encountered in Star Trek did evolve in ways similar to how humans (in-universe) evolved, that was by no means universally true of all aliens with whom communication was possible. The Companion in "Metamorphosis" and the cloud in "One of Our Planets Is Missing" have unknown origin, they do not belong to any recognizable cultures, and they are life forms of a completely different order, and yet communication was still possible with them and they were recognized as intelligent. That alone is enough to take the "have to have" out of your statement.
Well there's Star Trek and the way they choose to represent the universe and then there's real life. My opinion of real life is that I find it very difficult to believe we could communicate with intelligent life-forms who had not evolved (and therefore shared with us none of our evolutionary characteristics), since that would mean they would exist in a way that is almost impossible for us to imagine. Of course, I may be proved wrong in 3069.
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Old February 14 2014, 08:12 PM   #40
JD5000
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

I like how this thread brings up the question of whether or not human beings have a difficult time accepting other ways cultures could develop in theory, and the following posts all answer "Yes!"

The problem here is that we don't have any examples to draw on other than our own. It's all pure conjecture at this point. I read every single theory posted in this thread, enjoyed reading them, and think they are all very creative and imaginative.

Personally, I do believe we are moving towards a homogenized global culture that will likely speak the same language, use the same currency, be much more 'racially mixed' than we are today, etc. I don't believe that faith will be universal in the next 300 years. Although we're nowhere near a complete recipe at this point, humanity has unarguably been intermingling more with itself in the last few hundred years, due to advancements in communication and transportation. If we continue on the same track, to me it's fairly logical to assume that we will end up as a generally homogenized single culture in the next few hundred years, possibly much more so in the future beyond that.
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Old February 14 2014, 08:38 PM   #41
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

FreedPhotons wrote: View Post
If aliens were to visit only NYC for example, they would see people with widely different clothing, hairstyles, attitudes, walking the same streets. Even in 2506 (if we survive that long) I have great difficulty imagining that people in Jakarta and NYC would be impossible to tell apart (as they would be on all Planet of Hats ST monocultures).
I concur that a human monoculture is unlikely for a long time. Another question that I neglected to mention is whether extraterrestrials would perceive us as having a monoculture by their standards.

Well there's Star Trek and the way they choose to represent the universe and then there's real life. My opinion of real life is that I find it very difficult to believe we could communicate with intelligent life-forms who had not evolved (and therefore shared with us none of our evolutionary characteristics), since that would mean they would exist in a way that is almost impossible for us to imagine. Of course, I may be proved wrong in 3069.
Well, the problems of humans being unable to recognize aliens ("The Devil in the Dark" and "Home Soil") and of aliens being unable to recognize people (The Motion Picture) have both been treated in Star Trek. Having difficulty communicating with aliens has also been treated ("Darmok").

I think that we shouldn't be surprised if real extraterrestrials end up being far more alien than we're accustomed to seeing in science fiction films and TV. With no examples to point to, I think it's not inconceivable that we might have trouble establishing a common frame of reference, even with aliens who evolved in their habitats similarly to how we evolved in ours.

What I'm getting at is that the problem of aliens existing in ways that we can't even imagine might well extend to aliens who evolved also.

Even for aliens who we could recognize, and who could recognize us, communication could be practically impossible for cultural or even instinctual reasons. For example, if they were predisposed to regard us something that they must eradicate, it might be impossible to carry on conversations with them of any kind, even though their science might be based on principles similar to ours and even though we could recognize each other.
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Old February 14 2014, 09:14 PM   #42
Shik
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

JD5000 wrote: View Post
The problem here is that we don't have any examples to draw on other than our own. It's all pure conjecture at this point.
Oh,we do. It's been all but wiped out, but there's still traces.
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Old February 14 2014, 09:20 PM   #43
Shik
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
FreedPhotons wrote: View Post
If aliens were to visit only NYC for example, they would see people with widely different clothing, hairstyles, attitudes, walking the same streets. Even in 2506 (if we survive that long) I have great difficulty imagining that people in Jakarta and NYC would be impossible to tell apart (as they would be on all Planet of Hats ST monocultures).
I concur that a human monoculture is unlikely for a long time. Another question that I neglected to mention is whether extraterrestrials would perceive us as having a monoculture by their standards.
They wouldn't be looking at out clothes, hair, or any of that. Those are little local regional subcultural differences. They'd look at how we conduct our lives and the operating forces behind them. Looking at it that way, we HAVE a global monoculture.

Every day, no matter where you live--NYC, Jakarta, Buenos Aires, Mogadishu, Nuuk, Astana--people live in exactly the same way. They all get up, go to a designated job, toil hard and for long hours to get a symbol, take that symbol and exchange it for food. Everywhere. WITHOUT FAIL. The food is locked up everywhere, thus causing the control.

Oh, sure, there are people who refuse to live that way, but they're weird. They're not us. We've wiped out all but a tiny fraction of a percentage of them through disease, conquering, assimilation...but in some remote area, they still endure. And they have much to reteach us.
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Old February 15 2014, 08:37 AM   #44
Wadjda
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

I wish Voyager woulld has spent an entire season stranded on planet and it would had explored multiple cultures.
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Old February 15 2014, 09:30 AM   #45
JD5000
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Re: Are monocultures actually the rule?

Shik, I get the impression you're trying to use fictional references to support a view you've already decided on despite any basis in fact.

I was under the impression we were gonna discuss some shit about human cultural development and how it applies to our imagination regarding how we might interact with alien cultures (which I assume we both believe exist despite any truth). So I'll bow out of the thread, good luck with the diatribe.
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