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Lost and Acquired Skills

  • The most visible difference between the people of the (rich) developed world and the people of the (poor) developing world is that the people of the developing world are losing basic survival skills.
  • The people of the (rich) developed world do not know how to grow food (and sometimes even how to choose it at the store), do not know how to bargain at the market, do not know how to sew, do not know how to use most tools.
  • They rely on cities, which have removed the need for all of these skills.
  • They rely on gadgets and devices, which plug into the city's infrastructure. Increasingly, there are standard procedures to carry out each and every activity.
  • People are rapidly losing the skills of multiplication (which pocket calculator do) and spelling (which wordprocessors do).
  • Even instruction manuals made people less smart: you can find the solution to a problem in the manual instead of having to figure it out yourself.
  • Now that they have navigation systems they are also losing orientation and navigation skills.
  • Using a device to find a location instead of your brain is like taking the elevator instead of the stairs. Both the device and the elevator do the job, do it faster and better. Over the long run, one screws up your brain while the other one screws up your body.
  • Eventually life will require little more than just one skill: press a button and talk to a device.
  • Each gadget and device translates into a loss of skills. People are less willing to improvise and discover. Spirit of adventure is rapidly waning. People are scared of drinking water from a creek, of touching plants, of crossing streets.
  • As the inhabitants of the developed world become "dumber" and "dumber" (incapable of surviving on their own), survival skills are being replace by other physical activities. The urban people of the developed world are getting better at rock climbing, surfing, running, dancing and so forth. The city of the developed world is producing better and better rock climber, surfers, and salsa dancers.
  • As fewer and fewer skills are required for conducting ordinary lives, more and more effort goes into acquiring skills for physical activities.
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras