Make the world suck a little less

Our world kind of sucks; Wars, deaths, suicide, racism, oppression, pollution, dubstep, unhappy marriages, cruelty to humans and everything else that could be treated cruelly.  There are far more problems than can be listed here and I’m sure you can come up with many more.  The most frustrating part is that many of the problems have solutions, waiting to be used, like the vegetables slowing going bad in the back of my fridge.  Here are some examples of big problems with unused solutions:

problem solution
climate change carbon tax
obesity eat food, not too much, mostly plants, exercise
dysfunctional politics public financing, rcv, proportional representation
achievement gap desegregation
traffic congestion pricing
mass extinctions habitat preservation
high cost of housing in cities build more housing (increase density, granny flats, in law apartments, increase roommate caps)
prisoner recidivism give all exiting inmates a state id, training in jail for jobs, make it easier for felons to find work, legalize cannabis, decriminalize drugs, treat addiction like a public health issue, treat prisoners respectfully so that they are less bitter upon leaving
opioid epidemic sufficient funding for methadone/ therapy for everyone that wants treatment (tax the drug companies that contributed to the epidemic?)
Nearly all unwanted pregnancies Sex education and access to birth control
Dysfunctional government Design thinking, controlled double blind experiments, roll out new programs in stages


So why are these problems not used?  I think that most of the problems are held back because of one of three roadblocks:

  1. They don’t believe there is a problem
  2. They don’t believe the solution will work
  3. Vested interests prevent implementation


So many of these problems cannot be solved do to a basic flaw in human psychology: facts do not change our minds.  So our challenge is to find out what actually does change minds, and use that to change minds.


The obvious answer is to berate people who disagree with us.  That didn’t work?  Here are some other ides that can be used to change minds.

  1. Use the moral foundations theory to appeal to your subject’s worldview:  conservatives are more interested in loyalty, sanctity and “fairness” than they are about ending oppression or shaking up the status quo.  Appeal to your subjects (not your) sense of morality
  2. Simplify your message.  24 point plans on how to end the opioid epidemic may be well thought out, but unfortunately, talking in 24 point plans do not win elections, simple emotional appeals certainly help win voters.
  3. Use a narrative to make your point.  Conservatives have a simple narrative: government is crushing your freedom and our economy so shrink the government.  Liberals have great ideas and goals, but their narrative is not as clear or as widely accepted.
  4. Appeal to your subject’s sense of identity.  Most of us make decisions emotionally, then before we notice, we make up a logical explanation for our belief that convinces us that we are logical.    Instead, if we make our subjects feel that people like them think and act a certain way, they are likely to do or think that way.


There are many more strategies but this is a basic idea.


Many of the worst problems do not have simple solution: war, poverty, crime, racism.  Some of those problems can be solved, but they require more complex strategies, but solving one problem might help solve other problems. Transitioning away from fossil fuels could stop propping up some autocratic regimes.  Decreasing the worst effects of climate change could eliminate some of the reasons for conflict, and could prevent droughts.  Let’s spend some of our energy implementing the solutions that are going bad in the back our our fridge.

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