The good old days were horrible

May 22, 2023

Sometimes you hear people talk about the good old days, before this modern lifestyle messed our lives up. People don't really think that through very much. Some of the stuff that happened during the good old days was literally what we would consider a horror.

I have very often heard that one of the worst things that can ever happen to a parent is to lose one of their children.  Before 1900 almost half of all children under the age of 5 years old died. You know when you hear about families having six or seven children back then to help on the farm? That means they lost about six or seven children as well. I can only imagine what kind of psychological effect that had on the whole population. People must have been different back then, every single family, lost sisters and brothers and sons and daughters. What we now consider to be one of the worst things that can ever happen to a person happened to  every single person just over a hundred years ago.

Another thing that was absolutely horrible was no anesthesia. Pulling people's teeth out is a form of torture, this was a common practice and without anesthesia, or novocaine, one can only imagine how unpleasant this was. And that's not even the worst, getting an amputation or surgery without anesthesia would just be a traumatic life experience that's hard to comprehend today.  If this was depicted in a horror movie it would be hard to watch, but common place until very recently. 

This doesn't even include the plethora of lesser issues like no antibiotics, no sanitation system for the water, slavery, no hot water without significant effort, out houses, and much more. The greatest kings of the past led lives far worse than lower income people today.

You can read some of Steven Pinker's books, such as the better angels of our nature that bring a bunch of empirical data showing that life is in almost every way better now than it ever has been.

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