Ask A Genius 500 – Death on Home Turf (1)
January 10, 2019
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, what did loss mean centuries ago? What does it mean now and how will this compare to the future?
Rick Rosner: I have never read anything on the strength of belief of say, people in 14th century Europe. Today, if you’re a religious person; your religion, your belief is riddled with doubt because science has made such inroads into explaining things and in insisting on evidence and in some cases contradicting religion.
So, even if you’re a good Catholic, you’re going to have serious doubts or if you’re a Muslim in a modern country, you’re going to have serious doubts about your beliefs. Now, I don’t know if those people in the 14th century were sincerer in their beliefs.
I would have guessed that they were because they didn’t have science fighting with those beliefs at the same time; even though, they didn’t have science. There was still no evidence, no earthly evidence of say reincarnation or an afterlife.
So, I would guess that while religious beliefs in the 14th century were stronger. I would say, that the most faithful doubted to some extent the things that religion was offering them from time to time. I don’t think everybody fanatically 100% believed in the religions that they belonged to.
I think you’re asking about a loss because my brother died unexpectedly a couple weeks ago. Obviously, I’m feeling a loss and we’ve talked about this before but the nature of loss is changing and will be changing further.
People who were say early adaptors of a view of the future; people who are up-to-date on what the future is going to bring and not reasonable expectations for the future realize that death the way we experience it now will be increasingly lessened in the future and then people will live longer and longer and within a century people will be reasonably able to expect to live indefinitely thanks to improvements in medical technology and replicating the brain.
We already live at a time that is less death filled than say the 14th century. People live in the most developed countries and if you’re less than say 50 years old now; you have a pretty good shot at living to 90 or more compared to people of a century ago if they survived childhood.
They had a pretty good shot of living to 60 or 70, or people of two centuries ago if they survived childhood had a shot at living beyond 60 roughly. Our lifespans are already 50% longer than they were a couple of centuries ago, not including child mortality.
If you include child mortality, our lifespans have pretty much doubled. The whole Victorian era was death oriented in the Western or at least in the English-speaking world because Queen Victoria was sad about her husband who left her a widow when she was like 42 and then she reigned as Queen for another 40 some years and wore black every day and there was a fashion of black jewelry in England; mourning jewelry, sometimes with a memento mori; a lock of the dead person’s hair included in a lock and stuff. There was a focus on death in the 19th century that wasn’t that justified.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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