I try to read a lot of history. I read many histories of science, and lately I've also read several histories of the Spanish Conquest of South America. One thing that always strikes me is how morally abhorrent we, as a modern society, find many things that were accepted as commonplace to many people of past centuries. Take, for instance, a famous science example: In the post-Civil War times there were many studies that "proved" that blacks were inferior (inferior not really every being well defined) to Native Americans, who were inferior to Asians, who were, of course, inferior to whites (and even within whites there was a hierarchy that showed that British reigned supreme, imagine that!). These studies were done by scientists at respected institutions like Harvard, many of whom were leaders in the abolitionist movement, so they weren't exactly back woods, slave-driving crackers. The studies were all scientifically flawed, and these days we wonder how they could have been so blind. But, they were so affected by their conviction that blacks were subhuman, that the data they collected could only
be interpreted this way; no one could see the forest for the trees.
There are so many examples throughout history of things that were, in retrospect, unconscionable, but that were unrecognized at the time. I often think about what practices we are currently engaged in that will be judged by future generations as absurd or morally wrong or just plain sick. But its difficult, because, of course, we can only see with the moral and historical perspective that currently exists. Hindsight isn't possible in the present. What do you think? What is the worst thing about now that we accept as common, everyday practice?
I was talking with
recently, and he suggested that our food delivery system is probably the most accepted, but most morally corrupt thing in our modern world. I can't disagree. This question bothers me a lot, however, so I am very curious for any thoughts.