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The 5 most influential ideas of all time





gandalfthegrey
What are the five most influential ideas of all time in your opinion?


I only have two so far, I'll have to think about the rest, but they are:

1. Organized Religion
I am not an atheist, but organized religion really does come across as simply a belief in "myths"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o

I can't believe organized religion is so influential. While religion in generally in decline in the west, we have racistly permitted missionaries to go to 3rd world countries and convert people (largely through bribing the poor by providing social services and goods), while destroying their belief systems and cultures in the process. The only country in Africa that is does not have a Christian or Muslim as the majority religion is Togo.

Religion has the potential to shape how we live our lives, how we treat others (for the good or bad), and has permitted discrimination and hate against those who "fornicate", commit adultery, or are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered or Queer.
gandalfthegrey
2. Western Triumphalism
To silence criticism regarding growing divides between rich and poor, the loss of democracy (We have unelected bureaucrats running Greece and Italy right now), and general unchecked greed,
the media and our politicians have created this myth of "western triumphalism" - only our current system of globalized capitalism works, all other systems have failed - this idea, so that we don't realize that other possibilities exist.

Capitalism worked fine between World War II and the nineteen-seventies, because we had national economies that were largely isolated and protected from the economic decisions of other nations. We had a gold standard, i.e. our currency was backed by gold. Government debts were non-existent or much more manageable.

We continue to ignore the warning signs, such as our U.S. government debt, the loss of the middle class, owing large amounts to Communist China (and having them own shares of many of our businesses and our natural resources).

Modern globalized capitalism is not working, and while Occupy Wall Street helped to bring awareness to these issues, until many more accept and realize this and begin challenging our politicians, we will be screwed economically.
TheLimey
5 most influential ideas of all time...Great Forum btw!

1) Organized Religion.. so much power it has had in the past, It has caused wars, bringing down of entire countries. People have died for "their belief". People of power have been taken down due to religion or lack of belief. Even today pastors and leaders of cults driving escalades while the congregation are told to lay off food for a week and seek their "God"... it is slowly dying off now but that is because other influential things have taken over

2) Politics... Running countries and very much like Religion giving people a reason to go die. Populations being told what they do is right and what other countries do is wrong. Rich get richer and the poor... Again I feel that Politics is also slowly losing it's grip on power...

3) Music... People these days change their styles and thoughts based on what music they are into. Music promoting Rebellion, Sex, Drugs etc.. I am not bashing this as I listen to R&B and Hip Hop myself. I will say it may have caused me to have some thought on the world.

4) FADS... This is hard to explain, but if something is not "in" those who do the non-"in" thing are cast out. For example.... if someone stays in bed too long and does not wake up till late because they stayed up late they are seen as "Lazy" as the proper thing to do is to get up early and get at your day? However sleep experts will even tell you that these are because there are 2 different human types when it comes to sleep. There is the night "owl" that naturally can not sleep early and so stays up late and wakes up late, or there is the "Lark" early to bed and early up. However the "Lark" will be seen as more socially accepted and the "Owl" is lazy. That is just an example, but it also comes do clothing, music etc.

5)The want to be cool....Kids these days will grow up and look at the ones that have become successful. Girls see the skinny models and this becomes the thought on what a woman should be like. Same pressure is on the guys as guys try to match up in order to impress and gain success in life, with jobs, women and life. Really what is success??...Being comfortable with you and not comparing to others

I know people will disagree with me, however I enjoyed this blog

5)
nevelis
are:
1. Agriculture
2. Money
3. Industry
4. Culture and Education
5. Book printing and Internet

You may disagree that all of the above-mentioned are ideas but they are really. Someone some-when did this because the idea, that roamed in air, alighted at someone's head.
And I emphasize SOMEONE even for idea 5 (distribution of information) - Gutenberg and Tim Berners-Lee. These idea-"fathers" are somewhat conditional.
LxGoodies
Hmm 5 most influential ideas

I would say I agree with the first

1. The notion of some supreme entity with complete power over all human kind (wether you agree or not Razz is HAS been influential and it still is)

But this is a history section.. if I look at recent history the second most influential idea is

2. The notion that a supreme power over all human kind does not exist

..and nature ought to be explained by studying nature, not a holy book.

Another religious important idea, very influential..

3. to believe people are saved, should be saved and/or others need to be saved by some saviour

With our recent discovery

4. Human kind kan only save human kind if we actually do something about problems (ACT)

.. wich would lead me to suspect that

5. The idea of colonizing space, developed by 60's SF authors could become quite important.

Lx
slimviking
gandalfthegrey wrote:
2. Western Triumphalism
To silence criticism regarding growing divides between rich and poor, the loss of democracy (We have unelected bureaucrats running Greece and Italy right now), and general unchecked greed,
the media and our politicians have created this myth of "western triumphalism" - only our current system of globalized capitalism works, all other systems have failed - this idea, so that we don't realize that other possibilities exist.

Modern globalized capitalism is not working, and while Occupy Wall Street helped to bring awareness to


The rich and poor divide is reduced in modern capitalistic nations

Western Capitalism have always worked fine, at least until a bunch of commies came to botch it
(Italy and Greece are both a valid example)
zaxacongrejo
shelter
agriculture
trade
money
electricity
HistoryGuy
Not in order of importance or chronology

1. Positional Notation - the zero, base 10 maths
2. Logic - the concepts of truth and validity
3. Scientific Method - experimentation, cause and effect, when applied: technology, understanding nature
4. Liberty - human rights, individualism
5. Capitalism - division of labour, private property
LxGoodies
Now that's a very scientific list, history guy Cool I don't agree about your (1) because the notation (grammar) of quantity is very language dependent. When we adapted the decimal system, the Chinese had been using their decimal system for 1000 years. We were also quite advanced at the time, so apparently we did not really need it. In my view, the base 10 is not really important. Development can very well be based on a sexagesimal system, or any other number base, like Roman numerals.

http://aleph0.clarku.edu/~djoyce/mathhist/china.html

Also with (5) you seem to suggest capitalism as the end station of history.. It can be conceived that this is not the case, or not the only acceptable model. i agree with freedom of course, but I wonder if that concept had to be found, or invented in any way.

My previous little list was religious because I was involved in religious discussions when I made it up Razz

I just watched this video,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0zS7chqP78

My list of today looks more paleo-anthropologic.. What about this version, order is chronological

1. Tools
2. Culture
3. Language
4. Agriculture
5. Metalwork

Lx
HistoryGuy
Lx, I appreciate your response. I am a little confused, however, who the 'we' is. America? I can deduce you're not Chinese. China definitely has the advantage of having been around a lot longer than all western nations.

The important and influential aspect of the Arabic (aka Hindi, aka base 10) numeral system was the zero, as well as the concept of negative numbers. You are right that we could use any number system, but the use of 10 is as arbitrary as the number of fingers we have. Roman numerals don't have a zero, and try multiplying two large Roman numerals together. Also, I don't think the nationality of the originator of the idea is important here, just the influence it has on humanity.

I never implied capitalism is 'the end station of history,' I said my list was not chronological. Also, I was talking about free market capitalism. The ideas of an unhampered market, private ownership of property, and division of labour, have been responsible for the greatest accumulation of wealth for the greatest amount of people in history. It is about increasing incentives to be productive and the possibility of a better life, hugely influential.

I don't have a problem with seeing religions as influential, but they come, change, and go. Religion and culture consist of many, vastly differing ideas. I was trying to include all of humanity, regardless of race or belief. Give me your thoughts, for sure.
codegeek
In my view, the 5 most influential ideas of all time consist of the following
1. Social structure: I don't think humans would have reached where they are today without the concept of society and social hierarchy.

2. Trade: Come to think of it, it's the motivation for almost everything that we do. If there was no concept of trade and money, I wonder how the society would function.

3. Law: Human beings are selfish by nature. All the qualities like selflessness, helping others, not hitting pedestrians while driving, not stealing others' property etc. are developed as we grow up. If there were no law and order, the social structure would break down and chaos would ensue.

4. Religion: It helps bind people together and brings a feeling of unification rather than isolation.

5. Internet: Although a lot newer than the above mentioned points, this has the potential to become the greatest invention of mankind, especially as it develops further in the future.
LxGoodies
HistoryGuy wrote:
Lx, I appreciate your response. I am a little confused, however, who the 'we' is. America? I can deduce you're not Chinese. China definitely has the advantage of having been around a lot longer than all western nations.

The important and influential aspect of the Arabic (aka Hindi, aka base 10) numeral system was the zero, as well as the concept of negative numbers. You are right that we could use any number system, but the use of 10 is as arbitrary as the number of fingers we have. Roman numerals don't have a zero, and try multiplying two large Roman numerals together. Also, I don't think the nationality of the originator of the idea is important here, just the influence it has on humanity.

I'm Dutch. My remark was not to set back China in any way. When the European culture incorporated the Arabic numerals and zero in ca 1500, this European culture was quite advanced. The Roman culture had been quite advanced, also in an economic sense. Without the need for "zero". I think we don't differ in thinking that calculation is important, but I see calculation (math, calculus) as part of a larger group of aspects, that is language development.

Your list of 5 reads as if we need numbers and calculus to do science and develop an effective economy. All very true. But in my view, that's not all there is to "influential". There's more to development than just technologic accomplishments and economy derived from that. Without agriculture there would not be such a thing as "economics".

Quote:
I never implied capitalism is 'the end station of history,' I said my list was not chronological. Also, I was talking about free market capitalism. The ideas of an unhampered market, private ownership of property, and division of labour, have been responsible for the greatest accumulation of wealth for the greatest amount of people in history. It is about increasing incentives to be productive and the possibility of a better life, hugely influential.

I don't deny that. However i don't see market capitalism as a primary condition for survival. Agriculture is.

Quote:
I don't have a problem with seeing religions as influential, but they come, change, and go. Religion and culture consist of many, vastly differing ideas. I was trying to include all of humanity, regardless of race or belief. Give me your thoughts, for sure.

We agree about religion. However religion has had a grave influence on the psyche. I think that the main step for humans was to realize God does not exist, or God not necessarily exists. That notion made man independent, it enabled development.

Lx
capricornis
The answer would depend on how one defines an 'idea'? Is 'music' an idea, or is 'electric guitar-based rock music' an idea? In the first case, if we go too general, we might arrive at ideas which are basically part of our genetic code, like food or reproduction.

As such those ideas have always been there, i.e. no one ever 'came up with them'; they were there by the fact that they are an integral part of our genome.

As for ideas by humans that revolutionized our civilization, here's my pot shot:

1. The Wheel
2. Smelting of metals and alloys
3. Writing
4. Pythagorean Theorem
5. Relativity
jajarvin
My list is following:

1. Agriculture
2. Horse and dog domestication
3. Art of printing
4. The steam engine
5. Microprocessor
Radar
It's an interesting question. Because many ideas feel like if one person hadn't thought of them, another person would. And often with things like mathematical concepts, they kind of are discovered by different people independently. So if you're asking which ideas are the most influential, it feels strange, because I might argue that it's a way of thinking that changes the course of history, rather than individual ideas.

Most of the things listed so far I would call worldviews. I tend to think about ideas as being much more specific.

So for the 20th century, I would say that the idea that we could split the atom was a very influential one.
stevenwestwork
Collectivism, Consent, Intentional Surplus, Transportation and Literacy
theShadow
The Internet of course!
Where would we be discussing this otherwise! Smile
Iceaxe0410
I would definitely have to agree with religion, but I think my list differs in a few ways:

1. Religion
2. Currency
3. Communication/language
4. Energy
5. Weapons

Religion is obvious since it's been around for so long in human history. I don't think I need to explain that very much.

Currency, the idea of having wealth is one of the most powerful influences in the world today. It too has been long part of human history. Generally, the people that have the most wealth end up having the most power. The people with the most power, have the most influence.

Communication/language is very influential considering it's the primary tool used to interact with people and basically all life forms in the world. The way I view it is that methods of communication like the Internet, telephones, radios, tv, etc all provide a vehicle to influence others. Without communication, it would be very difficult influence anyone other than by violence or physical means.

Energy is one of those things that every civilization looks for. It helps drive communications and factors into wars, trade, and negotiations with other countries. It's not so much the type of energy, but definitely can be a large influence when one considers nuclear power or oil. Those with nuclear power tend to be the ones that also have nuclear weapons, which does tie into my fifth choice.

Weapons are obviously a large influence in all human history. Weapons are what are used to show power to others as well as to defend. Nuclear power being the most obvious one. All it takes is one nuke to start a chain reaction and destroy the entire world. I'd say that's very influential. It's also what many countries are concerned about in countries like North Korea and Iran. There is also the conventional fire arm, and in past history swords, axes, and spears. No matter what part of human history you look at, weapons did have a lot of influence in who held power and which empires and lands lived or died.
adampatrick
maths
physics
chemistry
engineering
biology
Iceaxe0410
I have to think about this for a bit. I know religion would be one of them. I think my list would be:

1. Religion
2. Science
3. Politics
4. Money
5. Language
supermanlovejan
Electricity
Language
Computer
Internet
Globalization
johans
for me is in this order:
1. Electricity
2. Communication (Telephone, Mobile)
3. Transportation ( car, train, planes)
4. Medicine
5. Computer


I guess that top 5 is the most influential inventions ever made by human.
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