Thursday, August 15, 2013


Its occurred to me recently that language, writing, the printing press, the computer, and the internet may well be the greatest inventions of mankind.

With language, and writing, the information gathered by one can be shared by all.  Without the transmission of ideas we'd all need to start at the beginning.  No one would have time for things like cars and coffee machines, becasue we'd all first need to individually learn how to hunt, gather, and make fire.

Our growth has come from the accumulation of of the knowledge of those that came before us.  The more that cam before us the more knowledge that we have.

We can look at the less prosperous societies and we can find that it is the places with written language which have advanced the fastest.

For a while I had wondered why the West was so militarily superior to the East.  With reading China: A History, I discovered that until very recently the literacy rate for Chinese males was around 40%.  With literacy that low, not many people could learn by reading.  All needed to learn everything themselves, and reinvent everything themselves.  The spoken word gets garbled written words less so.

We can look at the economic advance of the world and see that the places with written words and high literacy have advanced the most.  The printing press was invented in Germany, and Europe has led the way ever since.  Is that a coincidence?

Places like China and India have economically lagged behind Europe, despite their great numbers of people occasionally inventing marvelous things.  Lots of people gives them the odds to invent things, but they do not advance on it without writing.  A chinsese guy invented gunpowder, but hundreds of years later they could still only think to use it for fireworks.  I'll bet that you can find gunpowder's uses multiplying only with writing.

And the people of the world that were just overwhelmed by stronger countries, people like "native americans" and Africans are the places that took the longest to acquire literacy.


More people means more advancement in ideas.

More writing and more literacy means more economic advancement.

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