Assumptions (about future generations and time in general)
Mr. Zimbardo is definitely doing relevant work, but …
he works with some assumptions, that, as we speak/write are losing their validity. The kid with the first -imagined- answer questions if it is actually good or desirable to have more and more of something. For a generation (the generation of Mr. Zimbardo and his fellows) that had lived all their lives believing that scarcity is bad and abundance is good, it is inconceivable, that a future generation would rather have it on the contrary. It also does not take into account the quality of growth. A growth in marshmallows? (or war supplies, or toxic plastics or nuclear power stations, etc) No, thanks! Two fresh yummy apples instead of one? Yes, please!
The second kid is then doing what bankers have stopped doing and what then led to the subprime crisis: He wanted to know about the past behavior of someone he was supposed to trust (give credit). Had the guy at the counter always payed his bills on time? Has he always had a steady job or a steady income? Has he got some savings or is he what they call a NINA- no income no assets - person.
The bankers at some point started to shun these principles. They would go like: What do we know? If a person did not pay his bills in the past it doesn’t mean he will do so in the future. Everything is changing, people have no steady jobs, they have a job today, no job tomorrow, and in a week from now they can win the lottery. Everybody has a right to change and the only thing that matters to us is that he’s a client who lives up to his obligations.
What happened actually was something very “American”, I would say. The past did not matter anymore, only the future. What these people failed (and still fail) to see is that there is no future without the past. Only the past can show us the behavior of a curve and then we can - more or less accurately - predict where it will go from now. Stock exchange traders are constantly looking at those curves, don’t they?
What brings me to your example, Nadia. 10.000 years is a period of time that nobody dares (or cares) to think about, unless …
Yes, unless you are in charge of dumping nuclear waste somewhere. It’s funny, because I am from a place where this is going to happen now. Salzgitter, Germany has an abandoned Iron ore mine that is now going to be used as a repository - here’s a link to the official state propaganda site that says how safe it all is:
When they started even considering this “endlager” (sounds like endloesung, doesn’t it?) in 1982, I was already participating in the first -mostly violent- protests and now, 32 years later, they have won all the legal battles, and they will implement it. So, there is a notion of my own present: 32 years is a long time in my life. And then there is the mind-boggling idea, like, the next 10.000 years, there will be toxic, radioactive waste right underneath the place where I was born and where I grew up with family and friends.
Of course they say that everything is safe for the next 10.000 years. And here you can see the flaws of supposedly scientific / responsible / official assumptions at its purest.
Authority , those in power - will always tell you that the sun circles around the earth, and that you have to postpone gratification to be successful or that radioactive waste is safe for the next 10.000 years in Salzgitter. Yes, these things are related.
Here’s something I found the other day and it deals with time, trauma, gaming and narratives. Anyone interested?