Friday thread: The secret power of time (and religion)…

I’ve loved this RSA Animate video series ever since Paul posted one for his dress down Friday series a few weeks… This one on time is great… Professor Philip Zimbardo says that research tells us that there Past, Present and Future focused people…

It’s pretty funny the whole way through but, interestingly, he claims that people in Catholic countries tend to be past oriented… Whilst Protestants tend to be future oriented… Ahem [looks at his boots]… But do watch it, and if the spirit moves you (and if you dare brave the inevitable trolls), seriously discuss…

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  • Greenflag

    ‘ he claims that people in Catholic countries tend to be past orientedโ€ฆ Whilst Protestants tend to be future oriented.’

    He obviously did’nt look in on Northern Ireland where protestants are focused on 1690 and catholics on 1916 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ? His remarks on ‘wealth ‘ by religion has been discredited . With the Germans and Dutch being 50% Catholic nominally and the poorest part of Germany being the East about 90% protestant (nominally ) and then there is the GDP per person between the Republic (90% Catholic nominally ) and NI being not quite 50% RC (nominally ) which begs the question would NI have the same GDP per person as the Republic if NI was 90% RC like the Republic ? According to Zimbardo’s thesis one could deduce that it’s ‘protestants’ who are dragging down the average GDP in NI ;)?

    Northern Italy has a much higher GDP per person than the South and Sicily yet they are all nominally RC ?

    The Luxemburgers are 95 % RC and have the highest GDP per person in the EU .And then there’s the Swiss who cross all the cultural and religious lines and who are slightly above the Luxemburgers in ranking ?

    Perhaps Zimbardo should take into account facts such as economic and political history , geographical location , natural resources , colonial history or no , governmental regimes -democratic status etc ?

    Apart from the above ‘bloomers’ Professor Zimbardo ( his moniker sounds like he’s a magician ๐Ÿ˜‰ there is a strong degree of truth in his findings re the young and not so young people today .

    The outworking of this ‘instant answer ‘ culture has ramifications only now becoming visible in the political sphere .

    People are now looking for ‘fast food’ political solutions to long standing economic and social problems . And when they don’t arrive then out go the ‘incumbents ‘ perhaps ? The attention span of brain damaged rabbits is now order of the day ๐Ÿ™

    I finally gave up the ghost on ever new technological ‘advances ‘ with twitter and facebook . Both a step beyond rhyme or reason in my view and destined to end sadly .

    As to Protestants being more future orientated evidence has just arrived proving this to be the case at least in this well known example and champion of the lost sorry Protestant cause;) .:)

    Paisley visits the Dail and Glasnevin Cemetry in bright sunshine

    From todays Irish Independent (the Blueshirt rag ๐Ÿ˜‰

    ‘Mary Hanafin was scrambled to take the couple on a tour of the National Museum and the National Library until Bertie could be released from the endless round of votes.

    But a more important tour awaited Ian and Eileen — a tour of two of the top attractions in the constituency of Dublin Central, courtesy of a guide who knows every crack in every pavement of Drumcondra and its environs.

    Bertie treated the pair to lunch in his beloved Botanic Gardens, which looked resplendent in the sunshine, followed by a stroll through one of the gorgeous glasshouses.

    Ian was in mighty form afterwards. “I had a lovely lunch — I made a clean plate!” he declared. So he hadn’t been bothered by all the fire and brimstone in the Dail earlier in the day?

    Quite the opposite. “It was very enjoyable. For once they didn’t have to throw this troublemaker out,” he laughed heartily, leaving one with the suspicion that he had been half-tempted to join in the melee, just for old times’ sake.

    And it was clear the famous rapport between the trio hasn’t dimmed. Eileen presented Bertie with a book, inscribed “To my friend Bertie”, and the former Taoiseach has kept in close contact with the Paisleys.

    After a potter through the petunias, the Paisleys were then whisked off to Glasnevin Cemetery.

    Given that Glasnevin contains the graves of many who took part in the struggle to escape from under the yoke of Perfidious Albion, a carefully thought-out multi-denominational route had been planned.

    The Paisleys and Bertie, plus the cemetery’s historian Shane MacThomais, took off at breakneck speed in a golf-style buggy on a whistlestop round of graves, including those of Charles Stuart Parnell, Arthur Griffith, a memorial to the fallen of World War One and Lord Lieutenant Frederick Cavendish who was assassinated by The Invincibles in the Phoenix Park in 1882.

    Ian stopped by the war memorial and read from his bible. And there was one other grave to visit, that of Bertie’s parents, Con and Julia.

    The tour finished with a visit to the Daniel O’Connell crypt. As Ian and Bertie emerged up the steep steps, Ian slung his arm around Bertie’s shoulder for a bit of support. And chatting happily the pair walked slowly in the sunny cemetery, passing the grave of Kevin Barry and his comrades who died in the War of Independence.

    It was a beautiful day.

    End of

    For those who have never been to Glasnevin Cemetry there is a close to the front gate some memorial seat benches for weary grave visitors to relax on . A couple of years back I went to a funeral in Glasnevin and while waiting for others to pitch I sat down on one of these benches . Ironically enough it was just at the time that Ian Paisley resigned as FM . The bench I sat was dedicated to the memory of one I kid you not – Peter Robinson ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Danny

    Surely any religious person is backwards-thinking?

  • nic

    Dude. You did NOT!
    I loved it, brilliant video, thought provoking message.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Very good until the last bit – not sure I really got the link
    between time perspectives and conflict – he just sort of squeezed that bit in at the end – also regarding his theories on different countries, cities, religions having differnet time perspectives then surerly his point about techology use by kids completly cuts across that – because if techology is changing kids time perspective then before very long there will only be one universal time perspective. And you have to love the idea of a psychologist talking of ‘rewiring’ the brain – really empirical stuff there.

  • Middlemarch

    Another brilliant piece,,, about the fall of the family unit and rise of gamer culture. The notions of time and social reality in terms of national productivity are really inspiring…

  • joeCanuck

    The talk downplayed, in fact ignored, the fact that there are always generational differences when kids start to mature and find their own way. And they change again as they gain responsibility; where did all the 60s hippies go?

  • wee buns

    Great story great story; the bench dedication the icing on the bun.

  • wee buns

    They mostly sold out to be stockbrockers.
    Didn’t you comment once to the effect that those who protest the most are those who …..

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay, I’ve pulled off most of that back biting nonsense. That last aside was not an invitation to troll…


    You do get that northern Italians are also mostly Catholic? It’s best to watch the material before jumping off the deep end. Most of your comments here have nothing to do with the subject of the presentation.

  • Greenflag

    JC ,

    ‘where did all the 60s hippies go?’

    The same place as the age of leisure , full employment , the 30 hour week – the ever brighter futures for the children of the mass consumerist paradise that lay just over the horizon of the white hot technological revolution i.e into the void ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow perhaps they the hippies never really existed or were a figment of the imagination of Madison Avenue marketeers ?

    You make a good point JC re the eternal generational difference factor which exists at all times and in all historical epochs but I’d guess the point that Prof Zimbardo is trying to make is that in todays world where a cell phone is obsolete after three months and laptops need changing every year to keep up to speed etc that we are in a new paradigm -Great word that ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll eventually figure out what it means ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • wee buns

    Germany is where I first heard the term ‘leisure stress’ with 10 days holidays freaking out because they could not cram enough leisure in. Leisure being ski-ing, hill walking, activities.

    A far far cry from Donegal, where leisure means …doing nothing, and doing it very slowly, tenderly, purposefully. Measure the pace of life & it would be so laid back as to be falling into the Atlantic.

    Loads of interesting points in this animation.
    Spit new Amerikan homes, the kitchens are built with only an alcove for a microwave….zero cooker, never mind sit-down-family-meals. This does not bode well.

    The Prod = future looking, Taig = past looking present loving hedonist, is not an ill founded observation. The interesting question may be why?

    Though in strong disagreement with his ‘past negative & past positive’ theory, on the grounds of oversimplification. The past deserves more respect depth-wise, from anscestor honouring to identity, context, culture, roots; not to be taken for granted.

  • Greenflag

    Mick ,

    I made the point above

    ‘Northern Italy has a much higher GDP per person than the South and Sicily yet they are all nominally RC ?

    I was a wee bit harsh on Guderian but in my defence I’ll plead I retaliated ‘second ‘

    The Paisley /Bertie piece I thought made an interesting ‘real life’ contrast to Prof Zimbardo’s liberal generalisations .

    While there is some truth in his ‘climatic ‘ view of humankind’s propensities it’s by no means ‘scientific ‘ . As for the pace of people walking I recall a study made a few years back when the Celtic Tiger was at it’s zenith that Dubliners were walking faster than New Yorkers . Perhaps they’re moving a little slower these days or even rushing faster to keep up ?

    And I did watch the clip which I found interesting at the beginning -humourous in the middle and thought provoking at the end .

  • Mick Fealty

    Fair enough. Just try not to monopolise the conversation. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Greenflag

    ‘the Prod = future looking, Taig = past looking present loving hedonist, is not an ill founded observation. The interesting question may be why?’

    The answers were thought to be found in Max Weber’s analysis which was seen as almost a scientific truth in the 18th and 19th centuries . In recent times some have used ‘climate ‘ as being the determinative factor in people’s visible productivity = this has even been used as a rationale for African ‘poverty ‘ . But then you have Haiti and the Dominican Republic sharing the same island with huge economic disparities and then there’s Zimbabwe and Botswana with the latter’s GDP per capita being probably 20 times the former.
    In Europe you had the same people i.e the Germans -East & West with the latter earning 10 or more times the former . And today you have the Koreans with the North on the verge of starvation and the South probably now close to exceeding NI’S GDP per capita .

    And in present day Germany the fastest growing regional economies are in the predominantly Catholic Lander in the South and South West .

    As for NI ? Economic activity in Ireland has been predominantly on an east west gradient for most of the past few centuries . Religion per se is in my view incidental to that fact not causative in itself .

    But for the future orientated Prof Zimbardo is pointing out realities which many of us are aware of but feel powerless to do anything about . The ‘global economy’ rules k.o. And our politicians will not be addressing any of these ‘issues’ any time soon ๐Ÿ™

  • Henry94

    I saw another one of those recently based on Smile or Die, Barbara Ehrenreich’s critique of the Positive Thinking message. I had read her book and the little video was more persuasive.

    I think the format is propaganda gold because of the way it’s presented. Th contrast between the pace of the animations and the words has an impact. If you read the same idea in book form you are more likely to spot weakness in the argument. I expect we’ll see a lot more of these but you wouldn’t buy a car based on one so maybe you shouldn’t buy an idea either.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    re. “If you read the same idea in book form you are more likely to spot weakness in the argument.”

    Yes I agree and by talking fast he can sneak a few unsupported conclusions in e.g. “lots of conflict we have with people is really a conflcit in different time perspectives”. Sounds reasonable but nothing in the clip to support that and “you cant have family values if you dont have family meals together” well perhaps true and sounds good but not supported by the earlier arguements.

    Thats not something you can get away with in a book as easily and the quality of the argument is obviously not being improved – just the presentation. Having said all it is nevertheless very enjoyable and probably much more memorable than a book – but isnt his own technique contributing to the technological move away from realxing and actually taking the time to read the book rather than watching the animation clip.

  • abucs

    I thought the comments about a present hedonistic student population not fitting in with an educational system that is future orientated made some sense.

    In some educational systems the curriculum is being actively changed to try and relate to high tech – low concentration span students.

    It may be that a move to a more materialistic and hedonistic culture is actively working against the proper reflection and thought development in students which itself then produces a lowering of knowledge, intelligence and rationally well thought out views.

  • abucs

    Not really when the religious were the ones forward thinking enough to lay the groundwork for our modern day science, hospital and education systems.

  • Middlemarch

    The dumbing down of Mainstream media, accessibility to information and hedonistic attitude of many young people in the north means that ‘intelligence’ per se is not something that is as actively encouraged -within younger social circles. If we think of society as a product of it’s environment it’s not difficult to see why. The number of bars and clubs filled to capacity well outnumber the classrooms and lecture theatres. I think the people of NI are hedonists by default. Entrepreneurial activity and the means to necessitate it are limited in comparison to elsewhere. There are many that have made a difference so far and strategists who have made a great impact in the Belfast and Derry. However its really a case of swimming against a tide of alcopops and weaning the kids of the Jack Daniels! Perhaps we should introduce magic marker days during freshers weeks instead of standing back and watching kids drink until liver failure sets in… Just a thought!

  • HeinzGuderian

    Modern day science…………try telling that to Galileo ??
    Hospitals………..Ether was discovered in the 15,00’s. Religious dogma forbid its use until the mid 1800’s……….on the premise that gawd meant us to suffer !!
    Education……………well,where to start ? dup flat earthers ?

  • abucs

    “Try telling that to Galileo”. That’s not an argument, it’s an appeal to ignorance on the facts surrounding Galileo and a narrowing of focus. It is one of many anti religious myths. Be happy to talk about Galileo if you wish.

    Regarding the myth about Church prohibition of hospitals, read the link on medical science. It’s a little bit more grown up than a one line quote from a theorectical biological evolutionist come Theologian, historian, phycisist, pyschologist (whatever sells books really).

    Flat Earthers. Another myth.

    In 4 lines of writing you came up with 3 myths. Myths plus a lack of indepth discussion is what sells this anti religious propaganda.

    Hopefully with the education of the next generation this silly attack on the intellect of the religious will be laughed out of existance. It is a really stupid argument and people will not want to be associated with really stupid arguments.

  • wee buns

    ”Economic activity in Ireland has been predominantly on an east west gradient for most of the past few centuries . Religion per se is in my view incidental to that fact not causative in itself .”

    Dead right. The west has fallen into the Atlantic. Dublin forgot the whole county of Donegal on it’s latest ‘what to do in a national emergency’ maps. We are past caring anyway. If only they had listened to us over Lisbon….
    And in the example of north/south Italy, there are other factors such as poor soil quality (ooops…was that not the reason Donegal was gerrymandered out of the final solution?) in the south of Italy. Geology as opposed to geography.