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> It's hard for me to emphasize enough how little typical Westerners understand about Asia.

I bet the typical human knows very little about life and culture outside of their specific environment. A typical city-dweller knows little about rural life even in their own region, and vice-versa.

It's weird how easily we fall into a trap of saying "look how ignorant x people are". I mean, of course, it's a big world, and we're busy, so it's pretty hard to not be ignorant.

Maybe a bigger mistake is thinking that "Media" (news etc?) is an education system. It's not and maybe it's not supposed to be. We need to come up with a better system/expectation/culture around continuous education, but even in the best case that can only apply to the subset of the population that has the time and resources and interest to take part.




> I bet the typical human knows very little about life and culture outside of their specific environment. A typical city-dweller knows little about rural life even in their own region, and vice-versa.

I think this is certainly true, but at the same time, I've never met an American (even an otherwise 'uneducated' one), who was under the impression that London or Berlin are backwoods villages that struggle to keep the lights on, whereas I have certainly met people that think Hong Kong is. So then the question becomes "yes people are generally unaware, but what is it about Asia specifically that makes it seem like there is an even larger lack of awareness compared to somewhere like Europe?"

In regards to the rest of your comment: I wholeheartedly agree, but I don't think it comes down to "time or resources". Some of it does just come down to personal habits/preferences. Without passing any judgement, there are plenty of people who spend their evenings watching The Bachelorette when they could just as easily be using that time to watch The Travel Channel (or Discovery Channel if it was still actually educational), but they actively choose not to. I think that's a societal thing much more than it is a time or resources constraint.


Maybe it's because of historical ties to Europe, both a partially shared culture and history?

As for the asymmetry. The US has been considered one of two, then the only, global superpower for the last 70 years, inundating the whole world with their culture the whole time.

Reminds me of a course on models, where they talked about "celebrities". Those who are seen by and influence most people, but don't know and aren't influenced by most of said people (might need to clarify that)


When the US was a backwoods nation, London and Berlin were world capitals, and Hong Kong was a backwater fishing village, so American culture does not have the same ingrained respect for Hong Kong that it does for European cities. That being said, I don't know if you are using Hong Kong as a stand in for major Chinese cities, but Hong Kong emigres make up a disproportionate amount of ethnic Chinese American immigrants, and the way many of them talk about the mainland, one might think mainland China is having a problem with the keeping the lights one.


At the founding of the US, China was the #1 economy in the world. This view of the world among Europeans is partially based of racism and racist accounts of the world going unchecked.

The most investment-worthy economies on the planet have been in Asia for the past couple centuries (if you understand buying the dip), this fact is an economic threat to Europeans with a zero-sum view of global capitalism (has been for at least 2 centuries). The rest writes itself....


That is sort of the thing. It isn't so much that people don't know as that it doesn't register as important. Hans Rosling ended up devoting much of his life promoting a fact based view of the world after learning first hand that some of the absolute top students in Sweden had an obsolete world view. The West is used to being "the first world" were most important things happen. But increasingly we are the ones "on the other side". In most of the West large government programs aren't on the table, so that doesn't register as important to us. I am not even sure there is much that can be done about it. It is literally history in the making really.


> In most of the West large government programs aren't on the table, so that doesn't register as important to us. I am not even sure there is much that can be done about it. It is literally history in the making really.

Well said....I'd agree that not much can be done based on the current nature of both political and public/personal discourse, but can the quality of this discourse not be improved? From where I sit, this is quite literally the biggest problem, and I see very little initiative from any camp to improve it. On the contrary, there are plenty of people who are in positions where they could make a difference, but seem to be completely unable to even consider the idea that there is even a problem in this area.

History in the making indeed!


> I'd agree that not much can be done based on the current nature of both political and public/personal discourse, but can the quality of this discourse not be improved?

Probably. But I also don't think the discourse matter as much as it used to. It used to be that to have a voice you had to build something. So the discourse was meaningful as in reflected what was going to happen. Today everyone has a voice and therefor the discourse more reflects whatever people want it to be but not necessarily what happens. That is why we can discuss things seemingly forever while they largely remain the same.

In that sense I think Rosling was right in refusing to be negative. Not, as some people think, because he thought everything was getting better but to show that they could better. When you provide your own signal with substance other people's promises or dismissals become less relevant.

The really hard part is that the West has increasingly lost the narrative. So now we have to translate what China does to our own environment. We want the long term thinking, investment and development but not the authoritarianism.

Which is what China did with the whole "Chinese capitalism". No longer did they have to come up with things from scratch in their own system, but could translate from the Western narrative by buying companies or technologies.

So you have to find a way to show people that it can be done in a way that fits into their narrative by taking their concerns seriously.

But honestly for some countries it might be too late. I believe in fairness as something to strive for, but from a greater perspective reality doesn't really care what people think or how things should be. Countries who can't provide things that matter are going to lose, unless they can come up with something else. Which would probably be war, so they still lose.


> Probably. But I also don't think the discourse matter as much as it used to. It used to be that to have a voice you had to build something. So the discourse was meaningful as in reflected what was going to happen. Today everyone has a voice and therefor the discourse more reflects whatever people want it to be but not necessarily what happens. That is why we can discuss things seemingly forever while they largely remain the same.

You're not wrong, but I tend to disagree. I would say because everyone now has a voice, the nature of discourse is more important than ever. And if you look carefully, it tends to be full of delusional thinking. Black and white thinking about things that are extremely nuanced. Opinions stated as facts. Mind reading.

I would say the reason we can never get things done is because almost no one realizes they don't actually know very well what they're talking about. Such people are incredibly easy to divide and conquer.

> The really hard part is that the West has increasingly lost the narrative. So now we have to translate what China does to our own environment. We want the long term thinking, investment and development but not the authoritarianism.

Agreed. We used to be capable of it though. It seems to me figuring out how to regain that capability is to start to look very carefully at exactly what's going on, perhaps assembling a list of commonly believed or published "facts", that aren't actually facts. "It Ain’t What You Don’t Know That Gets You Into Trouble. It’s What You Know for Sure That Just Ain’t So."

> reality doesn't really care what people think or how things should be

Getting people to realize fundamental truths like this would be a good place to start. I suspect before too long, large amounts of people would start to realize how delusional current Western beliefs are, and then maybe we could finally start to get some change. But as long as everyone is still asleep, I think it's status quo as far as the eye can see, until we are bypassed by the rest of the world, or as you say resort once again to our old standby: war.

I think there's reason for hope, but not until we realize the problem.




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