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While There Are Prisoners In Seoul, We Are Not Free

While There Are Prisons in Seoul, We Are Not Free is a 2017 attempt of mine to figure out why people reason in a way that contributes to the unfortunate state of the world, and what we can do about it. 

It's about our society's needs for prisons and how to evaluate potential solutions to pernicious problems. In essence, it's also an exploration of how subconscious rationalization concretely contributes to the state of the world.


The name comes from one of Eugene V. Debs' most famous sayings: "While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”


Highlights include:

  • Based on the most recent APA internal survey numbers, it would take ~4 million therapists 45 years to see 7.5 billion people for a median-length course of psychotherapy.

  • Or for something that scales well in terms of supply, has a variable effect, and no demand, it would take  ~.83 tons of LSD to supply 7.5 billion people with enough for one dose.


Conclusions include:

  • One of the main "problems" is that most people have an incomplete understanding of themselves and what they currently perceive their experience to be. 

  • The way to overcome is this to do is help people help themselves by having them study how people work.

  • In essence, if we want to see a wiser society, we're all going to have to study wisdom. 

  • "Wisdom" can be found in books and films with a high density of structured information about how people make decisions and communicate. 

  • "Wisdom" should be taught as a subject alongside math, language, history, and science.

  • The origins of subconscious rationalization can be found in childhood. They can be ameliorated with enough internal exploration (which itself can be caused by engaging with "wisdom literature.")

  • Fixing the criminal justice system cannot be divorced from ameliorating the upstream causes of crime; the upstream causes of crime may be ameliorated if we all study wisdom.

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