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Society's Welcome Convictions

by NB Armstrong (May 2013)


There are numerous imperfect but telling shorthand filters for judging a society. A people's general driving standards, the nature of the bureaucratic processes involved in starting a business, its foreigner visa restrictions, or even its pornography might all be semi-seriously invoked by the outsider wishing to explain the country he has recently visited, been deported from, or ripped off. To try to insightfully apply the above to modern day rural Uruguay or Denmark two hundred years ago is, perhaps, to immediately disprove the technique. But still, there is something general to be excavated from the particular of these limited phenomena. Another such way to gauge a society is to examine the way it summarizes itself: its news headlines. However, just as with drawing big broad conclusions from driving, pornography, etc, this is a less than scientific approach and prone to misreading. For example,

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