What three books would you use to rebuild society?

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What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby DoglovingJim » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:33 am



Name says it all, imagine yourself to be a time traveler just like in H.G.Wells "The Time Machine" .

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Far far into the future civilization has collapsed and knowledge of the past has essentially ceased to exist, so what three books would you take to rebuild society and why?

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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby jbobsully11 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:17 am

Do books with multiple volumes count as one thing? If so, I'd have Euclid's Elements, because the math and logic outlined in it are eminently useful across multiple fields. I'd also want some kind of medical textbook, so I guess Gray's Anatomy, given that it's the only medical textbook whose name I know and it seems general enough (some knowledge of human biology seems kind of important). Something about agriculture also seems like it would be useful, but I really don't know what's best for that.

How much of society has collapsed? Are there still experts in different fields, or are the three books the only external knowledge I have access to?
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby KleinerKiller » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:00 am

Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed.

To show them that a society that produced such work should stay dead.

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I can't name specifics offhand, but one book that teaches basic scientific theory, one that teaches lateral thinking and complex problem solving, and one that illustrates the potential of human creativity and inspiration. It is very important to me that in the rush to rebuild the necessities, humanity doesn't lose its artistic spirit.
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby DoglovingJim » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:43 am

jbobsully11 wrote:How much of society has collapsed? Are there still experts in different fields, or are the three books the only external knowledge I have access to?


Well, in the time machine humanity (in the form of the Eloi) have essentially become through many generations cattle. There are no experts at anything, all knowledge is gone, only few Eloi begin to learn the concept of self-sacrifice as you live among them. They live a life of ease having everything provided from them (such as clothes, food and everything else) by the Morlocks at the cost of being killed for food when they reach maturity, mentally they are like children.
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Now you are a proper time traveler, and in an attempt to rescue some of the Eloi you completely destroyed the Morlock's home and presumably killed all of the Morlock's in the ongoing fire.
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And now society has to restart from scratch, and only you can lead them.
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby Grimstone » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:59 am

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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby CarrieVS » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:26 pm

I might conceivably go with the first three instalments of The Science of Discworld. There is a lot of interesting and useful ideas in there. And a story.
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby Marcuse » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:20 pm

Unsurprisingly, I think philosophy books would be the way to go. Science is valuable, and it's ideal to preserve it, but if you can reliably teach people how to go about the process of science, then over time you can recover most of what you have lost. To that end, I'd choose:

Plato - The Republic

One of the books that kicked off the Renaissance is probably a must. A treatise on the ideal state and how to arrange the particulars of human life, interlaced with conjectures about the human condition, the nature of good and the ability of humans to organise themselves. Simple enough that people with no prior knowledge of philosophy can work through it, but complicated enough to be useful.

John Locke - Second Treatise of Government

There's no point rebuilding society only for it to be a tyranny. What better way to rebuild society than a book on the nature of society and its construction? Locke also takes a liberal approach to rights and freedoms, which I think would suit a newly reconstructing society well.

Soren Kierkegaard - Fear and Trembling

This might be a controversial one, but I'm including this because of its definition of faith and how it portrays it in a universe that it fears is devoid of deity. The existence of faith in the human condition is nigh ubiquitous, and having a text ready to show people how faith is a powerful thing, but it shouldn't be yoked to the purpose of something that's not worth the devotion is probably both prudent and useful.
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby cmsellers » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:39 pm

Steal This Book, The Anarchist Cookbook, and the unabomber's manifesto.
Rebuilding society seems like too much work, it's much easier to just keep tearing shit down.
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby Krashlia » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:30 pm

cmsellers wrote:Steal This Book, The Anarchist Cookbook, and the unabomber's manifesto.
Rebuilding society seems like too much work, it's much easier to just keep tearing shit down.


Until you reach a "tear s*** down" equilibrium and reach homeostasis?
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby Malfeasinator » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:49 pm

I've seen the movie you're talking about. I tried to reply to this thread a few times. It's hard to do.

The main protagonist is an idiot.

I'll tell you why in 7 points.

1. The people he "helped" were basically cattle. They had no survival instincts of their own. The only thing he taught them was how to make a fist and fight against situations they don't like. This was the FIRST AND ONLY THING he taught them before disappearing.

How do you think that's going to play out when he's trying to teach them something difficult and new to them, like math? He's going to get his head bashed in with a rock while he's sleeping, that's what.

2. He could use his handy dandy time machine to prevent the major disaster that wipes out humanity, but instead he has to go back to the future to get some snoo-snoo from a mentally challenged woman he believes he can train into being the perfect housewife. PRIORITIES!

3. He's a gentleman from the 19th century, so obviously, in his mind, he's got all the education he needs to rebuild the world, even though his lifestyle and upbringing would have made him woefully unprepared to do the basic caveman kind of things that these future people are going to need. He's probably had hired help do all the heavy lifting in his life.

4. He doesn't need to only bring 3 books. His time machine runs perfectly without needing any fuel. He can make as many trips as he wants. He can bring his whole library. He can bring ALL the libraries.

5. Given the guy's character, you pretty much already know what 3 books he brought. The Bible, some Shakespeare, and either a book of poems or a book of ancient philosophy, neither of which would suprise me. This won't help people hunt, fish, trap, make stone and bone tools, build shelters, forage for food, grow and manage crops, make fire, find water, make rope/cordage, find medicine, make clothes, defend themselves and their belongings (like stored food, or I don't know, babies) from wild animals, but I'm sure in his mind that these are just minor details that will work themselves out along the way, and that's dangerous for the people he's about to try to lead. They know NONE of this stuff. Again, they were purely cattle. All their needs were taken care of by the people raising them to be food, and now they have no idea what to do.

6. This dude completely gives up on his own native time period and everybody he's ever known. Best friends? Pah. Family? Screw those jokers. Why? For some future strange.

7. Speaking of strange -- He's going to give it all up for a woman who almost drowned and just said "Oh!" like of course, this is just what's happening now and there's no way to stop it.

He's going to try to have babies with this woman. I feel like that needs to be pointed out. She's probably mentally like ... less smart than a young child. It's probably more akin to bestiality if he has sex with this person.

There are plenty of attractive and mentally able women to pick from in his own time period, and many other time periods. His need to mold and shape her and train her so he can have his ideal of a sex partner is kind of sick, if you ask me. Nobody's got the power to stop him though, so that makes it okay?

Anyway, I do like a challenge, so I thought about it a little.

I think the first book would have to be a purely survival skills kind of book. There are tons of them out there. I don't know all that stuff; I might be able to make fire, and forage some plants, and do some flint-knapping for knives, but there's a lot I don't know that I'm going to need to know, and need to teach others. So that's the main thing. I'm going to make sure people can survive, first. They can thrive later.

The second book is a magic book. I'm vain. I won't live forever. I want people to remember me somehow. I want to do good sleight of hand magic tricks so that I can be remembered as having performed miracles. People can form religions about me centuries after I've passed on, based on exaggerated stories of the demi-god who arrived at the dawn of time to teach humanity how to live in this hostile world.

The third book is going to be about brewing alcohol from scratch. Together with my being able to identify magic mushrooms (amanita muscaria and psilocybe cubensis), I think I might just be able to give people some mind expansion and/or a reason to live. Time are going to be tough, they're going to need something to get through it. I figure the shrooms can also get the dummies thinking about some new things and possibly ignite their imaginations.

I can bring some stuff to the table already. I can teach reading and writing, I've been a math tutor up to the Calc 1 level and for a starting out society, that's probably all they'll need to get going.
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby ghijkmnop » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:07 am

First of all, they had the teaching rings-- or in the Guy Pearce version, Orlando Jones, the hologram.

To fill the holes, I would bring:

US Army Handbook.
A compendium of Mathematics and basic Geometry
A plant and rock guide.
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby cmsellers » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:57 am

ghijkmnop wrote:A plant and rock guide.

I'm sure there are a lot of Deadheads who can get behind this suggestion. ;-)
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby Anglerphobe » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:59 pm

Humans started out from nothing before, so I wouldn't feel the need to cover too much of survival in books. I can teach them enough for them to then figure out what they need to on their own as they encounter it. Survival is a short term problem that never goes away; progress is what the books would need to cover, ie the things that took humans millennia to figure out even after we nailed survival last time around.
Medicine would be the first, as it's sure to come up and I don't know enough about it to teach them all they would need to know. For example, I know you can harvest antibiotics from mould, but I don't know how. Hopefully in time they could build on the knowledge in one of those big table bowing medical textbooks and whatever tuition I could give them to eventually develop real medicine again.
In the same vein, metallurgy and electricity. I know enough about both to give them a head start on palaeolithic humans, but the nuts and bolts would need more expertise than I have. I haven't read the novel or seen the movie so I'm not sure how much infrastructure or materials the Morlocks left behind but assuming they were fairly advanced you could scavenge a lot of what's needed from them.

tl;dr - The eminent treatises on medicine, metallurgy, and the harnessing of electricity plus my own tuition. I would probably write down a lot of what I was teaching them, but as I'm not bringing those books from the distant past I'm guessing that isn't cheating.

ETA - I would also fuck as many of the fertile women as possible to fill out the genome with some (relatively) non-idiotic dna for the next generation (thank you, midwifery section of medical textbook) then raise all the resulting children to be the backbone of future civilisation. There might be a little bit of inbreeding down the line, but we'll have to live with that. This part of the plan would be really difficult to pull off if you're a woman, providing yet another reason that only men should be time travellers (as the wise sages of the daily mail's online comment section foretold).
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Re: What three books would you use to rebuild society?

Postby Malfeasinator » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:07 am

I forgot to mention reason #8 that the Hero was a freaking moron.

The other side had facilities for the manufacturing of food, clothing, and I assume other goods as well, and our brave protagonist bravely lets it all get BLOWN THE FUCK UP and caved in on. I mean I understand wanting to turn off the human slaughter devices, but maybe check out the rest of the complex and see if they have something useful.

Like seeds. Or any kind of metal tools. Or a friggin' LOOM.
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