One interesting experiment is to move back in time. What could one teach the people of ancient Rome? And the people of the Middle Ages? The most honest answer would be — nothing. Today we live in a world that does not require any practical knowledge.
No need to know how food is grown and what kind of fertilizer farmers use. How does the generator, who supports the work of GPS-systems? The systems just work. This is a black box in which you invest money or effort, and at the output, you get the desired result. Assess its complexity is almost impossible — until you try to reproduce.
What I’m talking about. Lewis Dartnell wrote the book “The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch.” This is a simple and effective non-fiction. The conditions are as follows: humanity is overtaking a catastrophe, civilization has disappeared, there are no governments. What to do next? How to restore society and not slip into dark times?
Dartnell further develops the idea “what if I remain the last person on Earth.” And it shows that there is nothing good in the status of survivors after a catastrophe — it requires hard work. Yes, at first you can enjoy the remnants of the former luxury, but this is a temporary action. The whole book tells in stages how to ensure a base for prosperity: what to grow, where to live, what medicines to use.
The conclusions are not surprising — you need to live in the villages, stock up on fuel, grow grains. The explanations accompanying them are interesting. Dartnell in unthinkable quantities provides basic knowledge from many different areas. In one paragraph, he describes the device of reinforced cement, in another — the degradation of satellite systems after a power outage on Earth. More practical descriptions include instructions for disinfecting water, gardening, making a wind turbine or an internal combustion engine, and disassembling cars.
First, it is simply useful. Secondly, frightening knowledge is catching up: we are completely detached from reality and live in such a carefully thought-out world that we are not even aware of its fragility. Everything, from the plumbing to the appearance of food on the shelves, is provided with an inconceivable number of interactions, transactions, contracts. The book, also titled “The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm”, and it doesn’t just say — well, the nightmare will come and the social contract will collapse. It treads with a small encyclopedia of instructions.
All of us in childhood asked our parents “how does it work” and “why is this happening”. It’s time to find out.