Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Solomon Scale (3 of 6)

Dear Grandmother,
Sorry I was so brief in my last letter. I hope to make up for it in this one. Thank you for your prayers, I think the grant was written well. I got an insight at the end which I’ll have to credit to God by your prayers.
As I wrote to you last week, everyone does have a Solomon score at any given time. Last year (the 2042 results aren’t published yet), the world average was 26.3S with a standard deviation of 6.0; it’s pretty close to a normal distribution, though with many outliers (there are many who are very good or very bad). That means that 68% of humanity is between 20.3-32.3S, and 95% fall between 12.3-38.3S.
Criminals and bad men usually came out in the 10-20S range, normal people 20-40S, and particularly nice people sometimes make it to 50S. And then, every once in a while, we find an anomaly. A housebound old woman living alone got a 75S, a homeless man that scores 92S. Most publicly good people (pastors, doctors) turn out to be in the normal range, but I tend to expect outliers of them. I’ve heard of some pastors breaking 100S. The world record is a Chinese evangelist: 147S. In my own lab we recorded the lowest score on record, 0.8, from a popular religious leader. He has since joined the skeptics and believes the machine to be an “instrument of the devil.” When he shouted that, I felt the childish urge to shout back, “It takes one to know one!”
In addition to having a score, everyone also has a velocity. Some are increasing their goodness, in Solomons. Others are falling. We call this “moral velocity.” The scale shows that the world’s velocity is slightly negative (-0.02S/year). And some people are getting better, faster. Their moral velocity is increasing; they have positive “moral acceleration.”
I should mention at this point that there is another quite large group of dissenters to the machine who call themselves Hegelians, who argue that the machine must be flawed because it is self evident that humanity is advancing morally, never declining, never falling back. How they think that 10 years of measurements are at all conclusive one way or another is beyond me.
But if their assumption is right (I’m still withholding judgment), it means that what you’ve been saying to me all these years is exactly right. “When I was a child, we’d never…” or “Young people these day don’t have courage/discipline/piety that we used to.” If you’re right and if we extrapolated this 10-year average back to when you were a young woman 60 years ago, your generation would have been 1.2S better than ours, or 27.5S. But if you were better in your youth, you’ve slipped down with us; there are now no statistically significant moral differences between the generations. For better or worse, we have only ten years of data and we don’t have the data to support such conjectures.
Who knows? Maybe in 20 years, we’ll have enough data to prove you right! Thanks again for your prayers! Is there anything I can be praying for you about?
I love you dearly,
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6 

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