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Why don't we try a grand social experiment?

Everyone has a different idea of what the laws should be, some even claim their way of living is the best. So my question is why not have a grand social experiment and let government be run on a very local scale. I think the most interesting findings would be how those fare that choose a large intrusive government versus those that choose to live under a small limited government.

It seems silly to me that civilization has been around for thousands of years and the scientific method for hundreds but people still can't agree on how to live. It's about time we stop relying on majority opinion or some so-called prophet to decide the best way to live.

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  • Sep 5 2013: Biggest problem I see with the idea is "who cleans up the mess?", followed by an equally important "how do we secure funding?"

    Human experimentation is problematic enough without going large scale.
    There is assured to be a mess to clean up by the time its done. For every improvement and good idea you stumble upon, you're bound to end up with two dozen bad ones. With these bad ideas affecting how real people will lead their lives, its something of an issue.

    Then there's the matter of humans around the globe all coming from distinctly different cultures, with ideas that work for some failing disastrously for others, and you end up with practically no universally applicable data.

    Sociology is not an exact science, and it'll take more than a few ambitious experiments to change that. Never mind the problem of getting such experiments off the ground and dealing with the inevitable disasters.
    • Sep 6 2013: I was imagining a bottom up approach rather than a costly top down approach.
      • Sep 10 2013: My mistake. Grand implies scale, and scale implies encompassing the whole system, from the top down if necessary.
        Starting big comes with the big advantage of shortening experiment time. Finding yourself in the middle of an experiment, over budget with your funding having gone dry is always a possibility after all.

        Of course, small scale comes with its own problems. You end up with many of the same issues only in miniature (human testing is human testing, no matter the size of your group), testing in general is an issue due to smaller sample size, and some things simply don't scale up very well.

        This is one of the reasons social experiments usually end up half baked. No way around with with the non-exact sciences, especially when testing humans.

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