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Sci-Fi Medicine

Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful? 737

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-i-feel-disenfranchised dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "Young people, when choosing a profession, are often told to 'do what you love.' That's why we have experts in such abstruse fields as medieval gymel. But let's talk hypotheticals: if there's a worldwide catastrophe in which civilization is interrupted, somebody specializing in gymel wouldn't provide much use to fellow survivors. In a post-apocalypse world, medical doctors would be useful, as would most scientists and engineers. The bad news for Slashdotters is that decades without computers would render computer science and related professions useless. What do you consider to be the most useful and mostly useless post-apocalypse professions? How long would it take for society to rebuild enough for your profession to be useful?"
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Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

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  • Farming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:04PM (#46736411)

    People can survive quite well without the care of physicians. Going without food is more difficult.

    • Re:Farming (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:16PM (#46736503)

      Beyond that, most modern medicine requires pharmaceuticals and technology. Most doctors would be pretty bad off post-apocalypse.

      Also, my career is irrelevant. I can build a house. But my career is in technology. So I would have to turn a hobby into a job.

      • Also, my career is irrelevant. I can build a house. But my career is in technology. So I would have to turn a hobby into a job.

        I'm glad there are people who understand this; that one's career or profession is not the only knowledge and worth they have. I, for example, work retail in a not especially post apocalyptically useful field, and IT. Selling stuff is arguably going to be useful post-apocalypse, but I am also capable of building things.

      • Re:Farming (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @07:20PM (#46736863) Journal

        I'm in the same boat. Not a whole lot of demand for IT professionals, but I can design and run a permaculture style farm, build a stone house, cast scrap aluminum into a metal working shop, build sterling engines and steam turbines, deliver the level of medical care you'd expect of a combat medic, manufacture rudimentary chemicals from raw materials for use in peace and in war, hunt with a bow and arrow, trap game, fish, track and fight hand to hand. Among other things.

        And, I can use rhetoric to inspire men to follow my leadership and organize them effectively when they do.

        I think I'd do quite well.

    • Re:Farming (Score:5, Interesting)

      by donaldm (919619) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @12:38AM (#46738259)

      People can survive quite well without the care of physicians. Going without food is more difficult.

      Very true, because without food all living creatures die. However if you have a community of people the most important people are "Waste Management Specialists" such as garbage collectors and people who can put in and maintain water and sewerage systems. Without proper sanitation you would normally have a local or even a worldwide catastrophe unless we all want to go back to our hunter/gatherer roots.

    • Re:Farming (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Spy Handler (822350) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:03AM (#46738803) Homepage Journal

      People can survive quite well without the care of physicians. Going without food is more difficult.

      This. But we're talking about a deep understanding of agriculture and plant biology, not modern farming with GPS-guided combines and Monsanto round-up seeds.One would need to know how farming was done in ages past.

      And also since we're assuming a post-apocalyptic world in which computer programmers are useless due to a lack of electricity, I'd say even more important than farming knowledge is fighting knowledge. Having guns and ammo (LOTS of ammo) and knowing how to use them. Shooting a gun accurately may seem simple to the uninitiated, but it takes considerable training and practice. Also knowing how to fix guns (gunsmithing) will be an important skill.

      The holy grail in this world would be having the chemistry knowledge and experience to make your own gunpowder and ammo. If you could do that, you'd become THE most important person a local warlord could have in his court.

  • by itchybrain (2538928) * on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:06PM (#46736425)
    This is why I practise my procreation skills every day. I could be the last man on Earth.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:08PM (#46736431)

    At least it will be cool for a big EPM to take out your student loans

  • WHAT? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NettiWelho (1147351) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:08PM (#46736435)

    The bad news for Slashdotters is that decades without computers would render computer science and related professions useless.

    Says who? Are we talking about a magical scenario where all technology just stops working?

    There is a massive cache of existing technology which can be repurposed to rebuild society. Whos gonna do it if not Slasdotters?

    We can individually maintain libraries billions of times larger than that of ancient alexandria and provide that wealth of knowledge to others at the cost of suns rays.

    • Re:WHAT? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:15PM (#46736497)

      There is a massive cache of existing technology which can be repurposed to rebuild society. Whos gonna do it if not Slasdotters?

      There was a Discovery show about this scenario: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

      One of the most interesting challenges was finding new uses for all the old technology laying around. Like, fixing it up to do something new, that was necessary for survival.

    • Re:WHAT? (Score:5, Funny)

      by retchdog (1319261) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:17PM (#46736509) Journal

      Yeah, if things are so dire that computers magically disappear for decades, the concomitant disappearance of advanced agriculture, etc., will mean the lingering miserable death of probably 90% of the developed world.

      Like most doomsday scenarios, this is a masturbatory exercise. Things will end up either 1) like now, but worse in many ways or 2) utter decimation. In neither of these cases will your soldering hobby become the salvation of your village and earn you the respect and admiration long-denied you by our anti-intellectual society, granting you, finally, a day in the sun where the jocks pull you along on a rickshaw while Julie the prom queen gives you deep throat.

    • Re:WHAT? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:46PM (#46736689)

      Even without computers. Computer Science is a damn useful skill.
      Computer Science is the Science of Computation.
      So in this theoretical world where technology is gone, which will mean that we won't know how to make electricity by spinning a magnet in a bunch of wires, or how to make a battery with Zink and copper in an Acid. Then sending this electric current threw some sand to make a transistor. Then we arrange these things into Not gates, And Gates, Or Gates. We seem to know quartz can vibrate so we can remake a counter.... We can save stuff with magnetizing it on rust suck on something sticky.

      So the idea were we cannot have a computer made from scratch within a few years, as we already know about them and how the basic components work, is rather silly.

      However in the mean time, these computer scientists can use these skills to manage a labor work force. Giving them simple jobs, aligning them so they can perform complex actions. For example in college cafeteria. I found there was a long line for the utensils, Because all the forks were group together, the spoons were grouped together then the knives were grouped together. The computer science people saw that this line was being inefficient as only 1 person was at the table at once because they almost always needed the fork. So we moved the forks, spoons and knives into clusters next to each other and were able to improve the line speed threefold.

      Computer Science disciplines the mind to think of things in terms of efficiency, and patterns, as well figuring in the unpredictable actions from people, and their more predicable actions in masses.

      So in this theoretical Apocalypse work the computer scientist is still a useful person in such a world.

      Now this said, in order to get such an world, you will need to kill off all the information and including the smart people. So you will need to kill of all the computer scientists, engineers, and other educated people to really create such a world.

    • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @07:27PM (#46736901)

      In either a sudden collapse, or gradual decay, much will be lost. Let me remind you that when the Roman civilization decayed, technologies as simple as the making of cement were lost.

      Cement.

      Not exactly what we'd consider "high tech." It demonstrates just how fragile our scientific advancements are. They can be wiped out by a few generations of relative illiteracy for the great mass of survivors. In three generations, electric lights are a distant legend and those ubiquitous round copper disks find their most frequent use as quick, easily made arrowheads.

      • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:15PM (#46737977)

        In either a sudden collapse, or gradual decay, much will be lost. Let me remind you that when the Roman civilization decayed, technologies as simple as the making of cement were lost.

        Cement.

        Not exactly what we'd consider "high tech." It demonstrates just how fragile our scientific advancements are. They can be wiped out by a few generations of relative illiteracy for the great mass of survivors. In three generations, electric lights are a distant legend and those ubiquitous round copper disks find their most frequent use as quick, easily made arrowheads.

        Yeah they were knocked back a couple hundred years you knock us back a to 1800 and we would still be able to make electricity Ben franklin was playing with it a decent part of his life. Beyond that the average person in the roman era was illiterate and there has very little written down as apposed to today where every town has at least one public library, the elementary and middle school libraries have a set of one set of encyclopedias each at least, then there is you high schools with chemistry, biology, physics labs and a often a auto shop each with all of the information and much of the equipment need to to bootstrap your way into the early 1900s. Then there are the community colleges which would bring you up to say the 1950 level of tech. Anywhere with a state college or descent sized privet college could probably push you back up to the 1970s if not mid 80s. We despite all of our educations systems failing have at least enough literate people and redundant copies of most enough knowledge to boot strap our tech fairly quickly. Hell anyone with a couple of TB hdd and a few solar cells could mirror more then info information to preserve at elast our access to knowledge.

      • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:02AM (#46738799)

        In either a sudden collapse, or gradual decay, much will be lost. Let me remind you that when the Roman civilization decayed, technologies as simple as the making of cement were lost.

        The Romans didn't know how to make cement. They knew how to make concrete by using a specific volcanic sand from a particular area, mixed with lime.

        They didn't know why it worked, nor how to identify other sources, nor how to make it from less pure sources. They were cooks who knew how to use flour, but didn't know how to make flour once their initial supply ran out. Cut off the trade in magic sand and the concrete made from other sources was weak, worthless for building.

        Plenty of communities across post-Roman western Europe knew how to make cement mortar. It just wasn't anywhere near as a strong as Roman concrete because no-one else had the right magic sand either, nor knew why less-magic sand worked, or didn't work, hence the right way to cook it to make it more-magic. So it tended to be restricted to things like mosaics, not entire buildings.

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:08PM (#46736441)
    I have a neighbour who is a weaver. She most certainly has skills worth sharing. The post-apocalyptic world would also need blacksmiths, potters, carpenters, farmers and so on. Not to mention someone capable of swinging a sword and lopping the heads off marauders intent on dragging off the young women and torching the village. The challenge is that scientists and engineers do not necessarily have the skills most critically required in the first decade or two of a new civilization, but their knowledge is critical to helping a society advance rapidly later. Hence, we'll need monks well versed in the scriptures of science.
    • by tylikcat (1578365) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:45PM (#46736687)

      I am such a child of the eighties (as in, I grew up halfway expecting an apocalypse). Identification of edible plants and mushrooms, not to mention medicinal plants (and a fairly good start on for real medicinal as opposed to folkloric medicinal). Spinning, weaving, preparation of fibers and a fair bit on natural dyeing (hey, we will get an economy going eventually, right?) Gardening. Domestication of natural yeast, bread making starting from whole grains (and I've threshed and winnowed grains, just not a ton), how to make a wood burning oven from clay, and experience cooking in such a thing. (And a fairly good idea how to make a simple kiln, and I've worked with native clays and fire things in such a kiln, just never made one from scratch.) I've done a bit of smithing, and I was about to say I don't know enough (outside of theory) about refining ores, but if we're talking post-apocalyptic, there is likely a fair bit of metal stock to be had. Decent at fish-traps, too. Some basic masonry. Cheese and yoghurt making. Tofu making, for that matter, which is much the same thing. (And I could probably fraction of the MgCl from seawater as a coagulant.) (I also could produce alcoholic beverages from a variety of substance... though the quality might be iffy. And I know many brewers who are really good.) ...and this is getting a little ridiculous, so I'll stop with the list though it's far from complete. However?

      "Not to mention someone capable of swinging a sword and lopping the heads off marauders intent on dragging off the young women and torching the village."

      I suppose I no longer really count as a young woman, but I'm a martial artist and a martial arts instructor* and jian is probably my best weapon. (Though a good jian requires pretty decent metalurgy - spear might be a better place to start.) And I'm a member of a Chan Buddhist order that emphasizes studies on medicine and the natural sciences. I'd happily teach those young women (and men, and, really, anyone else who can manage not to be an asshole) but I do think the idea that after some kind of societal breakdown women will be commodities and/or victims gets a bit overplayed. (Though... bah. Birth control. Really really need birth control. And while there are many low tech things that can help a lot, few of them are both reliable and reversible.)

      * Though my day job is being a neurobiologist. Yup, most biologists are nuts.

    • Not to mention someone capable of swinging a sword and lopping the heads off marauders intent on dragging off the young women and torching the village.

      Blackpowder is easy to make if you know how, and flintlocks likewise. Hell, percussion caps aren't hard to make, really. Which means that swinging swords probably won't be necessary.

      Note that the assumption that nothing will be left of the old civilization is probably a bad one. There probably won't be any large power plants, but a car's alternator hooke

    • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @09:28PM (#46737509) Journal

      The challenge is that scientists and engineers do not necessarily have the skills most critically required in the first decade or two of a new civilization

      Not true. Many of the oldest trades no longer exist so you need someone to develop the techniques and skills again. As a physicist I've never made a steam engine or a large scale electrical generator but I know the basic principles behind them and given time could get one working or figure out how to repair one which breaks. Put that together with a chemist who can figure out how to extract copper and steel from ores and a biologist who can figure out the best crop rotations and dietary requirements and you have the skills needed to greatly increase your survival odds in the first few years.

      The advantage of scientists and engineers is not that we are trained for some task but that we have the training to figure out how to do many, many different tasks. We routinely build and do things that nobody knows how to build or do because they have never been built or done before. In modern society it is more efficient to have individuals trained for each special task but without that scientists and engineers will be the ones who will need to reinvent everything which is missing and in the longer term teach the next generation.

    • someone capable of swinging a sword and lopping the heads off marauders intent on dragging off the young women and torching the village.

      I doubt a post-apocalyptic world will be much like the mediaeval times portrayed in Game of Thrones. In fact the medieval world wasn’t much like that.
      Swords were very expensive and used only by the nobility. The peasants use staffs or slings - i.e. sticks and stones, or long bows at certain periods.
      As others have pointed out, there can be expected to be plenty of rusting machinery available, so the economy & warfare would be different. It's a lot cheaper to get iron by melting a car engine bloc

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Lets be realistic, the nature of the collapse will drive everything that follows. So astronomical impacts similar to prior mass extinction events, well, random chance and how close to the point of impact will most drive those who survive and those that don't. Something slower and still of the astronomical variety passage through a dust cloud severely curtailing sunlight for a short period and then with a longer follow up period of diminished sunlight. In this case the biggest driver will not be individual

  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:11PM (#46736467) Journal

    I'm an Apocalypse speculator. You might think I'd be at the bottom of the list; but we have been in business since ancient times. We're probably in the top 5 oldest professions. The people who run Slashdot are whoring out to something here, so apparently they will do well also.

  • Soldier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rick Zeman (15628) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:16PM (#46736507)

    Knowing how to shoot and shoot well would be an invaluable skill.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Knowing how to shoot and shoot well would be an invaluable skill.

      Bullets can't grow crops, filter water, or patch up a broken limb. All they can do is provide those things temporarily at the expense of others until a bullet ends up in you. Even if someone with a gun manages to be a protector of sorts it will only be a matter of time before everyone else decides that they aren't pulling their own weight. Someone with no skill tilling a field will do more for the survival of their group than the best soldier.

      • by Rick Zeman (15628)

        I guess no one ever hunts in your world? Or will people just be going to the post-apocolyptic Safeway?

  • Problem solving (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MpVpRb (1423381) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:18PM (#46736519)

    Although my main profession is software, I also do circuit design, construction, metalworking, carpentry and most of the other building trades

    I find that even though the specifics are different, the fundamental skill is the same..problem solving

    Software, circuit design, carpentry or any of the other disciplines seem more similar than different

    The steps are the same..clearly identify the problem, look at the tools and materials that are available, then find a solution using what you have to work with

  • You like to eat and have fire, right? Sure, something as esoteric as a "particle physics research engineer" wont help in this 'world', but science is in everyday life and helps keep people alive.

  • by StonyCreekBare (540804) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:23PM (#46736561)
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. -Robert A. Heinlein
    • by JavaLord (680960)
      “I recognize that I possess a very special intellect, but at the same time, I recognize that I'm lacking in a lot of areas. But being well-rounded is greatly overrated.”-John Carmack
  • Sadly survivors with guns will dominate the scenery. Anyone who can farm skills will be important but dominated by unskilled morons.

    • ... until the farmer with knowledge of plants and herbs poisons their dumb asses.
  • by retchdog (1319261) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:27PM (#46736583) Journal

    Pace the implication of the article, medieval musicians and other low-tech entertainers would likely be in high demand.

    If electronic technology magically stops working (somehow), then judging by the amount of purchased and pirated music today, one of the most secure professions would probably be musician. And if technology is low, medieval music (or some synthesis of it and modern forms like jazz) would be the go-to.

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:28PM (#46736593) Homepage Journal

    Which, it turns out, has very little to do with actual computers.

    The intellectual skills involved in CS could, with not much difficulty, be turned to other kinds of problem solving such as operations research. Seriously, you're going to leave questions like how to most efficiently distribute scarce resources such as food to someone with a *business* degree? As a computer scientist, I'd create a model of the underlying problem, develop alternative algorithms, then show how those algorithms and model apply the real world problem. I use computer science every time I come home from grocery shopping. As I remove items from the bags I stage them by where they are eventually going to go. Why? Because efficient sorting algorithms eliminate lots of entropy early on. Consequently I only open my refrigerator *once*.

    Computer science is essentially about figuring out the resources needed to accomplish things. If you want to figure out how much fodder it would take to move your draft animal powered army over a certain distance, you *could* consult a historian who specialized in the logistics of pre-mechanized warfare who'd tell you how Viscount Howe did it in the New Jersey Campaign of 1776-1777. Or you could find some CS graduate who pulled at least a "B" in algorithms to figure it out for you.

    As for experts in gymel -- a technique for singing polyphony with one voice -- it's worth considering that the technique was developed in a period of human history that would be considered apocalyptically awful by modern standards. Even when times are violent, disordered, and desperately poor people still need art and music, and if we're stipulating that apocalyptic == "no computers", that means no iPods either. So it seems quite plausible to me that experts in gymel might find their services *more* in demand in a post-apocalyptic world.

  • I recently took Blacksmithing I and II at Tillers International for this *exact* reason. As a Network Architect, I'm the alpha geek for data transport and a Blacksmith is the alpha geek for a world gone straight to hell.
  • Some studies like medieval gymel are barely useful now. Can you even make a living at that now?
    Others like blacksmithing are nothing more than entertainment now but would be highly useful in a collapse.
    I don't think you can discount computer scientists though. Not counting my hobbies, my primary job as
    a computer programmer is repairing computers, fixing systems, and making stuff work.
    If we did suffer a total collapse, the problem solving and improvising skills used daily by computer
    programmers not to ment

  • What might be useful would depend on how bad the catastrophe is. If its something like the TV show "Revolution" where electricity magically stops working, different people would be useful vs a situation where electricity is still available.

  • contingency plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:47PM (#46736699) Journal
    If it is a true apocalyptic scenario, 99% of us will be dead anyway, so my plan is to not prepare at all. It's worth making preparations for scenarios that are more realistic, like bottles of water in case the water gets cut off after an earthquake, or food for a few days when transportation is interrupted. Those kinds of things happen in real life.
  • Frankly, as a sysadmin, it would take quite some time for my profession to be useful. However, I am not solely defined by my profession. My hobbies, such as firearms, cooking, woodworking, dabbling in a little gardening and other low tech stuff would end up much more useful, after the apocalypse. I actually enjoy unplugging and doing something that doesn't require a computer now and then.

  • The moment folk start arguing over who owns what, that's when there'll be lawyers. I don't imagine it'll take long.
  • by hackus (159037) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @06:59PM (#46736751) Homepage

    "...decades without computers would render computer science and related professions useless."

    The idea of graph theory is perfect for building social systems, that withstand breakdown.

    The idea for example not to over centralize government for example to avoid disastrous consequences.

    We know from graph theory nodes with too many edges are suspect and reveal design weaknesses in computer networks.

    The same happens in human social/governing systems. Kings, Queens or many forms of government that are too centralized results in war, death and darkness.

    One thing to do after the apocalypse is pick up that graph theory and get to work in building a highly distributed, non centralized society.

  • I feel comfortable with an impending apocalypse. I know how to keep things working, how to fix them when they break, and how to get people numb enough to extract teeth without causing much discomfort. Yup, I'm good.

  • by mauriceh (3721)

    Buildings need to be built and fixed.
      That never changes.

  • I transitioned from Software Engineer to RN. Med-Surg, then ER. Licensed. Also US Army veteran, so doubly useful. My wife is a pastry chef (baker) - and an amateur brewer -- as well as an Army veteran too (thats where we met) So if the worst happens, we will be well positioned to help.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Saturday April 12, 2014 @07:20PM (#46736865) Homepage

    Checkmate, suckers.

    Perhaps if you all show enough deference, I'll take you with me to the top.

  • by bugnuts (94678) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @07:51PM (#46737043) Journal

    I plan on being a zombie. I plan on leading the zombies. We are talking zombie apocalypse, right?

    Slashdotters tend to have vaguely higher intelligence, judging by their impeccable skill at moderating posts and speed of typing "frist post". Completely ignoring science as any good zombie would, I deduce that their brains must be tastier and more wholesomely satisfying to my soon-to-be-acquired tastes for human brains.

    Nobody asked which side I'd be on after the apocalypse. I plan on being on the winning side. Now, go make me a sammich... with your ears as bread.

  • too many bad books (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @08:50PM (#46737375) Homepage Journal

    Submitter has read too many bad books.

    Remember, in stories, the world works the way the author needs it to work for dramatic purposes, not necessarily the way that it most likely would in reality.

    The typical Mad Max scenario is unlikely. Just like SciFi authors thought we'd have flying cars and take our vacations on the moon, but didn't forsee the Internet and mobile phones, the real scenario will very likely be quite different from the movies you've seen.

    Which basically means: Who the fuck knows which skills will be useful and which ones won't? Maybe computers will be worthless and shooting is important. But maybe supply of ammunition runs out a lot faster than electricity which we increasingly generate decentralized with solar and wind farms.

    Maybe something entirely unexpected turns out to be the most important skill to have.

    Also: Looking at history, civilization-destroying catastrophies are incredibly rare. Most civilizations enter a phase of decline and slowly fade away.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @09:52PM (#46737621) Journal
    My supreme skill is calculating the intersections of triangles with tetrahedrons with highest possible accuracy at the lowest computational cost. I am sure there is a job for me in the post apocalyptic world. But, in the odd chance there isn't, I certainly will be useful, may be as food.
  • by jgotts (2785) <jgotts&gmail,com> on Saturday April 12, 2014 @10:08PM (#46737687)

    Here's my opinion on apocalyptic planning. You're wasting your energy. We've been predicting that the apocalypse is right around the corner since the dawn of civilization.

    Prepare yourself for _likely_ (mathematically probable) scenarios. If you're 40 or under, prepare yourself for the possibility of dying or being seriously injured in an automobile accident. Buy the safest vehicle you can afford, because this is your leading cause of death. If you're over 40, take measures to prevent yourself from dying of heart disease by eating right and getting more exercise.

    A cache of guns and a bomb shelter full of provisions won't do you any good if you're obese and you die of heart attack at age 55. Nor will it do you much good if you're in your late 20's and you die in a car crash on the way to Wal-Mart to purchase rifles and canned food.

    Continue doing whatever you're doing because if something serious like an asteroid hits Earth, you're already dead. Anything serious like that will completely rewrite all the rules for life, and you can't predict what you will need. Maybe the only thing you will need is genetic resistance to the diseases that will run rampant. Or the ability to hide. Or the ability to relax and not worry. Or the ability to accept death.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @10:31PM (#46737793)

    Being a bum.

    No, I'm dead serious. In a post apocalyptic world, you won't need woodworkers and blacksmiths. We're not suddenly back in the middle ages. Everything we had will still be around, but society will break down. And that doesn't mean you have to learn how to make bow and arrows so you can go hunt for deer. It means find the shotgun so you have an upper hand over the other looters in the local Wal Mart.

    Why everyone thinks that "post apocalypse" means that everything we did in the last 500 years goes poof over night and we have to fall back on feudal technology is beyond me. It's very likely that at the very least most of what we have will still be there. What will be lost is probably everything that requires some kind of central organization. I.e. don't expect gas, water, power, sewage or any other municipal or other central service still to work. But the stuff will still be there. Your car will still run at the very least as long as there is gas in it. You might not get to refill at the next gas station, but there's still gas in your tank! You might not get power from the power grid anymore but batteries still work. And while you might not know how to build new firearms, there's still plenty of them around along with ammo for them, so there's no need to rely on the ancient art of war. By the time you need this, chances are that YOU won't need it anymore.

    Because until we have to fall back on "old tech", I'd guess that a good portion of us would no longer exist. The first ones to go would be the ones that rely heavily on medical treatment. Like dialysis patient. They'd be gone in a week or so. People with severe allergies won't last long either. If society as a whole breaks down, I would not rely on surviving if you're by some stretch handicapped, i.e. if you can't move or if you can't survive on your own. People who need hearing or seeing aids might get by, depending on their disability, but one thing's certain, your glasses better not break. My guess would be that about 5-10% of the population in our "civilized" world is simply unable to make it without said civilization.

    Another 10% loss is to be assumed for looting, pillaging and general "I don't like you and no cop can force me to" behaviour. This would of course depend on the amount of firearms that are around. The more, the merrier. Yes, if both sides are armed it means that the other one can shoot back but face it: When you have food and a gun, and I have hunger and a gun, I will attack. Whether I die of hunger or by your bullet, do I give a shit? Attacking you gives me a chance.

    So with fights and accidents, I think it's conservative to assume a total loss of personnel of about 50% before we have to think about moving away from living "off the land" (i.e. sustain ourselves by looting and pillaging) and actually have to pick up ancient skills like farming.

    So the most apt "profession" to even GET to that 50% phase is, oddly, bums. They already know how to do that. They don't have to learn anything. They know all that is necessary. Where can you scrounge successfully. Where do you find stuff you need to survive. How do you approach others and how to gauge their reaction. How to get the hell outta some place if things get rough.

    It's nice if you know how to plant fruits and vegetables, how to build your own tools and how to hunt game, but unless you somehow manage to GET there it's moot.

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