HBO’s Chernobyl & Personal Responsibility | Philosophy Tube

In 1987, Margaret Thatcher said, “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.” This short phrase proved to be one of the most infamous quotes of her career. To Thatcher’s critics,
it was an expression of the callousness and cold-heartedness typified her time as Prime Minister. And this view became so closely entwined with her image and the image of the Conservative Party generally, that when David Cameron
became party leader almost 20 years later, he felt compelled to revise it, saying, “There is such a thing as society. It’s just not the same thing as the state.” The quote itself, however, is often taken out of context. It was actually an off the cuff remark that Thatcher gave during an interview to Woman’s Own magazine. The full extract reads,
“I think we have gone through a period when too
many children and people have been given to understand, “I have a problem, it
is the government’s job to cope with it,” or, “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it.” “I am homeless, the
government must house me!’ And so they are casting
their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing. There are individual men and
women, and there are families, and no government can do anything except through people, and people
look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help
look after our neighbor. And life is a reciprocal business, and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations. Because there is no such
thing as an entitlement unless someone has
first met an obligation. There is no such thing as society. There is a living tapestry
of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend on how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us is prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts
those who are unfortunate.Chernobyl was a TV mini-series produced by HBO and Sky,
and created by Craig Mazin. It aired in the first half
of 2019 and was really good. It starred Jared Harris, Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgard, and was nominated for several Emmys, which I think is some kind of award for old media?
The show dramatizes a set of real-life events from 1986 which happened in, uh… Germany? I think it was Germany, I wasn’t really paying attention. And it was some kind of accident at a factory? I don’t really remember, but based on the way they were dressed I think they were all
supposed to be bakers. Yeah, yeah, bakers. And they have to bake some very important cookies or something. So the oven, where these German bakers are baking the cookies explodes, and that’s very bad. Because the cookie dough goes everywhere, and eating raw cookie
dough can make you sick, so if it spreads across Europe everybody could get food poisoning. And all the German scientists and bakers have to figure out what
they’re gonna do about it. And a lot of the people
who are in the position to do something deny the problem. You’d think that a
nuclear reactor exploding would be pretty hard to miss, but they say no, it was just
a hydrogen tank going pop, the radiation levels are safe,
it’s nothing to worry about. They don’t wanna face the facts because that might mean
that they are responsible. The Soviets kind of had their
own version of “fake news.” They called it “alarmism,” and a lot of the people who say, “No look, the reactor has clearly exploded, there’s radiation spewing out, if we don’t do something about it, all of Europe is gonna
end up uninhabitable!’ they get dismissed as alarmists. “Look, that’s graphite on the roof. The whole building’s been blown open. The core’s exposed!”
“I can’t see how you can tell that from here.” “Oh, for god’s sakes. Look at that glow! That’s radiation ionizing the air!” “What we can’t see we don’t know.”
” Seymour, the house is on fire!” “No mother, it’s just the Northern Lights.” The protagonist of the series, Professor Valery Legasov, is portrayed as being the one sane man trying to contain the disaster before it’s too late. As the old saying goes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is called a virtue signaller and sightcuck. In terms of who gets the most
bad guy coded screen time, the show seems to be leading us towards suspecting this
dude, Anatoly Dyatlov, as being the main culprit. He was in charge on the night and he made a bunch of
very dangerous decisions which created the
conditions for the accident. And according to both the show and several distinguished historians, he was also a massive f*****g dickhead.
“Shut the f**k up, and do your job. What did you do?! How the f**k did you get this job?! And this chick comes up to me and she’s all like, “Hey
aren’t you that dude?” And I’m like, “YEAH WHATEVER.”
“I apologise.” Although the show also demonstrates that it’s not entirely Dyatlov’s fault. In real life, they were
running a safety test when Chernobyl exploded,
so a lot of the usual failsafes have been
turned off as part of it. And Dyatlov was under
pressure from his bosses to just get it done so they
could all get promoted. But it had to be delayed, and
then there was a shift change so the new guys coming
in didn’t really know what they were doing. There was also a crucial
design flaw with the reactor that caused it to explode when they pushed the emergency shutdown button. And even though a lot of scientists actually knew about that design
flaw for years beforehand, it had been covered up by the government. Depending on how you read it, you could also say that the show blames socialism a little bit. Creator Craig Mazin
has said that he wanted to tell a story about lies,
which he says is relevant to the contemporary America as much as it is Soviet Russia. But some commentators
have jumped at the chance to read a more partisan message into it, especially since, usually
about once per episode, some character all but turns to camera and goes, “Did you know,
the Soviet Union was bad?!”
“I’m a nuclear physicist. Before you were deputy secretary you worked in a shoe factory.” “Yes, I worked in a shoe factory, and now I’m in charge. To the workers of the world.”So Chernobyl poses some interesting philosophical questions
about responsibility and people’s relationships to
the societies they live in. And in case you think this
just like a one time event that can’t teach us much now, there are a lot of parallels between the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and say, the American
AIDS crisis of the 1980s. That’s another scenario where scientists were fighting against an invisible enemy and the government didn’t
wanna listen so people died. Or, kind of an obvious parallel
I guess, climate change! Something a little closer
to home for me though, the Grenfell fire. In 2017 a tower block in
Kensington caught fire and 72 people died. Kensington’s a pretty posh bit of London, but the tower was mainly social housing, so there was a lot of people
from low income families and a lot of people of color. It was later discovered that
the outside of the tower was covered in flammable cladding that allowed the flames
to spread way beyond what the interior was
designed to cope with. That cladding had been
installed the year before, and the reason they went
with the flammable one is the local council had
outsourced management of its social housing to another body, who decided the flammable
stuff was cheaper, despite being warned
that it was dangerous, and despite the residents of the tower saying for years that the fire safety measures were inadequate. All of that occurred against a background of Conservative and Liberal Democrat governments cutting public spending in response to the 2008 financial crash, a group of policies known as Austerity. Some of the survivors were reluctant to speak up for fear of being deported, which exists against the background of my country having gotten very hostile to migrants in the last few years. And as of April this year, some survivors still hadn’t been rehoused and some towers still have that flammable cladding on. Just like the Chernobyl disaster was in the minds of some people a symbol of the late Soviet
union, the Grenfell fire became a kind of symbol of contemporary Britain.
“Is this really the way it all works? An uninformed, arbitrary decision that will cost who knows how many lives made by some apparatchik,
some career party man?” Also, just as a side note, this doesn’t really have anything
to do with the philosophy, but the acting in this
show is really good, especially the physical acting!
A lot of people think acting for camera just happens in shots like
this, from the shoulders up or sometimes close up
and extreme close up, ’cause that shows you what
we in the acting industry call the “face,” (technical term) but really, acting takes your whole body. Look at this scene here. Even with the audio removed, you can tell so much about the characters just from their body language. And this great cute little moment where Professor Legasov doesn’t know where to stand! The actors had a dedicated movement coach, Imogen Knight, and she did so f*****g good! Oh, you know what else is excellent? The casting. Look at this quick scene where
Legasov is buying cigarettes and he meets a character
who we’ve never seen before and who we never see again. This guy. This guy right here. He’s only in the series
for like four seconds. He has no lines, just this one shot, but you only have to look at him and you know he’s a KGB agent! He has the most KGB-ass face of any motherf****r I’ve ever seen. I looked him up! His name is Simonas Dovidauskas. Simonas, mate, you f*****g nailed it! Also, one last thing, I promise. The direction! There are a lot of shots in this where it looks like they didn’t use a tripod? Like, I think these shots are handheld. You can see how the frame moves around. In this scene, Emily Watson’s character, Ulana Khomyuk, is trying to
convince Professor Legasov to do something dangerous
where they don’t know what the outcome will be. The characters are emotionally unsteady, and visually unsteady within the frame. Whereas here, at the end,
when Legasov and Shcherbina are more secure in their friendship and at peace with what’s
gonna happen to them, the shots are locked off. It’s the little details like this that really make the show worth watching.
“Oh, that’s beautiful.” Does it make sense to say
that the Chernobyl disaster was the fault of Soviet society? Or that the Grenfell fire
was the fault of this one? One of the potential
problems with saying that is that it might let people who are more guilty off the hook. Like, isn’t Dyatlov
obviously more responsible for Chernobyl than “society?” If we start believing in
collective responsibility, then how can we ever say that one person is better or worse than anybody else? We’ve lost the whole
basis of moral judgment. That’s actually the question posed by a very famous scene in the film Judgment at Nuremberg. “Germany alone is not guilty. The whole is as responsible
for Hitler’s Germany. It is an easy thing to condemn one man into dark. It is easy to condemn the German people to speak of the basic flaw in the German character that allowed Hitler to rise to power and the same time comfortably ignore the basic flaw of character that made the Russians sign pacts with him, Winston Churchill praise him, American industrialists profit by him! Ernst Janning said he is guilty. If he is, Ersnt Janning’s guilt is the world’s guilt.” And so isn’t the only answer to keep the blame with individuals? Yes, Dyatlov was under pressure, but isn’t he an adult with free will, not just a cog in a machine? Just one year after the
real Nuremberg trials, the philosopher H.D. Lewis wrote, “If there are no such distinctions, if the questions we ask about
them are without substance, then the greater part
of ethical controversy has been a peculiarly vain
pursuit of a will of the wisp.” I love the flare for the dramatic that a lot of those early 20th century British philosophers had in their writing. That’s just such a, oh, a will of the wisp, it’s such a nice little sentence. Although, maybe collective responsibility isn’t as weird as it seems. The philosopher Farid Abdel-Nour points out that people say stuff
like, “We won the war, we put a man on the moon,
we beat Tottenham one-nil,” when actually as
individuals we didn’t have anything to do with it. And if we can take pride in our nation or our team’s accomplishments, why not also take responsibility for their failures? The psychologist Daniel
Kahneman pointed out that we do something kinda
similar with companies as well. If you have a bad experience
where a representative of, say, Ryanair is rude to you, people will often say, “Ryanair
was really rude to me.” We hold the whole collective responsible. But is that the same thing? Just because we can feel
proud or ashamed of a group, doesn’t mean that we take on
their moral responsibility. Lewis says, even if you practically agree to answer for somebody else’s actions, like a parent might take responsibility for their child, you can’t actually take on somebody else’s moral guilt. Unless you’re Jesus. And even then, it’s a massive pain in the ass. “Although we may be proud or ashamed of others, we add not a cubit to our stature. Neither do we shrink through our association with them except in the measure that we ourselves change under their influence.”
“Oh, so everything’s my fault then? Is that what this is?”
“I’m not here to blame you, I’m here to find out what happened.” This is bound up with what she calls intergenerational
collective responsibility. Sounds really complicated. Don’t worry, it isn’t. You know the so called
golden rule of morality? Do unto others as you
would have them do to you? This is kind of like that, but
it’s stretched out over time. Some day, I will be an old man who can’t take care of himself anymore. And I expect that future
people will help me. So I work now, and I pay
my taxes, for instance, to do the same thing for
people who need help now. Because I recognize that their needs and my future needs come
from the same place. And personally, I quite
like this approach. It comes from a place
not of patriotic strength and duty to the nation, but a recognition that we all get sick,
we all need education. If we are wronged, we all need justice. If not now, then definitely some day. These intergenerational responsibilities, she says, continue even
if the state itself totally changes or collapses. Whether there’s a United
Kingdom in 2073 or not, (and frankly at the moment who the hell knows) I will be an 80 year old man and I will need some help because… We live in a society! And I think she’s hit on something quite interesting here. Because it sounds like we’re not even talking about moral responsibility anymore. It sounds like we’re talking about…Conservatives, like Margaret Thatcher, will sometimes talk about
personal responsibility. Like in that interview we opened with, she says she wants more people
to be able to buy property. Because you buy a house,
you get invested in it, you come to respect other
people’s property rights and you become a responsible citizen. She’s actually not saying that people should just be thrown to the wolves,
even if that was the effect of a lot of her policies. She’s saying that if you are freeloading off “society,” you’re really freeloading
off other people. So you need to work hard and pull your weight. And there are some big
problems with this view, some of which we will get to, but it does have a kind
of internal harmony to it and I can see why some people like it. Canadian author and
psychologist Jordan Peterson also talks about the importance of personal responsibility,
saying that it gives life meaning, and that
we shouldn’t languish in our own victimhood, a theme that, content creator Stefan
Molyneux also explores. Stefan hates talking about
things like racism and sexism because he thinks they make you a victim. People who fail at life blame the system, they get stuck in the narrative
of their own victimization, and they tell you there’s
no way you can succeed, it’s impossible, because they
resent the people that do. When really, if you take
responsibility for your own life, there’s nothing standing in your way. And, to give the devil his due, I think that Stefan kinda has a point when he says that sometimes some people
can get a little bit stuck in the victim role. Certainly the abusers I’ve known have. They refuse to take
responsibility for their actions. The real Anatoly Dyatlov maintained to his dying day that he was the victim of a conspiracy, and that what happened at Chernobyl was not his fault. I’ve also been in some online Leftist spaces where people are hurting and in the absence of somewhere to work through that pain, will pour it out into any available container. That’s not a uniquely leftist thing, of course; it’s just a human thing. So it seems like these thinkers are saying that we should be individualist
because it’s motivating, and maybe that’s why so many
people find their work useful. Self-confidence can be massively helpful. If I put on a suit, and do the Jordan Peterson stand up straight with his shoulders back thing, it works. Or at least, it changes how people respond to me. But I do have a big question about all this. And in order to tease it out, I wanna give just one more example. Fred Hess works for a
right wing think tank called the American Enterprise Institute. And he wrote this article about education, saying that students need to take some personal responsibility for their learning. You can’t expect the school
to do everything for you. And he’s surprised that people sometimes push back at him on that. And yeah, I kind of see
where he’s coming from. Like if you’re running a school, it doesn’t seem unreasonable
to expect the students to take responsibility
for turning up on time and doing their homework, with allowances for extenuating circumstances, but yeah. Where I get curious, though,
is what about expecting them to take responsibility for “behaving professionally,” or “dressing professionally,” or “being a team player?” These are all things that sound
like reasonable expectations but who gets to decide what those mean? And how do they decide? If a black woman puts on a suit and does the Jordan Peterson dance, she might get read as bossy, or uppity, in a way that I simply never would. And that’s the kicker. You think that individual responsibility is how we motivate people
to succeed and find meaning? Okay, cool. Succeed at what though? Meaningful how? Responsible for what exactly? What are your criteria? Who gets to decide
them, and are they just? Thatcher’s criterion for responsibility was owning property, and the problem there is that is a thing that is
mathematically impossible for everyone to do at the same time. You cannot have a housing
market and no homeless people. Because if everybody has secure housing, you cannot sell them housing. So even if everybody is
maximally personally responsible and aspirational and striving and all the other
Instagram-Tory buzzwords, in a competitive system,
some of us still have to fail through no fault of our own. Which again, is the exact problem that individual responsibility is supposed to solve. It might also be worth
noting that individualism isn’t the only motivating force. During the Chernobyl
disaster, a lot of people did incredibly brave and dangerous things to fight the radiation,
often knowingly shortening their own lives out of a sense of what Craig Mazin calls “Soviet civic duty.”
“The reactor fuel is going to sink into the ground and poison the water from Kiev to the Black Sea. All of it. Forever, they say. They want you to stop that from happening.”
“How are we supposed to do that?” “They didn’t tell me, because I don’t need to know. Do you need to know, or have you heard enough?”
“You’ll do it, ’cause nobody else can. If you don’t, millions will die. If you tell me that’s not enough I won’t believe you.” So we’re sort of stuck, again! But its the interesting
kind of stuck this time, rather than the frustrating kind. The philosopher Deborah Tollefsen says that what it means to hold
somebody morally responsible is just to have certain
feelings about them. Like resentment, and pride,
or disappointment and so on. It’s not really about
the logical relations of responsibility and personhood. It’s more like telling a
story about our feelings and our demands about how
other people should be treated. Philosophers call this expressivism. Tollefsen says that
moral responsibility talk isn’t really trying to
be rigorous philosophy. It’s a kind of storytelling. When people say that Chernobyl or Grenfell is society’s fault, what
they’re really saying is, “I think we should change society.” And the opposite, when
people say we should focus on individualism and
personal responsibility only, is kindof like saying, “No, I don’t think we should change society!” So maybe the main lesson of Chernobyl is that you should always be nice to people, ’cause if things do go south they’ll find it a lot easier to blame you if they already think you’re a twat. “Officer Leeroy comes up and he’s like, “Hey, I thought I told you-” and I’m like, “YEAHWHATEVER.” That would explain why discussions about historical reparations
can get so fraught. It would explain why your Jordan Petersons and your Stefans Molyneux talk
about personal responsibility without really digging into
the philosophical depth. It would explain how the Daily Express somehow managed to blame the Chernobyl disaster on Jeremy Corbyn.The true death toll of
Chernobyl is not only unknown, but unknowable. The radiation spread across Europe, and of everybody who’s
died of cancer since 1986, there’s no answer to the question, how many might have lived
had the reactor not exploded. If we can’t even calculate the damage, how can we assign responsibility? All we have is the story. And insofar as Grenfell is a symbol of Austerity in my country, there’s no way of knowing how many people were killed by those policies. How many thousands died after having their disability benefits withdrawn, how many people killed themselves through poverty and desperation, or whose lives were shortened by stress. Many of us now know what some
experts warned at the time that Austerity was harmful
and ultimately pointless, but many of the policies
are still in place, and many of the people who designed them and implemented them are
walking around freely – (at time of recording) – and it’s even harder to tell stories about that because its so spread out. The stories that we have told about Austerity tend to focus on individuals, and make them the symbol for us all, like in the incredible 2016 film “I, Daniel Blake.” But will there ever be a memorial for the victims of Austerity the way that there is for Chernobyl? Whether you think somebody’s responsible or whether there’s anything to be responsible for, depends on what sort of story you wanna tell. Interestingly, Chernobyl
reflects on storytelling and responsibility in the
ways it departs from history. Unlike most of the other
people depicted, Emily Watson’s character, Ulana Khomyuk was
not a real historical figure. She was written to represent
the dozens of other scientists that helped contain the disaster because having one person to praise makes for a more understandable story. And the ending reflects it too. In the final episode Legasov has to decide whether to reveal to
the scientific community that the fault in the reactor
design was covered up. There are multiple other
reactors in the Soviet Union, all with the same flaw, each
another potential Chernobyl. But embarrassing the government could be even worse for his
health than the radiation. “What you’re proposing is that Legasov humiliate a nation that is obsessed with not being humiliated.” In a dramatic final speech, Legasov tells the story of
what happened at Chernobyl, and unveils the conspiracy. And then, as punishment, the KGB cancels him and forces him to delete his Twitter account.
“Your testimony today will not be accepted by the state. It will not be disseminated in the press. It never happened. No one will talk to you. No one will listen to you. No friends. Other men, lesser men, will receive credit for the things you have done” This also never happened. Legasov wasn’t even at the trial. And contrary to the show’s portrayal of a scientific community
hungry for the truth and the KGB trying to repress it, in reality Legasov’s fellow scientists ostracized him and knowingly
participated in the coverup. But having a clearly
identifiable hero, villain and timeline of events
helps tell a better story. And better motivates people to learn the lessons the show’s creators want us to learn.
“What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies then we no longer recognise the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories. In these stories, it doesn’t matter who the heroes are. All we want to know is… who is to blame?”
“Good lord, what is happening in there?!”
“Aurora borealis?” “… Aurora borealis? At this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localised entirely within your kitchen?” “Yes.” “May I see it?” “No.”

100 thoughts on “HBO’s Chernobyl & Personal Responsibility | Philosophy Tube

  • would be a great place to visit: I was offered a big sponsorship deal for this video but turned it down cause I feel like tonally it wouldn’t have worked; the video has also been demonetised thanks to HBO and Sky, with whom I am currently in a copyright snafu, so please give whatever you can to help me keep the show going!

  • Regarding the unsupervised cars bit, I did read a book where this was brought up:
    Today people die from accidents X (can't remember the exact number) number of times. If we invent the self driving car and cut X in half, we are not going to get X/2 thank you letters, we get X/2 lawsuits. It's kinda sad when you think about it.

  • 3:14 "Their own version of 'fake news' – they called it 'alarmism'."

    As if the people trying to warn everyone else were involved in some kind of Project, designed to spread Fear …

    My girlfriend had already watched the series without me, and insisted that we watched it together when I went to visit her (she lives in America). I remarked to her that, as an Englishman, it was very unsettling right now to watch a drama about a dangerous disaster unfolding while those in government refused either to take responsibility for it or even admit to themselves or the world at large that it was happening.

    Brilliant video as always 🙂

  • It seems to me that responsibility is ultimately a recognition of power. It’s the acknowledgement that we brought about a certain result through our actions.

    Blame and punishment are not part of responsibility. For example, I could make a choice that leads to a bad result without doing anything wrong. It could even be the best choice I was capable of making in the circumstance. In which case I am not deserving of blame nor would anything be accomplished by punishment. However I can still take responsibility by acknowledging that my actions led to the bad result.

    This can bring shame. It can also bring pride if the results were good. It can give individuals a sense of empowerment. And it can also give people a chance to understand their power and alter their actions to bring about a more favorable outcome, thus ultimately maximizing their free will.

    Responsibility can also be placed on concepts, like society or a company, by acknowledging that the concept has power over the choices that an individual can make and experiences that an individual undergoes. Sometimes, responsibility for that particular aspect of society or company policy can also be attributed to an individual who created that problematic aspect. Sometimes the harmful aspect is just the consequence of a variety of other things playing out in the specific way that they did. In this case, it’s not about who benefitted from that situation, but rather who contributed to it – knowingly or unknowingly. Naturally, if it was unknowingly, you probably don’t deserve blame as you didn’t know to avoid it. However, it’s the people who contributed that held the power to make it happen and now hold the power to change it, which is what matters most in the end.

    Concepts like society can reasonably have responsibility placed on them, however they cannot take personal responsibility. Since they cannot take personal responsibility, and thus cannot acknowledge how their structure has power over others, much less change their structure, it’s a relatively useless place to stop, so we should search for a more indirect source of responsibility until we can find a being capable of taking personal responsibility – only then can we start working on how to prevent the situation from repeating in the future.

    The problem with people who refuse to take responsibility, therefore, is not their lack of willingness to accept the consequences (though this is often the cause of their lack of willingness), but instead the problem is the fact that if they will not acknowledge their power in the situation, then they are essentially refusing to assist in the process of solving the problem or preventing it in the future.

  • When it comes to success in particular, the "individual responsibility" argument shifts the onus onto marginalised people to work 1000x harder to overcome structural inequalities- instead of on those in power to dismantle the structures.

  • how mean to make Lindsay Ellis have to read as margret thatcher… though i do appreciate not having to hear that evil tory bastard's voice

  • As usual, Maggie was fucking wrong about a subject. The funny thing is, that "tapestry" of individual interactions he mentioned, that's what society is. So it seems Maggie just had some weird aversion to the work society. Fucking right-wingers, always trying to reinvent the wheel!

  • Yet Petersen is now in rehab because of his alchoolism, painkillers and prescrition drugs addiction – he went into depression because of his wife's cancer and he was prescribed the wrong drugs, all added to a recurring mild alchoolism which was exarcebated by his depression.
    Petersen seeked external help to solve his problem, as he should. He didn't cleaned his room to solve his problem, because he realised it's impossible to solve such an issue alone, no matter how much a badass you wish to paint yourself to be.
    If this guy doesn't learn from this experience and realise all he has been preaching so far is utter bullshit, he is beyond redemption.

  • The thing that really bothers me about the typical narrative of "collective responsibility" with Chernobyl and pretty much any other bad thing that happens under a non-Capitalist system is that the "collective" only extends across enemies of the West and never to any broader scope. Had the West not fought the Cold War, constantly sending in spies and saboteurs, and instigating an incredibly expensive nuclear arms race nobody could afford, then perhaps the very real risk and stigma associated with whistleblowing and speaking out would not have existed in the Soviet Union. Maybe people wouldn't have worried about being mistaken for a spy or saboteur or wrecker, and society generally would not have thought it necessary to make the tradeoff of allowing injustice in exchange for the efficiency needed to prevent the United States from annihilating them.

    There are people who were unjustly sentenced for crimes they did not commit and sent to gulag who still said that the state was right to do what it did to them, because it's better to be safe than sorry. I've read the last words of a dying man in a soviet prison writing to Stalin about how sorry he was for all the mess he caused by instigating an investigation, trial, and sentencing, despite being innocent, and hoped Stalin felt no guilt over his plight. Because he did not want to burden the state with possibly letting guilty saboteurs go free, or having to slow down their work to defend the country. That's how terrified everyone was of the United States, and of nuclear war.

  • I really Love your videos dude. Watching People like you, talking to an audience in this Way gives me hope for the future. Please, as long as you can, and you like it, Keep on With this job. I Will be Watching it.


    Such advanced unsupervised systems such as self-driving cars or other such heuristically challenging tasks can only be achieved through machine learning

    This means you make a computer primitive brain that just hooks up all of the car's sensors to an empty math thing and hook the end of the math thing to the car's mechanical outputs .
    Then you simulate evolution*: make buttload of random math things, then simulate them mucking about trying to drive. Then you take the 50% best bots, *duplicate them and change each one a little bit and repeat the process.

    You give the computer examples, rules and simulations and calculate a score based on how much of a good job they did on those.
    You can only give the AI examples of what to do and tell it how good it's currently doing it.
    And after a metric fucktons of computer calculations, your not will slowly improve.***

    To attribute responsibility for mistakes a self-driving car would make (considering they're gonna be much better and safer driver's than humans in every situation) is, in my opinion absolute madness.

    It's just like with vaccines
    Everybody (funny, yes?) agrees that they make human life much safer by making sure millions of people don't die from a preventable disease but still, there's a minuscule chance that your immune system gets confused in just the right way to cause an adverse reaction which can kill you
    I'm probably going to horribly misquote this, but as far as I remember from a minuteearth video from 4 years ago, something like 8 people die from vaccines a year.
    Now if you imagine you're that kid's parent who are you going to blame ? yes, in the very specific case you could argue that choosing a vaccine would have been better off for your now dead kid, in hindsight (of course you're not gonna care anymore about the fact that he'll still have a higher chance of getting sick and dying later on in life)
    We can say that a parent "ought" to agree to a vaccine if he wanted his kid to not die.
    But shit happens. Because things always have that little bit of uncertainty.

    ***before you nerds correct me, I do know that this is not how machine learning works and that you only do the evolution thing if you're that YouTuber who does exactly that so he can better explain it to people. In practice, you make a function of the math thing with the output that consists only of the score (so you don't have individual bots, but rather a set of all infinity of possible bots explicitated mathematically and then you use some God-level linear algebra to find the minimum of that function (where the AI makes the least mistakes) so you can predict the behavior of bots before actually simulating them and this is much faster and the only sensible method for complex systems)

  • It sure is great that under capitalism a random shoe manufacturer can't become head of an industry that endangers all of mankind. Good thing that people like Elon Musk and Bezos have always been rich and therefor are qualified to shit everything up they touch. They can swap from internet company to world wide dominating monopoly to luxury space travelers because they are qualified to waste that much money!

  • Jesus Christ. I like you “left tube” guys, but your absolute butt hurt fury at any vague reference to how Communism/Socialism are kind of shit and insubstantial is hilarious.

    Like imagine getting mad that the Soviet Union was referenced in a negative light. It didn’t work, there are good ideas to be salvaged from Marx’s philosophy, but stop crying whenever socialism is given rightful doubt by people.

  • Greetings from Russia! Thank you for not ruining the effect by having google-translated Russian in the video, misprints are fine 🙂

  • Olly thank you for the non-spoiler spoiler. As someone who has watched the show and knows a little bit of history, it was masterful.

  • "If everybody has housing, you can not sell them housing."
    Say who? People want to have nice stuf, this includes a nice house. Whether it is bigger, in a better location or more modern. People that have a house still buy new houses.

  • It's odd how people espouse the idea of 'Personal responsibility' only when it benefits them, especially after they've already benefited massively from collective responsibility. The current generation of MPs all benefited from cheap housing, free universities, a totally free NHS, cheaper train travel (yes, in real terms), etc. And suddenly, now that they have a stake in the businesses that would be taxed, it's not good enough for the rest of us?

  • To some extent, we have to recognize the failure with organizations where individuals mess up – which is part of why I find blameless culture fascinating, because it recognizes that failures are often the result of multiple mistakes rather than the last, visible failure, and takes steps to prevent them: "Here's how things went wrong, here are the things that can prevent this from happening again."

    I've experienced the result of the opposite in corporate culture, where people can be fired for any mistake – there's often a lot of time wasted checking every single thing before doing anything, getting multiple people, trying to blame people outside of the organization for things that go wrong… It's basically amounts to a hostile work environment and it makes people so afraid of making mistakes that they end up worsening them when they inevitably happen because the people who remain are focused on office politics so they won't get fired.

  • "that…. ….. content creator, Stephen Molyneux also explores."

    It is comments like these which make me think I need to become the Founding Member of the Lesbians Kinda Questioning Our Whole Lives Because Ollie Is Kinda A Snacc Club.

    Off to start a Tumblr…..

  • 3 days ago, a seveso class factory exploded/went on fire in Rouen in France. A massive cloud of black smoke formed, oil was seemingly pouring from the sky, breathing in the city was painful, and the initial response of the authorities was that the air was "not too toxic", despite asking affected farmers not to harvest their crops.

  • Two out of my four grand-grand fathers were killed by soviet government. One was killed in an act of “dispossession”, even though his family was poor and all they had was one cow. So, he was shot, and his wife and two daughters were sent far east, were my grand-grand mother had to work at the factory she was stationed to, for the next 20 years. Another was a railroad engineer, who was killed because, well he had education and therefore was a member of an elitist class. So, who was it, who killed them? Men who pulled the trigger? Or the government? It’s bouth isn’t it. The men who killed them probably knew that killing people is a bad thing. But if not them, well soviet government had found other men, who would do this job. It an individual problem and societal one, and governmental.

    What happened in Chernobyl could have happened only if all those factors aligned. Personal irresponsibility, social cowardice and governmental paranoia.

    I don’t think that USSR was the devil, as a system it had good and bad sides. But as we’ve seen, bad often outweighed the good it did. If it didn't it wouldn't have collapsed.

  • Side note: if you think taking on other people's moral guilt the way Jesus did is a massive pain in the ass, you might need to examine the images of Christ's crucifixion a bit better. A massive pain in the hands, arms, and/or feet, certainly; but the behind? Not so much. At least not with Jesus.

  • First off, fantastic video as always. Though I must say I was slightly distracted by your lapel pins… Were you wearing one of a shirtless Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park?

  • The difference between Thatcher and Marie Antoinette is that if you add context, MA's quote becomes a bit bettere whereas the more you hear from Thatcher, the more evil, obtuse and ignorant she sounds.

  • fun that you're doing pieces that are less overtly political again, Olly! Don't mistake me, I love your political stuff, but other stuff is fun too.

  • There was this comment about how evolutionary speaken, it is fascinating that our species has evolved in a way that newborns are entirely helpless. All they can do is scream and take what they are given. Other animals can walk right away. But our offspring are dependent. They cant take care of themselves for many years to come. And the conclusion to this was that the reason we evolved the way we did, was not bc we are all individuals and got only our own responsibility to shoulder, but because we as humanity felt the need to take care of others and help as others helped us and as we hoped others will help us. At our very birth we gain access to a group, to society, to this network of individuals that at that moment decided "I need to take responsibility with all these other people and help out". That this I was part of a *we*.

  • "There is no entitlement without obligation" is arguably the worst bit of what she said, because that is the mindset and indeed story that leads to workfare, ATOS assessments, the whole ridiculous obsession with scroungers etc. It's also untrue.

  • Chernobyl:
    An entertaining capitalist TV series based on lies to push simple emotional memes supporting capitalism to demonize socialism.

  • Are all Philosophy Tube subtitles this good???
    Video gave me a lot to think about, and I'll have the revisit it after I've mulled it over, but damn the subs are fun ^^

  • I appreciate the video as always. I couldn’t watch the series. I am Ukrainian, and I just feel like our country is being exploited. Our country is in shambles, destroyed by decades of soviet oppression, by ethnic cleansing, by russian invasion. It’s caught is cross-fire of multiple powerful forces, while Ukrainian people are dying in active war zone or starving/going homeless in their poor cities. So, seeing an American show using one of our biggest tragedies is just hard.

  • I don't know if the damage caused by chernobyl, or austerity, is incalculable. We have the data, we have the testimonies. It's more that the calculation can be opened up to politicised debate, which effectively renders it "incalculable" because the exact figure can always be reasonably denied. The thing is that's true of ALL data. Climate change, or the theory of evolution, both empirically incontrovertible, but both can be subjected to politicised debate and made to seem as formless and conjectured as any cloud of radioactive fallout.

  • I love you so much, Ollie.
    You helped make me identify as a philosopher. Sometimes, we just wanna be Apes naming things.

    Malleability of Time implies control of history, the retroactive Canon.

  • 22:52

    Why is a good-lacking group a necessary condition for the good's market? I don't see how owning secure housing logically excludes you from being sold a house, just the same as owning a t-shirt doesn't exclude you from being sold a t-shirt.

  • I really liked the exploration of denial of reality as a way to avoid accountability in this video. I've often seen institutions who are supposed to support disabled people deny that support by saying "actually, there's nothing wrong with you, you are wrong about your needs and are therefore on your own." Because if they admitted the problem they'd be liable, and they'd have to morally confront that question and work out their own resource issues. The narrative of personal responsibility and "just take control of your own destiny" or whatever compounds the problem.

    It's also the same thing Boris Johnson is doing about no deal Brexit.

  • Well for me the whole point of having responsibility is about promoting positive change. And one can have degrees of reasonability to. So society as a whole might have some responsibility, a specific individual might have even more. Each needing to work towards a desired outcome. Why I do not like when one remove responsibility from someone in power. Or give responsibility to someone that lacks power. The first case leads to careless acting. And the second case is used to crate scapegoats. With self driving cars is of course the responsibility of the car manufactures to make it safe. Though the owner likely share some responsibility if they do not take care of it. As well as any mechanic needed to fix the car when it not properly functioning. The goal is safety. So anyone that can be a part of making it save have some responsibility.

    (And actually the goal is also transportation. So one have to in reality weight the concerns of it being save and it being able to transport you to your desired location against each other. If it was just safety then the car would never be build as it existence is more of a safety harassed then it not existing. Reality is often quite complex. I mean there is a reason we want people to be transported places. Getting to a hospital quickly is a more clear example how even if the car doing the transporting is a safety concern doing it by foot is even more detrimental. And the world is full of hidden factors making thing even more complicated. And that is not even adding to the complexity of what a desired outcome is. Sometimes someone desired outcome conflict with someone else after all.)

  • I've known for a while that my boyfriend absolutely loves you and your content, and the captions on this video were really the perfect example to show me why

  • when my parents were still living in poland, my father was working for a company which measured water quality. he was only in charge of picking up various water samples from different locations. he told me that one time when he picked up the samples after a rain shower, the water looked differently than usual. it was shining in rainbow colours and he said to me that he hadn't seen that before and he brought it back and it got tested. this was all before the news of chernobyl so everyone had no idea that it had been raining radioactive water for days. after they got it tested and the news broke, everyone in the region got iodine tablets but both my parents and my sister still suffer from thyroid problems which many doctors have linked back to exactly that accident. scientifically, i'm not even sure if you can see when water has been contaminated so maybe the rainbow glance my father saw is just something he automatically linked back to that accident, but that story still sticks with me and every now and then I think back to how the news and everything was handled and how they nearly succeded at keeping such a catastrophe quiet…

    thank you so much for you videos Olly! and thank you for hiring someone Russian to translate all the text correctly, I really appreciate the effort you put in your videos

  • Hi, the Chernobyl TV series is fake news. It contains significant inaccuracies that denigrate nuclear power and the Soviet Union in the era where the accident took place. A couple of mainstream media outlets have written opinion pieces pointing out these serious inaccuracies and I recommend that people research this.

  • Oh, come on. Taking the series at face value while it is just heavy-handed propaganda about "Le ebil Soviets"? This series warps the history of disaster to make for a good drama about apparatchiks ruining everything. Like, even Mazin himself puts the blame clearly at the system – which is reflected heavily in the thing.
    It's really disappointing and angering how people take an important event from our history and twist it to represent their views about USSR.
    It would do so much better for all foreigners to actually read about it and not just learn it from this bullshit.

  • My brain tried to split, when it attempted to read both English and Russian at the same time, and you have no idea how stressful it is

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