Thought experiments can be very controversial, but also very eye opening about what kind of people we are under certain circumstances. Every so often I'll share a fun thought experiment that I probably didn't create, but will sometimes modify. Feel free to share your thoughts, and your own examples. A middle school teacher from Ohio is currently in the hot seat for administering a thought experiment to his students that posed the question "whom to leave behind?" when it comes to deciding who should stay back among a group of people when the Earth is on the verge of being incapable of supporting life. To my knowledge; this experiment originated on the website Tolerance.org. The controversy surrounding it apparently stems from the idea that certain characters are given an apparent advantage and an apparent disadvantage. For some characters the apparent disadvantage is simply that they're Muslim, or Black. Every instructor who's administered this lesson has also added their own spin by rewriting the traits of the characters, and I've done the same thing. For my own spin, I took out the common "Muslim" and "Jewish" traits from two of the characters because there was already a "clergyman" in the mix. Why couldn't the clergyman (or anyone else for that matter) be a Muslim or a Jew? I also took out genders, except for the transgender individual that I added and the reference to the accountant's "wife", mainly because I feel that cisgender male and female genders don't really clash with the traits of the other characters and wouldn't really inspire a debate on diversity, and also because a pregnancy would be a significant factor in how someone chooses who leaves or who stays. Purely for the benefit of inspiring deep conversation and self discovery, let's decide... WHOM TO LEAVE BEHIND. WHOM TO LEAVE BEHIND Instructions: The twelve persons listed below have been selected as passengers on a space ship for a flight to another planet because tomorrow the planet Earth is doomed for destruction. Due to changes in space limitations, it has now been determined that only eight persons may go. Any eight qualify. Your task is to select the FOUR passengers who will NOT GO on the flight. You must also decide the order in which the passengers should be removed from the list. Place the number 1 by the person who should be removed first from the list of passengers; the number 2 by the person who should be removed second from the list; place a 3 by the person who should be removed third from the list; and place the number 4 by the person who should be removed from the list fourth. Choose only four. These are the four who will NOT make the trip. They are to be left behind. ____ an accountant with a substance abuse problem ____ a militant Black Kenyan doctor who is also a Marxist ____ the accountant's pregnant wife who is an architect ____ an applied science major with over 200 patents who is blind due to a genetic condition ____ a liberal arts major who speaks 12 languages ____ a professor with a criminal record and a master's degree in integrated water resource management ____ a professional football coach who is transgender ____ a clergy leader who is against homosexuality ____ a Caucasian farmer with ties to white supremacy ____ an armed police chief with an anti-social disorder and a history of excessive force ____ an orphaned 12-year old child with Autism ____ a 55 year old homosexual politician My own choices of who stays behind: Spoiler 1. The Police Chief Explanation: Law and Order is very important to a well ordered society, that builds it's definition of right and wrong based on the unique dynamic of the group from which it originates. The old ways of how society was regulated will serve as a lesson learned based on the reality that in spite of it the Earth still became inhospitable. 2. The Farmer Explanation: Farming will be an extremely important skill unto those that are expected to survive, and it's an attainable skill that I would rather see a society develop on its own without having to validate the opinions of an ideological bigot. 3. The Clergy Leader Explanation: Religion is rich with history and lessons on how to endure life's hardships, and it's also bound by its own paradoxical intolerance. One doesn't need a specified religion to seek council with a higher power for spiritual guidance. 4. The Accountant Explanation: The ability to determine complex numbers and algorithms will be very important, though those who suffer from substance abuse tend to lose track of their priorities. In the next world, the only priority on anyone's mind needs to be survival. Overall: I will admit that I was mostly focused on preserving the potential for increased diversity in the new world. This includes the professor with a criminal record, as I feel that experience as someone who has made bad choices and yet paid back society for the wrongs they've committed can be a valuable trait as well. There will obviously be many hurdles. The doctor possesses an invaluable trait in their chosen profession. Being from a country like Kenya can, in my opinion, give them credit for being able to work in austere conditions where diseases that are unknown to the rest of the group might be more prevalent. Being a Marxist indicates to me that the doctor won't hold their position any higher than that of anyone else in the group. The wife of the accountant would likely be upset with losing her spouse, and thus treat the others with disdain. She also presents the idea that by saving her, you're saving two lives instead of just one. Her being pregnant might mean that she can't immediately contribute to the rebuilding of society, though her knowledge as an architect shouldn't require her to be very active. The applied science major would be invaluable even with their blindness. A mind like theirs represents a broad spectrum of knowledge, and the patents that they've crafted represent their ingenuity. The liberal arts major will be a capable facilitator of ensuring that cultures will be preserved and cherished, with comprehension of different languages being a means for which future generations understand their ancestors. This doesn't contribute very much to survival in terms of producing resources, it contributes to survival in terms of understanding ourselves. The professor isn't simply an educated person, they're in a profession where they practice passing on that knowledge to students. Simply having knowledge is one thing, being able to pass it on is its own skill entirely. An understanding of water management will be invaluable to a society where water is their most important resource. The professional football coach has experience as a team builder, and a motivator when it comes to making difficult decisions in a moment's notice. Being transgender will provide a unique perspective on a way of life that unto our modern day society is still a taboo issue, and this perspective will come from someone who will work to ensure that everyone is a gainfully utilized member of the team. The orphaned child is at an age where their mind is still developing, and will be more conducive to comprehending the knowledge passed down by those of whom they're starting a new world with. The developmental disorder of having Autism is irrelevant to me, as they would still have the potential to be an expert in a chosen profession. It may take longer, but their persistence will ensure that theirs and the next generation survives. The politician has experience with rallying a community around a common goal, in this case survival. Being a homosexual would only be a consequence for the clergy leader.