Gambling: When the odds are against you, it is in itself against reason. It feeds on our greed, hope, and curiosity. It can rob you of your money, time, and dignity.

Lack of education funding: Self explanatory, schools need money to teach kids. For the most part, the more the better.

Lack of encouragement for education in society: If no one is taught the importance of education, then many won't ever learn the importance of education.

Mainstream Media: Lets face it, most mainstream media is a huge waste of time, and brain space.

Psuedo-science: Wacky medicine, lies passed off as science, and half truths correlating to nonsense.

Recreational drugs and alcohol: Instant gratification, at the cost of risking a lifetime.

Religion: Stories widespread taken as facts with no evidence. Sometimes directly opposing reason, It's infectious ability to spread and to last is mostly due to people believing it is beneficial.

Subcultures: Might divert ones focus from reason, and replace it with a concern for trends, an irrational urge of attaining individuality by any means and strange ideologies.

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I'll rate from the most dangerous to the least dangerous (in my opinion)

1) Lack of encouragement for education in society:
Even if you have the means available, if the desire and enthusiasm isn't implanted from an early age, the lazy-brain way of thinking becomes viral. I've seen this in the Thai culture where you are taught not to question, and that is the case. The higher classes afford outside education with critical thinking/reasoning criteria while the lower class never sees such an option. What's evolved is a mass of uneducated, working class zombies who will freely admit that they don't like to think about complex or confusing subjects because it's mai sanook (no fun) Their t.v shows are insanely two dimensional, their problem solving skills are non-existent, and it is creating a huge gap in the class divide.

2) Lack of education funding:
I put this second because even without funding, the truly hungry mind will find a way to educate itself any way possible. What educational funding does is make learning available to the less enthused but still very bright minds. It also provides a common standard of education availability for all people, which will present the opportunity of interest, which is what leads to the hungry mind in the first place.

3) Religion:
If you have encouragement for education and educational funding, then religion is hardly a danger. It is only when these two things are not present that it is suddenly a very real threat. When people are shown and taught how to think for themselves and it is common in society, religion will eventually become fringe and then vanish all together. Logic and reason are much more powerful in mass than superstition can ever be.

4 )Pseudo Science:
The most dangerous lie is one mixed with truth. Pseudo Science is ranked below religion for me because I think that humans have a compulsion to ritual and the desire to absolve responsibility by thinking it is out of their hands. Pseudo Science has less emotional appeal so it is easier to debunk, but if left to flourish will eventually exert the same control over a practicing people as religion. Luckily it is at least partially fighting science for science and can therefore fall when proved incorrect.

5) Maintstream Media:
Uneducated people will believe what they are told, especially if others are hearing the same message and backing it up. Sex, violence and vulgarity on T.V isn't nearly so dangerous to society as the more subtle undertones of obedience and bigotry. I think you can become desensitized after witnessing something over and over and over again. Racism becomes funny and acceptable. Telling men their are dumb asses will make them act like ones. The single contention I have is with violence. Even if the visualization of it on T.V no longer invokes an emotional response, that does not mean it will effect you in real life. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing. No matter how often you hear gunshots on T.V, the minute you hear them out at 7-11 you are still going to duck. There is also the fact that committing violence against another usually results on immediate violence against you. If you walk up and hit someone in a bar, you are going to get hit back. The brain processes pain as bad. I'd say the danger to this is ranged weaponry, where you don't suffer immediate repercussions (such as drive by shootings) but over all, desensitization to an idea is way more effective than to an action.

Gambling can become an addiction (oddly enough to the down of loosing, not the up of winning) that makes you non functional in day to day life. You hear of functioning alcoholics and drug addicts because once their fix is in their system, they can continue on with their work day. Gambling's physical addiction isn't like that because they need to be at that table, at that slot machine, at their computer. The reason we see it as less dangerous than drugs and alcohol is because we live in a culture that still glamorizes it. I don't by any means say that it should be illegal, but after living in Nevada for a few years (both in Las Vegas and cowtown, northern Nevada) I've seen first hand that the devastation it leaves is far more influential than that of any other addiction. A person will spend more on gambling than they do on drugs. It's a habit that hits hard and fast and usually by the time anyone has figured out that there is even a problem, the debts are stacked too high, the house is lost and the car is repossessed. At least with substance abuse, there are physical signs and tolerance barriers that buy you time.

Recreational drugs and alcohol:
Personally I had to tie with this for last on the list, but since there is plenty of proof of people dying from binge drinking or drug overdoses, I really had to put it a step higher. I've never heard of anyone drowning in their own vomit at Rockey Horror Picture Show. If there is a distinction here between addiction and recreational use, then the only problem I can see relates to lack of education. The very vast majority of deaths from recreational use could be halted if proper dosage and safe environments were provided. There is always the chance that an unknown pre-existing medical condition could trigger an adverse reaction, but that is a risk you take in a lot of legal recreational activities. If, on the other hand this is meant to encompass substance addiction as well (and a totally different ball game in my mind) then it does need to be set a bit higher on the danger level, however studies have proven that certain people have more 'addictive personalities' than others, so if it isn't substance, I'm sure they will find another behavior either more or less destructive personally or to society as a whole.

Eh. I'm a nerd and a fangirl. I love anything comic book, video game and fantasy. (I'm cute, so it just looks cool when I like it!) Yes, my already-in-debt-cousin paid three hundred dollars for a museum quality 1:4 replication of Elvira the other day, so I can see a minor danger, but as a whole, humans are tribal people. When society becomes too small, we seek to find acceptance in a smaller group. As long as these groups can be focused in a positive direction, I think they can be used to provide even more motivation for doing good. Gang lifestyle and violent subcultures will evolve. As humans, we seek out like minded and like behaviored people. The most important thing is not to glamorize it or turn it into a 'dirty little secret' by locking it away. Educate, educate, educate!

That's my opinion! (And yet another long-winded one, too!)
Great reply Misty, I agree with you on every rank!

Subcultures: (should read) When society becomes too BIG. (I typed too small. Ignore that.)
This is a bit difficult for me, because I believe religion is partially tied to a lack of educational encouragement. The very concept of religion precludes the need for an education--no need to be curious about the "why" of anything if you can answer every question with "god did it" and be satisfied. Providing kids with an education is important, but even religious institutions can and have done that. (Consider privately funded Catholic schools.)

The type of education presented to students is more important than getting just any form of education. We should be cultivating curiosity, rationality, skepticism, and a genuine interest in learning. Religious educations don't do this. Even the education offered at public schools don't necessarily do this. The reason is that the nation as a whole does not value its educators, paying them very little for a very big job, and requiring such minimum academic achievement from teachers that just about anyone can slip, mediocre, through the education program. I can say from experience as a student and as someone who has known many "educators", that the educational system is broken. Most people who teach aren't qualified enough to do so, and they produce other "broken" teachers. I consider them "broken" by the prevalent religious mindset that has removed in them the desire to know, that tells them knowing is wrong. You can teach a teacher to teach, but you can't teach him/her to think. But that is exactly what we should be doing.

So, my list is like this:

1. Religion - leads to ...

2. Lack of encouragement & Lack of funding

3. Psuedo-science - the product of applying religious and/or superstitious ideas to a subject, and people accept it as truth because of the issues with #1 and #2.

4. Mainstream Media - does not always present the best, unbiased information, nor do they always seek it out (here I'm talking about the news media; enough of them aren't doing their jobs properly). Even this area is tied in to education, because they are the largest, fastest-growing supplier of information in the nation. They therefore have a huge responsibility.

5. Drugs/Alcohol & Gambling - These are more personal habits that have obvious social and clinical consequences when practiced in excess. I don't think the addictions themselves are the real issue, but the reason why they are sought ought out in the first place is the real concern. This is another problem area that might be improved by better education. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body.

6. Subcultures - I think this is mostly a product of the media, and one that probably won't be eliminated even if we can educate the nation to think for itself. We are instinctually drawn to "herd behaviors" like fashion trends, and I don't think it's quite the societal detriment as any of the subjects above. Fitting in has its natural and beneficial place among our species, and it's only when coupled with poor mental health or weak self-identity that it becomes a problem--a problem that can again be solved with better education.
1. Lack of encouragement/importance of education in society.
This is the big one. When society not only does not stress the importance of education, but in many cases actively degenerates and discourages it, it starts a downwards spiral that gets progressively harder to break free from, until ignorance and irrationality become the norm. There are those that say that this has already happened. Mediocrity and conformity being stressed over education and learning, such as teachers who punish their students for reading beyond the assigned point.

2. Religion
I see this as both a cause and an effect of the lack of education in society. No one can deny that religion has a strong hold on the human psyche, aided by such human traits as hyperactive agency detection, confirmation bias, and mistaking correlation with causation. Not only does religion often oppose education, particularly education on critical thinking and science, but it benefits by a lack of education, as those who have been deprived of a good education are more susceptible to the stories that religions promote.

3. Lack of funding
While it is true that even without a well funded education system, a curious mind can get a good education, more funding, and more importantly, properly spent funding, can raise the average educational level of the populace to a stage where a general understanding and comprehension of the basics is the norm. Throwing more money at the problem won't solve anything if the money is squandered on projects and ideas that do not work.

4. Mainstream media
The mainstream media has, in large part, abandoned its role as the 'Fourth branch of the government', trading in its journalistic ideals for the easy rewards of entertainment and tabloid reporting. Facts and accuracy are seen as hindrances to a 'good story', and any sort of tripe, no matter how misleading or even blatantly false, is seen as acceptable news. Reporters (and I use the term loosely) can no longer be bothered to fact-check their articles, and in many cases, various media outlets have cynically and openly manufactured stories to meet pre-defined conclusions.

5. Psuedo-science
This actually goes hand-in-glove with the mainstream media. While snake oil salesmen have always been with us, and probably always will continue to exist as long as there are gullible people to take advantage of, it would be far less dangerous if the mainstream media did not blithely accept as unvarnished truth even the most outrageous claims these charlatans make.

6. Recreational drugs and alcohol/gambling
I place these at the same level. In both cases, moderate and responsible use poses little to no danger, while compulsive and addictive behavior related to them can be life-threatening. I'd place all potentially addictive behaviors here, ranging from alcohol drugs to gambling to video games.

7. Sub-cultures
Subcultures are human. Some will be helpful, some will be indifferent, some will be harmful. As long as the individuals are rational, it should not be a problem. It's when the subcultures are linked with other things, such as a lack of education, psuedo-science, etc, that they can become dangerous to their adherents and others.
Wow, these are really great responses, to a great question. Really lays it all out there to see.
Agreed, if you look at other responses you'll see that most everyone else agrees too actually. I threw a few extra up there just to see how others would rank them, personally I'm not opposed at all to subcultures, I intake my fair share of mainstream media every day, and I think mind altering substances can be beneficial as long as not used in excess.

Glad you don't mind keeping us in check if we need it.


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