No, I’m from Australia. Austria is a small country in Europe.

I was listening to “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe” podcast. It’s an American podcast (hence the ‘k’ in skeptics’). They did an interview with Matthew Chapman (incidentally, Charles Darwin’s great-grandson). Which is not really the point of this post. The point I wanted to talk about is that during this interview one of the Skeptics happened to make a comment that I thought would be a good talking point. Chapman said that “As a European I find that Americans are very disinclined to look at things in an international way”
To which one of the Skeptics replied:
“In Europe, the countries are all so close they’re very intermingled and here (US) it’s almost like we’re isolationist, because we don’t have the opportunity or didn’t have the advantage of living so close to other cultures and, you know, we’re just pretty much by ourselves over here with Canada, and you know it’s like Canada and the United States, we’re the same people- as far as I’m concerned. The Canadians don’t think that!”(laughter).

Now he qualified this by saying “who the hell am I to comment” and I’ll quallify my comments the same way. This is purely my opinion-
Australia is even more geographically isolated than the United states. However the average Australian knows a fair bit about foreign cultures. Particularly American and Brittish because our media is full of it. From what I can gather, the US media is largly US-centric. A majority of their TV is all American, most of their news is America.
Here a large magority of our TV is American, or Brittish. There is a channel dedicated to international television.

I would say it’s the American culture itself (or perhaps the media) that keeps it ‘isolationist’ and ignorant of other cultures. Speaking very generally there of course. I know many Americans who are quite knowledgable of other countries and thier cultures.

Thoughts. . . ?

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3 thoughts on “No, I’m from Australia. Austria is a small country in Europe.

  1. Good points you raise there Crystal. Well written too. Whether or not a country becomes internally focussed, or even isolationist is probably a combination of causes. The main ones that spring to mind (and you covered some of them) are:

    * Geography – is the country surrounded by many or few other countries.

    * Education – Is the population taught geography, and it’s place in the world geo-politically.

    * Political Isolationism – Japan was isolationist until the late 1800’s. The USA itself has had isolationist policies in place in the past.

    * Economic/Political Power – It could be argued the the stronger and more self reliant a country becomes the less likely they are to care others. (This could just as easily apply to people as well!)

  2. Thanks, Pete. You raise good points too. I think they all could be factors. I think as a culture grows, all these factors come into play. It’s almost like an evolution thing. I don’t think it’s deliberate in any way, it’s just a number of factors building to create what we see today.

    I think all the points you made could be said about individual people as well.

    Speaking of applying things to other things, I watched a fascinating show on the ABC the other night called ‘How Kevin Bacon cured cancer’. It was all about how the Kevin Bacon game inspired research into networks. They found they could apply what they learned to all sorts of networks. People, internet, biology, economics and probably more that I’ve forgotten.

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