MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: a preview of The Olasky Interview.
NICK EICHER, HOST: In this week’s episode, WORLD Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky talks with Charles Murray, an author and social scientist.
Murray has written many books. Among them: Losing Ground and The Bell Curve.
In this excerpt, Murray talks about contemplating death, and what keeps us from contemplating death.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Since I’m asking prying questions, let me ask one more here. At age of 74, is death getting your attention?
MURRAY: Yes, it does have that tendency to do so. One of the features of modernity is that people live so long that you can delay it. In my case, both of my parents died in their mid to late nineties. And so, I don’t assume that I’ve got that many years left. I haven’t led as healthy of a lifestyle as my parents did. And so, mortality is a real possibility to me.
But I’ll tell you something that is bothering me a lot as I try to look ahead. And that is the degree to which it has become so easy to entertain yourself 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if you can stay up that long. And by that I mean, I consider this a problem for myself. I can go on the Internet at any time and constantly switch from thing to thing that I enjoy doing. I can play a game of chess; I can go from there to my Twitter feed and to all the places you can surf.
You know, when my wife and I sit down in front of the TV at night, which is what we do basically every night, its because there is a lot of really great TV out there, and by great TV, I mean these series that are beautifully acted and wonderfully constructed; they’re way beyond the quality we had 40 years ago and beyond the quality of most movies. With access to Netflix and Amazon and the rest of it, you have more than you could possibly watch.
So I say to myself to what extent is it going to be a problem for society that you have lots of people who can avoid thinking about the bigger questions just because they can distract themselves. In the book A Brave New World, there’s a drug that is taken; I can’t remember the name.
OLASKY: Soma, right?
MURRAY: Yeah, soma. I wonder if the Internet is the electronic equivalent of that drug.