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Paul Taylor: Millennials are the Most Cautious Generation We've Ever Seen
Paul Taylor is the executive vice-president of special projects at the Pew Research Center and author of the book The Next America. An expert in demographic, social and generational research, Taylor recently visited Big Think to discuss the millennial generation.
Paul Taylor is the executive vice-president of special projects at the Pew Research Center and author of the book The Next America. An expert in demographic, social and generational research, Taylor recently visited Big Think to discuss the millennial generation:
One of the more noted phenomena commonly associated with millennials is that many of them still live with mom and dad. Taylor estimates that about 40% of young American adults either never left home or boomeranged back after college. Whereas in previous generations an adult living with one's parents was a sign of failure, that stigma appears to have mostly disappeared in recent decades. In fact, Taylor says the cohabitation of parents and their adult children is, for the most part, harmonious:
"We’ve done some surveying of both the parents of such young adults and young adults themselves looking for tension within those homes, looking for conflict, looking for stigma. And frankly we don’t find that much... In some ways I have a sense from our surveys that young adults have sort of seamlessly migrated from being the children of their parents in many cases to being the roommates of their parents."
There are some countries and cultures (Italy being the most notable) where it's customary for young men to remain in their parents' home well into their thirties. Usually though, this is attributable to a core cultural emphasis on the importance of family. What's happening in the United States has more to do with a sluggish economy that has failed to produce enough jobs for new workers. It makes little sense to move out if you don't have the means to support yourself. Thus, the aforementioned transition from household dependent to relative roommate.
Being a numbers man, Taylor takes great interest in finding patterns within Pew's data and attempting to pinpoint generational trends and characteristics. He prefaces his findings with the disclaimer that they should be taken as generalizations -- not every millennial behaves one way while everyone else behaves another. With that said, he shares what he's found to be a key element of the generation's persona:
"One [key element] is wariness. There is a classic question in social science about what we call social trust and the question goes very simply. Generally speaking would you say most people can be trusted or you can’t be too careful when you’re dealing with other people? Only about 19 percent of millennials the last time we asked this question say "yeah, most people can be trusted."
Taylor posits a few theories about why millennials are the most cautious generation Pew has ever seen. First, he notes that a large share of young adults are non-white and/or on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. This places them in "an attitude of vulnerability" and causes them to act more carefully:
"One of the things that sociologist know and psychologists have observed is that populations that feel vulnerable for whatever reason tend to be low on social trust because they’re not well fortified to deal with the consequences of misplaced trust."
Another of Taylor's theories has to do with millennials' time spent online. Obi-Wan Kenobi's sage advice about Mos Eisley Spaceport applies just as well to the internet: "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious." Millennials understand that you have to take everything you see online with a grain of salt; not everybody is as they present themselves. This reality breeds distrust.
Finally, Taylor wonders how much social horrors, coupled with the ways millennials were raised, contributes to their wariness:
"Millennials came of age in the nineties and oughts, an era of global terrorism, of domestic school shootings, Columbine, 9/11, a lot of pretty horrible things that are particularly disturbing to parents. The worry about strangers online, online predators and all the rest... There is a kind of an everybody gets a trophy quality to the way millennials have been raised. You’re precious. It’s a mean and difficult world. I need to protect you. Which may then be picked up by the children raised this way as you better be careful, you better be wary."
While these theories are mostly conjecture, Taylor views millennials' general aversion to risk as factual and evidenced.
"Now maybe that’s because they don’t have money, they don’t have the economic security that leads to a freedom to take risks. Or maybe it’s the way they’ve been raised. I think you can see that in their consumption habits as well... because they don’t have the money or they don’t want to take on the debt. They’re not buying cars, they’re not buying houses and I think there is a kind of wariness that cuts across a lot of the dimensions of their lives."
Simply put: millennials have watched a lot of people get burned over the past seven years. Their parents have fought foreclosures and debt. Divorce rates have led to a lot of broken homes. Millennials have come of age during an era where the promise of success more resembles a fleeting chance. There's been unending war, escalating political partisanship, and growing economic inequality. In many ways, millennials feel they've watched their cultural inheritance get squandered away by the political elite.
So perhaps the question could be phrased not so much as "why are millennials distrusting of others?" but rather "what reason do millennials have to be trusting at all?"
A cave in France contains man’s earliest-known structures that had to be built by Neanderthals who were believed to be incapable of such things.
In a French cave deep underground, scientists have discovered what appear to be 176,000-year-old man-made structures. That's 150,000 years earlier than any that have been discovered anywhere before. And they could only have been built by Neanderthals, people who were never before considered capable of such a thing.
Water may be far more abundant on the lunar surface than previously thought.
- Scientists have long thought that water exists on the lunar surface, but it wasn't until 2018 that ice was first discovered on the moon.
- A study published Monday used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to confirm the presence of molecular water..
- A second study suggests that shadowy regions on the lunar surface may also contain more ice than previously thought.
Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter<p>Still, it's not as if the moon is dripping wet. The observations suggest that a cubic meter of the lunar surface (in the Clavius crater site, at least) contains water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million. That's roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water. In comparison, the same plot of land in the Sahara desert contains about 100 times more water.</p><p>But a second study suggests other parts of the lunar surface also contain water — and potentially lots of it. Also publishing their findings in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9#_blank" target="_blank">Nature Astronomy</a> on Monday, the researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study "cold traps" near the moon's polar regions. These areas of the lunar surface are permanently covered in shadows. In fact, about 0.15 percent of the lunar surface is permanently shadowed, and it's here that water could remain frozen for millions of years.</p><p>Some of these permanently shadowed regions are huge, extending more than a kilometer wide. But others span just 1 cm. These smaller "micro cold traps" are much more abundant than previously thought, and they're spread out across more regions of the lunar surface, according to the new research.</p>
Credit: dottedyeti via AdobeStock<p>Still, the second study didn't confirm that ice is embedded in micro cold traps. But if there is, it would mean that water would be much more accessible to astronauts, considering they wouldn't have to travel into deep, shadowy craters to extract water.</p><p>Greater accessibility to water would not only make it easier for astronauts to get drinking water, but could also enable them to generate rocket fuel and power.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers," said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the advanced exploration systems division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in a statement. "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."</p>