Time travel exists, and a new form of capital punishment is introduced: Transporting the convict back to the worst, practically unsurvivable, places in human history to find yourself in. You are such a convict, and just got sent back. You will do anything to try and survive.
– Prompts by unknownantipatriot on reddit.com
What is so interesting about this kind of thought experiment is that they shed a different light on how your mind works. We are used to questions such as ‘what are you passionate about?’ or ‘what are your goals in life?’ however I am pretty sure, that you have never heard of this scenario before. How would a science-fiction writer respond to this? What about a prison guard? A Back-to-the-Future-fan?
What do you think, what is your first impulse?
Here’s what I think: Like foreign countries we know nothing about, even the ‘dark ages’ were full of light. Sure lots of horrible things were going on like child labour and more violence. However those are well documented. Because not only psychology but also disciplines like history or anthropology probably had or still have a negativity bias it was not considered interesting to study what worked well. Was life brutish and short? Probably. But as much as we like to flatter ourselves and think that people were uncivilized in the past, this says more about us and our need to feel superior than about what was really going on.
There are some places which make survival incredibly hard due to environmental conditions, such as living in the desert or perpetually frozen places. But in such places you would either die pretty fast (if people did not accept you) or learn from their resilience and knowledge of the environment.