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comment by OftenBen
OftenBen  ·  14 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Long, Slow Death of Religion

Is it a fair assessment, in your mind, to say that people are not, by and large, using religious lines of thought/reasoning to make decisions, regardless of the state of their perceived connection to the divine?

It's the old trope about 'I'm not religious, I'm spiritual.'




thenewgreen  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    It's the old trope about 'I'm not religious, I'm spiritual.'

Some would say that there is a very real difference between the two:

OftenBen  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's kind of exactly the point I'm making.

A 'Religious' person makes big life decisions with regard to their religion, what their religion believes is 'right.'

A 'Spiritual' person makes big life decisions based on what they think will be the best/most desirable outcome, and look for 'spiritual' justification or solace or comfort after the fact.

I think a lot of people who call themselves 'religious' are actually 'spiritual' and that is what makes it so that 'Christian' can mean Duggars or it can mean Nadia Bolz-Weber.

Trombone  ·  14 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yes, I'd think that's fair - at least judging from my personal experiences. I was raised in the Christian faith, and what I noticed as I grew up in the church is that people tended to do things pretty much for their own benefit instead of religious motivation. For example, whenever a committee was formed around some sort of charitable objective, like organizing a food drive, a whole bunch of people would sign up at first and come to the first meeting then do nothing else, with the result that only one or two people actually did anything. When the food drive was over and declared a success, all the original hangers-on came forward to take the credit. That's not Christ-like at all, it's selfish. Like Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

While I do not like to generalize, I'd imagine the same sort of self-centered behavior can be observed in other faiths as well as in the actions of the unaffiliated.

What are your thoughts on this?

OftenBen  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think that fewer people should call themselves 'religious.' I think that it should be illegal to expose children under the age of 16 to religious ideology or texts, except as historical documents.

I think that if a group of adults all agree to read from an old book once a week and reflect on how they can be better people, kinder to their neighbors, that's great, and should be encouraged. I think that some churches actually have this to some degree, many don't. I think that Unitarian Universalists have it closest to correct, doctrinally speaking. Love everybody, love them so much it hurts.

The fact that prosperity theology exists is proof positive to me that in most instances the Bible in specific and religious texts in general are tools used by clever people to affect the behavior of less clever people. Sometimes those clever people do genuinely want to make people happier/more ethical/moral, sometimes they need a new jumbo jet, GOD NEEDS A NEW JUMBO JET.

Trombone  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I think that it should be illegal to expose children under the age of 16 to religious ideology or texts, except as historical documents.

Barring a fairly catastrophic change in the current political atmosphere, this is going to stay conceptual. It's an interesting thought, though; at what age is a person competent enough to make an informed decision on something as abstract as faith? Is it ethical to put a child through a faith-based education, and to possibly subject them to non-consensual physical alteration (i.e. circumcision or FGM) as part of the faith?

I 100% agree with your assessment of religion as a means of control.

OftenBen  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Is it ethical to put a child through a faith-based education, and to possibly subject them to non-consensual physical alteration (i.e. circumcision or FGM) as part of the faith?

I can't find an argument that supports this except for a biblical one. Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go,

And when he is old he will not depart from it."

And all that's really saying is "Get 'em young so that they aren't capable of questioning it when we tell them to believe hogwash."

Trombone  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'd agree about the faith-based argument being the only viable one, and I certainly share your cynicism here. However, as you know, religious freedom is a fairly basic tenet in civil society. As weird as it sounds, we're obligated to allow "hogwash"; we're also allowed to call it that.

I'd make an exception to my own observation, though, when it comes to physical alteration. FGM, circumcision, anything done without consent like that is unethical. I don't care what faith calls for in that case, it should be illegal.

OftenBen  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I'd make an exception to my own observation, though, when it comes to physical alteration. FGM, circumcision, anything done without consent like that is unethical.

I don't see how mangling a child's ability to use critical thinking is any different. It causes real-world harm even if it's not done with a knife and a rabbis mouth.

I'm not a parent, and likely won't ever be. I get to sit on my moral high horse and say 'It is never okay to lie to children.'

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I don't see how mangling a child's ability to use critical thinking is any different.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but there's a whole bunch of other ways to do this besides religion. You mentioned the Unitarian Universalists earlier as an example of a doctrine that's got it somewhat correct. Is it wrong to teach children to love others "so much it hurts" as opposed to letting them be shaped by some of the more unsavory elements of secular society? At this point we leave the discussion on religion and transition into a parent's right to raise their children.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    there's a whole bunch of other ways to do this besides religion.

    At this point we leave the discussion on religion and transition into a parent's right to raise their children.

Agreed.

I feel compelled to mention at this point that I am pretty against the idea of most people being parents. I think that bringing a child into the world and raising a competent, self-sufficient, pro-social, healthy, mostly-happy adult is possibly the most difficult thing that a lot of people will ever do, and few are able to do it well.

The harder acknowledgement for me personally, is that human imperfection makes it so that there really isn't a better option than giving people all the freedom we can, all the information we can, and hoping that they make good informed decisions. Every other suggestion on this issue is some form of eugenics, in that formal criteria for who is and who isn't allowed to have babies would be created.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That sounds about right. If we acknowledge a person's right to use their body for the purpose it evolved for- survival and reproduction- then it's difficult to deny them the right to raise their offspring, at least in non-extreme cases, because you run into the issue that an individual's developed personality and values are just as important to who they are as their physical body.

There's no "perfect" answer- as with so many things- if you're unwilling to dive into zealotry. And that usually ends badly.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not sure why, but apparently it's a controversial idea to state that I think the only babies that should be born, are ones who can be born to a pair of emotionally and financially stable adults who have the means and desire to raise competent, self-sufficient, pro-social, healthy, mostly happy adults.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Cause that's pretty damn close to Eugenics?

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Natural selection is still acting upon the human species. Changes are being made to our allele frequencies with or without our sanction. I believe that massive amounts of pain and suffering could be averted by making conscious choices about which alleles become more or less prevalent, and that makes me a weirdo.

Tay-Sachs, Harlequin ichthyosis, all kinds of diseases, all kinds of suffering are apparently the price our society is willing to pay to maintain the moral high ground.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You said

    I feel compelled to mention at this point that I am pretty against the idea of most people being parents. I think that bringing a child into the world and raising a competent, self-sufficient, pro-social, healthy, mostly-happy adult is possibly the most difficult thing that a lot of people will ever do, and few are able to do it well.

and you said

    I'm not sure why, but apparently it's a controversial idea to state that I think the only babies that should be born, are ones who can be born to a pair of emotionally and financially stable adults who have the means and desire to raise competent, self-sufficient, pro-social, healthy, mostly happy adults.

Which means in your mind, this goes beyond genetics and birth defects. You're proposing a government or some other agency decides who is and isn't fit to be parents, not only for genetic purposes, but since this is stemming from a conversation about religion where you earlier argued that parents shouldn't be allowed to have their children engage in religious study, arguably for ideological purposes as well.

Maybe you ought to reconsider the path of thought that took you down to this conclusion, especially since in other posts you often voice such a vehement distaste for organizations that exert authority over both individuals as well as large groups of people.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Which means in your mind, this goes beyond genetics and birth defects.

Yup. Nature and Nurture and flat out luck determine if you're going to be a saint or a serial killer.

    You're proposing a government or some other agency decides who is and isn't fit to be parents,

Nope, but I know that's the only conceivable idea to put these things into practice. I can only control myself. I'm not going to produce biological children because I refuse to pass on my variety of messed up to the next generation. I can wish and wish for other people in similar situations to take the same considerations, adoption as one example and IVF and embryonic screening as another. Some will, some won't.

My ideal isn't a government agency saying 'Your SAT score was too low, you don't get to have kids, here's a sterilization pill.' it's people with inheritable conditions, or without the means to raise adults self-selecting out of being parents, or else taking measures to address the problems that can be fixed for the betterment of the human meta-animal.

I've examined this a lot. Do you think it's an easy or flippant thing to declare with the certainty that I do that I'm not fit to reproduce? If there was such an agency handing out chemical castrations I'd be the first one to sign up, and be glad for the privilege.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Do you think it's an easy or flippant thing to declare with the certainty that I do that I'm not fit to reproduce? If there was such an agency handing out chemical castrations I'd be the first one to sign up, and be glad for the privilege.

Abstinence and birth control (including vasectomies) are voluntary. Fascist and totalitarian laws that take rights away from people? Not so much.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Eugenics is genetic. I think what OftenBen is thinking of is more of a test of competence, the same way you get licensed to drive a car. Are you capable of physically caring for a child, for guiding them towards society's generally accepted code of conduct, etc (this is how I understand it anyway).

On the face of it I would not compare it to eugenics; however, it could easily be perverted to be selective in such a way. There's the issue of who decides what a competent parent is, and if those criteria infringe upon freedom of religion/culture, or other freedoms.

It's an interesting idea but one that is ultimately unworkable in this day and age. Too many issues, and the chances of doing it in an ethical way are slim/none.

(edit: this would be an interesting ethical discussion in and of itself)

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It is a form of eugenics, because it creates a class of people who are legal adults, capable of making their own decisions, who are legally prohibited from having children.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you for the clarification.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The principal is the same. It's about arbitrary conditions set by those in power that can easily be manipulated to disenfranchise others and take away their basic human right to reproduce. That's why it's controversial and that's why it's "pretty damn close."

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I personally agree with you about the right for a person to reproduce and raise a child (as I stated a little above). However- and this is undeniable- there are incompetent parents, and unchecked reproduction is not without its problems.

An example: back in grade school I was bullied by another child who we'll call Joe. I hated Joe for this, and all the other people who were bullied by him hated him too. After we went our separate ways in high school I largely forgot Joe existed. A few years later, I found out that he blew his head off with a shotgun. And this changed my perspective. I realized that Joe was a bully because of the internal pain that he himself had. That poor bastard felt so alone and unloved that he had no other recourse than to let it out on others, turn to drugs, and then become so alone that he shot himself at the age of 16. What kind of parent do you have to be to allow this to happen? To see all of the reports from school about your child, and ignore the fact that he might have some problems? To be so negligent as to enable them to become an addict? How do you not notice that your son is using hard drugs? I used to hate Joe and now I hate his parents. I place his death on their shoulders. I hope he is in a better place now.

My point is this: people have the right to reproduce, yes, and that right is inalienable. But, as we profess our support for that right we must remember that it causes suffering. As the world grows ever more overpopulated, children starve and live miserable short lives so adults can selfishly have that right. Might that suffering be alleviated by some sort of competency program? Yes, maybe. However, that comes with its own host of issues and human suffering. Both options put blood on our hands. And as the population grows, we must consider that the toll of the right to reproduce is exponentially increasing.

Just my 2 cents.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

How about, instead of looking at restrictions to alleviate suffering, we look at ways of supporting each other. You know, good schools, good community support programs, good health care and nutrition initiatives, combating poverty, etc. Or should we just continue to dance with concepts of fascism and totalitarianism to take care of every difficult problem?

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I personally agree with you

I shall repeat this, as I'm not sure where I professed a personal belief in anything remotely fascist or totalitarian, and I believe that I've written off the eugenics idea from the beginning here. It's just important to remember that each position has its consequences. I'm all for the good schools, community support, and all the rest. However, these things are not enough and that's where my concerns sprout from. I'd like to show you something.

This is a population growth curve, a model in biology that is very well studied. Initially populations start out slow, then in the presence of excess resources they tend to grow exponentially (birth rate outpaces death rate). This continues up to the point where you hit the carrying capacity, K. K is the number of organisms in the population that the environment can support. If you look at the figure, you'll notice that population growth continues past that and then falls back as excess past the carrying capacity dies off. After that, populations tends to hover around carrying capacity with births = deaths. Now look at this:

Humanity is in the exponential growth phase, and nobody knows what the carrying capacity is. When we hit K, we are going to hit it hard. There simply won't be enough to go around. So yes, reproduction is a right, but it has consequences. People suffer and starve now as it is; undeveloped countries have the highest population growth and they're the most vulnerable. I'm not trying to justify eugenics here, mind you; but because of unchecked reproduction we will have to have to come to grips with K at some point. It's a consequence, and it's going to be heavy with human suffering.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Counter argument. More developed nations, such as countries in Europe, Japan, and The United States either have a stable or declining population growth. The only reason half those countries, such as the US, has a growing population is because of immigration. There's a direct correlation between the number of children a woman has, her job, her income, her education level, and the country she lives in. Furthermore, every decade, every year, every month, we're coming up with more and more techniques in engineering, agriculture, and medicine to take care of the people we do have.

Equilibrium is possible. Hell, if it'll really help, bringing down the total global population without resorting to anything drastic or ugly is possible. We just need to focus on programs to achieve those means. You know, ones focused on what I just listed.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You're not wrong. The more developed a nation, the more its growth rate declines. In fact, one of the biggest factors in growth rate seems to be empowerment for women, like you said (as if we needed another justification for that)! A few more visuals:

A big factor for concern is seen in that first figure, where you can see how a population in rapid growth is constructed. We've got enough populations like that to keep pushing us up for a while. The second figure shows some UN projections on future growth. You can see that it's not totally exponential, but we're highly likely to crack 10 or even 15 trillion people. That's double what we have now, in less than 100 years. The environment can't cope with that stress.

(edited for embedded pictures; edited again because I can't number)

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    That's double what we have now, in less than 100 years. The environment can't cope with that stress.

There's a limit, we both can definitely agree on that. I'm pretty certain though, I heard it argued back in the late 1800s early 1900s that the earth couldn't support 1 billion. I think the goalposts move with the development of technology. I think we should continue to develop technology but focus on finding a concrete place to put those goal posts, before we find out how catastrophic that limit might really be.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

To an extent, the goalposts do move; back then, it was due to the fact that we developed the technology necessary to synthesize fertilizer. Thank your lucky stars for the Haber–Bosch process.

We can hope for further technological advances, but there are still problems. We don't know how the planet will react, for one; It's an incredibly complex machine and it's impossible to fully model. Those nitrate fertilizers from the H-B process, for example, run off and cause giant algal blooms and by extension dead zones. There's one the size of Connecticut in the Gulf of Mexico, and an algal bloom shut down Toledo, Ohio's water supply a while back. Another problem is climate change. It's going to make things even more difficult, even if the government insists it doesn't exist. The challenges we face are immense, and unprecedented action is needed to tackle them. We don't have that.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I agree things are complex and look grim. I really hope we're not too late here.

    The challenges we face are immense, and unprecedented action is needed to tackle them. We don't have that.

I think we're slowly but surely starting to turn that ship around. Ask China.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I hope we're not too late too, or else I've dedicated my career to tilting at the environmental windmill. We're going to see significant climate change; we've passed 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere and the more that gets pumped in the hairier things are going to get. We might be starting a chain reaction we can't stop.

Any progress on the climate is going to come from outside the United States for the foreseeable future. However, as the world's second largest CO2 producer and one of the highest producers per capita no climate effort is going to be entirely successful without the cooperation of the US and the countries it influences.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    windmill

Can I just say that I think windmills are some of the most impressive things to see in person? Pictures don't do their size justice.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

No, you're right; they're majestic as fuck, as far as man-made structures go.

veen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I recommend watching Hans Rosling's The Overpopulation Myth for more thoughts on global population demographics.

I'd also like to point out that worries about overpopulation have been going on for centuries and that it has been used as an excuse for terrible things ranging from eugenics to screwing over the poor. It's not an unimportant issue nor is it wrong to worry about it but it's definitely a problem with a history.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'll be happy to give it a look.

rd95 and I had a similar discussion, and you're indeed correct that it's a fairly old boogeyman. However, it's only recently that humanity has really reached the height of influence on the planet that we have today. We've even caused entry into a new geologic age, the Anthropocene. Given this power, and the destruction we have caused - and may yet cause - with it, it's unwise to assume that it'll all work itself out. Something would need to change us from the path we're on, imo, and it's not clear what that may be as of yet.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Something would need to change us from the path we're on, imo, and it's not clear what that may be as of yet.

My depressed brain has one likely candidate. Catastrophe.

veen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

More realistic: misery for billions of people not living in colder, Western countries. The sad part is that you and I will probably be fine whereas someone in sub-Saharan Africa will likely perish, even though we are way more responsible for it.

OftenBen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That doesn't count as catastrophe?

veen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Not the kind of catastrophe that'll get us to change from the path we're on, I think.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    But, as we profess our support for that right we must remember that it causes suffering.

Right, this is sort of the core of the debate.

I don't think that suffering is worth it. Others have a different opinion. I understand and accept the arguments against a government agency whose job it is to tell you if you can or cannot have kids. I don't understand the argument that's in favor of the proliferation of disease-causing alleles.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I do see where you're coming from, even if I disagree. I'll say that right off. Here are a few arguments that I can think of against eugenics.

From the dispassionate perspective, genetic diseases and mutations are necessary. They are how we evolve. For the many successful ancestors we have going on down the line, there are scores more that had mutations in the wrong places, causing them to die. That's biology. Any kind of eugenics goes against the natural order and interferes with Life.

From the ethics perspective, the right to reproduce as the body is so clearly constructed to do.

From the ethics perspective again, interference vs. noninterference. To allow somebody to reproduce is to do nothing, to take no action. Suffering is caused, but you have taken no action to cause it. Eugenics-caused suffering requires direct action and is therefore worse in a sense.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    genetic diseases and mutations are necessary.

Mutations yes, known pathological ones, no. Genetic disease, no, not necessary.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Well it's not like you can have one without the other. It's still evolution. Genetic disease is a bit more complicated than "you have it or you don't", and many other afflictions, such as trisomy 21/autism would still happen even if you eradicated genetic disease.

Did you know that sickle cell anemia actually confers a resistance to malaria? Full-blown, it's a genetic disease, but if you're just a carrier you're actually at an advantage. Thus why it persists in the population.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Well it's not like you can have one without the other.

Variation exists that is non-pathological. There are lots of different ways to code a muscle fiber, for example. There are also lots of ways to code half-functional, disease causing muscle fiber.

Believe me when I say I understand how genetics works. I don't pretend that selective breeding is a cure-all, and if it were misapplied, we would lose a lot of beneficial genetic diversity. I'm not against genetic diversity, I think it's important. But the spectrum is wider than just 'good' genes and 'bad' genes, as you stated.

We know more now than our ancestors. That obliges us to use that knowledge for the betterment of the species. That obliges us to use that knowledge to reduce suffering where we can.

Trombone  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Variation exists that is non-pathological. There are lots of different ways to code a muscle fiber, for example. There are also lots of ways to code half-functional, disease causing muscle fiber.

Would it not, for the sake of argument, be a better tactic to use CRISPR methods if the goal is to eliminate the mutant genes?

We do know more than our ancestors, but the last time doctors went out with the objective to reduce suffering where possible we got the opioid epidemic.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Would it not, for the sake of argument, be a better tactic to use CRISPR methods if the goal is to eliminate the mutant genes?

I look forward to the day when we can do that. I think it's our best hope for a Tay-Sachs, HI free future, among others. I'd love to live in a world where we can drive the disease from our genes so that our kids only have to contend with the struggles they encounter after birth. Some people, for reasons unknowable to me, are opposed to even this most humane of treatments.

    the last time doctors went out with the objective to reduce suffering where possible we got the opioid epidemic.

I don't think this is a fair comparison. Nobody stands to make a oodles and oodles of long-term profit from removing pathological mutations from people. Genetic Therapy would be a service you'd use once, rather than a life-long addiction to a substance.

Trombone  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    most humane of treatments

Ethics again- designer babies, things like that. There's a lot of ground between tweaking one gene and completely customizing human beings, but it's theoretically possible.

Very well, you have a point. You must agree, though, that misuse of any medical treatment is of concern, including CRISPR.

OftenBen  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    You must agree, though, that misuse of any medical treatment is of concern, including CRISPR.

I completely agree. The point of contention is what qualifies as 'misuse.'

In my mind, removing a gene that is known to be pathological and replacing it with a sequence we know DOESN'T cause disease isn't even a controversial point.

Trombone  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's the slippery slope argument. If you can do this, you can do that.

I don't like this argument at all, but a great many people latch on to it and hang with it. Like the "GMOs are bad" argument, it's just trendy or something. I don't know. But for that reason we're not going to see CRISPR treatments anytime soon, even if they are ethical.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Just as a related aside, you will never find a NICU or PICU doctor or nurse who is pro-life.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Nice try to muddy the waters there. Eugenics and pro-choice are two different issues.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My point is that it's easy to say that these terrible inherited conditions that leave hours old infants screaming in their death throes are an acceptable price for unchecked, uncontemplated reproduction and the right of individuals to reproduce when you don't see it first hand.

I'm not saying that NICU and PICU staff are pro-eugenics. I'm saying that first-hand experience changes peoples opinions on controversial topics.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And I'm saying that allowing a couple to choose whether or not they're going to keep a pregnancy, and allowing a couple to choose whether or not they even get to try and have a pregnancy in the first place are two completely different things.

So once again, you're trying to muddy the waters.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Taking away the right to reproduce would just mean either sterilizing woman or forcing them to have abortions, which is also pretty fucked up and would cause suffering as well on a pretty huge scale. The pro-eugenics side is far from sunshine, rainbows and happy babies. Seeing that as an acceptable price for regulating who can have babies is easy to do when you don't think about it like even a little.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I mean, or you could sterilize men. That's much easier and takes less of a toll on their bodies.

Nobody is in favor of abortion. What I am in favor of is making the best of a bad situation. Do I wish that we had GATTACA levels of technology, and anyone could have their bad genes corrected so that their baby doesn't get Tay-Sachs or Harlequin ichthyosis, and we don't have to have this discussion. But we're not there yet.

I'm not saying it's a sunshine and rainbows solution. I am trying to say it reduces suffering that's inflicted upon hours old infants.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You are in healthcare, surely you are aware that woman can pass on genetic disorders as well.

Sure we can reduce suffering on hour old infants but how do you think sterilizing woman and men would actually reduce suffering in the world ? Pretty sure that would cause plenty of chaos which would in turn cause suffering for hours old infants.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    how do you think sterilizing woman and men would actually reduce suffering in the world ?

I think that if fewer babies were born with debilitating, painful, ultimately lethal illnesses, that would be a good thing.

I think if you know you're likely to produce a sick baby, you should adopt or else take measures to ensure that you don't produce a sick baby. I think you owe it to your future children to provide for their health and safety and quality of life as best you can, and that includes their genetic heritage. We have more tools at our disposal than ever before to make that a reality, and I think they aren't used as much as they could be.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I mean it just sounds like you are pretty pro-eugenics but you are uncomfortable saying it because like people are obviously against eugenics. There is absolutely no way to make sure certain people don't reproduce unless they are rendered physically incapable. You fantasize about a world free of hours old infants suffering but it seems like it pains you to consider the reality that even with all these technologies that could "make that a reality" it will never work.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

In the same way I'm pro-communist in theory, im also pro-eugenics in theory. In practice im against both and for the same reason. They don't work in practice.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Maybe instead of entertaining ideas that fail in practice, maybe you ought to worry about entertaining practices that work in reality.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    you ought to worry about entertaining practices that work in reality.

Why do you think i'm pursuing a career in public health?

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I think if you know you're likely to produce a sick baby, you should adopt or else take measures to ensure that you don't produce a sick baby. I think you owe it to your future children to provide for their health and safety and quality of life as best you can, and that includes their genetic heritage. We have more tools at our disposal than ever before to make that a reality, and I think they aren't used as much as they could be.

    Why do you think i'm pursuing a career in public health?

I think the better question is, why are you entertaining thoughts of eugenics when you clearly know better?

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't describe my beliefs as eugenics, and I think it's unfair that you do, but I don't get to decide what you label me.

There will never be a government agency that tells people they can't have kids. I would never advocate for such a thing and it's frankly impossible in practice even in the most totalitarian of states. What I would like is for people to make honest appraisals of their means and ability to be a responsible parent, which includes the genetic component. I will frankly state that I think less of people who knowingly bring sick kids into the world. Medicine does not exist to try and ameliorate the consequences of peoples poor decision making. Fate throws us enough curveballs, enough suffering without having to deal with conscious stupidity.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's it. The kid gloves are off, because this perverse joke of a debate has gone on long enough.

    I don't describe my beliefs as eugenics, and I think it's unfair that you do, but I don't get to decide what you label me.

Except you literally admitted it . . .

    It is a form of eugenics, because it creates a class of people who are legal adults, capable of making their own decisions, who are legally prohibited from having children.

. . .

    There will never be a government agency that tells people they can't have kids. I would never advocate for such a thing and it's frankly impossible in practice even in the most totalitarian of states.

Dude. Eugenics have been around for centuries. You don't even have to find yourself in a totalitarian state to find yourself a victim of eugenics. You want the ugly truth? The real, nasty, ugly truth? It happened here, in America. On multiple occasions. Even worse? We gave the idea to the fucking Nazis. Read that whole thing. It's dispicable. It's disgusting. It's completely, wholly, and without argument, indefensible.

So you can sit there, at your computer, in your chair at home, and say "Oh. I think Eugenics is okay as a thought exercise and I don't see why it's so controversial." The reality though? The reality is for so many countries, it was more than a thought exercise, it was a real practice, with real victims, with long lasting consequences.

Fate throws us curveballs. Entertaining the idea of eugenics, even slightly, is the embodiment of conscious stupidity.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Except you literally admitted it . . .

Yes, your interpretation of what I believe the world 'should' be like is eugenics. I am not in favor of a government agency telling people they can or can't have kids. I do think that lots of unqualified people are parents, and there should be some standard that we can agree on as a society that define 'acceptable minimums' for being a parent. We don't let people with Downs have kids, even in cases where they want them. Not everybody reproduces. Regardless of what you or I believe, changes are being made to the frequency of alleles that develop into the characteristics that make us human. Because of the miracle of modern medicine, pathological alleles that once would have been selected out by the unforgiving hand of Mother Nature are surviving and reproducing. In cases where it's a pure binary of 'dead or not dead' that's a good thing, but in the cases where it's 'Dead or alive but barely, and not really a person with agency or anything like a decent quality of life' that's not a good thing. The population of 'Alive, but barely, and experiencing a lot of pain' is growing, and will continue to grow.

I'm well aware of the history of eugenics. I'm aware of the historical US influence on other countries with regard to eugenics. I am aware of the long history of abuse and violence inflicted in the name of 'racial purity' and various other causes.

Do you think, if you had the experiences that I have had, you would feel differently than I feel?

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

From start to finish, you've been contradicting yourself this entire conversation, moving the goalposts, and trying to muddy the issue. Either you want to talk about eugenics when it comes to ideologies and a person's capacity to be a good parent, or you don't. Either you want to talk about eugenics and genetics and birth defects, or you don't. Either you want to admit that it's morally wrong and reprehensible, or you don't. Either you want to admit that it's something that past governments have done and is still a risk in today's world or you don't. Apparently, we can talk about this all night because you don't want to commit to any one part of the argument.

So this is my last response.

Deciding who can and can't get married, who can and can't have kids, how they can and can't raise them, what risks they can and can't take, are all up to the individuals. Period, full stop.

Fucking polio, small pox, and the mother fucking flu used to be devastating. We're over that hump. Now we got this hump to go over. Focusing on the genetic, nutritional, environmental problems behind these diseases is fine. Same with poverty. Same with hunger. Same with a shit ton of problems. Once again, deciding who can and can't have kids and what risks they can and can't take, is up the the individuals. Period. Full. Stop.

If you are well aware of the history of eugenics and are even slightly willing to entertain them as a viable idea, EVEN IN THEORY AND NOT IN PRACTICE, you need to accept every last bit of criticism and argument that comes your way, because you are in the wrong. Period. Full. Fucking. Stop.

    Do you think, if you had the experiences that I have had, you would feel differently than I feel?

I guaran-fucking-damn-tee you I do, because unlike you (remember this shitshow of an argument?) no matter what problem I see in the world, never will I ever even consider dances on the fringes of fascist or totalitarian concepts. Furthermore, if I ever do, and it's pointed out to me, I'll scoot my ass away from that fire so quick you'll see a fucking blur and thank the man that kept me from getting singed.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Good talk. I'm totally in favor of sick people having oodles of sick babies now.

But you're outright wrong on one point. If you had lived my experiences, you would be me. That's how being human works. We are the amalgamation of every experience we've had leading up to the present moment.

I hope you never have to experience the things that have led me to believing the things I do.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I am not in favor of a government agency telling people they can or can't have kids.

    there should be some standard that we can agree on as a society that define 'acceptable minimums' for being a parent.

What ? How do we standardize something without some sort of agency ?

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    How do we standardize something without some sort of agency ?

I'm open to suggestions. Off the top of my head, we could crowdsource it. Ask people what they think the 'acceptable minimum' is for different things. Keep refining the questions until some sort of consensus is reached. Then somehow get prospective parents to reflect and honestly assess if they are able to meet those minimums.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

If people want kids, they'll have them regardless of what some randoms on the internet decide is acceptable.

I mean basically you think people should vote for a standard but you're stopping short of saying the standard should be enforced to avoid the whole government thing.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    you're stopping short of saying the standard should be enforced to avoid the whole government thing.

Mostly because it can't be enforced effectively enough to warrant doing it in the first place. And what is government other than some random people?

As you said, people who want kids will have them regardless. I don't think that's a good thing. Children are people too, not just something an adult gets to have because they want one.

oyster  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

So what about normalizing adoption ? Currently it's seen as the last ditch effort to have kids for those people who fail in every other way. If it wasn't viewed so negatively than maybe more people would make that choice when deciding if they want kids.

There are actual ways to convince more people to stop having kids they know will be sick that don't involve any sort of voting or standardized list of who can acceptably have children.

OftenBen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's another good approach, but emotionally difficult to sell. Most people who want kids want their own kids, and that's not a moral failing. Maybe it should be?

oyster  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Dude, it's not about looking down on people or moral failing. The more you look down on people, the easier it is to dehumanize them and the less you will care about their suffering.

That's not difficult to sell, it's just an approach that will take a new generation to fully understand. Considering adopting would have less of an impact on a woman's career since she skips pregnancy it could easily start to seem like a positive.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That doesn't make sense. Your just for eugenics and communism when you can ignore reality, what is even the point of that ?

Edit: that just sounds like a really depressing way to hate the world for not being able to live up to these idealized concepts.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm a depressed and depressing person. In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, theory and practice are different.

I want fewer sick babies born, and that make me a fascist. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Carrying certain mindsets will make you depressed. Fantasizing about a world that will never exist as easily as you want it too will only make you hate the world. That's your choice but just accepting reality and living fully in it is a lot less depressing.

You don't just want fewer sick babies born, you want fewer sick babies born and your afraid to admit you think people should be sterilized so instead you say that people should want to be sterilized like you would happily do. Not only does that just keep you in a depressing cycle of hating the world it also keeps you away from actual solutions.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    your afraid to admit you think people should be sterilized

Except, I don't think this. But I don't get to decide what you think of me, or believe that I believe.

Spend some time in a NICU or PICU unit. Talk to the parents of a kid who died of Tay-Sachs or Harlequin Ichthyosis. You and rd95 and Quatrarius all go do that. Then please come tell me that you feel exactly the same way you do now about conscious genetic choices.

Quatrarius  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

everybody that disagrees with me is dumb

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Okay, so then lay out exactly how you think we can achieve fewer sick babies. How are we going to stop people, with the current technology we have, from having sick babies without forcing anything ?

It is sad babies are born sick, it's sad children get cancer. You know what's also sad ? Baby girls being mutilated because the Chinese government thought they could step in and tell people how to reproduce.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Education is the first part, as rd95 talks about. The more educated a populace, the lower the birthrate in general, which helps. But 'education' means more than basic K-12 stuff, it includes sex education, and not abstinence based sex ed either, but actual science based lessons on how human reproduction works and how to avoid conception. And that's unfortunately controversial.

Soon, genetic testing will be cheap enough that large-scale genetic analysis of the general population will be possible, and more people will know what kind of risks they undertake when they choose to get pregnant.

But I don't know how to change someones mind about having a baby if they are likely to produce a sick one. Typically, people don't decide to have kids, they just sort of happen. I'd like to see more people make the choice I have, and consciously decide to not pass on identified pathological genes. I don't know what arguments would persuade someone who had consciously decided to have kids anyway, knowing they could make them lethally ill.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

So basically you have absolutely no idea how to make it happen.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  
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