What is the most ignorant thing anyone has ever said about your religious beliefs/lack thereof?

Answered Dec 25, 2018

It was someone I had just met. The light getting-to-know-you talking somehow got to the concept of an afterlife (i.e. remaining conscious and going someplace after you die). She must have brought it up, because I wouldn’t have.

I politely said that I didn’t believe any kind of afterlife.

The other person became totally indignant. It wasn’t just a matter of disagreeing.

She actually accused me of being highly dangerous. And likely to go around severely harming people. Possibly including serious violence. The logic was apparently that, the only incentive preventing people (including me) from harming others is fear of going to Hell, and promise of going to Heaven, after they die.

She was so busy accusing me, and telling me to get away from her, that she couldn’t hear anything more that I said. She wasn’t going to listen to anything about personal standards of morality, or about real-world punishments and rewards.

Another situation involved me and two very superficial acquaintances. They were talking about how some other person, Joe (whom I didn’t know) had recently died. But it was OK, because Joe was in heaven now. One of them turned to me, and said, “You believe Joe is in heaven, don’t you?” With a tense tone, clearly trying to intimidate me into agreeing.

I calmly said, “no”. But also said it quietly, because I just wanted the subject to go away, since she was being so totally inappropriate.

The ignorance issue there was her thinking that I didn’t have the right or ability to form my own views on the subject, or to disagree with her.

Another ignorance point in both of the above cases was about basic social manners. And how inappropriate it is to bring up the subject of religion in light social conversation with people you barely know.

Have you met a homeless person who deserves it?

Answered Dec 18

Yes. It was someone who had been coddled by middle-class (or possibly upper-middle-class?) Mommy and Daddy, into thinking that the whole world owed her even more coddling.

Zero excuse of socioeconomic status, abuse, or any other disadvantage.

Totally out of control, and totally abusive to anyone who felt sorry for her.

Is there ever a circumstance where it is right to “out” someone as gay/transgender?

Updated Dec 18

When they have committed a relevant act which I view as legitimately criminal. Especially if there is legitimate public interest and/or hypocrisy.

The case that springs to mind is that of former US Senator Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, who was arrested in 2007 for soliciting sex with an undercover policeman in a public men’s toilet.

First, people have the right to use a public toilet without being sexually propositioned.

Second, Mr. Craig was an elected government official with a history of openly anti-gay attitudes regarding legislation.

A more borderline case is homophobic Christian evangelical pastor Ted Haggard. While I have very little sympathy for him, my hesitation is due to the fact that I don’t believe that drug use and paying prostitutes should be criminalised. Although there was an allegation that some of his actions may have been non-consensual, in which case I would say go ahead and publicly prosecute. Also, while he made himself a public figure with some influence on his audience, he wasn’t an elected government official.

Mr. Haggard’s actions were repulsive in terms of both public hypocrisy and in cheating on his wife. But, again, it seems borderline.

Similarly, it would be acceptable to out someone who had perpetrated sexual harassment, such as in a workplace or educational context.

Another context would relate to the cheating issue. If I knew a heterosexually married woman, and also knew that her husband was going around having sex with random guys in public toilets, I would tell her. It’s not only cheating – it’s dangerous in terms of diseases. Although it isn’t a gay-specific issue, since I would view it the same if the cheating/promiscuity was heterosexual.

Lastly, it would be reasonable to disclose in a medical situation, if the patient were unconscious:

“Doctor/nurse/EMT, I’m Jane, and I’m Diane’s wife, so I can receive medical information, and can contribute to medical decisions.”

“Doctor/nurse/EMT, I’m Sarah, and I’m Sally’s best friend, so I know she takes estrogen, and I also want you to be civilised when you remove her clothes to examine her.”

If it’s your coworker, neighbour, acquaintance, or even someone you think is your friend, and you are just gossiping to get attention and seem like you have something interesting to say, Absolutely Not.

If you fancy yourself as a “social justice warrior”, or an “ally”, or want to do liberal virtue-signalling, Absolutely Not.

If you are LGBTQWhatever, and think everyone should be as out as you, Absolutely Not.

Personal information is a type of personal property. And it is the individual’s personal choice to either share or withhold access. This applies to many other areas besides the ones in the present question.

Have you ever almost died?

Answered Jun 19

Yes. An especially memorable time was a motor vehicle accident in the early 1990s.

It was a combination of bad steering on the vehicle plus me driving within the legal limit, but actually too fast for the rain. Wobbled or spun across two lanes of traffic to my right, off the side of the motorway, down an embankment, and straight into a large tree. I was going about 80 kph (or 50 mph).

As I climbed out, I noticed a mattress and some beer bottles, indicating a homeless encampment right on the other side of that tree. Fortunately, there weren’t any bums present, but I suppose they also “almost died”, and were spared by being someplace else that day. If they had been there, they might have been saved by that tree, and would have their own “almost died” story.

My back hurt for a few weeks afterward, but no money and no insurance helps you to ignore things like that.

A couple of weeks after the crash, I got a bill in the mail from a towing company, which charged extra for the “difficult removal”, and implied that I might like to have the destroyed vehicle back.

That certainly wasn’t the only “almost died” moment.

I think that, “almost died” happens every day.

You might not even notice how you “almost” got squished by a bus, when crossing the street.

You might not even notice how you “almost” tripped and fell on that rough sidewalk, which could have caused a fatal head injury.

You might not even notice how you “almost” contracted a fatal poisoning from that food item that you decided not to eat, or that restaurant that you chose not to patronise.

You might not even notice how you “almost” died from a flatmate leaving a hot stove unattended.

You might not even notice how you “almost” had some medical problem, like the plaque on the inside of your arteries, waiting to give you a heart attack.

You might not even notice how you “almost” crossed paths with a violent person.

You might not even notice how you “almost” die every single day.

Why is it so taboo to support eugenics?

Updated May 4

The taboo is overtly around the issue of coercion.

If you use the word “eugenics”, some people (as seen in this discussion) have a knee-jerk reaction, and automatically think “Nazis”. They think about targeting whole ethnic groups, or killing people, or forcible sterilisation.

However, I think some of the discomfort is really about the issue of people being encouraged to make their own rational choices, and exercise thought-out, responsible control over our lives and our bodies. That doesn’t sit too well with the majority, who view having children as something that just automatically and randomly “happens” to everyone.

The truth is, humans and other animals engage in large-scale selective breeding for fitness (including intelligence) all the time. It’s perfectly normal.

Some people get nervous when there is new technology involved, and explicitly stated selection:

Genetic Counselor: “Well, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we have tested your (alleles, single nucleotide polymorphisms, scary scientific sounding stuff, etc), and I have some bad news. If you were to have a child, there would be a 50% chance of a devastating genetic disease, with nothing but misery and pain for said child, and for you.”

Couple (in unison): ”Bummer. We better not have any kids.”

Or it can go the other way:

Crackly Voice From Speaker: “Hi! Welcome to Jolly Jism Drive-Through Sperm Bank! May I take your order?”

Customer: “Yes, I’d like the Rocket Scientist with Olympic Champion… Healthy, tall, blond… Clean family history for cancer or mental illness.”

Crackly Voice From Speaker: “Excellent choice! Would you like a side order of artistic talent?”

Customer: “I’ll take the classical piano playing.”

Crackly Voice From Speaker: “Great, I’m whipping up your fresh hot sample right now! Please drive forward to the pickup window.”

And people do it in a more casual way constantly:

“Ewww, that person is stupid (or has any characteristic that repulses me), and I can barely stand to interact with them, so I certainly would never consent to having any kids with them.”

Some individuals are already pushed entirely out of the breeding pool, simply because they have characteristics which lead to being persistently rejected for sexual opportunities. They don’t have any “right” to produce children when they can’t find any willing mates.

Government force is already used to some extent, via the criminal justice system. One effect of imprisoning criminals is that it removes them from the breeding pool, either temporarily or permanently.

In the book, “Freakonomics”, the authors talked about the impact of abortion (specifically legalisation in the US) on subsequent crime rates. Maybe the reason why you weren’t mugged and killed in 1995, is because your assailant was aborted back in 1975.

I would also expect that the benefits expand, because he also won’t be using law enforcement or prison resources, or fathering another generation of low-functioning street criminals. And his sister, who was aborted a few years later, also won’t be contributing to the current generation of criminals, or to multi-generational poverty and welfare dependence, recycled by low-functioning people.

Some individuals may have an honest self-assessment that, “Me having children wouldn’t benefit anyone. It would be stupid and irresponsible, and a general, long-term disaster. So therefore, I won’t have any children.” This could range from medical history, to lacking financial resources, to simply having other priorities in life.

People who are considered conventionally “attractive” are really displaying good reproductive fitness. This can range from wide hips to get a large baby’s head through, all the way to financial status symbols. People with those characteristics will receive more attention and opportunities for mating, including with other people of high reproductive fitness.

People who get upset about all of this may just be worshipping fertility. Without caring about the suffering caused by low-functioning people producing children whom they are not equipped (mentally, behaviourally, financially) to raise in a decent manner. This includes some of those low-functioning parents actively inflicting the biological disaster by using alcohol and other drugs while pregnant.

A large portion of the people who are pumping out kids do so with exactly zero rational decision-making, self-control, or actions→consequences thinking.

And that is why the film, “Idiocracy” is gradually coming true. Mass collective bad behaviour leads to mass collective bad results, including on those of us who are not engaged in that bad behaviour. The alternative to eugenics is a default to dysgenics.

How would you solve the trolley problem?

Answered Jan 24

There are a few issues that obscure the Trolley Problem.

First, there is approximately zero possibility that I will ever be in such a situation in real life. Speculating on a philosophical level is completely different to being physically in the moment.

Second, there may be implications of social acceptable answers, and coming up with the morally “right” solution in the eyes of your audience.

Third, there could be very different answers, based on specifics of the situation:

The trolley is headed towards five people: Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-tung, and Slobidan Milosovic. They are inviting their friend Augusto Pinochet to join them.

To save them, you would need to divert the trolley to a side track, where Albert Einstein is standing.

or:

The trolley is headed towards five randomly selected people whom you don’t know.

To save them, you would need to divert the trolley to a side track, where Brock Turner is standing, with the same deer-in-the-headlights expression as in his mugshot.

In that second case, are you mainly looking for an excuse to kill Turner, or is that just a bonus?

Things could get even more mixed:

The group includes four nice, peaceful individuals, but the fifth is a deranged gunman on his way to shoot up a shopping mall. You don’t know who the single person is.

Or biased:

You recognise the group as being the five bullies who tormented and assaulted you throughout school. The single person is a close friend of yours.

The bias may involve risk, where there is some level of possibility that, either the group or the single person are good or evil.

A seemingly logical approach would be simply based on quantity (kill the one to save the five). However, quality is a factor that complicates things dramatically.

The possibilities are endless. What if the group is a team of terrorists planning an attack, while the single person is Bruce Willis on a mission to stop them?

The question of how I would handle it is now moot, because, in the time it took to think about it and write this post, the trolley has already defaulted to running over the group, regardless of who they are.