Thursday assorted links

1. On EU internet filters.

2. Americans now find suicide more socially acceptable.

3. What predicts inter-caste marriage?: the education of the groom’s mother.  And note this: “Even in 2011, the rate of inter caste marriages in India was as low as 5.82%.”

4. Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg are launching a new audio company.

5. TED talk by philosopher William MacAskill on how best to help the world.

6. Teens are protesting in-class presentations.  ““Nobody should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable,” says Ula, a 14-year-old in eighth grade, who, like all students quoted, asked to be referred to only by her first name.”


#6: "Nobody should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable"

It sure makes me uncomfortable to pay taxes beyond for the common good (infrastructure and basic DEFENSIVE military).

I was going to say something about the seats in the DMV.

On questions like these we should probably stand outside ourselves, and think about who is suffering.

Genuinely suffering.

And then think about how much discomfort we can actually bear ourselves, to end genuine suffering.

For instance, some might take the outlandish position there an extra percent of marginal tax rate is merely discomfort, whereas dying homeless in the street is genuine suffering.

Indeed it's a sad thought. But what if some of those suffering in the street might deserve it, ie, rapists, murderers, burglars, child pimps, tax-evaders, hahaha and the like. We don't know all the characteristics of street-sufferers and whether their suffering is "genuine" or "superficial": we don't really interview street-suffering people and why their suffering exists. Fruthermore, I would have no problem if those people wanted to kill themselves, as they have already ruined many other lives. I am relentlessly unforgiving. Suffering is subjective as shown by your marginal tax rate example. The flip-side of that argument is that no one should be suffering on the street; we all came into this world as stupid, naïve babies and should be given equal opportunities. (And tax evaders was a joke, god-forbid, knowing how ya'll love arguing about taxes and I'll probably get my head chewed off).

First of all, let's stipulate that "some of those suffering in the street might deserve it" is already a corner case.

Moreover, let's jump to genetic influences and birth lotteries.

As I understand it, a lot of those people on the street are schizophrenics, and this has a genetic component.

I think we are a long ways from personal responsibility if we are saying someone who is born with a disadvantage "deserves it."

(In other words, Blank Slateism, really?)

Oh Yay, we're going Lockean. I never said that someone who is born with a disadvantage deserves it: I meant to say that we're equal in our lack of control. I don't know what current epidemiology is of psychotic disorders but I don't think the majority of street people have schizophrenia. It's actually a treatable disease with a lot of respect. It's mostly drug-addicts, I think with some psychopathological potpourri. Really one of the big problems, is that even if you try to help the street-sufferers, they don't want it, so who cares if they suffer. Yes, and some of this is psychosis, like not knowing what you need to help yourself.

Its all about WordPress! There are a few I need to download. Thanks!!!Most impoprtant point is choosing words

do you think the people suffering nearby has a claim on your time? Should their suffering be the major determinant on when you can retire?

How about people farther away, say in the neighbor country? Who should decide when suffering is sufficiently alleviated?

I'm happy that you implicitly acknowledge that there is genuine suffering in the world, and indeed there is genuine suffering in as affluent a society as United States.

I think we should address it, especially as a higher priority than another round of tax cuts.

In terms of when we are done?

I hope we can agree that we aren't close.

Sorry Anon, but suffering will never end because it's what binds us together as humans. And genuine suffering is the best at that.

Many very rich people suffer terribly. Many very terrible people suffer incredibly.

A round of tax cuts may improve growth and thereby improve many peoples' lives and relieve suffering. Giving people free money like BI or disability may cause terrible suffering.

Sorry, what's BI? I would enjoy free money. I think my suffering quotient would be decreased. I bet the folks in Suffern, NY would have some feedback.

Basic income. You don't think disability has harmed anyone? Yet that is "free money". I don't know anything about you, or care.

If you knew me, you’d care.

About what? Please stop wasting the reader's time

That was a pretty large jump from people suffering because they feel too self-conscious to deliver a presentation in front of their high school class.

Before we start worrying about the suffering of people who are homeless because they are disabled, how about we address the suffering of people who are imprisoned for victimless crimes, the people who have their property siezed via asset forfeiture laws, or via eminent domain abuses. Because those things are totally human created suffering. Let's get rid of the suffering humans inflict on eachother before we start worrying about suffering that is inflicted by forces beyond our control.

If you reconsider it, I think you'll see that was more ideological than utilitarian.

If you subscribe to Millian philosophy, suffering has some utilitarian value

Some might take the outlandish position that my property belongs to me, you do not have the legal or moral authority to reassign it, and it is simply irrelevant how much my property would benefit others.

I'll bet if we shake you upside down by your ankles we could find ways to alleviate other people's suffering through your generosity.

I think The Atlantic had an article recently on the theme that "Americans don't do democracy anymore."

They no longer are taught or understand the basic bargain. That is, as a first principle we agree and support our majority opinions, and subordinate our minority views. We take the long view that it adds up to a win-win.

Instead, as you seem to do here, Americans accept majority opinions when they go their way, but jump up and shout "oh no!" whenever they lose.

That is a very fundamental breakdown.

A society cannot actually function in this way.

The 'taxes are theft' crowd isn't that large, they just make a lot of noise in anonymous comment sections.

Perhaps they are the most extreme, but it's also true that the ruling party has rejected the majoritarian framework. They don't even try to govern for a majority.

And of course some in the out party only hope to flip that, to their minority. BTW, here it is and I disagree with the openning statement:

Democracy is a most unnatural act. People have no innate democratic instinct; we are not born yearning to set aside our own desires in favor of the majority’s. Democracy is, instead, an acquired habit.

We are a social species, and if our tendencies are not exactly (formally) democratic, they are close. We are born politicians and consensus builders. From the time we first try to convince our parents and siblings to stop for our favorite fast food.

Democracy does not mean that you agree to support the majority opinion, and it never did. It just means you don't violently overthrow the government if people with opinions you disagree with gets elected (and even that has it's limits). And last time I checked libertarians weren't advocating the violent overthrow of the government. Your positions amounts to "you lost an election, so now you should stop trying to change people's minds and go along with whatever the majority says and shut up."

Sorry, but this taken literally:

"my property belongs to me, you do not have the legal or moral authority to reassign it:

is at a minimum a call for civil disobedience and at worst open rebellion.

You don't get to say "you do not have the legal or moral authority" to enforce the laws of the land.

I find cuckoldry uncomfortable but I'm ok with my wife being forced to do it. It arouses me greatly.

That's a true affluent society: a society that shields it's teenagers and young adults from absolutely anything that they might find uncomfortable. To be able to afford to do something so extravagant is an incredible testament to the improvement in living standards of the past couple of centuries.

As a parent I want my child to have a happy and fulfilled life. If public speaking makes them unhappy in the short term, I think the burden of proof is on those who think they will be better off in the long term to show how. But of course it will be different for different kids, so even if statistically it made all kids better off, it will still be bad for some kids on an individual basis. This is why I support school vouchers, parents and kids could then choose schools based on how they teach and what they teach relevant to them instead of the one size fits all model.

As an anecdote, my school didn't require us to do this very often, and when I did do it I didn't enjoy it and was terrible at it. So I avoided public speaking opportunities in my early career. As my professional confidence grew I found I was able to speak to large groups and even enjoy it, which helped my career. It turned out to be all about my command of the material - if I was interested and liked the subject no problem. So my experience in school public speaking was actually a negative for me. I would have been willing to take on more opportunities younger if I hadn't had this negative experience at school.

This is pretty much exactly my own experience. In 7th grade, we were forced to give a speech on something or other, which I hated and was no good at. Later in life, when I needed to give presentations about things that I was knowledgable about and was interested in presenting, I did not have any great difficulty doing so. The 7th grade experience was entirely negative, in both the short and long run.

1. The problem with papers such as this is the implicit assumption that "inter caste" marriages are an unqualified good, and that the objective should be to increase them. As opposed to a more sober, more neutral tone.

Sure the groom's mother's education may be a "predictor" largely because better educated couples tend to stay in urban areas, and the cultural deracination is correlated with English education.

What needs to be emphasized is that caste is not a diabolical artefact imposed on people. Caste is merely a manifestation of cultural diversity.

As cultural diversity erodes, caste too will erode. But is the erosion of cultural diversity a good thing? I don't know.

If you have a society where everyone shares exactly the same beliefs, everyone has the same modes of worship, everyone eats the Mac Burger, and everyone goes on a shopping binge the day after Thanksgiving, and everyone listens to the same pop numbers at a given point in time, that is a casteless society for you.

As there is no cultural diversity. While that may be alright for US, I dont see why that should be the paradigm for every society on earth.

In the absence of "westernization" there will be no correlation between the education of groom's mother and inter-caste marriages, if the groom's mother was educated in an indigenous system. The key predictor is not the mother's education but westernization and the concomitant deracination

That's on 3. Not 1

Education switches a person from following a provincial, parochial fashion to a global fashion.
That is what impels the groom's mother in this case.

You're absolutely correct that inter caste marriage is not an unqualified good. But the involuntary absence of such marriages pretty clearly diminishes social welfare. The benefits of lifting such laws or cultural norms will obviously diminish, perhaps rapidly.

Very good points, keep commenting!

One of the things that would strike anyone studying inter-caste marriages in India is that most inter-caste marriages in fact often tend to be "across regions" involving people who speak different languages.

Eg : A Bengali Brahmin marrying a Tamil Brahmin. This is an inter-caste marriage.

Now why does this happen? Because the two families in question are deracinated and don't find a common mother tongue necessary for a joint life. They can make do with the link languages of English and Hindi. And they don't mind if their kids learn neither Bengali or Tamil.

Is this a sign of progress? I am neutral. This is merely a sign of deracination, and a lack of an emotional stake in one's identity.

Not many inter-caste marriages happen within a region. Eg : A Tamil Brahmin marrying a Tamil Vanniyar. Because the more rooted people are less likely to marry out.

Also every social change has a cost.

It would be worthwhile to track the divorce rates among inter-caste couples and same-caste couples. I am sure it would be a LOT lower among same-caste marriages.

So marrying across castes isn't merely a grand statement of "social reform". It has costs. I have known inter-caste "love" marriages to break down over simple trivial reasons - Eg : The husband likes chicken, while the wife is vegetarian....the wife likes to celebrate festival X, while the husband prefers festival Y. The wife relishes one set of rituals, the husband despises them.

You may wonder - oh these things are silly. But they cause even "love" marriages to break down. These incompatibilities are recognized only after marriage, not during dating

Since caste is historically such an important part of Indian civilization and since intercaste marriage has been extremely rare for a couple of thousand years, the author must be convinced that India is and has always been historically evil. I wonder if he would own that opinion.

"What needs to be emphasized is that caste is not a diabolical artefact imposed on people. Caste is merely a manifestation of cultural diversity."

Castes were invented by Satan to convince people they should loot, enslavevand oppress their own brothers and sisters.

Worshipping Satan is wrong.

Yeah, I was going to respond to his risible comment that "caste is merely a [insert meaningless jargon here]. No down sides, right? I mean if I were born in a 'low' caste, then my opportunities would be approximately the same as someone born in an upper caste, right? I wouldn't be discriminated against, and I could expect equal treatment under the law - as well as equal protection. What BS!!!

Has there ever existed a tyranny that was not sold as good for the exploited ones and as enthusiatically accepted by them? Let us remember how the Soviets waxed poetic about how the other Republics loved Russian rule.

"Unbreakable Union of freeborn Republics,
Great Russia has welded forever to stand.
Created in struggle by will of the people,
United and mighty, our Soviet land!"

History proved it was a lie!!

I think you are missing the point of the paper, which emphasizes the importance of arranged marriages in India. That leads you to miss significant causal links between the studied phenomena.

To cut to the chase: more education for parents means that they will allow their children more choice in a variety of decision-making, including choosing a spouse. More choice in selecting a spouse means that people will choose who they find physically attractive, easy to have conversations with, and those with whom they have interests in common (not necessarily in that order.) There is no guarantee that the selections will have a similar caste background unless that's a first-order requirement.

If you think "more choice" equals "westernization", then you are entitled to that opinion. Restricting choice in the name of cultural diversity doesn't appeal to someone like me though.

Regarding divorce, I wouldn't be surprised if the statistics backed you up. But the concept of choosing is integrally tied to the probability of making mistakes. More experience in choosing and more freedom to choose will enable people to make better choices. In India, people who are given the license to make such choices are a lot more immature than people in the West. Also, for people who went into arranged marriages with a sense of duty and familial obligation have little need or incentive to back out.

I am not calling for "restriction of choice".

I am calling out the reality on the ground.

Regarding choice restriction : Indians don't see it that way. Dating culture doesn't exist in India. It's not as though young twenty somethings are itching to date, and are being stifled by this "evil arranged marriage" set up.

In fact most twenty somethings blush and get very excited when their parents start looking for a groom or bride for them. They look forward to the excitement of the arranged marriage process with trepidation.

Bollywood movies like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun illustrate the young urban Indian's attitude towards arranged marriage pretty well.

The western view that Indian youngsters are being stifled by tradition is way off. Indian youngsters love the way this whole arranged marriage set-up pampers them. They don't have to work hard for a date!

> I am not calling for "restriction of choice".
> I am calling out the reality on the ground.

What the heck does this mean? It's pretty straightforward that a system where youngsters marry those whom they are told to marry restricts choice more than the system where they marry those whome, well, choose.

Now you might argue that young Indians like it that way. But that's an entirely different point.

I thought my prose was clear. I meant - I am not saying choice should be restricted. If people want to seek out their own partners that's great.

But the reality is most Indians don't. And that's not because of parents. But because kids expect parents to find someone for them.

And no...arranged marriage doesn't always mean you marry someone you are told to marry. The consent of the girl and the boy is always sought by parents (almost without exception in urban india)

Shrikanth - I typically agree with your points on this forum, but frankly, I think you're way off here. I don't know how long it's been since you've been of dating age (although I remember you talking about being on the marriage market recently), and how long it's been since you've been in India, but I sense a deep disconnect with "the reality of India".
I live in Theni (80km south of Madurai), which can barely call itself a town, let alone a city.
(a) Divorce rates are extremely high, although typically, its more separation. Girls just return to their parents' home. Often the papers are filed, often not. The rates are much higher than what I came across when I lived and worked in Mumbai. Of all the cases I'm personally aware of, none of them were "love" marriages. And the reasons are simple - girl's don't see the need to compromise in marriages anymore (more on this later).
(b) Youngsters are very, very keen to date. And date they do. Frequently without any expectation that it'll lead to marriage, although often, that expectation comes about only after the first heartbreak.
(c) Yes, some youngsters like the idea of an arranged marriage, but this group is heavily male-biased. Don't forget that regional, Hindi and English movies _all_ peddle romance, and the notion that its the way to go is now hegemonic. Even the arranged-marriage couples claim to be in "love-arranged" marriages now. The preference for "love-marriages" is thus almost universal, and not just amongst "urban elites".
(d) The arranged marriage market is beginning to fail, simply because girls no longer see the need to compromise - except by choice. They know the numbers are in their favor. Every boy wants an educated "modern" bride, and such girls are outnumbered 10:1 by guys seeking them. It's a girl's market, and frankly, it's about time. Thus, if a girl is going to be choosing a partner on, they want the guy to be a 6-foot millionaire who knows to cook and has a PhD in Molecular Biology. Having gone through the process of an arranged marriage for my sister, I assure you, this system cannot stand. We went through at least 800 _excellent_ profiles - all stellar fellows, by the way - who even 2 decades ago could have married any girl they wanted.

To sum, India is no longer what you saw in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (which itself is a 28 year old movie).

@shrikanthk: enough of talking about what is good for others. are you happy with the wife your family got you? (y/n)

2: Given that people are likely to be permissive about things they want to do, simple Bayesian reasoning leads me to suspect that suicidal thoughts are growing in 'individuals who are male, white, more educated, less religious, and more politically liberal.'

White males in West Virginia, the state with the most drug deaths per capita, are less educated, more religious, and politically conservative. Time to update your Bayesian priors.

The paper's claim was that permissive attitudes toward suicide was growing among male/white/educated/irreligous/liberal. My inductive argument was that thoughts of suicide were growing in that group. Growing is different from 'maximized among.'

#6 What would the world do without The Atlantic

Should TED philosopher MacAskill commit suicide the fashionable American way in two years or so, tenth-graders will be able to object strenuously to attending his biology class dissection and/or his plastination display (depending on how philanthropic he felt just prior to consenting to fashionable suicides).

The retreat of our effete elites remains incomplete.

The worst part is that The Atlantic is actually one of the better magazines catering to its particular audience.

Seconded, The Atlantic has the unique distinction of having the worst content that I still find enriching.

Truely insidious

Still deciding whether to go with voice or exit honestly. Parenting in the U.S. is so f-ed up. Parents way over-protect their kids, don't let them have unsupervised play, the kids have no control over their own lives and no experience with risk and lose their f-ing minds, rates of depression and anxiety skyrocket, now the kids need to be protected x1000 because they are overwhelmed by every little thing.

This is how I end up with parents of my 20-something professional tenants calling me to complain. I want to scream at them that their kids are in their twenties, hang up the f-ing phone and go live your life.

#1 The idiocy dial on this goes to 11. One of the best features of the internet is the availability and speed it creates in the iterative process, something they now want to tax. You can take the old world out of feudalism but apparently not feudalism out of the old world. I'm still incredibly glad I was born on this side of the Atlantic.

#2 I have yet to meet any member of any family who has experienced a suicide (a real suicide, as in sudden, not like the "right to die" ones you see on TV) that thought in hindsight it was socially acceptable.

#3 Politics is downstream from culture. And changing culture is slow, but for India, slow means glacial...

#5 For a the crowd that likes TED talks, the answer is obviously more TED talks.

#6 “Nobody should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable." Jesus on the keeps getting worse. Good luck in life Ula. Good luck with work, jobs, personal relationships, relationships with animals, god, growing old, waking up in the morning, and going to bed at night. Yeesh.

I think it's remarkable the degree to which culture is downstream from politics. An increasingly national media and outsized attention to the presidency means people are taking their alone-with-their-phone political notions to the beer garden.

I don't know about that. Culture changes slowly, and then suddenly all at once. The culture change is the preparation for the "all at once" that is the political fallout in my opinion. I hate that it comes up every frickin' time but the Trump phenomenon is something that's been brewing for a long while. It began with our political adoption of the USA politician's cult of personality (aka Kennedy), reinforced by the creation and love of TV, nursed when they created the reality TV show, and accelerated during the polarization of the Obama presidency. Trump is not a cause of anything. He is a symptom and a symbol of something that took a long time brewing before being poured.

All good points, here's another: the Baby Boomers' selection of Bill Clinton in 1992 for President. Clinton campaigned as young, loose, and hip (remember him playing sax on TV? And eating McDonald's while wearing a sweatshirt?), as opposed to the stodgy, wimpy Greatest-Generation-era Bush I who had the previous year decided to make the popularity of Bart Simpson the symptom of a national youth crisis. And while Reagan was not the stuffed suit H.W. Bush was, he was certainly old-fashioned and conservative, with a haircut and manner of speech that echoed 1961. Clinton was the first candidate to make the presidency "cool" as opposed to stuffy, which led to Bush II emphasizing his "country-ness" (same thing with Palin in 2008), and then Obama more or less replaying the Clinton "young and cool" act minus the sexual slickness and with a little dose of Jon Stewart snarkiness. And now we have Trump channeling conservative talk radio.

> Good luck with work, jobs, ...

Tech web forums already have ritual threads where people are taken seriously for complaining that interviews discriminate against people who are nervous at interviews. A proposition which is tautologically true.

Tautologically maybe, but who cares. What would these people suggest otherwise for being evaluated? Do they intend to live in a bubble and never interact with anyone or anything in the course of their employment (even self-employment)? Why do they deserve special dispensation regarding this one, miniscule aspect of their larger career journey? Where do those who have to interact with them STOP providing special dispensation?

Work, all work, involves some anxiety and discomfort at times. These people should instead suggest a lateral or higher-efficacy system that suits their and their employers needs better. It is their responsibility.

"#2 I have yet to meet any member of any family who has experienced a suicide (a real suicide, as in sudden, not like the "right to die" ones you see on TV) that thought in hindsight it was socially acceptable."

That's no wonder, after all you're supposed to show how much you grief so you don't look like a sociopath. Also people are selfish; "I wanted to use him/her more" is the implied message here. And while we're at it, let's redefine all interpersonal relationships as nonconsensual. That will give them added meaning. Just like with sex. Ask James Gunn, he has good jokes about it on Twitter. It's good for the career.

Selfish and ungrateful, that is. Even I respect the preferences of people who spent years being there for me.

6. How uncomfortable and how disaffected might today's young teenagers become in, say, ten years (should they live so long) once they discover that whatever "morality" they've taken completely for granted was totally illusory the whole time they've been alive?

MacAskill for his part is yet another blind philosopher willing to play shepherd to blind flocks and herds: morality no longer exists, certainly none of the traditional "should, must, and ought" varieties: the ONLY categorical imperative available today courtesy of Applied Technology is "can".

The answer is "quite." Ula and her cohort will look in the mirror crying, "Should I commit suicide? Can I commit suicide?"

Of course you can Ula. It is, after all, more socially acceptable now.

--but only as long as "suicide is painless" (the old M*A*S*H theme song counsel): the advent of assisted pain-free suicides (courtesy of scientifically valid research into pain management) can lead us all to a brave new world where suicide is no longer socially acceptable but socially fashionable ("snuff parties", let's call them already) just prior to suicide's attaining status as a newly discovered social imperative.

I think that you could almost make a bit of the "socially fashionable" argument right now. Not as entirely applied to the current opioid crisis, but "heroin chic" was a thing.

Watch the documentary "The Dark End of the Street" from the 90s ( There's this edgy, death cult thing going within some of these communities even to this day.

The line between putting a gun to your head, jumping off a bridge, and sticking a needle in your arm is getting thin to non-existent. Like I said...death cults.

Anxiety is apparently now something you "have," like arthritis or diabetes. I had a mom tell me about her daughter: "Her aunt has anxiety, I have anxiety, and she has anxiety." It was not something to grow out of or to overcome, it was something passed down through the generations that I was required to accommodate.

Surely, by some contemporary reckoning, "hereditary anxiety" qualifies as the only sure sign we need to be able to proclaim with sufficient credibility the long-heralded Apotheosis of Progress, as if TED talks and tech "philanthropy" (or "cognitive elite care-and-concern") haven't given us all the heads-up we need.

6. This may seem absurd, and a part of the movement for so-called safe spaces, but it's not. Some people have the talent for public speaking, some don't. Some of those who don't suffer so much anxiety from public speaking that it can destroy confidence, even confidence in the brightest students. Donald Trump has a talent for public speaking. But if you read a transcript of his speeches, it's mostly gibberish. And he isn't alone. I have commented before that I prefer to read a transcript of Cowen's conversations because watching them has too many distractions for me to absorb the full import of what is being said. Some people are blessed with the ability to really focus while others are blessed with the ability to multi-task. I am in the latter category. For people like me, public speaking is often difficult because of the distractions. Small groups are fine, but the larger the group, the more the distractions. For those on the other end of the spectrum, the multi-taskers, they suffer too, but it's the opposite: they can't seem to focus. We have come to admire the multi-taskers, while ridiculing those who can't. I think we have it backwards. Focus, it's what produces results.

Sorry, I am in the focus category.

I've also been in the distracted category this week.

I posit it as downright verifiable that the distraction has persisted longer than one week.

May a category five come down on you, you idiot.

Thiago's family has been nobly trying to rip the fuck out of your "appear" and all you offer is gibberish? Take a phrase like "cast-iron darkness." When someone reads it, they see light. Their irony improves. Same too with "Reception." If one speaks it out loud, it looses its neutrality. Of course, there are certain speeches if a man says it, it would not be feminist. In America, he is in "she." Neutrality is a myth, shattered into a million pieces by cubism and the obscure baseball references that destroy the myth that billabong is a positive influence on the young black man in America.

Public speaking somehow morphs into "focus" v. "multi-tasking." Talk about gibberish.

But surely the solution here has to do with teaching students how to best overcome these difficulties through preparation and paractice, not simply giving up, no?

There were a serious of complaints in that article, some good some bad.

Teachers grading on performance ability is a long-standing problem with caring about grades. Some people come into the classroom with more knowledge of the subject than others, is it fair for them to get good grades? Is it fair that the stronger and faster kids get better grades in gym class? It shouldn't matter except that external parties care about grades.

As an adult, you get to avoid the things you don't want to do. If you don't want to mow the lawn, you never have to do it. You choose how to deal with that, however, and it happens. But as a child, the temptation is to avoid lots of things that are hard or embarrassing. Some things I was forced to do as a student I never did again. Others I learned how to do and good thing, they were really necessary for proper social functioning. Children do not have good models of what they need and they can need to be required to do some thing they don't wanna.

You seem to be viewing grades as strictly a reward-punishment system.

It is that, but it's also feedback: how are you to know if you're any good at something unless you can get honest feedback?


I think that's why they don't want to do it. They hate negative feedback and confirmations. It is in their mind better to not do it at all than to be told they are not good at it or even that they need improvement.

Super-ultra-mega-fragile egos.

Most people go through life avoiding writing, but not speaking. If most people's writing ability were tagged to their shirt, they would be humiliated.

@6 I just saw an article where a school is starting corporal punishment again, if the parents approve. Why not. Can't make them any dumber.

"Why not."

My serious answer would normally be, because normalizing torture-blackmail harms us all. Higher human rights standards benefit us all. The torture prohibition isn't zero-sum: All humans can be not tortured at the same time.

Of course, the condition for this function is that we have an actual human rights consensus. Since we really don't, as your comment exemplifies nicely, my motivation to respect the rights of others is slim as well. For me as a rational egoist + reciprocator, it makes little sense to be bound by a moral concept that doesn't benefit me, while my enemies violate it at will and the general public gleefully pisses on it. It's a low-quality equilibrium, but as a rational egoist + reciprocator, it's not my job to improve the world's general equilibria (Will Askill and his "effective altruist" colleagues should really take this kind of thing seriously, but they rarely do.)

The end result is that I'm forced to sigh with genuine regret at the lost potential for better equilibria, while reciprocating the badness against my enemies.

I see not only torture this way, but also suicide rights, sexual liberty, and a whole range of personal and economic liberties. I will admit it's not as bad as it could be, but it is pretty bad overall. And I find it quite ironic that there's barely any indication of genuine altruistic motivation to improve this, here in the comments or among self-proclaimed altruists and moralists.

If a male teacher spanks a female student, will he get metoo'd? Please think through these things.

a.) a spanking (on the butt, no damage) is not torture. Conflating the two causes more issues than helps. b) Send the child to the office. Two people present, male and female.

The point of punitive spanking is deliberate pain infliction against the will of the person. That is torture. Since it is done to coerce behavior change, it's torture-blackmail. Physical damage is irrelevant. Since most school is nonconsensual for the child also, there is no right to exit either.

"Since most school is nonconsensual....." Let's add kidnapping onto the charges as well.

Let's. Kidnapping with known whereabouts. Sounds pretty much correct.

"deliberate pain infliction against the will of the person"

Torture (definition): the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.

#2. Thank god we've stopped shaming people for killing themselves.

#2. Not counting social suicide.

#5 How about wipe out the mosquito? It seems like it couldn't be done but see here:

Interesting suggestion. You know what would be incredibly interesting to watch?

Go to a TED talk, which are usually frequented by pro-conservation anti-Monsanto/anti-GMO types anyway.

Watch them shake their heads in agreement on presentation after presentation on the importance of environmental protection and elimination of genetically modified products from the food supply.

Watch William MacCaskill present his question to the audience, "What should we be doing right now that will best help the world?"

Yell, "Use genetic modification to create Trojan horse mosquitos with an end goal of eliminating them."

Hear the audience yell in unison, "YEAH. KILL EM ALL!!!!!"

Video tape this. Splice it for effect. Put it on the web. Profit???

OMG.You can't just remove a species like mosquitos from the delicate and fragile ecosystem of the earth. That would causes a cascading ecological collapse leading to the end of human civilization and the destruction of the planet.

The talk about eliminating the mosquito reminds me of one of (my) Laws of Ecology: There are *always* side effects. And its corollary: Side effects are like mutations, they might be good, are often neuutral, but if you have to bet, bet that they'll be bad. Mosquitoes fill a ecological niche, unless you eliminate the niche (perhaps a 50 km diameter comet impact), it's unlikely you'll eliminate the species occupying it. And if we did, what would be the consequences? Assuming that getting rid of a "bad" actor means a good outcome is naive. There are over 3,500 species of mosquito, it is laughable that some people have bought into the 'elimination' game. (Reduction of specific disease vectors at specific locations is another matter, but in point of fact if the niche is abundant enough, filling it will be selected for.)

Only certain mosquito species are problematic and their niche is easily filled by other mosquitos

The niches aren't really fixed in the way you think they are. The eco system is not like some delicate machine that has precisely designed gears that only fit in a certain way. Sure there's side effects. Dragonflies eat mosquitos, so fewer mosquitos means fewer dragonflies. What happens if there are fewer dragonflies? Well, fish, frogs, and various other amphibians eat dragonflies - but they also eat a lot of other stuff. And the dragonflies themselves might find other food besides mosquitos. You belief that the niche has to be filled seems dependent on the strange idea that the rest of the system isn't going to adapt to the presence or absence of any other individual species. But really, everything is constantly adapting to everything else. There are no fixed niches. If mosquitos disappeared the rest of the system would adjust - maybe in a way that caused some other species to move in on the bloodsucking water insect territory, but maybe not.

I do agree that we'll probably never eliminate mosquitos - there's just too many of them. But the whole idea that the ecosystem is a delicate and fragile thing where each species has a special niche is just wrong.

„Even in 2011, the rate of inter caste marriages in India was as low as 5.82%“

Varnas or Jati? I assume te former but the paper isn’t clear. I would except those numbers would be quite different.

I think the default assumption whenever caste is mentioned by Indian government is Jati. Varna is anyway outdated concept.

There are more than 1000 explicitly enumerated scheduled castes, and an unclear number, but more than 3000, jati total. I would be surprised if only 6% of marriages were across any of those 3000+ group boundaries. I could easily believe only 6% across Varna or backward/non-backward.

Just finished reading the paper more carefully. It appears that, for their research purposes, they define four "castes": Brahmin, Other Forward Castes (OFC), Other Backward Castes (OBC) and Scheduled Castes (SC). So pretty close to Varna, not Jati. Which also makes their 6% number not surprising to me.

By the way how many marriages in US are inter-racial? Not a lot more than 6% I am sure.

I define races as -
Hispanic Non White

By 2010 it was up to 15% in the US. Probably higher now:

#6) This story is not about today's teens nor their attitudes. It's about how teachers and other adults indulge those teens. When I was a teenager, we also had (what we thought were) many good arguments for why we shouldn't have to do this or that assignment. The difference was that our teachers and parents did not indulge those rationalizations. From the article, "Kathleen Carver, a high-school history teacher in Texas, says teaching has changed since the days when she grew up....we have to acknowledge our students’ feelings...If I ignored their feelings I don’t think they would like me..."

Now, if someone wants to persist in claiming that anxiety can be so severe that it becomes a bonafide handicap, then one must be consistent with such a claim. If a teen never learns to overcome such handicap, then it should preclude such person from, for example, qualifying in the future for the many occupations that require some public speaking. Thus, it's totally legitimate to include teens' failure at public speaking assignments as part of their academic record. Do we really think it's in teens' best interests to label them as handicapped? Or, would it be much better to help those teens overcome such a handicap if at all possible, even if those teens don't appreciate it at the time? That's the job of adults, including teachers, in those teens' lives.

How many of these teens then turn around and livestream on Twitch? Or post their junk on Snapchat.

The teachers and students seem to share the idea that schooling is for the purposes of building confidence and getting high grades, both independently of developing skills.

#6. Devil's advocate: Do we *know* that forcing young teens to practice public speaking really helps? Would they really be doomed if we postponed it until they were older and less self-conscious?

Yes, we *know* it does help.
Yes, they are doomed if it is postponed.

Coddling fears is not the way to raise children. You force them to face their fears and to grind through the difficult. This is known as "survival."

Attitudes that children must feel safe all the time are literally destroying us as a society and species. Their fears are ruling all their thoughts and actions. They are lazy and apathetic. Everything they see is a conspiracy against them. No one can teach them anything because there is no trust in adults or, aside from trust, obedience to authority.

You'll learn it because I said you'll learn it, and you will thank me for it later, you little shit.

"Attitudes that children....feel....are literally destroying us as a society and species"

Said every older pundit about the younger generation, throughout history.

True. But there’s a postscript that always gets ignored here.

The “And then those societies did fall” part.

The loss of what made the society strong almost always played a large part in its gradual decline. Romans refusing to take up arms to defend her, Greeks losing their stoic martial virtues, Carthaginian Judges squabbling amongst themselves instead of uniting behind Hannibal, the easternization of the Diadochi states....

Entropy wins eventually. You can cheer it on or try to slow it down.

And of course it’s hard to know where to draw the lines.

Fair enough but these days societies don't delenda est each other. Those snowflakes we're complaining about are going to grow up and be presidents and CEOs and doctors and movie stars and entrepreneurs just like Millenials did, and Gen X, and those lazy hippie Baby Boomers.

It's weird as a parent to see your idiot kids and all the dumb stuff they do and think these kids and their friends are going to be in charge someday. But they will, and it will be fine.

True, and I’m taking a devil’s advocate approach to your argument, which I mostly agree with.

On the other hand, even if the population is still genetically there, the culture can dissipate or be destroyed.

Italy != Rome
Tunisia != Carthage

Part of conservatism is in its name, conserving. In this case our cultural heritage. Let immigrants in, but assimilation needs to be the dominant paradigm. There’s no need for corporal punishment anymore, but instill discipline in your children and reverence for our values.


Also fair, but no amount of conservatism can stop long-term change. Societies evolve and there's no stopping this. The history of the species shows this is not really a problem.

Agreed. If the metric is survival of the species it is irrelevant.

If the metric is survival of a culture, however, the outlook is grimmer. But I agree, entropy will win and culture will change to reflect the values of whichever culture produces the most children.

Whether that’s something to celebrate is the question.

My point is the culture you want to preserve is itself very different from that exact same culture decades before. There is no such thing as a culture that just freezes unchanging. The cultures you like are the result of all the changes they underwent before.

And by the time the culture you wish to preserve is significantly different, you will be gone and those who are living in that new culture will like it just fine, because it is what they know, and they will probably wish it stayed the same too.

#6. I think what is really needed here is to create a classroom environment where the other students are expected to respect the speaker. The reason these kids fear public speaking is because they think the other students are going to mock them. It's actually a great teaching mechanism for instilling values of civility - everyone takes their turn being the vulnerable speaker in front of everyone else, so they all learn to empathize with the person on stage.

When I was an elementary school student I was terrified of public speaking (just in front of the class) to the point where I would cry (a lot) before and during presentations. But the presentations were required anyway. I was in a gifted class and did not really have any concerns about being taunted or teased, I was just really shy and public speaking was super scary.

If anything, I think students should have presented something brief every day to get used to it (which I later did).

Isn't all shyness basically about the fear of social disapproval or rejection? (Whether it comes in the form of mockery or something else).
Public speaking is scary because it's one person against a group - it's always always about being rejected or accepted by the group.

Sure, fear/dread of embarrassment or humiliation. I'm just making the point that it doesn't have to be an actually intimidating environment for someone to feel this way (very anxious).

Ok, I see. I think having the teacher explicitly instruct the class to be respectful would go a long way towards reassuring students and reducing that fear though, even if the class isn't full of bullies.

Learning to deal with the fear of disapproval is the POINT of learning public speaking. The POINT of sports is to learn to deal with defeat.

You can't be a winner until you learn how to deal with loss. Serena Williams never got this lesson.

And that's why Serena Williams never won anything.

Nonsense. There is no "the reason". There are a variety of reasons, but the most obvious one is they're very self-conscious at that age. And of course many of them will be mocked, didn't you ever attend a public school? The problem with your "solution" is that some people don't mind being there, and some do. It is rubbish to claim that "they all learn to empathize", my god this is teenagers we're talking about - empathy is NOT a strong point (to put it mildly) at this stage of their development.

Self-consciousness is totally about social acceptance. And teenagers should be taught to be nice to each other precisely because they're at a stage where this is a vulnerability. If for no other reason, it will save them the embarrassment of looking back on their behavior towards others with regret.

"some people don't mind being there, and some do."

People who do mind being there are the ones who need it the most. Otherwise they will have problems in the future, when they have to present some idea at work, do some interview in front of several people, etc.

That's the importance of education: to teach kids how to overcome their fears and to learn that in life you will not be always protected from discomfort and you will have to do things that you really don't like. Otherwise we would condemn them to failure. And that's the point, it's not about teaching them public speaking, but to overcome unpleasant situations.

In real life, the speaker usually is presenting something they want to present, and the audience is composed of people who want to hear what they are saying. And in cases where this isn't quite the situation, the audience is generally at least somewhat polite about it. And if not, the audience is probably composed of people the speaker won't be encountering every day thereafter.

None of these conditions are true for required school presentations, which are pointless exercises in social torture.

You're not wrong about teenagers empathy, but exercises to help them develop empathy are also helpful for the reason that they need it. Expecting it to lead to fully empathetic human beings in short order is, of course, lunacy.

1. On this, as before, I disagree with Tyler and with the author of these tweets and most of the commenters, and I still do not understand why a bunch of libertarians or conservatives, plus some pro-market liberals, all suddenly become communists...

Stop the fake news! The new law doesn't require anyone to use an automated software filter to recognize the content as being copyrighted or not. It says exactly "Information society service providers that store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users shall, in cooperation with rightholders, take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders for the use of their works or other subject-matter or to prevent the availability on their services of works or other subject-matter identified by rightholders through the cooperation with the service providers. Those measures, such as the use of effective content recognition technologies, shall be appropriate and proportionate."

The use of effective content recognition technology, that is, of filters, is discussed as an example, clearly not as a must-do for the service providers. A company may decide to look at this content by hand, or by any means of its choice. Simply, it is responsible of the copyrighted content they have on their site. If Facebook or Tweeter are not able to recognize violation of copyright from fair use, then that's just another reason to stop using Facebook and Tweeter.

"The use of effective content recognition technology, that is, of filters, is discussed as an example, clearly not as a must-do for the service providers"

It is a must; there is no way to do it differently. I'd say non-libertarians...have this view of computers:

"If Facebook or Tweeter are not able to recognize violation of copyright from fair use, then that's just another reason to stop using Facebook and Tweeter"

So don't use it...other people would like to. Given that the whole copyright thing is mostly a utilitarian argument, it is perfectly valid to argue against it with utilitarian argument as well. So what if I argued that the spread of information by Facebook and Twitter is a huge benefit and forbidding these services would be a net loss?

I personally have a different take: facebook/google/amazon are probably the only companies having technologies (or business case to invest into) to reasonably effectively categorize coprighted text (if there is such technology in the first place). On the other hand writing a site like facebook is relatively easy. So this is a huge entry barrier. Do you like facebook/twitter monopoly? This law will cement it.

Your first argument is good. Copyright, i.e. intellectual property as we know it, is a collective decision we (or our ancestors) took on utilitarian grounds, and if the circumstance change, we can re-open the debate as to whether it is still useful. But I'll observe two things. One, the property of physical things is also a collective decision based on utilitarian grounds (I mean, the fact that the police will help you if I try to steal your car or to take your wallet), and expect this debate to be reopened as well if we
re-discuss intellectual property. To me, the usefulness of the police protecting your (carbon-emitting) car is less obvious than the usefulness of the internet police protecting my poetry. Two, this way of arguing is not what I hear on the internet: people oppose the new UE law on great principles such as freedom (see for instance the link given by Tyler), not on carefully crafted utilitarian computations.

As for your second argument about monopoly, it is well-known but I don't find it convincing because it relies on two many unclear assumptions (that Facebook/Twitter have and are the only one to have a technology to filter, that such a technology is necessary to obey the law, etc.)

There could be easily a way without intellectual property - the goods is non-rivalrous. Some of it may be enforcable through contracts, though, but generally if we didn't have the laws, at most we would have less of the goods.

Physical property is rivalrous goods; you need some rule governing who is supposed to decide about the use. Even if you have a rule stating that whoever physically holds it right now is the temporary owner, you still cannot do without id. So I'd disagree that we do have physical property laws on utilitarian grounds; the particular form may be on utilitarian grounds, but not their existence.

"that Facebook/Twitter have and are the only one to have a technology to filter, that such a technology is necessary to obey the law, etc.)"

The technology is necessary to obey the law. It is practically impossible to watch millions of submissions a day. It may work for wikipedia, but wikipedia is not facebook (and I'd guess their traffic is much lower in terms of new submissions). Facebook/twitter have either the technology (because they have been working in the field and it helps them with other things) or they do have business case; if you are a small startup, this makes things more expensive.

Seriously, it is not that hard to build a facebook-like web system (what *is* hard is to steal facebook users given network effects). Building a copyright-watching system needs lots of investment into AI, databases and ultimately people doing some of the work. It is expensive.

"There could be easily a way without intellectual property - the goods is non-rivalrous". That's an interesting question. I do not think that the distinction between rivalrous and non-rivalrous goods is so clear-cut and covers closely the distinction physical/intellectual property, but I don't want to go into this debate here -- I hope some post of Tyler opens this debate some day.

But I just want to note that as the proportion of goods in GDP that are intellectual and not physical increase, and as it seems, approaches 100% eventually, the question you ask becomes more and more equivalent to this one : "should we opt for communism instead of capitalism after all?". Maybe we should, but that's not a light question, a choice we should make just to avoid Google and Facebook being uncomfortable.

"should we opt for communism instead of capitalism after all"

I don't know if this comparison is apt. Lots of libertarians and anarcho-capitalists would want to scrape copyright laws and replace it with contract-based system. There is 0 marginal cost for replicating the work. Communism is based on non-existence of property, e.g. money. Dropping copyright laws wouldn't affect that. It wouldn't preclude you being paid for authoring new things.

I wouldn't be surprised if a contract-based system was in some areas more stringent than the current copyright law; but who knows. The authors would have to find a different way to earn money; but many already do today. They sell concert tickets and use recordings more as a promotion. I do not think this would be comparable to communism in more than a very superficial way.

One more point about the technology needed: I do not buy that it is so hard to evaluate whether a posting violates copyright or not. Wikipedia, with very little money, almost no employees, and no special technology, has managed to publish tens of million of pages with millions of pictures (and billion times more information than in all facebook+twitter) with close to zero violations of copyright.

If you want, you can. The kleptomaniac justification that Facebook and Google and the other gangsters use to justify their stealing ("I don't want to do it, but I can't help it! It makes me uncomfortable not to steal! Life is so hard!") should be rejected.

Wikipedia has an army of thousands of volunteers and an onerous vetting system. Copyright is way out of control and should be scaled way back.

This response suggests you don’t understand copyright very well. Wikipedia is almost the very most classic definition of fair use, so when it does things that would count as copyright violations for other people, it won’t count as copyright violations for them. They will get whitelisted in the filters. But other people using fair use in similar ways will get caught up in the filters because the filters won’t be able to tell what is fair use very easily.

Honestly, I don't understand your post. You say the filters will catch up people using fair use like wikipedia but not catch up wikipedia itself? Why?
You say wikipedia's fair use "count as violations for [other people]". For whom? There have been very few complaints against wikipedia, and when there has been some, they in general have been resolved very quickly to the satisfaction of the right-holder.

I'm not sure what you think I don't understand in copyright and fair use.
An even more perfect illustration of "fair use" is this blog, in particular Tyler's daily Assorted Links, and also all his and Alex's posts quoting a paper from someone. You sometimes have quotation, but they are selected to begin a discussion, a critic, or an approbation (sometimes, not enough, to parody as well). Google news, on the other hand, is a very good illustration of a repeated copyright violation that cannot be justified by "fair use". Google doesn't need a sophisticated AI filter algorithm to stop making "Google news".

And again, if Facebook or Twitter use bad filters in response to UE's new law, shame on them. They are already masters of censorship, and people will soon learn using other platforms -- or create their own.

No. I’m saying that Wikipedia would get caught up in the automatic content filters despite being fair use. It will avoid that because it is big enough that it will get whitelisted (the filters will subject it to much less scrutiny due to reputation). But any smaller actor doing similar things will not be whitelisted, so they will get blocked.

#6 "It is better to render beings in your care competent than to protect them." - Jordan B. Peterson

Good quote. Unfortunately so much of what's going on is to keep them incompetent and over-protected. The better to control them.

#6 Should the musicians at music schools/conservatories be excused from giving public performance because of stage fright? Many people do get paralyzing stage fright (handling the submilimeter precision distances on violin when your hands are wildly shaking and you cannot stop a take a few seconds break... is quite an extreme adrenalin experience), and they are supposed to learn to manage that. Most of them get much better by practice, those who don't at least know their limits.

On high school we were supposed to do presentation of our work at computer science classes. Most of the grading was for the work, only a minor part was for the presentation (if at all). I always understood this as a technical thing; you come there, explain what you did and that was it. If the speaker was stressed, the teacher could always easily turn it into a discussion.

I was really surprised by the level of people at the college who probably never did any public presentation at high school. Their problem was not anxiety; it was lack of basics.

#4) Great. Awaiting release of new Revisionist History podcasts. Hopefully they get going with things.

"Being a high schooler in 2018 is more stressful than ever. Academic demands on students are high, kids participate in more extracurricular activities than in the past, and they are saddled with extra hours of homework."

Compare that to S. Korean students. These snowflakes and their enablers will cause the U.S. to tumble down to the bottom of the educational rankings with the likes of Brazil.

There are 4 main barriers to inter-caste marriage

1) Cultural / Diet barrier, mainly the Vegetarian vs Non-Vegetarian gap ; As a Tamil Brahmin, that bars me from Bengali Fish eating Brahmins as well as Tamil Dravidians

2) IQ gap ; 75% of Indians get quota and are lower IQ ; in my home state of Tamil Nadu, the 2% Tamil Brahmins ( Sundar Pichai, Vishwanathan Anand, etc ) face an official quota of 69% anti-Brahmin quota , in favor of the other 98% Tamil speakers

3) Looks Gap, Castes with more Aryan dna % look hotter

4) Sectarian gap, Shrikanth for example is an Iyengar sect of Tamil Brahmins , who, due to sectarian reasons dont usually marry even with other Tamil Brahmins

What has happened is that the Sectarian issue is slowly being loosened, and my extended family has had arranged marriages with non-Tamil Speaking Brahmins, provided they come from Vegetarian Brahmin castes, a Fish eating Bengali Brahmins is still out of bounds

If you go to, each bride or groom of all religions, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Muslim, also specify which other castes they will accept

#6: It's good to see that anecdotes depicting the young folks as broken will never go out of style.

But in this case, the evidence is in and it seems that young folks ARE broken. Mental health problems are through the roof and seem to map to over-protective parents.

I'm not going to show you (police officer) my ID (even though my tail-lights are out and I'm erratic and a sovereign citizen of the planet) because your sunglasses make me feel "unsafe".

These almost ubiquitous usages of the words "uncomfortable" and "unsafe" as synonyms for "it sux, I don't like it or don' wanna do it" among peoples of a certain age, makes me wonder which equally lame-ass expressions I myself used at an earlier age, of possibly even now.

2. It would be socially acceptable to me if four or five individuals I could name put a small caliber gob of lead through either of their temples.

I cannot access the suicide paper in full, but I would just put a word of caution here. Suicide acceptance is extremely sensitive to phrasing. Gallop, for instance found that 70% of Americans support physicians being able to "end the patient's life by some painless means if the patient and his or her family agree" for terminally ill patients.

Yet only 51% support a physician being able to "assist the patient to commit suicide".

Use the phrase that makes explicit that suicide is under discussion not only shows a net 37% swing against suicide, it also shows that shows significant decreasing support among Americans for physician assisted suicide since a high water mark in 2001.

As some one who sees a statistically representative sample of Americans who commit suicide, their families, and those who merely attempt I can only marvel at the utter disconnect from reality that suicide normalization efforts show. The average suicide is a precipitating factor in at least one psychiatric illness for affected friends and family. Suicide of a friend or family member is one of the greatest risk factors I see for drug abuse (i.e. patient drug use that they wish to stop, but cannot). Likewise, suicide is deeply confounded with child abuse.

In terms of costs to the system, as most suicide attempts fail, and most people consider suicide for less than 15 minutes before attempting, normalization efforts likely result in increased attempts. Treating a suicide attempt is expensive; in-patient psychiatric care is around $1,000 per day and average stay is something like a week. There are around 45,000 completed suicides per year with around 25 attempts per completion. If we figure an average of around $5,000 in treatment costs per attempt we are looking at around $560,000,000 per annum in treatment costs. The costs of treatment from those affected (e.g. suicide counts as one the adverse childhood events which is correlated with all manner of expensive long-term medical costs) is likely an order of magnitude higher and the full social cost an order of magnitude higher still.

Social conditions are highly effective at limiting suicides (that and religion are the top reasons why patients with suicidal ideation do not attempt ... and keep their treatment costs much lower). Abandoning those is going cost tens of millions of dollars at minimum as small changes in the suicide rate tend to reflect much larger changes in the attempt rate (where, thankfully, the vast majority will never attempt suicide again). But hey, what's a hundred mil in diverted medical treatment compared to a bunch of rich control freaks not having to face some indignity at the end of life? Far better to use the money treating the impacts of social change than something silly like prenatal care or increasing medical accessibility (let alone something silly like saving millions of lives by treating/preventing malaria in Africa).

I would argue (and it's not clear to me you would even disagree) that the different response to the phrasing reflects an actual wisdom on the part of the public. Suicide does not imply a specific set of conditions that justify the action in question. But when you talk about terminally ill patients and the full consent of all involved, it's a different story. There's very little opposition to removing medical intervention and implementing palliative care instead - and there is really a very good set of reasons for this!

Agreed, the end of life decision is really not what is meant by the word 'suicide'.

Of course, the social costs associated with attempted but not completed suicide go away if we offer highly reliable humane voluntary euthanasia options to everyone. Or at least allow everyone to get their deadly dose of pentobarbital from a pharmacy or pharmaceutical company and take it under supervision without violating the rights of others.

This could be easily combined with a mandatory waiting period of a few days or weeks to counter your objection that suicide is not considered for more than 15 minutes. It would also respect the consent principle in medical ethics.

Yet instead of even considering this, you blame suicide normalization for the social costs caused by the method prohibition.

No, they won't. We have highly reliable methods of suicide already. Firearms have exceedingly high completion rates. Hanging, particularly with proper materials also have very high completion rates. People nonetheless use many methods with far lower completion rates and that are far more gruesome.

Even within methods, the average attempted suicide does not use the most efficient and painless method. For instance, I have seen many patients use shards of broken glass when they had kitchens full of far less painful knives, razor cutters in the garage, and hardware stores full of cutting implements within walking distance.

The average suicide is not something where people will drive to doctor, sit through whatever legalese is required, and then slip into the docs next convenient appointment. The average suicide attempt literally happens in under 15 minutes from initial contemplation to execution. This is why things like safety nets work, sure people could just drive to some other spot than the Golden Gate bridge, but typically they are no longer impulsive by the time they get there.

But let's look at data. The Netherlands first instituted legal euthanasia in 2002. Since that time suicide attempts by men have increased, those by women have had the same. Now sure there were some extremely weak, routinely flaunted safeguards on euthanasia ... but a first order look at actual suicide attempt data says that legalizing euthanasia did nothing - at best. Nor is it just the Netherlands, we saw no drop in costs in Belgium following their legalization. We have had literally a generation to observe some mythical decrease in the costs of treating suicide attempts; it hasn't shown in the data at all.

The data out of Oregon looks not better.

So no, like every other case of prohibition, the full social costs don't seem to ever diminish with legalization. We are always told silly things by wealthy, educated people that show no resemblance to how most people live their lives (or end them). Going through paperwork and forms is how rich people commit suicide. Poor people, who make the up the majority of suicides, do not do that. They still opt for whatever is handy and in culture (e.g. carbon monoxide poisoning, hanging, bridge jumping, trains). The average suicide is not some one at the end of life facing unbearable pain, it is somebody who has a rough go of life (divorce, loss of child custody, job loss, eviction) with years of healthy life expectancy ahead of them.

In any event, why exactly are kids going to be less traumatized that mom or dad committed suicide by phenobarbital? I see a kid everyday who had a parent commit suicide; of course I see them once they are in jail, sick with STIs, or on some drug bender. Shockingly I have yet to see an ounce of difference in patients whose parents shot themselves and those whose parents downed a bottle of vicodin.

Lastly, just to make sure I have this correct. You suggest we have open distribution of 9 grams of phenobarb to all comers? An addicting drug with some abuse potential, just hand it out like candy? Just have it handy so that, inevitably, small children can eat it thinking it is candy when people inevitably misplace it? Making addictive, psychoactive compounds easier to get is an experiment we have run before and the social costs were pretty high last time. But let me guess, This Time Will Be Different.

To address your last point first, this is why I wrote "take it under supervision without violating the rights of others", which rules out that it gets into the hands of people who don't want to die.

Secondly, euthanasia laws that exclude physically healthy people who want to die will not show a substitution effect for people who aren't terminally ill. Why would they? But then again, why would they increase suicide attempt rates overall?

If the availability of pentobarbital is unsuitable to get people to think for 15 minutes and have them switch from glass shards to the barbiturate, then the ban on pentobarbital is equally unsuitable to accomplish that. You will always have some irrational people, but you haven't shown that all suicides are irrational.

As for the "traumatization of children" argument, I don't have children. Neither do I have a spouse. I choose not to. So for my demographic, the entire argument falls flat. Yet you lump it up with the breeders and the married people. If you want to punish people for making children or marry in the first place, please do so selectively. I promise no one will be better off because my suicide options have been made worse by the law. I'll make sure of that.

So your solution is not workable for the problem you described. Getting phenobarbital will not deter the majority of suicide attempts. We will still need to treat them and still bear the costs. Normalization thus has no benefit on costs.

As far as the irrationality of suicide. Well exactly how many suicide survivors have you talked with? I remember the first patient who had the gun jam during the attempt. He believes it have been irrational. Or the woman whose rope broke when she took a dive from height; she also endorses it being irrational. After years of this stuff, I have enough data points to suggest that people who choose highly lethal means of suicide yet "miraculously" survived on average view it as irrational post-facto. Are they lying to me? Not by the numbers. Most people whose attempts do not complete do not try again. It is almost as though the vast majority of suicide attempts are deemed by the victim to be irrational.

"But I and a tiny minority will use it rationally and not irresponsibly". Great, that is the majority of alcohol consumers too, yet somehow I keep seeing innocent kids getting killed by drunk drivers. But let me guess This Time Will Be Different.

Social change should never be evaluated by utility it gives to wealthy, educated people who read economics blogs or their social peers. These people are a small fraction of the population, their experiences don't scale, and they already have very nice options. I mean seriously, exactly how hard is it for an intelligent person like yourself to just lie your way into a lethal dose of narcotics? Or if you want to be honest, there are any number of inhalants that will be shipped to your door for all manner of anesthetized death (e.g. CO, NO2, N2, He). If you actually cared about the ability to kill yourself, it is already there for people who are educated and intelligent.

The fact is what keeps people who lose their job, lose custody of their kids, and abuse substances (all in the same weak) from attempting suicide impulsively are things that speak to them in the moment. People come check themselves in with me and when I ask why, the answers that have an actual track record of preventing suicide attempts are: religion, social consequences, and impact on family members. Nothing else comes close.

Normalizing suicide is not about handing out narcotics. It is about removing the social pressures against suicide (everyone does it). It is about vitiating the religious prohibitions against it (God won't mind, if he even exists). It is about lying about the impact to your family (they will be happy you did not suffer like the families on TV).

Those are the dangerous things. We reduced our social commitment to monogamy in the 60s and 70s. And per the most recent epidemiological models I know we that was a directly responsible for increasing the AIDS death toll by millions and increasing it by thousands for STIs (don't worry it is only the kids of poor people). We got rid of the public disapproval of drunkenness, and we have watched alcohol related deaths climb. We built, mostly from scratch, strong social censure for smoking, and saved millions of lives.

Culture is, by far, the most cost effective way of saving lives and improving their lived experience. Making phenobarb illegal to take for suicide is worthless of its own right ... but it is a powerful cultural signal that helps maintain a societal pressure against suicide. It is logical fallacy to conflate legal and moral, yet that is what many people in life end up doing without realizing it. Shockingly all societies have evolved major norms regulating or prohibiting suicide and many other forms of personal destruction.

But inevitably some rich, educated people would rather not have to suffer mild discomfort while exercising their unfettered will as they, personally, will suffer no ill effects. They will then change law and culture to suit their whim.

When the poor, mentally ill, and less intelligent inevitably invite tragedy by emulating the now acceptable vices of the privileged without the resources behind that privilege ... well they were dumb anyways. Weak willed and brought it on themselves. And besides their kids were likely going to grow up to be losers regardless. As long as the powerful don't feel ethically responsible, its all good. The losers choose to be inferior by making bad decisions; just F'em all.

"I mean seriously, exactly how hard is it for an intelligent person like yourself to just lie your way into a lethal dose of narcotics?"

Ah yes, the best way to improve culture is to normalize lying to doctors about your intention as a patient. Just like the best way to manipulate stupid poor people is to lie to them about God and threaten them with eternal hellfire. That will make them better off! As long as you feel good about yourself doing it.

Did you ever consider that there's a selection effect in people who are talking to you about their suicide attempts? Not only are they threatened of being locked up (again) if they disagree that their survival is good, but people with this attitude are the most likely to talk to you in the first place. I would never voluntarily talk to you if I were identifiable, on risk of being committed. You also have nothing to offer that I value, outside of abstract discussion on the internet.

Did it ever occur to you that there might be people who are alive irrationally? If poor people are stupid and impulsive and incapable of making good decisions for themselves, surely this cuts both ways. Animal instinct alone makes people cling to life irrationally. And yet I don't see myself on a mission to manipulate others into making better choices for themselves, as evaluated by my own dubious paternalistic definition. Why? Because I don't intrinsically care about them outside of reciprocity, is a part of the answer. But another part is that people have different preferences, and I respect those differences as given. I have no reason to attack the preference of a person who wants to stay alive and go to church, even though their god clearly doesn't exist (rationally speaking).

And "saving lives" has always been a terrible metric to me, even when I still intrinsically cared about making the world a better place. It treats pre-existing lives as a numerical good without analyzing their value in terms of preferences, liberty or even experience value. It also ignores opportunity costs in making more people. I don't care about these things anymore, but even when I did, I felt it was superficial and the basis of terrible arguments.

Finally I will admit you are right suffocation with inert gases is an available option; turns out I have an akrasia problem with conscious suffocation. That is a weakness of mine, but it's still a reality.

I personally want the pentobarbital as an option value. You and other religious folk keep blocking it, and maybe you're calculating correctly that it is good for your values. But you need to factor in that I will be an active enemy of your values as long as you keep doing it. Because I'm a reciprocator, not an altruist, and you've made me worse off.

Lying to your doctor is already normalized. We expect it. Alcoholics never report accurately on alcohol consumption. You can safely divide any male who reports more than 10 lifetime female sex partners by two in their report. You can add a few hundred calories (at minimum) to all but the most conscientious calorie counters.

Obviously I would rather you told me the truth. But in the strictest sense of liberty you already have the freedom that you seek. You can kill yourself in a wide variety of ways with minimal pain and high assurances of success. Of course in doing so you have to endure some hassle, inconvenience, and social censure. You paying that price for a brief time verse any of the hundreds of patients who get to check the ACE box that means higher odds of lifelong debilitating illness. I will make that trade every time. It is no different than triage to me. I am empowered to let you die should the local healthcare system become overwhelmed. The same ethical principles that dictate my triage priorities also inform my perspective on suicide. I suggest you think very carefully about what sort of ethics you want you want your doctor applying when patients have competing needs.

The selection effect is that they attempted to commit suicide. It doesn't matter if you talk to me or tell me you want to live, you are going for a psyche eval and treatment regardless. What talking to me gets you are PRNs appropriate to relieve your symptoms. Nobody risks getting locked up talking to me. Of those who have not talked, I have seen no statistically significant difference in how many attempt again.

When I talk with patients about their preferences virtually none endorse a consistent set of objectives that includes their demise. They will confess to me a consistent set of objectives that includes raping children or that includes murdering me fairly often when I treat prisoners. This includes patients with terminal conditions. The number who wish to die is vanishingly small. Unlike you, this is not theory for me. Very few people describe their suicidality to me as an end rather than a means. I therefore, in advocating against suicide, do more to further the stated teleological preferences of my suicidal ideation patients than you ever will.

I understand you are privileged person who values minute increases in your comfort more than the full stated preferences of those I treat who developed adjustment disorder following a parental suicide. I don't live a Pareto efficient world, so I have had to be comfortable with leaving some worse off so that others might benefit.

If we are going to raise liberty concerns to such overwhelming status, then suicide is one of the last things to worry about. Taxation, enforced by lethal means if resisted, is far more harm to some individuals for far less societal payout.

But I get it, anyone who is lesser than you does not matter so F'em all.

You certainly have all the rationalizations for your coercion down. I don't think you're making anybody better off. I certainly consider you, and people with your position, to be my enemies. This isn't about "privilege" or people being "lesser than me". I already told you, I'm a reciprocator, not an altruist. This liberty happens to matter to me. There's a price tag associated with attacks on it.

Why yes, it is almost as though this is the world I live in day to day and not some esoteric thought experiment to me. It is almost like society has entrusted me with broad power that requires more than mere reciprocation to function coherently.

Spare us the rhetoric. Your liberty is vastly more threatened by speed limits and civic fines than by restrictions on euthanasia. Start somewhere sensical when going after your price tags.

"Your liberty is vastly more threatened by speed limits and civic fines than by restrictions on euthanasia."

That is objectively incorrect, by a considerable margin.

Fascinating comment battle between two intelligent assholes. Sure is a moralistic prig, and Andaro is an amoral sociopath. No sympathy from normal folks for either type I'm afraid. Sure, at some point you have to give the poor/unintelligent some agency, and also realize that the elites will always and tautologically have better life outcomes. You can't make everyone equal even if it was morally ok to do so. And Andaro, I agree it's a shame it's inconvenient for you to kill yourself. I wish it was easy, and imminent.

I recognize your expression of hostility, even though I didn't harm your interests in any way. I guess at least you didn't attack my choice set in this particular domain. As for being an asshole, something about glasshouses and stones. You have done nothing for anyone, added no insight to the discussion, yet you feel entitled to judge and insult.

It's less hostility and more disdain and revulsion. Normal humans generally recoil from damaged sociopaths like yourself. No can harm anyone's interest here on an anonymous message board. It's not an insult, it's a plain fact that a person like you who thinks of interpersonal relations as transactional is defined as an 'asshole'.

A person who literally doesn't understand love or care for others has no reason to exist. I doubt you have added anything positive to this nation or humanity in general (no going to work doesn't count unless you cure a disease or invent something important, something that others could never have invented which is essentially a null set), so because you do not understand love or empathy you have no one on earth who will miss you when you are gone. What are you waiting for? Stop complaining about the inconvenience of suicide, man up and take care of it.

You know nothing about me or my experiences with love, empathy or caring. Not that I have to justify my emotions or preferences to a vicious and toxic social parasite on the internet.

Sure buddy, you sound like a really loving sweet guy with lots of friends. The level of selfishness and unawareness of your posts in this thread is about as high as ever posted here. Really, "I certainly consider you, and people with your position, to be my enemies", that's for someone saying maybe it should take a little effort for you to off yourself, that's how you roll?

Pro tip, when you make everything in life about 'reciprocity' (transaction) vs 'altruism' (love), and vote for the former, you're not coming across very empathetic.

I don't optimize how I come across on the internet. Pseudonymity enables honesty. Preference falsification is for those who rely on hypocrisy for personal gain and status. Aka most self-proclaimed altruists and moralists. Most people are vicious hostile shits like you, undeserving of altruism. So I think on the margine and economize. I usually still defend human rights because they are so positive-sum, but even that is not reciprocated. So I'll drop that now also. Feel free to die in an actual fire.

We have a system where we both encourage and pay for the harms caused by suicide normalization. It is utterly nonsensical to do both. If we are ready to normalize suicide, then we should imposing upon my liberty to pay for the consequences.

If are willing to pay for the consequences (therapy for the kids, hospital stays for the attempts, and all manner of economic loss), then we should not normalize.

As is, even pointing out that the data show costs to social changes is somehow moralistic. We are literally killing people that we would otherwise have the resources to save if we did not place the thumb of society on both sides of the scale.

If we want to "give the poor agency", then let's do that. Let's stop Medicaid from paying for in-patient psychiatric care after suicide attempts. Let's ignore the data and go for it.

I find Andaro morally repugnant, but at least his vision is consistent. Maybe he will be willing to go all the way - argue that his liberty is sacrosanct and we should stop funding Medicaid and remit those monies to the populace. Maybe he will hedge to avoid endorsing people dying in the streets. But let's not pretend that going down that path is costless. You want to look at the data and make an eyes open judgement that change is worth the cost, I can respect that.

I cannot respect the silliness that pretends major changes in society will be frictionless because people with education, money, and social capital can hack it most of the time.

You are fighting a strawman, I do not wish like our friend Andaro here to normalize suicide or make it easier to accomplish. Nor do I feel major changes in society are frictionless. But I do realize, in a way you apparently do not, that people with education, money, and social capital will always have better life outcomes than those who do not have those things. And there is unfortunately no way to change that, although some have tried. Life will always be hard for some, the goal is to make that difficulty less if we can, and to reduce how many people have those hardships, and have compassion for those who do.

The agency I was referring to is about your impossible dream of making sure all decisions made by all types of people are good ones. You somehow think if we made everything illegal that you find problematic (atheism, recreational alcohol and drug use, end of life euthanasia), and everything compulsory that you find salutary (religion, marriage with no possibility of divorce) that the world would be a better place for all classes of people. Never mind the monstrous encroachment on human agency and liberty.

Yes we should frown on abuse and overuse of alcohol, drugs, suicide, smoking, and divorce. But people must be allowed to live their lives as they wish. That said, your posts are among the best here and I hope you continue to make them.

I would suggest you inspect the nearest mirror for strawmen. I have never said that we should make my views compulsory.

I do not think we can prevent the less fortunate from making bad decisions entirely. But we can adjust things at the margin - taxation, social expectation, and education have all managed to change the choices of the poor. For instance, we have gone to great lengths to stigmatize smoking, the poor smoke less these days, and everyone tends to benefit (e.g. health of poor children increases when no one smokes inside). We achieved great good by building a culture where we don't discuss how liberating it is that modern women smoke to show their independence but instead show the cigarette cough.

And even though it is likely less healthy than not smoking, I give a qualified endorsement (e.g. we lack thirty years of longitudinal data) to vaping precisely because it helps when the poor decide they want nicotine for whatever reason.

I have great hopes that society will help people choose vaping over smoking and inhaling no nicotine over either.

I also don't expect the least fortunate to suddenly become paragons of virtue and achievement. However I do think society as a whole benefits when the poor decisions that are out there are the least destructive. Trebling ethanol taxes would not stop people from drinking and at some point bootlegging would become viable, but there is an optimal tradeoff between having too easily available booze and the costs of enforcement. Unfortunately folks like yourself never seem to want to actually find that line.

I do not know all the enforcement costs, but I seem some of the largest drivers of the permissive side. I find most people cannot guess within an order of magnitude of even the pure medical costs.

And normalizing suicide is one of those things that has a very high cost. The data from legalization areas suggest that it has done nothing or worse to suicide attempts. From prohibition we know that early adulthood socialization lasts a lifetime (e.g. the Prohibition generation drank less ethanol than the previous or subsequent generations in every country that tried prohibition with matching dates). So I strongly suspect that like "free love" and like "light your torch for suffrage" we will find in a few decades that normalizing suicide has shoveled a few billion dollars into the furnace.

I mean half the US political system is willing to move heaven and earth for savings with Obamacare to get savings that, at their best projections, are a fraction of the stuff we know culture prevents. I only hope that people can learn to make wiser tradeoffs.

To paraphrase and extend: fascinating comment battle between three intelligent moralistic prigs (different morals, but still). These three — Sure, Andaro, and msgkings — are serving up such consistently spicy discussion (peppered with occasional unwarranted venom), it does make me wonder if it’s all the work of just one learned masturbatory commenter. Doesn’t matter really; I just like to watch. (I’m not him though.) Thanks, guys!

Nicely articulated

Let's. Kidnapping with known whereabouts. Sounds pretty much correct.

A factual note on exposure therapy for anxiety.

Exposures work when administered repeatedly in mild or moderate discomfort situations. A one time exposure accompanied by heavy anxiety will increase the situation specific anxiety. This is supported by rigorous clinical studies and can be found in most university published CBT based anxiety handbooks.

Speaking in class is a great thing generally. But for kids with public speaking anxiety, it should be administered in small, mild doses, repeatedly. (Probably under supervision of someone empathetic.)

correction: replace the word "increase" with "reinforce"

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