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On Population Control
Posted: 04 April 2007 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Posted: 04 April 2007 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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[quote author=“George Benedik”]I strongly agree with rationalrevolution. This is the reason why I don’t call myself a humanist.

I don’t see anything s/he said in his/her post that had anything to do with Humanism.  So, I don’t understand your comment.  I’m very proud to call myself a Humanist.

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Posted: 04 April 2007 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Rationalrevolution,

Whew! You sure have tossed a lot of things into the salad. Where to start?
1. Sounds like you subscribe to pretty strict utilitarianism where the definition of morality is a mathematical one having to do with how much suffering or good comes from an act. Is this fair? While I think there is value in the general notion of greatest good for greatest number, I also think that approaching morality only in terms of the group and considering the value of any individual insignificant is a step towards dehumanizing people and facilitates the kind of thinking that led to the Nazis’ Final Solution. Once you think of people as numbers to be crunched, it becomes easier to treat them badly in the name of any “greater good,” whether it is really a “good” or not. Remebering the reason for seeking the greater good of humanity, sometimes at the expense of the interests of individuals, is because humanity is made up of individuals each of whom matters.

2.All the stuff about prison vs corporal punishment seems a bit off track. In general, I agree that prisons as we run them in the U.S. are a terrible institution-morally and pragmatically. If you’re suggesting that shocking or flogging would more effectively reduce crime and is a more humane way to build a safe and free society, well I think that’s just as terrible morally and practically.

3. You seem to suffer from the excessive of certainty that I think often leads to bad decision making. You are very comfortable sending the police into peoples homes to drag them off to a sterilization clinic if they don’t go voluntarily, and presumably coercing doctors into performing such procedures (which you would likely have to do) because you think this is an obvious and simple solution to the population problem. In a word, bullshit. First imagine the insurrection such behavior would incite and the total suppression of all personal freedom necessary to maintain a society with such control over people’s lives. You have avoided answering my objection that such a policy would not succeed and instead claimed I am arguing it is more moral to do nothing. What I am arguing is that it is morally questionable (I din’t say unjustifiable) and the ethical issues are not trivial and would need to be dealt with. However, since I think it is practically impossible, I don’t see any value in pursing it as a policy. You’re full of outrage and certainty, but Im not buying into the rightness or simplicity you claim for your “solution.”

4. As for the issue of education, I’m all for eductaing people about the population problem and the value in limiting their reproduction. And if the Catholic Church came on board, that would be great (it would also be a miracle that would shake the foundations of my atheism :D )

I don’t see any compassion for actual people in your response, only anger at those who don’t reach your conclusions or live their lives the way you think they should. Sounds a lot like the self-assurance of the religious, which I know you abhor. Not that that is itself a response to your arguments, but I think it may be an inconsistence that informs the arguments at some level. I don’t think effective and moral policy can be made without some degree of compassion for people, flaws and all, so part of my resistence to forced sterilization is the clear brutality, whether you can justify it in utilitarian terms or not, of the act. If that doesn’t bug you, then where does your sense of morality come from? Is it purelye cewrebral utilitarian calculus? Do the evolved moral senses we may have have no value? Seems they’ve worked to some extent in permitting larger and more complex social groups than any other mammalian species has been able to sustain. Anyway, I guess I can’t make a purely rational argument for compassion, so I may not be able to convince you of it’s value, but I believe it has some.

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Posted: 04 April 2007 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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George,

What exaclty do you agree with? There was a lot of stuff in that post!

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Posted: 04 April 2007 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Posted: 04 April 2007 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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George,

Well, I don’t exactly see the conection between the “invisible hand” of libertarian/laissez-faire economics (which, as you know I don’t follow, but I’m happy to avoid that debate again myself!  smile ) and forced sterilization as a solution to overpopulation. But then I’m still waiting for DJ to remind us, again, that this thread is WAY off topic. I’m not sure how we got from attitudes towards atheism to nature vs nurture to population control to Adam Smith, but that’s what makes these conversations so interesting!

Anyway, you probably also know I’m not a fan of strict definitions for humanism that create ideological litmus tests, so I wouldn’t say you can’t be a humanist if you are a libertarian (as I understand it, that’s a pretty sizeable minority of the folks here, in fact). Still, I would think such a political position would make you even less sympathetic to the idea of government-mandated control of reproduction than I am. I at least can see the potential for such measures being ethically justifiable, if they could work (which I don’t believe). Anyway, for my part you need never be afraid to express a position or to choose not to express one, your choice completely smile

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Posted: 04 April 2007 07:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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The first world is now largely suffering from underpopulation.

This is bogus. This is what certain economists claim, who are only looking at how retirement benefits will be paid for, but that isn’t the whole picture, not by a long shot.

The first world is in no way suffering from underpopulation, nor would it unless like 80% of the population was killed off.

Indeed the massive population decrease caused by the Black Plague in Europe is credited for kick starting the European economy, because when 2/3 of the population died, everyone wealth was immediately increased as there were fewer people making more property available to more people.

All of the sudden a lot of people could own land, a lot of people could own homes, a lot of people inherited money and wealth, etc.

The earth has limited resources. At a certain point, each new person means that every person has to get by with less.

Someone in Hong Kong should understand this. If there were fewer people you could have more living space there, etc.

This is also only a one time issue, as birth rates start to decline for the first time after major population booms around the world after WWII. It’s not an on-going issue.

As automation technology continues to develop, this population problem with both be further solved in terms of so-called “shortages” and the population problem in terms of growth will get bigger, because as more jobs are done by machine, and as we create increasingly smart computers, we are making human labor increasingly obsolete.

I think that within my lifetime it will be technologically possible for most work to be done by machine, and indeed more jobs will become so advanced that humans will be incapable of even doing the work if they wanted to.

What are we going to do, what billions of couch potatoes? Just produce people purely to plug their heads into the Matrix, some sort of perpetual entertainment virtual reality or something?

We are coming up on cyborgs and transhumanism, with lifespans that will probably be into the 200 year range within the next 200 years.

At a certain point there simply isn’t room for any more people, and every additional person decreases the quality of life for everyone else on the planet.

I firmly believe that all competitive systems, of which nature is one, require regulation in order to be humane. This means market systems, sports, as well as nature itself. Yes, the 20th century Communists went too far, but no regulation is going too far in the other direction.

If responsible people decide that population growth is a problem, and that they will only have 2 children, but irresponsible people don’t care and have families of 5-10, then guess what, eventually the irresponsible people will overpopulate and eliminate the responsible ones and civilization will be diminished if not destroyed.

The whole argument that irresponsible people don’t produce irresponsible people simply doesn’t hold water.

Social responsibility is probably both genetic and learned, but people born into irresponsible families, even if not genetically pre-disposed to irresponsibility, will be more likely to learn irresponsibility as well.

By and large, people are like their parents. Not always, there are always exceptions to the rule, but they are exceptions, not the rule. In general, people are like their parents, and without some form of regulation at this point in history, with the stakes so high and the limits so stretched, its just a recipe for disaster.

We should work towards education and getting people to make the right decisions themselves, but we can’t depends on it.

And to get back to the OP, I think that in general religious people produce religious offspring. Again, both due to genetics and nurture. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, as many of us here know, but being born into a religious family increases the chance that you will be religious, while being born into a non-religious family increases the chance that you won’t be.

Religious people having more babies is yet one more thing that perpetuates religion.

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Posted: 04 April 2007 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Just FYI: this topic has been split off from the previous topic .

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Posted: 04 April 2007 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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[quote author=“rationalrevolution”]This is bogus. This is what certain economists claim, who are only looking at how retirement benefits will be paid for, but that isn’t the whole picture, not by a long shot.

And run the machines, and farm the land, and make the next generation and on and on and on.
Please now responsibility is also a genetic trait?...no evidence of course just wild speculation and “belief.”

By and large, people are like their parents. Not always, there are always exceptions to the rule, but they are exceptions, not the rule. In general, people are like their parents, and without some form of regulation at this point in history, with the stakes so high and the limits so stretched, its just a recipe for disaster.

The first world is in no way suffering from underpopulation, nor would it unless like 80% of the population was killed off.

Did you just pull that out of thin air? Please when you talk numbers cite references, or are we to accept all this on your authority?

The earth has limited resources. At a certain point, each new person means that every person has to get by with less.

People have been claiming we are at the ends of our means, that the resources are running out forever, and yet we keep finding more and better ways, and we keep on growing in prosperity. How is that so? That is so because the only “natural” resource is human ingenuity.

Someone in Hong Kong should understand this. If there were fewer people you could have more living space there, etc.

You mean Hong Kong with one of the highest standards of living in the world? Hong Kong one of the greenest places in the world with nearly 80% of its land reserved for country parks? You mean Hong with one of the highest population densities in the world? You mean Hong Kong who’s only resource is its wonderful people? Yeah we are too cool, and proof (along with almost any other major metropolitan area) to the pudding that the hysteria of overpopulation is just that.

This is also only a one time issue, as birth rates start to decline for the first time after major population booms around the world after WWII. It’s not an on-going issue.

So then you agree? Birth rates are declining, on their own, without central planning? :? :? :?

As automation technology continues to develop, this population problem with both be further solved in terms of so-called “shortages” and the population problem in terms of growth will get bigger, because as more jobs are done by machine, and as we create increasingly smart computers, we are making human labor increasingly obsolete.

First reality does not bear out your second statement but…What you just said it is going to get better and worse at the same time! Consistency please. 

I think that within my lifetime it will be technologically possible for most work to be done by machine, and indeed more jobs will become so advanced that humans will be incapable of even doing the work if they wanted to.

What are we going to do, what billions of couch potatoes? Just produce people purely to plug their heads into the Matrix, some sort of perpetual entertainment virtual reality or something?

Yes indeed, some men have been crying about this particular sky falling since we stopped being hunter gatherers. And yet we work longer hours now that we ever did as hunter gatherers.

We are coming up on cyborgs and transhumanism, with lifespans that will probably be into the 200 year range within the next 200 years.

At a certain point there simply isn’t room for any more people, and every additional person decreases the quality of life for everyone else on the planet.

Hmmm and you add science fiction Bogey men as well? Plus the quality of life on this planet for most in this planet is better than ever before, we have better nutrition, better health care, better technology to fight off brutal inhumane nature, longer lives and healthier babies. That is why our population has grown.

The whole argument that irresponsible people don’t produce irresponsible people simply doesn’t hold water. Social responsibility is probably both genetic and learned, but people born into irresponsible families, even if not genetically pre-disposed to irresponsibility, will be more likely to learn irresponsibility as well.

Hyperbole and not one shred of fact or evidence to support your hypothesis.

And to get back to the OP, I think that in general religious people produce religious offspring. Again, both due to genetics and nurture. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, as many of us here know, but being born into a religious family increases the chance that you will be religious, while being born into a non-religious family increases the chance that you won’t be. Religious people having more babies is yet one more thing that perpetuates religion.

None of what you say explains the reality of what we see. And if it were true then in history all people were religious. What explains the 10% in America or nearly half of the UK being non?

It is awesome (in the scary me **itless sense) that with cobble together pseudo factoids and beliefs, one can generate such a brutal and totalitarian ideal of governance. But then Stalin, Hitler, Mao, many many Churches, all did the same, I shouldn’t be surprised.

PS I was going to provide all the fact based links (which are numerous and solid) which refute your beliefs and support my claims (when made), but then I remembered that it is the extraordinary claims that require the extraordinary evidence. So I believe it is your responsibility to provide some evidence for all your claims.

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Posted: 04 April 2007 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Posted: 04 April 2007 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Posted: 04 April 2007 05:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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[quote author=“George Benedik”]

Mutation and adaptation.

Except that there is no evidence that evolution happens on anywhere near such short time scales.

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Posted: 05 April 2007 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Posted: 05 April 2007 03:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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few hundred years or less

http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

Two centuries ago there was relatively little dispute over the existence of God, or the societally beneficial effect of popular belief in a creator. In the twentieth century extensive secularization occurred in western nations, the United States being the only significant exception (Bishop; Bruce; Gill et al.; Sommerville).

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Posted: 05 April 2007 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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By the way, I just stumbled on that looking for a time marker reference, but it is a fascinating paper.

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