A Question of Science

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by S.J. Faerlind, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    I didn't mean to imply that suicide and alcoholism were the same thing, though I can see why you thought so from my post. The mechanism is different. The end result is the same in many cases. That is the point I was trying to make.

    That's a fascinating thought but I can't wrap my head around the contradiction inherent in how a religion could see a soul as being undone by suicide. The religions I've encountered teach that the death of the body only frees the soul, not that death eradicates it altogether. I suppose those religions could regard suicide as a crime against God by rejecting the gift of an earthly life, but not as a destruction of the soul. I think "sin" gets that distinction for a lot of religions. Other religions imply that nothing can destroy the soul.
    Actually, I can think of one example to the contrary. Richard Dawkins brand of atheism teaches there is nothing beyond death so I suppose we could infer that suicide really does end a "soul" if one follows his belief system. ("Soul" in this case meaning an organic body that was alive, since Dawkins preaches there is nothing more to a person than that.) I wonder how Dawkins' religion regards suicide? Certainly not as a crime against God, since they believe there is no God, but perhaps they look to the prophet Darwin for answers instead????? (If anyone doubts that Dawkins has created a belief system out of atheism, I encourage you to check out his book "The God Delusion" and come to your own conclusions. Imagine my surprise to discover I was reading an atheist bible...complete with its own set of commandments and advice for raising my children!)

    Still, I think it would be interesting to study the dominant belief system of different nations and how it relates to their policies surrounding suicide. You might be onto something there Tur!

    Do you mean in the case of alcoholism? I'm going to let this go and agree to disagree. The issue is just too emotionally charged for me. :p
    Or possibly do you mean that government shouldn't make laws at all?
    As I said before, it comes down to where society draws the line between personal freedom and safety. Not everybody agrees as to where that line should be drawn, but every society has to figure it out. Otherwise, anarchy would rule.



    Oh Oddy, I'm so sorry to hear that you have to live with that kind of health problem. :( Autoimmune disease really sucks!!!!

    One could argue that there are people who can't choose not to vaccinate themselves either though. My son had chicken pox when he was 18 mos old and we both endured 3 days of hell (itchy baby!!! GAH!!!) until he got over it. By the time my daughter came along there was a vaccine for it. I'm definitely not an anti-vaccination sort of person so I took her to get the vaccine. After the first dose she got soooooo sick and when the doctor treated her for that she had a reaction to the medication he put her on. To make a long story short, the vaccination side effects were way worse than the chicken pox the vaccine was meant to prevent. Being a toddler, she was incapable of making an informed decision on whether or not she should be vaccinated, so the doctor and I made it for her. In her case, we made the wrong decision. Needless to say, she never got the booster vaccine!

    Now the risk of side effects (especially lethal ones) from any vaccine is very low, but that experience taught me that it can REALLY suck when you happen to be the minority that gets them. As a result, I no longer jump at the chance to get every vaccine they come out with these days, regardless of the "herd health" implications of my choice. I only vaccinate myself and my kids for the "highly likely to be lethal or disabling" diseases. The risks and benefits of giving any vaccine should be carefully weighed for each individual, but since there is risk involved, I think everybody has the right to say whether they're willing to take it or not. There's just no way to help it if people are making that decision based on misinformation. Darn it all, there's that line that society has to draw between personal freedom and "herd health" again....

    Oh I dunno.......
    With the massive amount of information collected under the guise of "marketing" these days, I just have to wonder.
     
  2. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken The Best Epic Literature Ever Written.

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +13 / 0 / -0
    Elaborate on such claim.
     
  3. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    Messages:
    2,823
    Likes Received:
    159
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    here and there
    Ratings:
    +251 / 3 / -1
    Between Google, your internet/phone provider, and your bank, they know more about the intimate details of your life than does any government agency.

    We are a government of and by the people. So if there is a "Big Brother", than either through apathy or ignorance we allowed it to happen.
     
  4. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken The Best Epic Literature Ever Written.

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +13 / 0 / -0
    If Google acts like Big Brother, I call it Big Brother. Hence, the post #63 acknowledges that Big Borther(s) are a factor even in a democratic setting, thus contradicting the statement "If you live in a democracy, there is no Big Brother." :p

    But let's take it further.

    Assume that people is not competent enough to make decisions in most fields (I should name this statement the Oddrun Premise).

    Assume that a vast majority of the members of a given society share a certain set of ideas. Let's call it idea A (for example, people who plays roleplaying games are worshippers of The Enemy), B (for example, that people involved in Internet forums are wasting their lives in anti-social practices) and C (people who carries a knife for collecting mushrooms are dangerous).

    Since democracy is a mechanism that guarantees that majorities will defeat the interests of minorities, ideas A, B and C will be imposed on the government with certain degree of energy depending of the circumstances. If any of the ideas is perceived as a social problem, the government will act on it due to social pressure.

    Let's say the government is pressed to act on A. Maybe the population has judged that RPGs are just too dangerous. Activities related to idea A are heavily regulated or banned.

    Experience shows that the main way for people to learn about certain activity is by getting in contact with it. If they are not able to get in contact with the activity, their only way to learn of an activity are indirect means -such as reading a foreigner magazines.

    Let's assume that indirect contact is not heavy enough to make a significant amount of the population stop believing idea A. Since idea A is too prevalent, we can argue that people will prefer to believe what they have always believed (idea A) than information for indirect non-verified sources.

    Since people with idea A (majority) has destroyed the activity related to A and has no more meaningful ways of learning about it, we can imagine an scenario in which intellectual stagnation sets in. If you multiple this events, it is easy to imagine that ideas A, B and C have the potential to become "social truths".

    So, we have established that intellectual stagnation is possible and that a set of ideas can become prevalent in a given democratic society.

    Why is it formally illogical to suggest that such society could appoint an authority and provide it with grant extensive powers to protect society from ideas A, B and C?

    This scenario leads to a democratic society maintaining, under the will of the most, an organism with the necessary power to uphold the Social Truths of that society. Aka, the democratic society maintains a Big Brother.

    It is worth noticing that this reasoning does not necessarily imply that Democracy -> Big Brother, but that a Big Brother is something that might happen in a democratic framework.
     
  5. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    Messages:
    2,823
    Likes Received:
    159
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    here and there
    Ratings:
    +251 / 3 / -1

    Democracy is a system of government in which power is vested in its citizens, not a "factor" or an environment in which we define companies like Google or Amazon. Which by the way, know far more about the intimate details of your life than does the US Government. You should thank your lucky stars on that.
    Nor is a Democracy a "mechanism" that guarantees the majority rules over the interests of the minority, or is allowed to trample over the basic rights of the minority. That's why we have three branches of government, in theory, each hold the other in check and balance the will of the majority to the rights of the minority. It was only a few years ago that the majority believed that marriage as an institution was only for heterosexuals. A decidedly conservative Supreme Court, thought otherwise. In fact the minority was protected by the US Constitution, which trumps State Constitutions, some of which had banned same sex marriage. Gay folks can now get married, and have that marriage honored as lawful across the entire country. The majority got fucked because they ran counter to the word and spirit of the Constitution. The majority doesn't rule in a healthy Democracy, the Law rules. Sometimes injustice lasts for decades, but there always comes a season of change.

    If we have a Big Brother, we've only ourselves to blame.
     
  6. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken The Best Epic Literature Ever Written.

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +13 / 0 / -0
    Democracy does not imply a constitution, bill or rights, separation of powers, or magna cartas. Democracy only implies that a significant part of the population is voting on decisions.

    Hell, "democracy" does not even imply the voting rights are universal, nor that every vote is as powerful. Voltairesque ideas are relatively new in historical terms.

    A Hayek-inspired government of the law sounds ok, but it requires certain bases that are not implied in democratic systems.

    So, even if I conceded that power separation and a bill of right were a guaranteed protection of minorities (which I don't), that would not automatically imply that all democracies have them and thus all democracies are safe from the abuses these safeguards are supposed to prevent.
     
  7. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken The Best Epic Literature Ever Written.

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +13 / 0 / -0
    Now, the reason because constitutions and lists of rights don't act as good guarantees are:

    • They are open to interpretation.
    • They are limited in scope.
    • They only work if they are enforced.

    So, you may boast a certain constitution has a bill of rights that protects a certain set of rights or activities, but that does not mean you can necessarily guarantee that bill of rights is covering everything that matters.

    Long story short

    • Democracy does not imply bill of rights (besides the ones needed for the system to be considered a democracy).
    • Bill of rights does not imply universal protection of rights.
    • Since bills of rights are what are holding the rights of minorities, democracy does not imply universal protection of rights.
     
  8. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    Well, maybe I put I wrong there. The soul is typically eternal - it's mortal life that's usually the gift of the gods. Taking ones life is to deny what is possibly God's greatest gift. Not all, but many major religions tend to look down on suicide. And it is a topic over which debate is really tough, as it is almost invariably emotionally charged. But I find it and its implications on society interesting, like a barometer or something. The topic of suicide almost invariably asks of people to step outside their comfort zone, or leads to contradictions in reasoning, which often tends to be quite cultural. Ow well.

    On the subject of Richard - I tend to avoid him. I haven't read his printed work, I'll be honest about that. But what I've seen from him in interviews, and read from him in editorials and blogs doesn't promise much good. Despite of what he is trying to bring across, I consider him to be a religious conservative (for want of a better term). He is a polarizing individual I think atheism could do without.

    I know alcoholism is totally the worst example in this particular discussion with you, though. Sooo... let's move away from that :)

    There need to be rules. But to limit freedom of individuals needs to be done for very good reason. And I wouldn't accept any sort of obscure risk, or media hype. Fear (risk's ugly brother) is never a good reason to limit freedom in my opinion. For instance, I have no problem running the risk of being gunned down in a Muslim extremist attack; it's not something I fear as such. Yet countless measures are taken to prevent exactly that, simply because I am not part of the the majority in that, apparently - limiting me directly in some of my freedoms. And, much more so in others.

    Yes, I can see how that comes to be.

    ... but you know that this isn't exactly scientific in any way, right? I mean, making your decision based on a statistical outlier which happens to hit you (or someone close, I don't know). I mean, there are some interesting arguments to be made, but let's say that the research poured into vaccines is monitored correctly, and that cause-effect studies are indeed what they are. I mean, you must have good reason to go against such evidence, no? I'd would need some really strong evidence myself, to be honest...

    This is very much a mistake. A representative democracy - as we know democracy best - outsourced the decision making to a mandated government.
     
  9. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    Given the religious people in the world who tarnish the reputation of the religions they profess to practice, (and how much some atheists LOVE to point those people out as representative of everyone who follows that religion!), I find it incredibly ironic to see Richard Dawkins as the face of atheism in the media. Beliefs are highly individual; even within a particular belief system. At least atheists now have a very public reason to recognize that, now that they have their own "embarrassment" to deal with.

    Each "control danger" vs "respect for individual freedom" scenario is a unique, individual case and should be evaluated as such by society. The risk of being killed by a drunk driver (for instance) is MUCH higher than the risk of dying in a terrorist attack. I can't really compare the two as being anywhere near the same scenario, especially given the prevalence of alcoholism in Western society.
    I completely agree with your point on "fear" though. Media hype used to generate irrational fears in the population is the perfect way to get people to willingly give away their personal freedoms "in the interest of public safety". I kinda wondered if this was where you were going with your line of reasoning and I agree, it is quite scary.



    Actually, I'd argue that my revised position on vaccination is quite scientific for a number of reasons:

    1. The vaccine side effects didn't happen to a "statistical outlier", they happened to my daughter!!!! This changes my outlook on risk significantly. From the evolutionary perspective that I have invested quite a large amount of personal resources into my offspring because my genes want to continue, putting her at needless risk with a vaccine booster for something I already know is harmful to her just isn't a sound strategy. Darwin would roll over in his grave. lol

    2. There is a small risk that she (or anyone else in my family) will have a problem with other vaccines as well. I used to consider this risk as negligible and nothing to worry about, but now I have (painfully) learned otherwise. Therefore, I have to perform a risk vs benefit analysis for every vaccine I authorize to be given. (Yes, I'm qualified to do so and yes, I'm sure my doctor hates to see me in his waiting room...lol)

    If Ebola was sweeping through the place where I live, with an 86% case fatality rate, I'd be third in line for a vaccine (after my kids, of course!). However, I don't ever get the seasonal flu vaccine they come out with every year. Why? Nobody in my household is at high risk for flu complications. If we get sick with it, we're most likely to spend a few days in bed and come out fine on the other side of it. The health authorities have to guess at which flu antigens are to be in the vaccine every year and they don't always get it right (sometimes they don't even get it close!). In that case, we're going to get vaccinated and might get sick with the flu anyway (which I have seen all too often in other people). Add to that, that in spite of the fact that the media tells me the flu runs rampant every winter here, we haven't had a case in our house in at least two years (possibly longer because I can't really remember the last time anyone had a fever with any kind of respiratory disease). For whatever reason, our rate of infection, or risk of disease after infection, seems to be low for the flu at this time. In the case of that particular vaccine, the benefits just don't outweigh the risks or they are at least neutral (ie: the risk of getting a vaccine reaction is as high as the risk of having complications after getting the disease). It is for these reasons I have adopted a "vaccinate only for the highly likely to be deadly or disabling stuff" policy: maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks.

    3. Vaccines are big money makers for pharmaceutical companies, and let's face it, the reason these companies exist at all is to make money. Any vaccine (or drug) they put the R&D into has to sell well enough to cover those costs. Marketing campaigns targeting consumers and physicians are designed to create a perceived need for the product, whether one actually exists or not. As long as the adverse events reported from using the product are acceptably low, they'll be allowed to sell it. I'd like to think that doctors evaluate the risks and benefits of a vaccine for each patient individually, but how do I know the one advising me hasn't been taken in by all this advertising? Perhaps it's different where you live but I firmly believe this happens here.
     
  10. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    Messages:
    2,823
    Likes Received:
    159
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    here and there
    Ratings:
    +251 / 3 / -1
    The practice of perceived need of medications/treatments is alive and well in America. There's almost nobody in my age group that doesn't take at least two medications regularly, and usually more medications sporadically.
    After my emergency appendectomy, while recovering, I was on an antibiotics drip. A nurse came around and was setting up another drip, I asked her what antibiotic it was just to make sure it wasn't penicillin, which I'm allergic to... it wasn't another antibiotic, it was morphine! That's ridiculous! Other than some very mild tenderness around the incisions I was completely pain free... other than the annoying guy who was in the bed next to me, there was no discomfort whatsoever. I'm betting the reason they'd love to get you on a morphine drip, is that there's no way you're going home without another night in the hospital when your dosed up on morphine, and a much more expensive bill! If they'd allowed it, I would have been out of there a few hours after surgery!
     
  11. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    So, here's the thing. Drunk drivers exist, I know that for a fact. I think drunk driving is a very reckless thing to do, and that imprisonment for taking that risk should be nothing out of the ordinary - especially if this happens to cause harm to others.

    But the biggest harm I pose in traffic is to myself. You see, I don't own a car - I own a motor cycle. I believe 100 km on my bike is about as dangerous as a pack of cigarettes in terms of micromorts. And, sure, objectively, there are motorists who pose an explicit danger to themselves by behaving like a maniac. But even then; if someone in front of you makes a mistake in his car, you airbag will blow out, and you have a very reasonable chance of being chiseled out alive by the fire brigade. I, on the other hand, am my own airbag and crumple zone - all in one.

    Still, I reside in my fate. Death and maiming are a daily reality - I know that they are. But I don't fear them. Should I worry about drunk drivers? Well, yes. Of course. But not more than anything else that could happen to me.

    Life, to me, is about scars, and how you deal with them; not about blaming government about how they could have prevented mine - especially if preventative measures potentially limit my freedom in whomever I might choose to be. Trust me, I won't complain if I fall and get a scrape.

    The description you gave implies a very specific type of adverse event, which indeed changes the risk/benefit analysis It might, at least for similar vaccines, indeed be cause for concern (although, on the other hand, it might also not be. It's tricky).

    However, if we are talking about an unrelated vaccine booster, the odds pretty much reset. I know it's hard to view the two as being unrelated, but I'm sure you are aware of the statistics involved.

    Also, in your first point, you state that there´s feelings involved. At the risk of bringing us back to your original post, I don´t think feelings are involved in the way you suggest: Daughter has reaction to vaccine - therefore, vaccines are threat to my offspring will easily have holes poked into them ;)

    I consider the influenza vaccines to be a bit of a case on its own. I don't consider it to be subject to herd immunity - after all, mass immunization might increase the likelihood of a subtype unaffected to the particular vaccine of the year breaking through.

    Health advice regarding flu vaccination vary wildly from country to country as well, ranging from strongly recommended for everyone - to just recommended for high risk subgroups. From figures I remember from university, it doesn't make any difference on number of sick leave days people take out in the normal populace, for instance. Flu vaccines, therefore, are not at all uncontroversial.

    But, in that regards, I woulnd't consider it to be the typical vaccine.

    Okay, two things. First of all, the most commonly used flu vaccine is developed and provided by the national institute for health and environment (RIVM), which is not for profit. Secondly, all advertisement for medicine and medical procedures are strictly controlled and typically forbidden - I believe that's an EU thing as well. Some of my friends work in or for big pharma (full disclosure, I have as well in the past), and I do recognize that there is still some interaction going on, but it doesn't really factor in when taking into account the basic salary any doctor or pharmacist makes.

    Consequently, I don't see the money big pharma has as being a considerable threat to the independence of our local medical professionals. Regardless of advertising, though, I still think that, typically, your GP is still a more reliable source of medical info than the internet is. I strongly believe in doing your own research, but there has been a lot of mulling of false, debunked or obsolete information over the internet.
     
  12. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    Messages:
    2,823
    Likes Received:
    159
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    here and there
    Ratings:
    +251 / 3 / -1
    Spoken by someone who has yet to take a bad fall on a motorcycle.;)
    I have a reconstructed nose, eight titanium implants screwed into my jaw in which permanent dentures are attached, and a right eye that doesn't focus properly... and remember, we Americans don't have socialized medicine. All told, it's cost me $70,000 out of pocket!

    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger... and considerably poorer.
     
  13. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    This is typical of what we get here (even though I suspect this ad came out of the USA):



    Ads for drugs are everywhere: magazines, billboards, TV... you name it. Personally, I have a problem with this, "ask your doctor if [insert drug name here] is right for you" approach. If I go to my doctor with a problem, I expect he'll suggest some kind of appropriate treatment for me rather than me walking in and saying, is this drug "right for me?"



    I have a question: did you choose to drive a motorcycle?
    And yes, I agree. We all have scars and how we deal with them makes all the difference. I'm not complaining for myself...that ship has long sailed, trust me. There are a lot of innocents out there who won't deal with those scars half so well though.


    lol - very true. Still, "feelings" for one's offspring are there for an evolutionary purpose... don't ever forget that. ;)



    Which is exactly my point..... it is not necessary to give every single vaccine ever developed to every person. I think flu vaccine is a good idea for people at high risk for flu complications: people with chronic respiratory disease, aged people in nursing homes..etc. For those people, the benefits are higher than the risks. For healthy people, seasonal flu vaccine doesn't always make sense. In spite of that, they really push for everybody to get the seasonal flu vaccine here. The pharmacists in the grocery stores even put signs out every winter begging people to go to the counter for their flu vaccine and there are ads all over the radio. It's crazy.


    It would be great if they would ban drug advertising here too!

    Oh believe me, I am very aware of "Dr Google" and all the misinformation that's out there. I believe physicians have a responsibility to point their patients toward reliable sources of online information rather than just letting them go over what turns up on a search engine. The thing is, here, they don't. In all my dealings with health professionals for myself and my family, I have never once been advised of where to get good health information online. In today's world, it's no wonder people have to jump in on their own and take their chances with personal research. The other problem is that doctors just don't want to hear it when you go in to see them so you can't even ask them about it. They want to get you in and then get you out as fast as possible. They don't have time for Q&A.