Friday, September 28, 2012

Life, Pain, and Revealed Preference

Everyone alive suffers, yet most living people seem to be glad to be alive. Few commit suicide, and death is feared by most.

How do we know if the pain of life is made up for by other factors? Introspection is a popular method (especially what I call the "imaginary survey," in which one imagines people's responses to being asked whether they are glad to be born). But introspection is also flawed in terms of accuracy even as to how well one's own life has gone, and introspection does not help us compare the suffering of one person to the happiness of another. 

I have proposed that we look at sources of data other than introspection to figure out how much people really value or lament life and its pains and pleasures (see Mathematics of Misery, Born Obligated, What Kind of Evidence for Effective Suicidality? and Blind to the Downside). We could, I argue, look at how people act, what they buy, eat, smoke, and do. Rather than asking them about their preferences, their preferences might be revealed to us through their behavior.

A recent episode of the Radiolab podcast examined the pain scale used by doctors - a scale to measure a person's pain, from "no pain" to "worst pain imaginable." The podcast reveals the subjectivity of the scale and its inadequacy for making medical judgments; an interviewee imagines the "worst pain imaginable" to be the pain of being dragged behind a pickup truck to one's death, and imagines her pain to be about a third of that; a "3" on the pain scale, subjectively severe and interfering with her life, but dismissed by her doctor.

Her father, a doctor, recommends she report her pain as an "8" in order to be taken seriously. More interestingly, he suggests a more revealing pain scale: one that asked what sufferers would be willing to do to get rid of their pain. Get a really bad haircut, perhaps? Accept a reduced lifespan?

When I was younger, I suffered from severe migraines. In the early days of the internet, I read about trepanation and it seemed like a live option for at least two years; it was my beloved fantasy. A few days into a bad migraine when I was 19, I took the train to Rites of Passage and had a large needle, and then a ring, inserted into the flesh of my navel, hoping it might relieve the pain. (It didn't, though it did take my mind off of it.) Clearly, the revealed preference of a trade-off for pain reflects the subjective value for the person at both ends: I might have been experiencing extremely severe pain to consider piercing my skull and my body, or I might just not disvalue bodily envelope violations very much. However, data about the actual choices of thousands of people would give us evidence of the relative value of different choices for large numbers of people; while not perfect, it would be better than mere introspection.

So is life a burden, or a blessing? What are people willing to do for a longer lifespan, compared to what they're willing to do in order to die? 

In the United States, around 36,000 people successfully commit suicide every year, despite the fact that suicide is illegal (on pain of resuscitation and incarceration in a mental hospital), risky, difficult, and painful, and despite the additional fact that it is illegal for others to help in any way. Worldwide, over a million people successfully commit suicide every year.

Cryonic preservation represents a chance to be reborn; one must still die, but one's brain and perhaps body are preserved in the hope of one day being reanimated. Cryonics is legal and (since it takes place after death) painless, and it is legal for others to help one achieve cryonic preservation. Cryonic preservation costs around $150,000, considerably less than the cost to raise an average American child to age 18 (not including college). In spite of this, only about a thousand people have ever signed up for cryonic preservation. The number of people who have ever signed up for cryonics in the history of the world is the same as the number who die from suicide in the United States every ten days.

While people may go to great lengths to postpone death, they do not seem to reveal a particular preference for a chance to be born again. Indeed, while life in the abstract seems to be of supreme importance, other factors can be shown to drastically outweigh the supposedly sacred value of life. For instance, studies suggest that castration may extend male lifetimes by decades, yet castrating oneself or one's son seems unthinkable, even with the lifespan enhancement effects in mind. While life may be valuable, it seems that sexual capacity, gender expression, and reproductive capacity are revealed as much more important than life simpliciter. 

The fact that so many people are willing to take great risks to end their lives in order to escape the bad parts of life, and so few are willing to make serious sacrifices to be born again or drastically extend life, is evidence that life is not always a blessing, and is frequently, observably, a burden. We should continue to investigate data to determine the lived reality of the value of life and pain, and should incorporate this knowledge into our reproductive ethics. Reproduction can no longer be seen as a purely innocent endeavor, but must be recognized as a very serious gamble with the life of an innocent being.

51 comments:

  1. Alternative explanations:

    i) Cryonics in its current form will never produce another life. The freezing process creates ice shards that destroy every neuron in the brain. The shard formation process is chaotic; hope of reversing back to your brain structure prior to death is nil. Even a mildly altruistic person will prefer to donate or pass on to their heirs. Only a weird combination of rich and gullible chooses cryonics.

    ii) The study on eunuchs is not common knowledge, so it's hard to argue that people are aware of the benefits it suggests. Moreover, it only establishes correlation - I don't think they controlled (or found a natural experiment) for obvious factors such as being wealthier due to lack of offspring. Using the royals as a wealthy control group has its flaws - some of the royal advantages (power, private doctors) likely reduced in *shorter* lifespans due to stress, political intrigue, and poor state of medicine at the time.

    I haven't researched either of these thoroughly - just pointing out the limits of revealed preference in this circumstances.

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  3. This is only one of the many, many, many reasons people don't sign up for cryonics in droves. The most obvious one is that most people think it has no chance of working at all and is therefore a complete waste of money. I must stress that there are many, many others.

    Even if we accept the rather tenuous assumption that most people who claim to want to live are deluding themselves as to how valuable life is, and the wrong assumption that people's behavior demonstrates their True Preferences (TM), it does not follow that the low rate of signing up for cryonics indicates a lack of will to live.

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  4. For instance, studies suggest that castration may extend male lifetimes by decades, yet castrating oneself or one's son seems unthinkable, even with the lifespan enhancement effects in mind.
    Sister Y, K may be nice, but it isn't worth dropping r to ZERO! =D

    Especially for men: as I think David Baumister would agree, I feel mammalian biology is a little more r for males and a little more K for females.

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  5. Anti-Natal Funnies #2 "Little Natals"

    I got diabetes, a personality disorder,chronic anxiety, obesity, child abuse, opiate addiction,poor, etc

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  6. Life is decidedly useless. Pure meaningless nightmare that ends in obliteration. I regret being born and I wish I could kill myself but the biological shackles are too strong. Futile existence in a nightmarish society that is rushing towards oblivion.

    As Schopenhauer, Ligotti, Cioran, Zapffe, Benatar and others would say, non-being is a far more preferable state.

    "Life is a violent episode in a blissful repose of nothingness"

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    2. Don't do that. The "worse than Hitler" part makes you look like you're just mindlessly signaling tribal allegiance and is likely to prevent you from being taken seriously.

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    3. Perhaps you're right.
      I removed that part.
      All the rest of it stands intact.

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  7. The lack of interest in cryonics as revealed preference idea -- it reminds me of whatshisname, Hopefully Anonymous, who at times seemed convinced that Very Powerful People had to be keeping the True Science under wraps. It seemed obvious to him that existential preservation must be as important to elites as it was to him, ergo ... a conspiracy.

    At one level, I suppose I still share HA's perplexity (since I am constitutionally disposed to take questions of life and death very seriously). But I also think that taxation is indistinguishable from theft, and I no longer read much into the apparent complacency of those who agree over drinks and still vote for the levee. They have their reasons and then again they don't. Mostly, people just drift along, caught up in a loose net of a story where distractions are just part of the scenery. Is that what revealed preference amounts to? A lack of urgency where rational dicta suggest there should be urgency? I do like the idea. I also wonder how and whether it might be terribly wrong.

    I'm an antinatalist because of the harm principle, because of the problem of suffering, the problem of consent, and because of the asymmetry (as articulated and, IMO, compellingly defended by Benatar). Under none of these arguments does the majoritarian "it's really great to be here!" line carry contrapuntal weight.

    Do you agree that people-making is bad regardless of whether the secondary defenses hold, or do you think the extra labor is absolutely necessary? Should we distinguish the point where suicide is at issue?

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    1. People-making is bad regardless of what context it is looked at. Its bad because they are not ASKED to be born, they HATE the system they are born into (people who can think that is) and they suffer and DURESS of pain and suffering in it.

      There are literally no defenses to be engaged with his issue. Breeding is pure lunacy.

      Suicide is an issue only because of biological mechanisms.

      Just because I think life is absurd hell and breeding people is insanity and wish that neither me nor the world ever existed doesn't mean that I can kill myself (because its all scary) but at the same time it doesn't mean I DON'T have to kill myself and "suck it up" if I don't do it.

      Suicide is the ultimate rationale for any type of behavior because once someone is resigned to it and the idea of antinatalism, there remains no positive arguments to be used in any context anymore regarding anything concerning human life/existence/universe.

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    2. I am also persuaded by the harm principle - that's the idea that it's never okay to create people, because existence implies harm and we don't net the harm/benefit of action with regard to strangers.

      But it's clear to me that most intelligent, sensitive, thoughtful people who have considered the question do not agree with the harm principle. My boyfriend compares this to the Non-Initiation of Force principle - libertarians buy it as an axiom, but plenty of thoughtful people don't buy it. You can either excise them from your universe, or figure out how else to communicate.

      I think it's reasonable to say that even if it's technically a harm to create a person, it's only a REALLY BAD harm if you can see the suffering reflected in the world. And I'm interested in genuinely, deeply looking at the world in this vein, harm-principle-buyers and non-buyers both together, and seeing whether the harm of life is a serious issue or not.

      I think the prevalence of suicide, despite prohibition and evolved barriers, is strong evidence that the harm of life is great. I acknowledge there are many people who were wronged by being brought into existence (such as yourself) who nonetheless don't want to kill themselves, but the prevalence of suicide is evidence that something is seriously wrong - the kind of evidence that might convince serious, open-minded people who don't buy the pure harm principle that reproduction is a risky, dangerous enterprise.

      I think I'm right, but I expect the world to be full of evidence that I'm right. If it's not, then I might not be right!

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    3. Not to be mischievous, but have you considered revealed preference relative to the harm principle itself?

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    4. I think you have to take into consideration that the prevalence of suicide RARELY involves the principles of harm or any anti-natalistic principles that Gary would mention in his youtube blogs. Most people kill themselves other reasons: breakup, terminal illness, unrequited love, family death, etc and its really hard to meet someone who would go through the trouble of writing a suicide note that justifies their suicide in extensive detail using anti-natalist arguments - majority of people just don't operate like that and commit suicide through emotional overflow and not rational overflow.

      I think that its ALWAYS bad and not only when the suffering is reflected in the world. If we would take your statement at face value then the universe (and Earth of course) were PROFOUNDLY harmed by the accidental (and unfortunate) arising of consciousness on planet Earth and that is reflected EVERYWHERE.

      There cannot be any bigger harm than the harm HUMANITY brought to the universe and that justifies complete and utter extinction of any consciousness to pure oblivion and the continued existence of the universe without that pesky virus that so many great minds like Schopenhauer, Cioran and especially Ligotti rallied against as the "ultimate evil".

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    5. Intelligence in general is useless and serves no purpose but to be a slave to need and desire. Its blind and is destined for oblivion. There is literally no point in existence (other than mushy individual goals and other bullshit like that)at all and I will never, ever bring anyone to this hell hole and hopefully my consciousness will shut down soon enough so this madness will stop.

      I won't commit suicide myself because as Cioran said "you always kill yourself too late" and I can't be "unborn" or "uncreate" the universe unfortunately but since intelligence is useless and futile, I don't want to cause myself more and more suffering since I don't know if I will end up in a worse state than I am right now.

      There needs to be a 100% guarantee of a final outcome and unless that guarantee is provided to me in a graceful manner, I will hesitate to take my own life.

      However, existence is totally hopeless, futile and meaningless and has no redeeming qualities. It's blind, accomplishes nothing and just breeds continued conscious existence consigned to oblivion and biological self-delusions over its short life-span and if I could die painlessly right now, I would jump at the opportunity.

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    6. I agree that a judgment that life is, in the abstract, not worth starting is almost never involved in decisions to commit suicide. The only reason I think suicide is at all relevant is that it speaks to the question of how bad the harm of being brought into existence is, as lived on the ground.

      The prevalence (high numbers) of suicide are evidence that people suffer so much they just want to end their lives. That's hard to reconcile with the (inferred) claim that the harm from reproduction is de minimus.

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    8. People are ending their lives because as you said living is hell and that justifies the claim that reproduction is hell and shouldn't be attempted.

      However, there are several issues here:
      1) Ending one's life would still not undo the harm that was done by being brought into this world to begin with so the harm of existence is always more serious in hindsight than it would be if the person could simply be unborn. UNBORN is basically infinitely preferable to SUICIDE, however it is is accessible to no one.

      2) Ending one's life would not end ALL life on Earth but only a single consciousness that is aware of it which (as it ties up to point 1) would not end the nightmare (objectively for the universe and subjectively for everyone else who is an anti-natalist) but only perpetuate it endlessly on other embodied streams of consciousness... being unborn would be a far better solution once more because being unborn carries no harm at all and no troubles,stress or anything else existence is known to be devastatingly harmful for the universe, for the species or particularly for the individual.

      I won't go into the arguments outlined in this blog (http://why-im-sold-on-antinatalism.blogspot.ca/search?updated-max=2011-12-07T18:05:00-06:00&max-results=7&start=7&by-date=false) but I don't believe the harm to others should at all be considered when contemplating whether to kill oneself or not (and the prevalence of suicide confirms that) as the very FACT of being brought into existence and receiving the harshest form of punishment (existing with all its infinite warts) justifies any "retaliatory" action of ending one's life even if others would be severely damaged by it.

      Gary made many arguments as to why the suffering of others doesn't make any sense in light of the suffering others bring upon a given consciousness (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S8HFv_WCzg&feature=my_favorites&list=FLACOIw6qtpzpfQagJX-EdJQ) While it could be argued that there is no reason why ADDING to that suffering is justified on moral grounds, I argued before that the maximum amount of suffering to the UNIVERSE had already been inflicted so there can be no redemption and ergo any suffering of a given individual who wants to forego existence and end this stupid, retarded game of life is very much justified and no amount of pain his death would inflict on others could justify keeping him in existence for the sake of reducing their suffering.

      In fact, the suffering of the individual who wants to end their life is FAR more acute and prominent than any suffering of people who don't agree with anti-natalist views and just don't want to be haunted by feelings of "guilt" or any such shit. The suffering of an anti-natalist committing suicide is far more extreme than any mushy pain scales the others would assess his actions by.

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    9. Have you ever talked to or interacted with the family or interacted with the family and friends of a suicide? You might feel differently.

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    10. I did and it didn't change anything. Life is fundamentally meaningless and the pain of the individual wanting to end this stupid drudgery and shit should always take precedence over mushy feelings family or what have you will experience because of his decision. Its simple - you shouldn't have brought the individual to EXISTENCE and then the problem would be SOLVED, but since you DID, then in fact you DESERVE it.

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    11. I've never been sure about whether one should hang on in there because of the potential harm caused by your death to others. If X is suicidal then he/she will have to deal with the pain of waiting for and experiencing the death of those others before having a guilt-free opportunity to make their exit on top of the suicidal pain already being endured. Furthermore, if X is really loved by these others, shouldn't they respect his or her desire to seek an end to unbearable pain?

      It occurs to me that over 12 million people have died by suicide since the year 2000, more than twice the number that perished in the Holocaust. Zapffe calls suicide 'natural death due to spiritual causes'. Truly, the life machine has no problem in devouring its own children. Another reason to resent 'Mother Nature'.

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    12. " Its simple - you shouldn't have brought the individual to EXISTENCE and then the problem would be SOLVED, but since you DID, then in fact you DESERVE it."
      Don't use all caps, it's perceived as yelling.

      Maybe your social circle begins and ends with your parents, but for a lot of people, it extends into siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, and pets and other people who are not in any way responsible for your existence.

      And what's this silly hierarchy between "mushy feelings" and real pain felt by a suicide? Either it's all real important pain or none of it is.

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    13. It has nothing to do with how wide or encompassing your social circle is.

      The fact of the matter is that you were hurt tremendously by being brought into existence and now your parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends or whatever are heaving all sorts of social crap at you (get a job, get education, care for your parents when they're old, find a mate, etc etc bla bla) which you never would have needed had you not been born.

      The other relatives might not be responsible for your existence per se, but they are there now and they have this idea that you should keep existing for your own sake (even if you refuse to) or for the sake of something else or themselves (which they refuse to do also). They have no RIGHT to do anything like that.

      There can be no rational argument to be made that would disprove solipsism for instance and since the subjective consciousness (which is all that there is really since without a perceiver there is no perception) is all that there is, whatever others expect of that consciousness and whatever responsibilities or pain or whatever they attribute to not having it is purely IRRELEVANT because the non-existence of that consciousness would not only remove the whole life equation (since its non-being we're talking about) but would also be a non-issue for this entire circle of yours since you wouldn't exist.

      My argument is simple: you were brought into existence against your will and no amount of pain by anyone else other than you can possibly justify you staying existent since any harm that would befall others is bullshit compared to the ultimate harm that befell you because of your parents (they gave birth to you) and your other circle (because now they put you through the "life is good" bullshit and other useless crap like that).

      The only pain that TRULY matters (and I cap this because its not that I dont agree that all pain is bad which is one of the main reasons why I am an anti-natalist and a pessimist) is the maximum pain inflicted and the question of pre-consultation. If I who is by default experiencing the worst degree of pain imaginable (since I was born and never consulted to that) want to go kill myself, no other pain matters because not every pain can be given the same weight: your circle won't kill itself just because you die and even if the grief is so bad that some of them will (such as your parents), rest assured it will be for all the wrong reasons ("i am a bad mother" or "what could i have done" or "i can't live without my baby") and none of those would have anything to do with anti-natalism or would ever approach the degree of rational pain experienced by someone who understood how shitty and futile this world is and decided to end it all.

      Its not all about just pain per se but also RATIONAL pain which hurts far more to the person who was aggrieved by being brought into existence because its the ultimate pain to precede all other pains and no one who caused the pain (parents) or contributing to the pain (other people) have any right to feel horrible pain or feel they want to kill themselves if I decide to go out of my own volition due to this inexcusable travesty. If they want to kill themselves then they only brought it upon themselves and I had nothing to do with that.

      Fuck them all then.

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    14. There cannot be any justification for the sort of pain one is feeling when he is collapsing under the duress of eternal pain and suffering through having been born and introduced into this disgusting spectacle of life that is meaningless carnage and futile story told by no one and nothing ending in pure oblivion.

      Any other pain your relatives or friends will experience is so much beside the point that it's not even worth mentioning - their pain combined will be far less than whatever pain you are experiencing because if it wasn't then they would themselves understand why you want to leave existence and LET YOU GO!

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    15. I understand.

      That you're a teenager and this is worthless.

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    16. I understand that you are retarded just like so many other people who call themselves anti-natlists/pessimists and who thinks that just because I am capping and using strong language makes me some sort of teenager.

      Grow up you old fuck and smell the roses. This existence is trash, you're not getting out of it alive and other people don't matter if they inflicted that much pain on you by giving birth to you.

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    17. Deep breath! Fellow human being on other end!

      The pain of loss of suicides is just as bad as for other kinds of deaths - suicides may be perceives as especially tragic, and those left behind are told by our prohibition culture that they should have seen the elusive "warning signs," should have prevented the death.

      People left behind suffer. Why deny that?

      Whether suicide is nonetheless a moral right is a different question. Yes, there are reasons why the pain caused by suicide doesn't mean suicide is wrong. There's something wrong with creating a person and holding yourself (or other family members) hostage lest the created person peacefully remove himself.

      Suicide is morally permissible despite the pain it causes. But the pain is real. This pain is yet another reason that suicide is not a clean solution to the problem of creating life. Even if the suicide prohibition were lifted tomorrow, it would still be wrong to create a child - a bit less harmful, but harmful nonetheless.

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    18. My point is that no amount of "real pain" of family members or other people can exculpate them from the tragedy of giving birth to me who is experiencing all this pain, is involved in all this madness and wishes to end it permanently and go back to non-existence.

      The pain is real, but how is it MY concern? Just like no one consulted ME before I was born, why the HELL would I consult anyone else when I DIE?

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    19. It may not be your concern. I don't think the suicide is to blame for the pain of his own loss. Suffering is a feature of reality; in that sense, it is all of our concern when an aware being suffers. But none of us asked to be here; none of us have somehow consented to be responsible for the well-being of others (except those who have voluntarily created new beings).

      I think we can do what we like with our lives. At the same time, miserable people who choose to stay alive to avoid hurting others are not crazy - they are in an extra-horrible bind.

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    20. Perhaps the biggest difference between us is that in addition to being an anti-natalist, I am also the deepest pessimist and nihilist you can find so that surely colors my perception of other pain as "irrelevant" given the tragedy that was forced upon me.

      If everyone realized that they are not responsible for their own birth and the degree of suffering in the world as well as the meaningless of the project call life, they would never EVER force another conscious existence in this hellhole of a univers.

      Alas, they do the opposite and force the ones who care about leaving behind pain for others (very likely these people would not fall under the category of nihilists, pessimists or anti-natalists) be in an extra-horrible bind as you said.

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    21. This has become lively since I last checked in.

      Anyway, my thought about the harm principle (as a flavor rather than an axiom) is simply that intelligent people tend to demur at some removed degree of abstraction, and that this is similar to instances of revealed preference that you read as cracks in the artifice of life-affirmative palaver.

      Maybe military conscription is a good example. It's certainly true that many intelligent people favor some form of a draft, even as they acknowledge that such a policy entails the imposition of harm on strangers. Yet it is equally true that, when the chips are down, many in this camp will take measures to ensure that their own children are not subject to a lottery that would put them in harm's way. It's easy and tempting to write this off as hypocrisy (or hypocrisy plus nepotism), but I think it is also worth considering the extent to which it measures a reaction to the immediacy -- or concreteness as opposed to abstractness -- of the harm being exacted. And, at the risk of muddying the waters by bringing animals into the mix, it seems significant that many people who defend factory farming (in the abstract) will become squeamish at the prospect of seeing a single pig slaughtered.

      What I suspect is that rhetoric against the harm principle, however thoughtful and considered, is more casually expressed at a safe distance, where it is assumed that unknown intermediaries will be enlisted to do the dirty work. As the problem looms nearer, it becomes at least more difficult to be a soldier for the presumed greater good. My suspicion -- impressionistic and anecdotal as it is -- leads me to wonder whether revealed preference could be usefully deployed to gauge the sincerity of those who ostensibly regard the harm principle with skepticism while, often enough, behaving otherwise.


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    22. I wonder if Sister Y or anyone else has data as to whether suicide causes suicide, as in do people commit suicide from the grief of another's suicide?

      I think this may be relevant in judging how much weight a suicidal person should give to the suffering his or her exit may inflict on others. If, as I imagine, very few people commit suicide as a direct result of another's suicide, shouldn't this lessen the worry for the original potential suicide?

      I know we talk about the lives of those 'left behind' being devastated, harmed etc. but if those people continue on the hedonic treadmill regardless of a loved one's self-exit, might it suggest that the aftermath effect shouldn't be that great a matter of concern to a potential suicide?

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    23. Karl is right.

      Its another way of saying that the harm from existence to the one committing suicide is far greater than any amount of pain post-suicide of anyone else would amount to not only in the case where the grief-stricken do not commit suicide (as in pretty much every case since they get over it) but also in the case where they do commit suicide (since they do it in response to someone who committed suicide who did it for reasons that are their fault and also because they wouldn't commit suicide due to the horrors of existence but purely because their couldn't selfishly hold on to their offspring, disregarded his pain and are now suffering due to their own fault to the point where they can't take it anymore).

      My point is simple: no amount of harm that can possibly come to anyone who survives someone's suicide should be factored in by someone who hates existing and blames everyone for causing and perpetuating his continued existence.

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    24. Dima, you should blog somewhere about the interaction between your antinatalism and your utopianism (Venus Project). Antinatalists who are frustrated utopians or disappointed utopians are a definite "type", e.g. anyone who combines transhumanism and antinatalism.

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    25. I am not sure if that was meant as a sarcasm or a condemnation.. but nevertheless, I'll reply.

      I am an antinatalist at heart and no amount of utopianism will be able to change the fact that life is essentially a meaningless, shitty exercise in futility and then you die. I see nothing better than not-existing in the first place since its the most self-sufficient and zero-action type of "state" (even though its not a state at all).

      However, with that being said, life could be a little better if something like the Venus Project came to be, if transhumanism technologies like those outlined by Kurzweil and in the Hedonistic Imperative were actually possible.

      Would that change anything about the ontological horrors of life, its origins, its meaninglessness, futility and uselessness? Of course not.

      So I am not a "frustrated utopianist". I am a pure anti-natalist who thinks that these ideas could make life more bearable for a lot of people and would reduce suffering.

      Reducing suffering is ultimately the endpoint.

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    26. It was neither sarcasm nor condemnation; but I have noticed that people who have all-encompassing dreams can also have the most inconsolable depression. It makes sense that this should be so, because it is infinitely harder for such a person to get what they think they want, compared to someone with more modest criteria for personal happiness.

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    28. That is true which means their suffering is of unfathomable proportions and they would never have kids or maybe even be able to kill themselves if they can't take it anymore

      The problem is that both camps (antinatalists and utopianists) never consider the others positions. While I am mainly an antinatalist, a lot of my arguments for utopian societies get shot down not merely on the putative grounds of unfeasability (like you did) but also on the the grounds of "value rejection" in that through some process of indoctrination or what not you still think that money is awesome and should stay.

      On the other hand, the utopianists, being the logical positivists that they are, are also unable to understand anything about anti-natalists and its realistic condemnation of nature as pure garbage...

      This incompatibility between the two camps and the conflict makes me terribly frustrated and wish this universe didn't exist because it would be the best solution of them all.

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  8. To be fair, although its rate of success is far under 100 percent, no one has (to my knowledge) ever experienced a successful rebirth through cryogenics, so I'm not sure it's a fair comparison.

    I'm more interested in listening to people bitch.

    Even if they'll claim, if asked, that they're happy to be here; even if they'll bring others into this world, if only as fashion items, even the so-called luckiest few in this world generate enough pissing and moaning to fill a website (http://whitewhine.com/). It's a collection of "first-world problems" (loosely defined as "things that happen to you because of your affluence that you find annoying and get all bent out of shape over, but come, on you could be living in a mud cave") captured from people's Tweets and Facebook accounts. The site holds the complainers up for ridicule, and some of it is pretty damn funny, but if you can turn your envy-judgy filters off for a sec it becomes frighteningly clear that the hedonic treadmill is a real thing, and maybe we just aren't built to be satisfied by this world... EVER.

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    1. Something doesn't have to be completely satisfying in order to be worth it.

      I had two planned suicide points this year, when I had decided to kill myself, and then chose not to. I can't say that I'm satisfied with my life, or that I ever will be. But I can say that, on a day to day level, it is better than nothing, even though I'm not afraid to die and know I could kill myself at any time without pain or suffering in 30 minutes.

      There's always more coffee, more orgasms, more meals, more hot showers, more TV shows, and so on. Pissing and moaning, by themselves, don't indicate a life not worth living, they just indicate that it could always be better, and it serves to change the behavior of others. This is why people bitch about things, but when you take these things away, they bitch even more about that.

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  9. Sorry, that made no sense... I meant "even though SUICIDE's rate of success is far under 100 percent." Meaning people who want death are more likely to have a reasonable expectation of getting it via suicide, whereas people who want rebirth aren't as likely to see cryogenics as a hopeful option.

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  10. Apologies for being off topic, but I just have to share this here: www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2753#comic

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    1. Damn, this site is hilarious, thank you!

      Delete
  11. I don't believe cryonics will work. Not with a probability that makes paying the cost rational.

    I don't believe political and economic systems are very stable in the mid to long term. This makes it even less attractive.

    I don't believe we can just assume that the future will be good. And we can't just assume that a resurrected person will be in a position to commit suicide if it is not good.

    All of these are rational reasons not to bother with cryonics, which is a costly long shot on a very uncertain future. It doesn't tell us much about lives worth starting or not worth starting in our current societies.

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    1. There are completely rational reasons to not sign up for cryonics, just as there are completely rational reasons not to try to commit suicide. The vast majority of people neither sign up for cryonics nor commit suicide.

      My only point is the vast disparity between the numbers who do each.

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    2. The vast majority of people don't do anything that might make other people look at them funny. It's kind of sad, but considering cryonics will make people assume you are far crazier than considering suicide will. That, combined with the unfeasibility (we can't do the vitrification/freezing process fast enough to avoid probably irreparable damage) and expense ($150,000 and considerable time and effort for cryonic suspension versus a few hours and no expense for suicide, at least if you're in a mountainous area) of cryonics.

      Still, even those factors don't explain away 4 orders of magnitude of difference, so your point stands.

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    3. "Still, even those factors don't explain away 4 orders of magnitude of difference..."

      Not clear to me that they don't.

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  12. Found a new site when I searched for "chronically suicidal": http://www.chronicsuicidesupport.com/index.php
    I've told them about this site.

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  13. Sister Y, antinatalism is just a point of view like any other philosophical position. The majority of people still value life as something positive regardless of all suffering they experience. Only a minority would prefer to never have been, You can't make the rules according to your sensibilities and worldview, If some people can't cope with pain. It's not immoral to procreate because only a tiny minority wouldn't enjoy existence.
    Antinatalism is an irrational ideology.

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    1. A surprising amount of people who educate themselves about the philosophy of anti-natalism agree with it, even though it may have never naturally occurred to them. It's true, that comparably less people would have rather never existed than those who are glad they came into being regardless of their suffering, but by making this statement you are essentially devaluing the very valid life experiences of those who wish they have never existed. I recommend you read "Better to Have Never Been by David Benatar, as I am sure it will alter your stance on this topic. Regarding procreation, there is absolutely no harm done when choosing not to have a child, as there is no child that exists experiencing the desire for life. Choosing to have a child however, brings a new being into existence with very complex needs that are difficult to satisfy for even the most well adjusted, economically stable, healthy human being. Antinatalist beliefs include that yes, there is potential for great joy to be experienced in a individual's life; but it is not justifiable to bring them into existence as the potential for pain is greater and is guaranteed in comparison to the feeble potential for joy & pleasure.

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