Forum:Should people be protected from their own stupidity?

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Ladies and Gentlemen, the discussion regarding Facebook "privacy" raised this interesting question. I feel that many people - possibly those of lower intellect - do indeed feel that they should be saved from themselves, and this has caused (or perhaps been caused by) a society why there's always someone other than oneself to blame for anything negative that happens. In fact, this may actually be a chicken and egg situation:[1] has the onset of "health and safety gone mad" caused people to expect to be protected from themselves, or is this H&S obsession merely a response to people demanding to be protected (and going mad with the litigation when their stupidity gets them in to trouble)? My moderate libertarian tendencies tell me that people need to look after themselves a bit more. But what do I know? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 20:24, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

It's a fine line - where does "NOT saving people from their own stupidity" become "let people be as tricky and deceitful with other people as they like?" While I can certainly understand the self-reliance advocate, does that not place any limits? For example, warning people not to use a blowdryer in a bathtub, and suing the manufacturer if that warning isn't on the blowdryer, resulting in a darwin award - obviously stupid. But warning people Phen-Fen causes heart valve damage, and suing the manufacturer if that warning isn't on the bottle - that is NOT stupid. These are two very extreme cases, but where along that spectrum does the Facebook privacy setting debacle fall? User:FineCheesesUser talk:FineCheeses 20:29, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
The issue would be that it is, as you say, a spectrum. There's no hard-and-fast line between what is an idiot getting what is coming to them and someone making a mistake due to lack of knowledge. Indeed, it could change depending on the person who does the stupid thing. All I can say at this stage is "it's difficult". Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:55, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
It certainly is a spectrum, but I do feel things have swung too far towards the "nothing is my fault, someone (ie the state or the manufacturer) should have prevented me from doing it". How you go about levelling things out is of course a tricky matter. DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 21:07, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Should people be protected from their own stupidity? That's what helmets are for. Acei9 21:09, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
I think online service providers should take reasonable steps to protect and / or educate people. Social networking sites should have privacy set to high by default, and there should be warnings about what can happen if you make particular information freely available. If people subsequently choose to ignore these warnings then they do so at their own peril. CrundyTalk nerdy to me 08:07, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
There is an issue about what the default or "recommended" settings are like, for instance, if you set the default settings to be quite open, are you encouraging or decieving people? Or if you set them tighter than a cats arsehole by default, are you holding their hand too much? I think it's possibly a good thing - speaking as a nerd - to not have default settings as "desirable" as it encourages people to go in, learn how to alter them, and customise it to what they want. Although due to people being lazy (I think there's more laziness and complacency about it than stupidity) you'd be surprised what they'll bend over and take in exchange for not having to make an effort. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 12:38, 4 June 2010 (UTC)


  1. I know that's a bed turn of phrase, as the egg obviously came first, but you know what I'm getting at.