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Annual appeal: stop and think about who deserves moral consideration, or, eating animals[edit]

I haven't bugged anyone about this for a long while, so I'll just take up a few seconds of your time and pixels of your screen to ask you to stop and think about whether or not it's okay to kill animals so that you can eat them. Whether or not you have ever stopped to think about the topic, I challenge you to take a quick look at Essay:Why You Shouldn't Eat Meat. If you're already pretty satisfied with your decision on the topic, maybe you can point out the ways in which I am wrong - and if you've never given it any thought, don't you think you should?

Check it out.--ADtalkModerator 23:26, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

I would completely agree with your points re factory farming, animals should not be raised in despicable and painful conditions because their sole purpose in life is to be eaten. This is the reason I no longer eat one of my favourite meals - chicken.
However you claim that painlessly taking away an animals right to life is hurting it, stating that animals "want to live". The problem with this is that animals lack the same scale of perception and self awareness that humans have. At what point do you draw the line that it is wrong to kill an animal? If I hit a spider and don't kill it the first time, it will undertake actions to preserve its life. Is it therefore wrong for me to attack the spider? (talk) 23:52, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Lives are not all equal. But just because an ant merits almost no consideration of its life or suffering, does that mean a cow merits the same? You do have to be reasonable and make judgments, but if perception and self-awareness are the necessary factors, I could point out that a pig probably rates higher on both than a newborn human.--ADtalkModerator 03:03, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Isn't the mirror test a fairly reasonable test of self-awareness, and a useful way to draw a line? In your essay and here you argue against drawing such a line because of marginal cases, but that frankly seems irrelevant to the actual question of whether one should eat animal meat or not: even if one accepts that some humans would fall below that line, there are many other reasons that people do not eat human meat. You go on to posit (in your essay) that humans scramble to find anything that separates them from other species — but the mirror test does not. There are several non-human species that pass the test. Thus, the rest of the reasoning in that section falls apart: "people want being human to automatically confer special rights, because it's convenient and simple and tidy" does not apply here at all. It seems rather to be a strawman. Why not use the best test of self-awareness we have to determine what we should or shouldn't consume? (talk) 17:54, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
If you consider "being self-aware enough to pass the mirror test" an important criterion in assigning ethical weight, I suppose. But first of all, I'm not sure why causing an animal suffering would be not okay if they could pass the mirror test, and okay if they couldn't - that's fairly arbitrary, isn't it? If one species of great ape can pass it, and another can't, does that make them so different that the latter is assigned literally no moral weight?
I believe you misunderstood the argument from marginal cases - it's not specific to whether or not to eat something, because that would be silly. Yes, there are many other good reasons not to eat people. But we're talking about whether or not something's life and suffering merit ethical consideration, not whether it's just okay to eat them. If passing the mirror test is your criteria, then a human infant's pain and death, or a person in a coma's, have the same weight as a chicken's.--ADtalkModerator 19:10, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, it's difficult to pin down a coherent morality for animals in general or case-by-case, to be sure. They are so different and we have been accepting various inhumane practices with certain types of animals for so long. Nullahnung (talk) 00:51, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
My Argument as to why i eat meat is "it tastes good and i like it". Yah it sucks that animals are being abused in the normal process anymore but, i still want to be able ot eat good food >.>--Mikal | lakiM 00:21, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
If ethical considerations are not important to you, then yeah, there's probably no ethical argument I can make that would convince you. [1]--ADtalkModerator 03:03, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I do care, i just have the problem i also like meat. --Mikal | lakiM 03:13, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Me too. I just don't eat it. You can do the same. It might be a problem that you only know how to cook/eat meat, in which case starting slow (one meatless day, then two, etc.) will help you develop the skills you need.
Or I guess you could earnestly believe it's wrong and just ignore that fact and do it anyway, although that doesn't seem very ethical - or remotely rational.--ADtalkModerator 03:23, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Cook meat? pff, i know how to cook ramen and tombstone pizzas, im a college student AD not an adult. --Mikal | lakiM 03:35, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
My individual meat eating has no impact on the grand scheme of things, and if I didn't eat the meat somebody else would, or it would go to waste. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 00:24, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
[2]--ADtalkModerator 03:03, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
While your response is nice and cuddly, you didn't make any serious rebuttal. If you don't want to eat meat, that's great — seriously. My morality is mostly built on a strain of utilitarianism and I personally don't really see the point in depriving myself of something that's good for me (well, in certain debatable degrees and amounts) and tastes good if there's no appreciable negative consequence from my action, because frankly, individuals and their individual choices rarely make an impact on large-scale issues like this. I don't need the sense of moral elevation that comes with "doing the right thing".
Hey, I have to be a nihilist in some sense to live up to my name. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 06:55, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
If you buy a chicken from the supermarket, that increases or holds steady the demand for chicken. If you do not buy chicken, then that specific chicken may "go to waste," but you will have reduced the demand for chicken incrementally. But this is probably better demonstrated with an offensive example.
Let's say that there was a fairly crazy but wealthy man who started Murder Cola. After it was shipped out to all the stores, he announced that for every thousand cans of Murder Cola produced, he would have someone murdered. He will only produce his product, naturally, to correlate with demand. Obviously, in our example, this is somehow legal (maybe he's a Koch brother). The cola is delicious. Would you buy the cola, reasoning that it's already made and would just go to waste if you didn't buy it?
I bet you would not, because purchasing the product will increase demand, and that makes you morally responsible for some share of the results.
I mean, do you honestly think that your lifelong consumption of meat has no effect on the demand for the production of meat?--ADtalkModerator 19:50, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
That scenario is markedly different than the real-life meat industry and market. The things being potentially killed are humans instead of farm animals, which I care more about. I would hope that far, far less people would buy Murder Cola than meat, so if I decided to buy it I could be a more integral part in the decision to keep producing more instead of one of millions of faceless consumers.
The contention isn't about whether I have any effect at all — it's whether my individual effect is statistically relevant. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 20:45, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
No, the basic logic behind the scenario is the same, I think. Both are instances where responsibility is precisely uncertain and distributed among many, but where you would have some level of individual impact on an immoral outcome. You might "hope" that few people buy Murder Cola, but in this hypothetical, it is wildly popular. Let's say some millions of people buy Murder Cola in the first month of production. It's a very delicious cola, and let's further posit that you are absolutely certain that you would love to drink it. Let's make it as close to meat-eating as possible in that sense: a lot of people do it, it's perfectly legal, and your impact would be distant and vague. How dilute would the murder have to be, before you could enjoy a cola? If a million people bought a cola, would you buy one? If ten million bought a cola, would the murder be statistically irrelevant enough? Maybe if there were a hundred million fellow sinners, you might pop a tab and knowingly contribute to an innocent death?--ADtalkModerator 21:01, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Maybe. I would be more uncomfortable with drinking it than eating meat, but, again, I do care more about human death than the death of other animals, so that's necessarily contradictory.
If you bought it on the second-hand market you could circumvent almost any ethical badness. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 21:35, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Buying it secondhand would help send the message that buying and consuming it was okay - you'd contribute to the culture that tolerated such an immoral enterprise as Murder Cola, where murder was the result of purchase.
It's interesting that you would eventually be comfortable helping to contribute to 1/1000 of a murder, as long as enough people were also doing it and you felt like your own contribution was mingled with theirs. I think that'd be an example of diffusion of responsibility.--ADtalkModerator 22:59, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

The only honest answer, stripped of even token defenses like "I want to eat certain foods because I like eating them" or the numerous variations of people sputtering "But-but-but-but!" in the face of a damn good moral argument, is this: I lack the moral courage to alter my own behavior. Every day, I think to myself "If I were a better person, I would/wouldn't have done X." Then I feel kind of guilty, shrug my shoulders, and move on. I do what I do because it's easy to continue doing it. That I'm aware of this failing does not make it any better. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 00:35, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

It's damn hard, to be sure. Try it one day a week, at first, is my advice. Meatless Monday.--ADtalkModerator 03:05, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I've been an on-again-off-again vegetarian since meat prices shot through the ceiling in the mid seventies, when I was living in a house full of granola-eating tree huggers. It's a lot of work to keep a meatless diet tasty and nourishing. Nowadays, my default daily bread&cheese equivalent is elbow macaroni with bulghur and peanut butter in a chowder-like consistency, poured over cottage cheese and olives, with tomato catsup (and a sprinkling of jerk powder.) Sort of a variation on the classic Anatolian breakfast of bread, cheese, olives, tomato, and coffee.
That said, AD, how do you feel about dairy products? Modern industrial dairy farming is not quite as brutal as confining animals to fatten them up for market, but still... Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 01:02, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I often feel guilty about consuming dairy products but console myself that at least the animals aren't dying. Holding my breath for in vitro meat - not a day goes by where I don't miss eating a burger or Hawaiian pizza. It's the shitty meat I miss the most obviously. Changing my behaviour was hard - and still years later I have friends who I haven't told. Although they probably have suspicions by this stage. I find that any conversation about vegetarianism needs to be preceded by a brief primer on morality; often when someone asks me why I'm a vegetarian I first ask them what method they use to decide right from wrong so that the conversation doesn't end in argument. Often you end up talking to someone who finds your reasons un-compelling because in the bible it says it's OK to eat meat. Tielec01 (talk) 01:16, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Same here. I try this:[3]--ADtalkModerator 03:07, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
[4]--ADtalkModerator 03:05, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Damn you for confronting me with a moral and ethical quandary of this magnitude! Damn you, I say! :( - GrantC (talk) 03:08, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

I know. I have to. I'm truly sorry.--ADtalkModerator 03:12, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
All I can think of is that last sirloin I ate and how delicious it was... Except now I'm also plagued by the ethical quandaries associated with it. - GrantC (talk) 03:21, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Interesting little tidbit there AD, but my experience with people that get their morality from the bible is that it is a cherry-picking affair at the bets of times. Certainly Jesus ate fish, or at least condoned it, and my knowledge of the bible is not what it used to be, so I think this is an argument I would be destined to lose. When someone claims to derive their morality from the bible there are bigger issues at play than vegetarianism. Tielec01 (talk) 03:24, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Every new day is a fresh chance to do the right thing.--ADtalkModerator 03:25, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Once per year per vegetarian? No thanks. I have plenty of vegetarian and even a few actually vegan friends, but I don't have much time for people who want to proselytise about it. Pigs aren't people and nor are newborn humans. Would it be ideal to avoid causing suffering to pigs (and newborn babies)? Sure. I'll put it on the list, but it's a long list. Far higher up on the list: Did you know mere amateurs are allowed to drive motor vehicles in the public streets? How crazy is that. And not like a golf cart or something, they can and do drive combustion powered multi-tonne vehicles capable of dozens of metres per second. It not only sounds dangerous, it actually is dangerous, causing large amounts of suffering every year and yet many ethical vegetarians not only permit this to happen they actually join in. Tialaramex (talk) 08:46, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

People are typically - depending on your location - either under the supervision of a licensed driver or are themselves licensed drivers, having been evaluated both for their knowledge of the road rules by test and of their abilities by in-person examination. While you might argue that this is insufficient and the requirements should be stricter, that seems more like a practical question rather than an ethical one: what is the ideal balance between ensuring responsible use and permitting people to engage in the transportation that is often essential to their daily life?
Further, that's not a personal choice on the "list" you pretend to have - the laws of your country are only very indirectly under your control, although I'm sure that - because the driving issue is so pressing to you - you have contacted your representatives in government and your local authorities (I'm lying: I actually think you're just making excuses). In contrast, whether or not you flavor your meals with pain and death is under your control, no matter how hard you try to give yourself a pass.--ADtalkModerator 11:35, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
So does this strategy actually work on people? WėąṣėḷőįďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 12:55, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Aggressive imposition of guilt is a considered risk: on the one hand, the self-righteousness and general unpleasantness of the approach does some slight harm to the reputation of the cause as a whole, possibly harming future chances at persuasion. This is one reason why the Catholic Church found it very useful for many years, but increasingly less so as communication grew easier and reputational effects were magnified.
But in a case like this, where initial investment of effort need only be very slight - a single day without meat can help demonstrate that it's possible not to kill animals for the sake of a taste preference - I think it might work as a good approach. That's especially true when you think about the nature of a site like this, with a lot of people who pride themselves particularly on their coherent and well-thought-out approaches to life.
Of course, I don't really do much of this sort of thing, and my understanding of game theory is pretty limited, so I might be wrong. I feel compelled to at least try to occasionally persuade others, since if I can just change a few minds then I can have a big impact on how many animals are tortured and killed - I'm ethically constrained to do so, the same way I am ethically constrained in my diet. But I try not to do it so frequently or so imperiously that it actually does more harm than good.
I don't know, what do you think?--ADtalkModerator 13:04, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm not Weaseloid, but I think your stance seems reasonable, though it is a difficult one. I think sparking conversation is good and especially conversations on morality should never cease to be in a healthy democracy, so I feel good about what you are doing here. I also urge people to think for themselves and think about what others are saying, well, as long as you bring people to think, that's good. (Good god, I said a whole lot of nothing there... tl;dr: 's quite alright.) Nullahnung (talk) 13:37, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
My take begins with the proposition that life, itself, is evil. Life is a conspiracy to keep living things as miserable as they can possibly be while still allowing them to maybe reproduce another generation. And by hitching a ride with the worst weed species, domesticated animals have hit the Darwinian jackpot, at least until we show that intelligent life is a self-limiting phenomenon. It isn't like it's a good thing that there are millions of them; but rather, if they were wild, they would still lead brief lives of hunger, lust, and terror, as well as being far fewer in numbers. And by happening on a winning strategy in domestication, and reproducing into the millions we have now, they're following a biological agenda they did not choose; their genes have prospered at the cost of individual organisms. Seen an aurochs lately? 'S what I thought. Feral swine and horses seem to do OK, but cattle and chickens and sheep would be scarce endangered species or extinct already, but for the devil's bargain they made in domestication. Because of this, I cannot mourn the sufferings and deaths of chickens in industrialized meat production. At least they still get to play their part in the great circle of life. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 04:03, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Botany of Desire was a good book, and it sounds like you'd enjoy it (if you haven't already).
The argument that it benefits those species, and so it's a good thing we mass-produce and kill them, is one with which I am familiar. I address it here:[5]. Simply put, I think it's rather unlikely that pigs, chickens, or cows will go extinct without us. And if matters somehow began to verge on that outcome, in a century or two, then I think they'd manage to survive in captivity in zoos. While the auroch is indeed gone, contrast that with the animals that have been eaten into extinction. Such creatures as the dodo or passenger pigeon. The bison just barely escaped extinction!
You seem to be keeping the whole thing at arm's length, and it's hard to know from whence your ethical decisions spring. Maybe you could tell me whether or not you think human beings and/or animals have some rights and moral weight, and if so, how you decide who has those things?--ADtalkModerator 16:53, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Wait! You think it's fine to just keep animals alive in zoos? Steven Kavanagh (talk) 11:29, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
AD did use it in concert with "survival in captivity". One could argue that keeping animals in the zoo is better than letting them go extinct. At least you'll have a chance to eventually bring the population up high enough to reintroduce them to their original wild environment. Makes sense? Nullahnung (talk) 12:26, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
If the extinction of the species is something that bothers you, then zoos are an easy, practical, demonstrably efficacious solution when it comes to things like cows, pigs, and chickens. Or wait, was this some sort of lame "let me catch him in hypocrisy" sort of thing?--ADtalkModerator 19:40, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I did read that section before responding here; which is why I'm specifically not arguing that it is somehow better that there are billions of chickens rather than a few. (There's close to 20 billion chickens; they have us outnumbered.) What I am saying is that the genetic algorithms of life will make millions of copies of themselves if given the opportunity, and domestication gave that opportunity. Those algorithms themselves are evil, if that value judgment has any meaning at all: they are utterly indifferent to the happiness of the billions of chickens they brought into being; and at any rate I am not convinced that the life of a feral chicken is an idyll of peace, plenty, and pleasure either.
As to whether animals have rights, I'm inclined to say no, though it really isn't how I approach the issue either. But a lifetime of exposure to the maudlin pitherings of the anti-abortion cult has pretty much hardened my heart and makes the sentimental side of vegetarianism pretty much a non-starter here. Turn a bunch of them loose, and we'll see how many rights nature affords them. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 18:50, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, of course there are mechanics behind evolution, and I guess you could call them cruel. I wouldn't call them "evil," because I don't see how agentless physical laws can make moral decisions (any more than the value of pi could be saintly), but that's your prerogative and worldview. Nor am I suggesting that wild animals live happy lives. But that doesn't seem relevant: all that's relevant are your own moral choices and the things for which you have responsibility. In other words, if nature were kind and good, you would have to decide whether or not it was okay to rob your neighbor, the same as if nature were evil and vicious. You are the agent that you can control, and if the world is dark and mean, that makes the point of light at your hearth all that much more important.
I would have hoped that you didn't see my appeal as sentimental; I have tried to put it in the clearest reasoning I am able.
Okay, so you don't think animals have any rights. Do humans have any rights?--ADtalkModerator 18:58, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Humans may or may not have rights. This is a local matter of positive law, because human beings are the authors of all legal and moral norms. (The idea that there are legal or moral principles that somehow stand above and outside human societies and independent of human decisions, and that are not subject to repeal or modification by human lawmakers, ought to terrify everybody. This doctrine is every tyrant's friend. And anyways, who sez?) Human communities may, but don't have to, define and forbid cruelty to animals; some have. Human communities may, but don't have to, enforce vegetarianism out of sympathy to animals; some religious communities do. I'm fine with it so long as I'm not expected to join. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 19:13, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I plan to one day write an essay detailing why moral relativism is an incoherent position to take...Nullahnung (talk) 19:18, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
You start off saying that humans may or may not have rights, but the rest of your answer makes it clear: you don't think humans have any rights, except where it is agreed-upon by society and norms.
This implies two possibilities to me:
  • A sort of majoritarian morality, an extreme form of the social contract: murder, rape, and slavery are morally fine, as long as the majority agrees that it's okay.
  • Folk morality, where you haven't really thought out a basis for your beliefs but go with what feels right according to your conscience and limited analogous thought.
If you don't mind, which of these two - or which third option - do you subscribe to? It'd be helpful to know, before the conversation proceeds further.--ADtalkModerator 19:47, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I wouldn't say that my version of the social contract is particularly extreme, or even necessarily majoritarian. But an idea like murder is simply incoherent in the absence of law; if you committed murder, it's because law made it possible, and we like most societies exclude many homicides (by soldiers, police officers, neighborhood watch members, etc.) from "murder", which by definition includes only those homicides the law condemns. The exact shape of the law is going to be shaped by local values, and what has been found to be convenient and pragmatic. It is quite possible to argue that values or laws should be changed to something that works better. But that's a pragmatic question too; what I disagree with is an attempt to appeal to some source of law or values outside of society, that humans didn't make and can't change. If there are such things, we can't read them directly; we just have to take some human authority's word for it, and no one can be trusted with that kind of power.

As for animals, times have changed and values have changed; most people are too well sheltered from the physical process of meat production, and influenced by entertainments like Bambi. I've come to the opinion that every child needs to raise, behead, hang, gut, pluck, and eat a chicken as an exercise to build character; it was our great-grandparents' daily experience, and we've become weak for neglecting it. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 20:21, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, this is the one avenue on which I am stymied... if your conception of morality is derived just from community agreement, then I guess you have a good reason to eat animals. I only hope that, someday, polls will show that 51% of people are vegetarian, and that you will promptly adapt to the new norm that guides your actions.--ADtalkModerator 22:10, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Where else are values going to come from, if not from human communities? Fortunately, it isn't like humans or their communities are entirely free to improvise; because we are semi-social apes ourselves, we are born with a repertoire of social emotions concerning fairness and cheating, help and harm, empathy and exclusion, clean and unclean things, male and female, honor and shame, and several others. One task of human social structures is to attempt to order and prioritize these emotions and channel them into courses that match some conception of a good society, knowing that these senses are fallible, subject to manipulation, and prone to misfire. This is why tinkering with generally well functioning human communities, or evangelizing for new moral principles, is generally a bad idea.

When the human moral instincts misfire they can go terribly wrong. We can exclude enemies from the charmed circle of people we're willing to see as human. We can turn disgust against our neighbors, and call for the segregation of Blacks, Jews, or cigarette smokers, because their very presence is defiling. Or our sense of empathy can get stretched out of shape, and we try to make pets out of all the chickens raised for the table.

Vegetarianism strikes me as mildly threatening. Not for its own sake, but because I've heard its adherents ascribe bizarre virtues to the diets, claim that eating meat makes you a violent troglodyte, and invoke the dangerous psychology of disgust at unclean things against meat. Movements like this have a way of turning ugly. Fortunately, I don't see it as a realistic threat; but I suspect if the community turned 51% vegetarian, I'd find my head in the guillotine fairly quickly. PETA and their friends seem happy to harm humans to save animals. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 00:44, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
You seem to have a weird mix between moral absolutism and moral relativism going on. On the one hand you think that there is an absolute right way and an absolute wrong way to derive values (the right way being through society and the wrong way being through some moral tyrant). But you also think that values are relative to what society makes them (as long as it isn't tyrannical, of course, there's your splash of moral absolutism again). In the end, it seems to me you do believe that there is an absolute set of moral values, but that we are approximating towards it all the time through our societal norms. Nullahnung (talk) 02:31, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't look at it quite as abstractly as that. When I say that all human value systems are the work of humans and arise out of human communities, I'm not making a metaphysical claim that it ought to be so; I'm making an empirical claim that it is so. If a human community wants to entrench some of its moral judgments by claiming that they derive from divine or natural law, that much is an untestable proposition, and from my perspective it's still a human community doing the entrenching.

I wouldn't say that I think there's an "absolute right way to derive values"; for me, that would entail a claim of personal infallibility that isn't completely warranted, even if I'm batting 1000 so far. I am, quite simply, gravely suspicious of anybody who wants to remake human society in the name of an abstract doctrine. No one is wise and selfless enough to do that; not even me. For me, this isn't about ultimate sources of value; it's about how human societies are to be governed and cultural moral systems to be administered: these are practical matters.

I consider the several variants on "it's cruel for humans to kill animals for food" as the kind of ipse dixit I'm suspicious of. Those who believe such things implicitly make out some of their neighbors to be villains. This is a bad thing; humans are dangerous wild animals, and it isn't wise to rile or spook them; they can be unpredictable when angry, injured, or aroused. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 03:25, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Why would your head be in the guillotine, assuming PETA somehow got control of matters? At 51%, you'd immediately change your behavior, right?
Out of curiosity, does this mean you would support slavery if you were transported into the antebellum American South, where the majority supported it?--ADtalkModerator 19:40, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Moral vegetarianism apparently appeals to people who are convinced that people don't have enough excuses already to abuse and hate one another. If I remember right, slavery in the United States was not abolished without some minor unpleasantness involving the deaths of 700,000 people. Moral aggression is dangerous. I quite simply do not see the world becoming a happier place because some people get it in their heads to noisily denounce their neighbors for their supposedly cruel and immoral diet. The presence of so many different types of this general sort of busybody is not a good thing; Prohibition worked out so well. I really do not give a fig whether meat is murder; what I am absolutely certain of is that going around yelling that 'meat is murder' is, among other things, a poor way to treat your neighbors. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 20:36, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

I hope I have not abused anyone, or made it seem as thought I hated anyone! If so, I immediately apologize: I do not hate anyone.
Anyway, yes, the Civil War was terrible. I would also argue that America is better without slavery - a "happier place," if you will. So I don't see how your reasoning holds up... it seems to me that those noisy denouncers and busybodies did a lot of good and improved the world, and I'd happily join them. The fact that not every moral crusade improves the world is evident, but you'd have a long way to go to prove that none of them do. And the idea that morality on the whole is a bad thing - that needs a lot more than one example! On that note: you didn't answer me, perhaps accidentally. Would you support slavery if you were in a culture that considered it normal?
By the by, you are framing the discussion in an interesting way. I haven't said "meat is murder," and I have tried to stop from accusations or hurtful language, inasmuch as it is possible to do so while discussing something I consider a widespread outrage. Do you really consider any moral argument to be some sort of attack, and an impolite imposition?--ADtalkModerator 20:54, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
To be honest, given my temperament, had I lived in the antebellum USA I probably would have wished that slavery would go away, but still be appalled at the carryings on of the abolitionists, and considered their activity to be a similar evil. After all, they caused an avoidable war.
You consider eating meat an 'outrage'. My outrage button requires a bit more effort to push. I still think that, by logical necessity, the position you have staked out in your essay includes the notion that your neighbors who continue to choose to eat meat are selfish and willfully blind to the alleged cruelty of its production. You don't have to say that yourself; someone else will sooner or later. The presence of so many such agitators -- here's a vegan, there's a feminist video game critic, here's a pro-lifer, there's an anti-circumcision MRA screaming himself beet red with frustration over being ignored -- strikes me as a problem in itself. There are feedback loops in all of these belief systems that encourage harder positions and more extreme actions. Yes, moral arguments that call your neighbors cruel, selfish, and immoral are hostile attacks that potentially threaten civil peace. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 21:43, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, change is disruptive. I obviously differ with you, though, on the merits of agitation in favor of one's beliefs. Thank you very much for the discussion; you have been civil and pleasant.--ADtalkModerator 23:03, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Side tracks[edit]

People's priorities differ. I try to stay aware of the manipulations of the hidden persuaders and keep my own balance in a marketplace that foments consumerism, with an eye to keeping my dealings globally responsible. When that includes eating birds' and beasts' flesh in the proportion that comes my way, so be it. I don't keep a freezer full of beef. In a previous century, I had relatives who would do just that, buying a whole animal at a time. Think in terms of Napoleon Dynamite, when Grandma says they're getting low on steak, and Lyle is coming over to take care of it. Then comes a scene showing an old geezer fumbling with a break-action shotgun, and a cow, with a schoolbus full of kids all going "eeewww."

In my lutherie work, I use the traditional hide glue, or leather-flavored Jell-O, served hot and runny. No better adhesive for that application has come along in thousands of years, not even close. I use the good stuff, 192 gram strength high clarity glue, and keep a lifetime supply bagged up by the pound, and closed up in a glass gallon jar. I don't mind licking the palette knife clean, which I wouldn't do with some of the nastier grades of glue.

I keep animals in captivity. I enjoy watching the activity of birds and fish, and the birds make pleasant noises. Constantly... I could release them into the great outdoors, but the birds wouldn't make it through a New England winter. The fish, on the other hand might just thrive, which is why they (Tanichthys albonubes, or white clouds ) are technically illegal to keep in my state. It seems Carassius auratus have been grandfathered; good luck trying to outlaw goldfish.

No particular point to make, just rambling. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 14:27, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

I eat meat primarily because of the culture I live in and because I like it. Not simply liking a burger (because most of those are disgusting anyway) but the whole variety that meat-based dishes gives me. Eating locally reared magret de canard with an earthy red wine and sauted potatoes or cooking a freshly caught trout on the coals with garlic and herbs and lemon wrapped up in silver foil is part of the richness of life for me. Yes, both the duck and the trout were killed and butchered to pander to my tastes. But they both had a life that they wouldn't have done if nobody wanted to eat them. Besides, it's also good for me as an omnivore (in moderation). I try to avoid eating animals reared in poor and cruel conditions. I also have a whimsical belief that children should be educated about meat - where it comes from, how it is reared, slaughtered, prepared and so on. All the gory details, even see it, take a hand in it. That would inevitably make meat more expensive for us meat-eaters because fewer people would be prepared to eat intensively-farmed animals. But we eat too much of it anyway so we'd just have to cut down. I know none of this will be justification enough for an "ethical" vegetarian. But that's not my aim. It's up to the vegetarian to convince me it's wrong for me to eat the meat that I eat. They haven't. Ajkgordon (talk) 14:41, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Side comment on this side comment: is it really incumbent on other people to convince you of the moral thing? You eat meat "because of the culture you live in and because I like it," and you seem to be suggesting that the onus isn't on you to act ethically, but on other people to convince you to act ethically. Is that really what you think - that you don't have to worry about the morality if your actions unless someone forces you to do so? Don't you have a responsibility, as a human being and as a thinking person, to seek to do right?--ADtalkModerator 19:03, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Those are two entirely separate questions - the first reasonable, the second far from it. Yes, it's incumbent on you to persuade me it's unethical, simply because I obviously don't believe it is. But you're then jumping to the conclusion that I must agree with you that it's unethical and immoral and that I think you need to persuade me to stop acting unethically and immorally. That is both fallacious and deeply presumptuous. For the record, I do not believe it is either and you need to make a much much stronger case than simply presuming I must agree that it is. Ajkgordon (talk) 19:37, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't think you understood, perhaps because I was not clear. My question was a single question: isn't it your responsibility to seek out and reason out exactly which of your actions are ethical and which are not? My question was prompted from what may have been my misunderstanding of your comment, which seemed to imply to me that you weren't considering the matter, but waiting to be convinced - "it's up to the vegetarian to convince me it's wrong for me to eat the meat that I eat." I was curious if that was so, and if your enjoyment of meat prompted the turpitude. Reading back, though, I may have just misread.--ADtalkModerator 22:28, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, it is indeed my responsibility to consider whether eating meat in the way that I do is ethical or not. I have considered it (and continue to do so) and so far I have concluded that it is. But it is your responsibility to convince me that it is unethical. That hasn't happened yet. Ajkgordon (talk) 23:14, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
There are many good reasons to cut down on meat and also consume meat that's raised and slaughtered in a humane way. The ethical extension to never eating meat has never convinced me. I believe that by giving animals an economic value we can actually provide a positive incentive to look after their welfare. Where I live the countryside is largely dedicated to low-intensity livestock because it is not well-suited to commercial horticulture. Some friends who visited us from East Anglia only 2 days ago remarked about how much more pleasant was our countryside with it's smaller fields, cattle and sheep, rolling hills, and hedgerows which harbour a rich variety of wild-life, compared to their dead, soulless, hedge-less monoculture. Redchuck.gif ГенгисpillagingModerator 16:18, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
The problem often is that ethical arguments against meat eating (including AD's well-written essay) start with the "it's unethical/immoral/repugnant" position rather than try to persuade us why they think that first. AD's essay goes further in only its second paragraph. He uses all three of those words without attempting to describe why. The core of it is just that it is, OK? I agree that intensive rearing is, in most cases, cruel and makes the animal suffer and I try to avoid eating meat from those sources. But I do not agree with the premise that taking an animal's life so I can consume its flesh is any of those descriptors. My omnivorous preference enables those animals to live in the first place. They die from natural causes (i.e. predation) and I benefit. I have slaughtered animals myself and have utmost respect for them and chastise people who disrespect what they are eating - e.g. throwing left-overs away, playing silly games making dead fish talk, and so on. I do not consider my actions unethical (quite the opposite) and I remain to be convinced that they are. With the utmost respect for vegetarians' choices, of course. Ajkgordon (talk) 18:24, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, one obvious problem with "this is why it's wrong" is that it's very difficult to create such a central argument and have it be successful in every person's ethics. I took the option of starting with a main argument and chose not to flesh it out, because if I wrote a long essay of support, it would necessarily be predicated on a single system of ethics, such as preference utilitarianism. And then adherents of traditional Christian schema or a folk morality ("do what feels right") or intentions utilitarianism would feel unpersuaded - "that's not how I decide what's right."
Instead, I felt it was better to address the individual objections to my main argument, which themselves imply certain points of view. Then I could address each individual in terms that they felt were relevant to their ethical decision-making.
In other words, I didn't want to custom-tailor the essay, I wanted adjustable garb that anyone could try on.
In regards to the justifications above, I note several. The argument has been made that humans need to eat meat, as omnivores - but that's just not true, as modest research will reveal[6]. I may also have detected a classic natural fallacy in there, too, although I might just be misreading: if it needs to be said, "we evolved to do that" or "animals do it" is a poor reason for any behavior[7].
Also mentioned above was the proposition that the eaten animals would not have existed otherwise, or that they had a better life because they were in captivity and killed. These are two separate ideas, partially addressed here:[8]. But let me add that the first proposition suggests that it is a positive moral good to breed more animals, and accordingly this implies that potential life - life that has not yet come into existence - has some sort of moral right to be brought into being, because it benefits from that gain. This would probably mean that you necessarily oppose abortion, since of course a potential human must have the same rights, and further even that you oppose contraception, for the same reason.
Further, but along different lines: if you think it's better to exist than not to exist for the animals, and thus that you're doing them a favor, then why don't you just set aside that money for animal care, instead, and stop eating meat? Then not only are you performing the moral thing, which you believe to be encouraging the life and well-being of some animals, but you're also not killing them?--ADtalkModerator 18:59, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
What I meant, AD, is don't start with such emotive negative words when you are trying to persuade people. Which is what you are trying to do, right? You are basically accusing me and others of being immoral and unethical savages before you've even started to lay out your case.
Nowhere do I claim that humans need to eat meat. But evolution has adapted us as omnivores, and as such it is "natural" for us to eat meat and in certain quantities and qualities it is healthy. That statement tells us nothing except that it is natural. It's not a moral justification. There are lots of behaviours that civilisation has persuaded us to forego. But eating meat, for me, isn't one of them.
I do not agree with the suggestion that there is any moral imperative to bring animals into being. The only reason to breed animals for food is to eat the food, with all the benefits that brings the consumer. That's it, at least for me. And opposing abortion? Please! You make several logical jumps too many there, my friend! Ajkgordon (talk) 19:32, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I think it is wrong to eat meat, and that people who eat meat are doing something wrong. But unless I am much mistaken, I don't do any name-calling anywhere, such as calling someone savages. But I think I see your point... you're suggesting that I should have started with the arguments before beginning with the moral condemnation? I suppose you might be right, but I tried writing it various ways, and I wanted to make the hook strong, so I put the central argument early on. If I had done it differently, I'd probably be getting suggestions that I start with my argument rather than dither around with an intro... it's a choice with an opportunity cost.
If you don't think that bringing animals into being has inherent value, then certainly the other parts of that chain of logic don't work, like the abortion one... so it's no surprise you find it silly! :) On the other hand, I do admit that you haven't really left me a lot, then. If you don't want to discuss it, that's fine, but going through your posts and your clarifications, what you essentially have said is "I eat meat and no one has convinced me not to." And that's fine, but my central argument is that it's wrong to cause an animal pain and death just because it makes your meal taste better (or, I can add, because it's customary to do so), and you never seem to actually engage with that. What aspect of that argument do you disagree with, if you don't mind saying?--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
No, no name-calling, that's true. Yes, I think it is wrong to make a moral condemnation before you have stated your case. At least it's not very persuasive!
I suppose superficially at least that yes eating meat makes a meal taste better. But it's much deeper than that. I'm not talking about eating Chicken McNuggets or a frozen lamb stew ready-meal. I'm talking about the whole process of selection and celebration of the food. Creating food is a human endeavour. It's as central to our culture and civilisation as art, technology, education, science, the rule of law, freedom, love, literature. Yes, one could argue that war is as well. Or violence or murder or rape or any number of bad things we try to rid ourselves of. While suffering of animals is "a bad thing", one which I would try not to encourage through eating meat, careful animal husbandry and the consumption of the end product isn't. Yes, an animal's life is taken away. But would you argue that we should let the lion become extinct because it kills gazelles? The lion adds little or no practical value to the earth's biosphere. If it became extinct, like almost all apex predators (except man), the planet would hardly notice. There might be a few more population explosions and crashes but the balance would probably be maintained through famine, disease, drought and so on anyway. Yet many animals would be spared the violent end to their lives if lions were banned. Is that morally better than allowing small pockets of natural predation to occur in areas where human pressures are limited? Following that through logically, if stopping to eat meat is such a moral imperative, should we not try to find a way to stop all predation if we can? Eliminate all suffering through the killing of other animals by whatever species? Capture all predators, confine them to zoos and feed them Quorn and tofu? I know, hyperbole. It's only illustrative. You may think this is just excuses. Well, yes, so it is. All behaviour can only be justified by excuses. But the excuses are valid nonetheless. You might not agree with them, but they are valid and they deserve to be argued against with more than simply "it's wrong and immoral because animals are killed and all animals want to live". If you have a moral objection to me eating meat, then you will have to work much harder than simply condemning a natural behaviour that is neither illegal nor generally accepted as being immoral. Sorry, but I am not persuaded. Yet! Ajkgordon (talk) 23:11, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, food is very important, culturally, and in some places the meat ingredients are an integral part of that. I am under no illusion that there is a loss involved. But - and you'll have to forgive my crassness here, since no other example comes to mind - slavery was an integral part of the way of life in the American South. The cultural importance of an immoral practice is sad but irrelevant.
I don't take moral responsibility for a lion's killing, any more than I take responsibility for an ant's theft... why would I? I don't even really follow your logic. I think it's wrong for human beings to cause pain and kill animals for the sake of a taste and culture preference, but why would that imply that human beings must take moral responsibility for all animals? What is the link? I mean, presumably you believe that rape is wrong - does that therefore mean you should expected to start policing orangutans? Of course not.
Nor do I agree that "all behavior can only be justified by excuses," since if an excuse were "valid" then you'd just call it reasoning, and cite your chain of logic that leads you to conclude that it's okay to cause the suffering and death of animals for the sake of a taste preference and cultural continuity. I guess it's good you admit that you're only making excuses, but that's not the only way to justify behavior. There's also careful thought, moral consideration, and the courage to do right.--ADtalkModerator 23:54, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, it's crass and I won't forgive it! OK, I admit, it's good reasoning. Just because something is culturally traditional doesn't make it ethical. But I wasn't saying that. I was simply pointing out that eating meat is more than simple taste - a mistake that proselytising vegetarians often make. To many of us, eating meat is much more than that as I described above. Just telling us that we can eat plants instead and get the same nutritional value from them and even good enough taste rather misses the point. (The unthinking mass consumer of frozen fish fingers and supermarket ready meals is another matter.)
Of lions and ants..... It's simply an extension of trying to persuade me not to eat meat. You are taking moral responsibility in trying to persuade me to abstain. But why stop at humans? Does the gazelle suffer less being killed by a lion than a sheep being killed by a (humane) human?
Of excuses and reasoning..... Sorry, definitions. I was using the word in a broader sense, as in justification. To clarify, my reasons for eating meat, or rather thinking it is ethical, are indeed carefully thought out and morally considered. And I am not persuaded that there is anything wrong in doing so. Again, you seem to be assuming that I must draw the conclusion that eating meat is not right and moral before persuading me. While all your other reasoning is obviously well thought out, rational and very well presented, you are still, in my view, putting the horse before the cart and jumping straight to the moral judgement without laying out your case. You're assuming that I must draw the same conclusion as you by essentially making an emotional plea.
On another note, have you considered the suffering caused to animals by arable agriculture when deciding whether you should eat grain? The pesticides that kill innumerable insects, the land clearances that wipe out huge populations of mammals and birds often in terrifying fashion, the fertilisers (even the green ones) that feed algal blooms that suffocate our rivers and kill the fish. How many sparks of awareness are indiscriminately extinguished for every bowl of muesli or slice of toast? These questions are, of course, rhetorical. We all know how much of an effect six billion humans have on our fellow inhabitants of this planet. It's not a defence of meat eating nor a criticism of vegetarianism. It's simply a wry look at the reality of the impact of a human life. We all have a moral duty to consider these things and make the best compromise we can, even though most of us don't. Ajkgordon (talk) 07:53, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
The reason I do not feel like I am morally responsible for all of Nature is the same reason that you are not, although presumably you feel that theft is wrong. Animals are not moral agents, even if (as I argue) they still deserve moral consideration. An animal cannot do wrong, because an animal does not know wrong. Nor does the lion have an alternative in his diet; as I argue, eating meat for subsistence is probably going to be okay. So even if I were to decide that I am personally responsible for everything bad that happens in the world, the natural processes of Nature probably wouldn't merit intervention in most cases, for the same reason that someone living deep in the bush and hunting to survive is probably justified in doing so. Survival is a very different reason than taste preference, after all. But to reiterate: you fail to explain why I would necessarily be responsible for all of Nature, just because I believe animal life and preventing animal suffering has moral weight.
My plea is not emotional, but rather is based on a very fundamental argument - one that, if you'll pardon me, you have not yet actually addressed. I argue, here and at greater length in my essay, that animals deserve moral consideration, because they have some indeterminate level of rights, because any way in which you assign rights will of necessity include most species of animals or will exclude a large proportion of human beings. To take this a bit further would require knowing your own ethical considerations... are you, for example, a preference utilitarian? Or maybe you subscribe to a folk morality, acting based on what feels right or ad hoc rules? In other words, before I can tell you in more exact terms why it's right to care about animal suffering, how do you decide what's right?
Yes, I have considered the animals killed during agricultural production. I address it at length here:[9]. Maybe you could read through my essay, actually?--ADtalkModerator 16:36, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I had read your essay. I'd forgotten that bit.
Yes, I agree that animals deserve moral considerations and I do care about animal suffering, (careful with the assumptions, AD!). That should be abundantly clear from what I have already said. It's simply a question of weight. You ascribe a much higher "unethical score" to taking an animal's life than I do, even when that life is taken with respect, consideration and care. For you, it's a fundamental - that taking an animal's life is wrong, full stop. I don't agree. My view is that the human experience is very valuable, mine included. For me, rearing an animal in good conditions (or hunting or fishing for a wild one), slaughtering it humanely, and then eating it adds considerably to my quality of life and that of my family and friends. That has a value and a cost. Part of that cost is the death of animals. I know you can't agree that the cost is worth it, but that's OK. I will continue to assess my moral position on eating meat. Your arguments have been by far the best ones I have ever heard and I will use them as an excellent resource. Ajkgordon (talk) 20:01, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I think I understand your position: you think that it's wrong for animals to die (and often, to suffer to some degree), but it just isn't important enough to outweigh the personal benefit to yourself and others. But how do you make that determination? You obviously have huge incentives to decide in a manner that benefits you and which unavoidably skews your judgment, especially if it's just a gut level assessment. I'm not accusing you of "fudging the numbers," mind - only a saint could have truly impeccable judgment when their way of life and two or three meals a day are on the line! Since neither of us are saints: how have you kept yourself honest, and kept yourself from weighting animals' lives at exactly the point at which you feel okay with your conscience ("Their lives are worth something...") and where you don't have to inconvenience yourself ("...just not enough to change anything about my life.")?--ADtalkModerator 20:22, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Somewhere in my beekeeping studies I came across the notion that milk and honey are the only foods produced in such surplus that they may be eaten without cutting off a life. That may be easily debunked by considering the number of avocado plants directly resulting from my consumption of the meaty flesh around their seeds, or the peach tree that volunteered from my compost pile, to be transplanted out into the yard. Seed grains are obviously a different story, as are root vegetables. In those cases, eating them prevents the organism's continued life. I wonder if lettuce or kale could be sustainably grown if only some fraction of their leaves were taken for consumption.
Many of the hives I saw as a state inspector had been started from mail-order packages from breeders in warmer climates. Three pounds of bees, with about a half pint of syrup in a can, to keep them alive in transit, occupy about as much space as a toaster. There is usually also a queen in the package, caged with a handful of attendant workers in a hollow block of wood about the size of a pack of chewing gum. The US Post Office was accustomed to shipping these packages every spring. Sadly, package bees and migratory pollinating services made it so that transportation by human action was the vector for a number of bee diseases, contributing to the rough shape that industry is in today.
My own hives came from captured swarms. If I hadn't given them a box to live in, they would have found a hollow tree instead. When manipulating the boxes and frames that were home to my bees, I used pine-needle smoke to chase them away from places where crushing was soon liable to happen, not because I am soft-hearted (I am) but because a crushed bee gives off an alarm pheromone, and a colony of annoyed bees is not so much fun to work with. Consistent with good beekeeping practice when robbing them of their honey in the fall, I always left them enough to make it through the coming winter.
No matter how carefully the hive is worked, bees will die whenever it is opened. In my view, that is morally equivalent to the living epithelial cells I may have rinsed down the drain when I shaved this morning. An individual bee is a transient component of the superorganism that is the colony. Conventional wisdom has it that a honeybee colony needs about as much food, water, air, and sheltered living space as a chicken. Like some chickens, bees forage for their own food and water. Like chickens, they are stressed by overcrowding, such as happens in the wintering depots of migratory pollinating businesses. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 19:59, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Even milk is not immune to criticism; you need to account for all the useless bullocks. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD memberModerator 21:17, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

@AD: Could you expand on this statement a bit?

In the same way that it is abhorrent to torture a cat for the sake of viewing pleasure, it is wrong to eat a cat (or cow) for the sake of tasting its flesh.

I might be missing something here, but you seem to be conflating psychotic wanton cruelty with slaughtering animals for food. Robledo (talk) 20:27, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Regardless of whether you personally find it appealing, it doesn't seem to me like you can consider it wrong or immoral to torture an animal for viewing pleasure if you think it would be okay to torture and kill it for tasting pleasure. They're both just enjoyment of the animal, without regard for the pain/death caused as a byproduct.--ADtalkModerator 22:14, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
It's quite a leap to equate torture for the purpose of sadistic pleasure with animal suffering as a byproduct of farming practices. Robledo (talk) 22:36, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Why? We might disapprove of something like pit-fighting dogs or bull-baiting for secondary reasons, such as the brutalization it causes, but I honestly see no distinction between animal suffering as a byproduct for the purpose of entertainment, versus the purpose of flavor. But you might be right... what's the distinction between dog fights and dog soup, beyond the societal acceptance accorded the one?--ADtalkModerator 23:59, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
The distinction is a very obvious one of intent to cause extreme suffering. I assume you would agree with prosecuting those involved in dog fighting, but not those involved in farming. Robledo (talk) 00:46, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Seriously AD? You can't see the distinction? The pleasure of seeing or partaking in torture versus the taste of an animal's meat? You see, that's where you will lose the persuasive argument. It's a hell of a cognitive stretch not to see the distinction. Ajkgordon (talk) 08:01, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
The thrill of the fight and the gambling is the interesting part of a dog fight, inasmuch as I am aware, and usually the pain is incidental - although there are people who disagree and like that pain, just as there are people who think that it's important a dog die in pain before eating it (a phenomenon in rural Korea, where they are beaten to death in great pain). But regardless, if animals have no rights and merit no consideration, then why does it matter if someone enjoys causing them pain specifically?--ADtalkModerator 14:34, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Christ. I'll make myself clear: your argument is predicated on a category error. Intentionally torturing an animal for one's own perverse delight is in no way morally equivalent to causing an animal to suffer because of one's farming practices. Even in the most vile factory farm where extreme suffering is inevitable, the farmer is in a completely different moral category to the torturer because the farmer's intent is not to cause suffering for its own sake. Robledo (talk) 17:41, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I believe the original argument was considering that both 'torture' and 'supporting certain farming practices by eating meat' were wrong just because suffering was caused for no good reason (making your meal taste better by adding meat having been determined to be 'not a good reason'). According to that single criterion, intent does not have to even enter into the equation to determine right from wrong in this context. Nullahnung (talk) 18:06, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
You keep restating my argument so that it's something different. Again, to use the example of dog-fighting: when someone sets one dog on another, the pain and perhaps death of the animal is a byproduct, not conducted for its own sake. The animal is suffering that pain and death, again, not as a the primary purpose, but as a byproduct of an entertaining fight and the excitement of gambling. As far as I can tell, this is exactly the same as an animal suffering pain and death for the sake of someone meal: in both cases, the suffering and death of the animal is not the primary purpose, but a byproduct of human enjoyment (in the one instance, of fighting/gambling, and in the other of taste).
But again: why is that even relevant? If you think it's perfectly okay to eat animal flesh, then you must think that either animal suffering doesn't matter at all or else it matters so little that it's less important than a person's sensory pleasure, right? Because if animal suffering matters more than a human being's pleasure (be it in viewing a spectacle or enjoying a meal), then it wouldn't be right to force an animal to suffer and die for the sake of that pleasure, would it?
You do mention intent as a pivotal factor, but from seeing your previous discussions in other topics, I didn't think you determined ethics that way. Perhaps I am wrong - but even if intentions were what matters, surely you can't claim ignorance of the likely result of eating meat? You know that ordering a steak at a restaurant or buying a frozen chicken carcass will perpetuate on a corresponding scale the demand for meat, and that the likely result of your purchase is a correspondingly greater or perpetuated amount of animal suffering and death. How do your intentions enter into it at all, unless you have somehow convinced yourself that the chicken in your evening meal decided it didn't really want its legs?--ADtalkModerator 18:50, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Let's just stick with your original idea of torturing a cat for the hell of it. I assume you have different ideas about the kinds of punishments that cat torturers should receive versus those - if any - that should be meted out to meat eaters in general. If I'm right, could you please explain why these two groups should receive different punishments, or perhaps why one should receive no punishment at all? Thanks, Robledo (talk) 19:19, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I hope that after I answer this, you will oblige me by replying to my own inquiries, even if you find them inconvenient?
Your own question is an interesting one, but has little to do with animal rights and more to do with theories of government. Right now, eating meat isn't punished because our society and the people making the laws overwhelmingly think it's okay to eat meat. But I assume your question has to do with my ideal society, governed by the things I think are moral?
Their punishment would probably be the same, I suppose. Torturing and killing an animal - animal cruelty - would be a crime. Whether you ate the carcass or not, or your motivations otherwise, would be relevant only to sentencing purposes.
So anyway: if you think it's perfectly okay to eat animal flesh, then you must think that either animal suffering doesn't matter at all or else it matters so little that it's less important than a person's sensory pleasure, right? Because if animal suffering matters more than a human being's pleasure (be it in viewing a spectacle or enjoying a meal), then it wouldn't be right to force an animal to suffer and die for the sake of that pleasure, would it?--ADtalkModerator 19:40, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm happy to answer your question, but you seem to have slightly ducked mine. Your reply implies that the cat torturer and the meat eater would receive sentences of differing severity. Let's assume that the meat eater has farmed and slaughtered his animals according to today's "humane" standards. How much more severe would the cat torturer's sentence be, and how do you reconcile this with claiming a direct moral equivalence between the two cases? Robledo (talk) 20:18, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I absolutely didn't mean to duck your question, but rather tried to indicate through a general standard that such cases are equivalent. If I was judge and jury (something which, incidentally, I would regard as itself unjust) and assuming that meat-eating was no longer the norm (since right now that would be a big mitigating factor), then someone who had purchased a large amount of meat over the years would receive roughly the same sentence as someone who had personally tortured an animal to death. The extension might be with drug policy: aggregate second-degree offenses weighed against a severe first-degree offense. If the torturer had tortured many animals to death, of course, he would get a much worse sentence.--ADtalkModerator 20:27, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Cheers. For the record, I think your position on this is nuts, and that you're making a fundamental category error re. their moral equivalence, but I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. In answer to your question, I don't believe that animals have any intrinsic rights beyond those we accord them. My personal preference for framing those rights would see protection from wanton cruelty such as torture for sadistic pleasure, and for farming / slaughtering practices to be as "humane" as circumstances allow.
In practice, this means I would always support the prosecution of someone who tortures a cat for the hell of it, or of a farmer who wilfully neglects or mistreats his animals, but that I'm pretty relaxed about the meat in my burger. Robledo (talk) 21:46, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Okay, so animals have no intrinsic rights, and deserve no moral consideration. Then why do you care about whether or not slaughter is humane? Unlike something like torture for pleasure, it's clearly not having any greater effect - the cattleman isn't brutalized by the practice and the consumer probably never knows.--ADtalkModerator 22:13, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
I suppose it's a bit of a car crash of anthropomorphism and empathy. Something along the lines of which would I prefer: captive bolt or having my throat slit? There's also what it says about us as human beings: I'd rather live in a world where we aim to minimise the suffering experienced by the animals we eat. Robledo (talk) 23:34, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
Okay, fair enough. So there's no actual moral backing behind your preference, you just prefer it as a sort of aesthetic thing and/or knowingly fallacious assignment of humanity onto animals? Yet if I understand you right, you also think that animal cruelty should be punished as a crime. That seems inconsistent - you don't really think animals merit any moral consideration, but you're willing to punish human beings who violate it?--ADtalkModerator 19:32, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm more concerned with what animal cruelty says about those who engage in such acts. To stick with the cat torturer for a bit, then at best it hints at pretty deep-seated psychological damage that requires some form of intervention. Part of that intervention should probably be a strong statement of disapproval and criminal charges seem a perfectly good way of doing that. Robledo (talk) 19:37, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Ah, so you are imposing criminal sanctions because it's not good for the person to be inflicting pain for fun! Okay, interesting.
So we've established that you don't think that animals have rights, and that while we punish animal cruelty, it's only for the good of the people involved, not because they've done anything morally wrong. I think my next question might be why human beings have rights?--ADtalkModerator 21:13, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Jesus. It's a baseline assumption that we have to make, much like assuming the existence of an external world in which the rule of causation applies. I'm aware it's taken us a long time to develop a sense of universal human rights, and that these rights are still very unevenly applied in many places, but I like to think they always were / will be the case, whether or not we had / have the capacity to recognise it. Robledo (talk) 23:04, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm not challenging the idea, I just want to know why you think those rights exist, so I can find out why you assign them to humans but not to animals.--ADtalkModerator 23:54, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Sorry to but in here, but AD, you're making too many jumps again. Rights are a legal concept and, as humans are the only species capable of making law, any rights accorded animals are obviously a human construct. There's nothing intrinsic about them, they are entirely artificial. As are human rights, for that matter, but that's another subject. But even if animals have no intrinsic rights, it doesn't follow that they deserve no moral consideration. That's the jump too far and I can't see how you can make it. It's clear that Robledo (like me and others here) does make moral considerations about animal welfare. Ajkgordon (talk) 11:31, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
"Intrinsic rights" as a moral construct (it does have meanings outside of legal systems imo, but I shall not get into silly semantics arguments if you disagree) really depends on your view of morality, doesn't it? AD has stated (or implied) that he is a preference utilitarian. Supposedly animals would intrinsically hold rights by virtue of their very intrinsic preferences as a direct consequence of such a moral system. Nullahnung (talk) 12:35, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough. My main point was about moral consideration. Even if somebody doesn't believe that animals have any rights, it doesn't follow that they then deserve no moral consideration. Ajkgordon (talk) 14:22, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
As pointed out, rights are very much a moral concept, and the basis for much of the resulting legal philosophy: it's only a crime to violate someone's natural rights in American law because those natural rights were first presumed to exist outside of the law (c.f. John Locke). But okay, like I said, everyone's morality is their own.
I do agree that Robledo, and most people, do show some concern for animal welfare. That's my whole point: that's largely inconsistent. If animals deserve moral consideration, then doesn't that moral consideration override your personal taste preference? I'm trying to think of other moral considerations that are considered less important than flavoring a meal, and I can't think of any. When you have an easy alternative, how can you justify causing immense suffering and death in order to make your food taste better?
As I said elsewhere, an enormous amount of people decide they don't want to stop eating meat, and assign animals enough consideration so that they don't feel bad, because it's commensurate with everyone else, but not enough so that they'd actually have to change anything about their lives.--ADtalkModerator 19:32, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Or maybe the consideration isn't artificially limited just enough so they don't feel bad. Rather that with all things considered including the welfare of the animal, meat eating is still acceptable. You're still making those jumps, AD. Ajkgordon (talk) 20:00, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
So wait... I point out that I suspect that many people weight their consideration of animal welfare enough so that meat-eating is still acceptable, because they make such judgments in an ad hoc and inconsistent way, and your reply is that... maybe that's just their judgment? What?
My entire point is that people have absolutely every incentive to come to that judgment, because it's not only socially acceptable, but the social norm, and because it improves their lives markedly to eat tastier food, and because in many cultures there's a shared heritage based around the practice. Faced up against that are vague concerns about ethics and the well-being of psychologically (and often physically) distant animals, and occasionally annoying people on the Internet. It's a wholly inconsistent contest, weighted strongly in favor of one outcome, and with the sole arbiter being the person who benefits hugely from that outcome and suffers not at all.
In light of that, I was suggesting that it was extremely convenient that so many people came to the conclusion that did, in fact, benefit them the most. Yes, obviously that might be the "right" choice under their ethical schema, but to act as though that's a rebuttal or that I've made too many "jumps" just misses the whole point. My point was to prompt reflection of the incentives involved in the choice and the fact that, if it's based on a gut feeling of what seems "right," it might not be a coincidence that what seems right to your gut strongly favors the tastiest version of what goes into your gut.--ADtalkModerator 20:25, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I get that. I understand your point. You don't understand mine. I'm sure that the vast majority of meat-eaters don't even think that far, let alone weigh up any ethical considerations. But some of us do and some of us do not just happen to draw the conclusion that's the most convenient for us. Insisting that's what we must be doing is the jump too far, even if that's true for most people. Ajkgordon (talk) 21:08, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I have pointedly not insisted that. I have carefully specified "many" people, at every turn, and certainly without pointing fingers at you. Don't manufacture insult when none is offered. I have asked the question, and if you have indeed already arrived at that decision and you have faith in your own ability to judge such matters... well, congratulations, I guess? Most people do not, is my point. As I have explicitly said. I wouldn't trust myself to make that call based on a gut assessment, but everyone gets to make that call their own way.
So why don't animals have any rights?--ADtalkModerator 21:27, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
No insult manufactured or taken. But you should re-read your previous post.
This conversation risks going rapidly downhill. You are no longer being persuasive but verging on the strident. I respect your views and I will continue to assess my meat-eating habits, the compromises I make with every decision I take, and the consideration I have for everything impacted by my choices. Ajkgordon (talk) 22:10, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
We can certainly terminate the discussion, if you wish. If you do, then thank you for your time and for the consideration of my views.
If you wish to continue, maybe we could explore why you think animals don't have any rights, while people do.--ADtalkModerator 23:06, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
AD keeps reiterating pain and torture as part of his argument against eating meat; to my mind they are not necessary accoutrements to the process but hey, the sure as hell ramp up the appeal to emotion. Nobody disputes that animals die in the process, but all animals die and in the case of my dogs and cats I played an active part in their demise by ensuring that they didn't die in chronic pain. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD memberModerator 08:13, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
It is extremely rare that an animal is raised to slaughter without pain, and such animals represent an amazingly tiny fraction of meat consumed. I obviously can't give exact figures, but it must be well under 1%, and probably well under 0.01%. And yes, all animals die, but so do all humans - obviously it's taking control of that process that is the relevant thing.--ADtalkModerator 14:34, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
[citation needed]? Redchuck.gif ГенгисevolvingModerator 11:42, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Like I said, I don't have statistics on hand - I'm not sure where you might even get them from. That's why I'd be willing to lowball it at even only 1%. Is this something you're seriously challenging, and actually doubt, or was that a reflex?--ADtalkModerator 19:19, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Would you be alright with eating animal meat if all slaughter was humane and painless? I know you answered this with "no, because animals do would want to live if given the choice", but has your position changed any? Nullahnung (talk) 03:17, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I can confidently say that AD's opinion won't have changed - ask yourself if you would be happy to be killed and eaten even if it was humane & painless. Tielec01 (talk) 03:26, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, not me, but projecting my own preferences onto animals would amount to "anthropomorphism", right? Anyways, on to my actual point. Meet Peter Singer, preference utilitarian and anti-meat-eating philosopher (because slaughtering causes pain). But Singer contends that "animals have no preference to not die", therefore theoretically it would be ok to kill them for taste if it didn't cause them pain. Nullahnung (talk) 03:51, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm quite familiar with Singer mate, and he makes precisely the opposite claim as far as I am aware. Tielec01 (talk) 03:54, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
If what you say is true, then we have misrepresented Singer in our article about him and ought to rewrite that part... Nullahnung (talk) 03:56, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I can dig out my book of his collected works and double-check but I would almost bet my house on it. He may have conceded the point as a rhetorical device (even if we assumed that animals had no will to live...) Tielec01 (talk) 04:01, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
It would be appreciated if you could double-check. If Singer only conceded it as a rhetorical device then this passage in our article grossly misrepresents him: "Although Singer is a professed vegetarian, he does not believe it is wrong in principle to kill animals for food. Since most animals likely have no concept of death, they cannot have a desire to go on living. Therefore, in and of itself, killing animals is not wrong. Nonetheless, Singer still opposes meat-eating, since although the animals have no preference to not die, they do have a preference to not feel pain - and the processes of farming and slaughtering will inevitably cause them pain, thus violating their preferences." Nullahnung (talk) 04:06, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I will look it up. Unfortunately with Singer you can be guaranteed that the answer is not as simple as either of the positions we are advocating. My feeling is that we are muddling up his concept of replacability here as a concession that animals wouldn't prefer life over death. I also have a vague premonition that his position might have evolved since his original works in 1979 so at one point in time our article might have been (and may still be) correct. Tielec01 (talk) 05:21, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
All of the above just seems like tip-toeing around the issue of animal rights. How and why to assign... I realize in your essay you sort of try not to limit the audience via the writing choice not addressing the moral issues in detail, but as I have watched this discussion unfold, it inevitably seems to be slipping towards the issue of animal rights. Nullahnung (talk) 15:49, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

I kind of agree with Nullahnung - but as I pointed out way back at the start of this thread these conversations are useless without first discussing the other person's general approach to morality. From there you can discuss the torturous living conditions in most of the world's factory farms (which probably account for over half of the world's meat) - confident that you can address the other person's moral concerns. Then you can move onto the relatively rare cases of animals that have been raised stress/anxiety free then slaughtered. Finally you can discuss the merits of eating animals which have died of natural causes. I think that these three situations broadly cover the spectrum of issues (obviously not entirely). Without doing this you will end up arguing in circles as people's definition of morality is likely to change on the fly; depending on what argument makes them feel better about their behaviour. Under certain systems of morality it's definitely not wrong to eat animals; it's just, in my opinion, no-one actually subscribes to those morality systems until they are confronted with their own immoral behaviour.

In any case I think the conversation about animal rights is going to be tricky AD when participants in this conversation have stated that they don't really think that human have rights. You have stated several times in this thread that eating animals amounts to torturing animals for the benefit of our taste-buds; other people have found this argument unconvincing. Perhaps it might be worthwhile working out why they disagree then addressing those arguments? Tielec01 (talk) 01:20, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Not to imply that you didn't try to nail people down on a coherent moral perspective AD. Tielec01 (talk) 01:50, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Top 5 works of FICTION that have blown your mind[edit]

Alright, we did non-fiction, now it's time for fiction! Any medium, any genre, as long as it makes you think. I'll start:

  1. "All Good Things," the series finale to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yes, I know, I'm a wee bit obsessive over ST, but it really is a phenomenal achievement, especially in that final scene.
  2. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, anime series. If you still picture Speed Racer when you hear the word "anime," give this fourteen-episode science-fiction-romance-dramedy-bildungsroman-TV-novel-of-ideas a try.
  3. Homestuck, a webcomic. Well, a web "thing"; most comics don't feature video sequences or interactive games. Blows your mind about sixteen thousand times.
  4. WALL-E, animated film. Just about the most fantastic film I've ever seen. Everything I love about the human race is in there somewhere.
  5. Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, short story by Jorge Luis Borges. In only a few thousand short words it skullfucks your understanding of metaphysics. That is honestly the only way I can explain it. (It's also the namesake of our dear friend Smerdis.)

So, what other works of fiction does the wiki adore? Wehpudicabok [話] [変] 08:23, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

This is far more complex than the non fiction because age is a major factor. When I was about ten it was Swallows And Amazons, then, naturally, I went through the adolescent obsession with Tolkein, the student me went "Oh wow!" at Steppenwolf and The Green Child (god, I'm predictable) and then I found Kipling.
So, do you mean now, or then? Innocent Bystander (talk) 09:06, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Star Wars, when I was ten, front row seat at the Odeon in Torquay. While waiting to go in I saw a boy go past on a skateboard (then the latest invention from America). Wow, I thought, we're in the future! The world was alive with possibility after possibility. Then punk came along and told me that actually everything's a bit shit. SophieWilderModerator 09:25, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
'a scanner, darkly'. The only book where I have identified completely with the characters. So many parallels to my own life it depressed the fucking shit out of me. AMassiveGay (talk) 10:18, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
That part in A Scanner Darkly where they discussed a hash robot walking through customs proclaiming to have nothing to declare had me in tears of laughter. Acei9 10:40, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Anyways -

  • The Shining
  • A Fraction of the Whole
  • Brave New World
  • The Beach
  • The Wasp Factory.
(Subject to change depending on my whims at the time...)Acei9 10:44, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Voyage - Stephen Baxter
  • Excession - Iain M Banks
  • Mars Trilogy - Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Rendevouz With Rama - Arthur C Clarke
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
I know, I know. So bite me. Ajkgordon (talk) 11:03, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Consider yourself bitten. Acei9 11:10, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Catch22
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • H2G2
  • Anything by Iain Banks (with or without the "M")
  • Ditto almost any SF author pre 1990
Scream!! (talk) 11:09, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Farscape
  • The Big O (Anime, weird, must see if you haven't)
  • Supernatural
  • Doctor Who
  • Star Wars (ANH, TESB, and ROTJ)
  • Star Wars EU (Not all of them, but the X-Wing series is good, as is a lot of the later stuff)
  • About ½ of anything P K Dick did, same with Piers Anthony, much more of Alan Dean Foster
  • Most of Terry Pratchett's work
  • J V Jones, stunning stuff, original trilogy not brilliant but you can see her learning to write, post-first trilogy absolutely brilliant (The Barbed Coil and The Sword of Shadows series)
  • Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
  • And I could fit in so many more --Stunteddwarf Jabba de Chops 11:41, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

You RW people and your sci-fi. Don't sink as all with you atheist nerd shit. Come on, fellas. Jesus....you people...Acei9 11:46, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

The Bible blew my mind and I never got it back. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you.Moderator 12:32, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Does Hoban's Riddley Walker count as sci-fi? Irregardless, it's at the top of my list, far beyond all others.
Joyce's Ulysses was a mind-changer too, first read that one in my middle twenties, and I come back to it every so often. Anyone thinking that's pretentious may take a long hike off a short jetty; I like the man's use of language.
The rest are all merged into a blur. My sister got really mad when we were young teens, and I went around saying "gollum." She wanted The Hobbit to be her own personal universe, I guess. That's about the time of life when I read T.H. WHite's The Once and Future King. Would read again, if I had two weeks by the ocean with nothing better to do.
My daughter suggested Venus, Inc. by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth. You should read that one. All of you should read that one, even Ace. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 13:15, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Thumbs up for TOaFK. Read that a few times as a kid. And Lord of the Flies.--Stunteddwarf Jabba de Chops 17:33, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Jumper, Steven Gould. A poorly-written science fiction novel about a young man who gains the ability to teleport, Jumper was one of my favorite books as a kid. I got it out of the library repeatedly, and it is probably the leading edge of my interest in narrative structure. I thought it was fascinating the way the first-person narration and its incomplete information made the whole thing more dramatic, although I certainly couldn't have explained it that way at the time. Don't read it, it's not very good, really.
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand. Like many idiots, I was an objectivist as a teenager. Rand's justification of arrogance, absolutism, and asinine morality tales strongly appealed to me. It's a very romantic story, in the sense that it is about people who refuse to compromise - a quality at the heart of all romance. Fortunately, I have since grown up.
  • The First Forty-Nine Stories, Ernest Hemingway. Beauty.
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. Poetry.
  • Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges. Magic.--ADtalkModerator 13:16, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Slaughterhouse V by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 13:58, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Another vote for Borges, too. I had a collection of his short stories and it certainly blew my mind, but I can't remember what it was called. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 14:05, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
It was Labyrinths. (Thanks, Smerdis!) Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:15, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

This is somewhat harder than for works of non-fiction. Mine would be:

  • Labyrinths, Jorge Luis Borges, the collection I read them first in
  • Les chants de Maldoror - Comte de Lautréamont
  • Deathbird Stories - Harlan Ellison
  • Wonder Woman - Wm. Moulton Marston
  • A rebours - Joris-Karl Huysmans

- Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 16:02, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

  • Star Wars (ANH and general franchise), because, well, its my favorite movie/franchise still
  • Homestuck Because my friends have introduced me to something wonderful.
  • Isaac Asimov's collected works, Because hes my favorite science fiction (and sometimes non fiction) writer.
  • Hitchhikers Guide
  • Doctor Who Because friends again
Im very much so a star wars nerd. --Mikal | lakiM 18:11, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Like many people here (interesting) Borges is pretty big for me, especially in high school. I've probably read The Library of Babel two dozen times (only eight or ten pages) and each time I take something else away.
  • Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (I am Marlow after all)
  • Dune - Frank Herbert another one I've read a bunch of times, one of the great works of imagination, right up there with Tolkein IMHO, although the sequels getting increasingly unreadable and Herbert's weird politics become increasingly apparent.
  • Moby Dick - Herman Melville. I somehow made it through twenty years of school without anyone forcing me to read it, which is probably a good thing. I picked it up last summer and highly recommend it. It's a surprisingly easy read that's funny and exciting, but also incredibly deep and insightful and still relevant to the American, maybe Western in general, experience.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centuari. It doesn't really come close to any of the above books, but a hell of a story for a turn based strategy game. I wanted to put some vidya in here as I think there is a lot of untapped narrative potential in the field, so it bumps out some Cormac McCarthy book for a spot on the list. --Marlow (talk) 19:26, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Nyarlathotep, H.P. Lovecraft. It's one I can keep reading time and time again.
  • The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty; but only after I did a little reading about its various layers of meaning and replayed it recently. It's a pretty clumsy and unendearing game at times (frankly, it's not very pleasant to look at, listen to, or control compared to later titles) but its allegories, structure and the fact that so much of it was received the way it was makes it an interesting game to think about.
  • The Handmaid's Tale, basically the first (and, uh, to this date) only feminist fiction I'd read, as part of my coursework. It ended up being the only book on the course I actively wanted to keep reading.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, for absolutely no intellectual reason whatsoever, it's just got an awesome ending soundtrack bosses everything. Polite Timesplitter Cultural loneliness is a right pain 14:07, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I'll bite.


  • Battle Royale is nothing like what I had read before. It was gorey, descriptive and most importantly stared children (8th graders, listed at 3rd Year Jr. High) doing brutal things to each other. It was striking, sad and infuriating.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization V is not for it's gameplay (though that's incredible) but how much history is packed so tightly into the game. Oda Nobunaga (Japan) acts like an aggressive "I own everything" military while Gustavus Adolphus (Sweden) tends to not get involved and George Washington (America, perplexingly) tends to carry one of the biggest armies but the most reluctant to use it. In addition, the Civopedia is a limited scope packed to the brim encyclopedia for the specific subjects of the game, chronicling the birth and rise of civilizations to their modern history, specific units (the entry on Samurai is of stellar quality and depth). You could get lost in the game's encyclopedia for hours and never actually play the game.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Spec Ops: The Line: Can games induce hatred and a sense of dread? These two proved it. CoD did it by showing how ruthless people can be given a trap and nuclear weapons nuclear weapons can be the bane of this world by putting you into the body of a man dying from broken legs, radiation poisoning and hallucinating about children playing on a swing set as the radiation wind is still going by. Spec Ops conversely looks at the player right in the face and says "FUCK. YOU." by basically making them evil and constantly reminding them of all the bad things they are doing to civilians as all you wanted to do was play the hero. It's an exercise in extreme self-hate.
  • District 9: Can a movie have everything? Great action? Check. Compelling story? Check. Interesting characters with flaws and depth? Check. Culturally relevant? Check. 90% of the dialogue being improvised on the spot? Oh big check there. This is the sort of movie where everything seems to come together is even more mindblowing when you learn it was a science fiction movie made for a paltry $30,000,000 (and got a $210m box office grab).
  • Pacific Rim: Mindblowing. A giant monster film that centers around the characters, not the monsters, the war or how it's fought. It was the first movie in a long time that I saw in 3D or IMAX and when I combined both I was positively stunned at how much fun I was having. When Gypsy Danger has her moment of glory I just wanted to pump my fist in the air and scream "FUCK YEAH!" in a crowded theater. Zero (talk) 15:03, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Who needs atheism+ when you can go to an atheist church?[edit]

Weird or what? An atheist church holding services on a Sunday.--Weirdstuff (talk) 19:03, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Oh no. No no no no no. Osaka Sun (talk) 19:11, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Not all that weird--Mikal | lakiM 19:38, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
But why a Sunday morning? Friday afternoon would be a better choice. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you.Moderator 19:42, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
It sounds like it would be just as boring as real church. Pass. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 20:06, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Who needs an atheist church when you've already got Unitarians? --Kels (talk) 22:19, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
<pedantry> Unitarianism is not be definition atheistic. Many UUs believe in some form of God/gods/the divine, and both churches that merged to form Unitarian Universalism were at one point Christian churches </pedantry>PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 01:05, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
My Iranian ex-colleague actually assumed all modern Christians were Unitarian. We were at a pub with some sort of reference to the trinity, and he commented about how strange that was and I explained that actually most Christian sects he'd have heard of are Trinitarian. Fortunately for him the Iranian religious police don't know shit about Christianity either because he once pretended to be Christian to avoid jail for kissing a girl or something, if they'd asked him like, any basic question he'd have gotten the answer wrong. Although, hmm, actually maybe they've tried that and found actual Christians all get this stuff wrong too. I bet most of the under-25s at my local church don't know that Unitarianism vs Trinitarianism was actually a thing. Or how they picked which Jewish texts get to be in the Old Testament and which are left out. Shit, if you're Muslim probably 90% of the stories you know about Jesus are from material that's now considered apocryphal and left out of the Bible, yet it was "gospel" back in Mohammed's day. Tialaramex (talk) 14:31, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
The typical Christian's ignorance of Christianity is stupendous. Basically they have the Sunday School version of everything in their heads, mixed in with scraps of sermons, and never crack open the text. (Mainstream C of E, I'm thinking of here.) This is why "the sort of Christian who's actually read the Bible" is a distinct thing - David Gerard (talk) 14:59, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I'd guess that most never progress beyond a children's Bible stories level. They'll know about the jolly myths, some Psalms and probably the Gospels & Acts if they pursued divinity at school; and even if they are regular church-goers then a most of that is just a bit of a sing-song and listening to some moralising from the priest. Certainly in the UK, Bible reading appears to be much less common amongst the average church-goer than in the US. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you.Moderator 15:22, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Our local vicar is a top chap, very intelligent, nuanced educated and knowledgeable. Degree in classics (as well as one in music and one in theology), has no doubt read the New Testament in the original Greek. His sermons are really very good, and I'm saying that as an atheist. His flock are one rung above the local Pentecostals. I cringed at the Christmas service when one seriously put forward Matthew as evidence of the fulfilment of Isaiah, rather than clearly having been written with a copy to hand. Thus, you get the congregation you get, not the one you might ideally wish for - David Gerard (talk) 18:14, 16 September 2013 (UTC)


So... If the Illuminati was a freethinker organization dedicated to oppose superstition, prejudice, religious influence in public life, authoritarian abuses of power, and misogyny, what does that make RW? -- (talk) 22:42, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

A wiki. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 22:44, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
A WIKI OF ILLUMINATION! Seriously though, I find it interesting what the catholic church did to smear them... interesting history lesson. Now, the freethinkers are much more prevalent and less secretive-- (talk) 22:47, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Aha! Now that would have been a good name for this site: IlluminatiWiki. I can't imagine any possible negative side effects from that choice. Nope, none whatsoever! All sarcasm aside, it is absolutely ridiculous how often freethinkers were (and are) suppressed. Thankfully this happens less often in today's world, but any suppression is too much. - GrantC (talk) 22:50, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
We might have our newest in-joke. Osaka Sun (talk) 23:04, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Indeed we may...-- (talk) 01:31, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
A conspiracy Secret Squirrel (talk) 21:19, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Let's dig her up again[edit]

Looks like sales must be flagging at the Daily Express again as there are bunch of Diana pictures and another conspiracy on the go. Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic?Moderator 22:48, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Is this the same conspiracy that the Daily Heil's touting (i.e. the SAS assassinated diana by shooting her tyres in the tunnel and shining a light in the driver's face) or have we got ourselves a case of competing conspiracies? Honestly I woulda thought people might have lost interest in this by now. 9/11 conspiracy theories seem to have dropped out of newspapers nearly a decade ago so why the hell are certain people still obsessed with this horseshit? Judge HoldenThe Judge Smiles 10:26, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
[10] - David Gerard (talk) 11:59, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Edit etiquette[edit]

Quick question - as I am not well-versed in wiki etiquette. What's the deal with putting a comment further back in the chain of comments? Imagine that the conversation has moved on from this point and then at a later date someone wants to respond to this original comment and simply jumps back here and indents it? I've been noticing it happen alot lately and sometimes it leaves a thread that makes little to no sense unless you use the view changes function. Tielec01 (talk) 03:37, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

I suggest using some extra indent.--"Shut up, Brx." 04:11, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
There's no particular guideline, but new comments partway down a thread may go unnoticed, or if they are responded to may leave some odd continuity as you mention, so it's sometimes better to add the comment at the bottom, or as a new thread, and make it clear what comment you're responding to. The only real rules are to make sure you sign & date your post, and don't ever putinsert it in the middle of somebody else's comment. WéáśéĺóíďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 06:45, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
thats what the TQ template does comment here Hamster (talk) 19:05, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Club Random[edit]

Rules of the game: Click on the "Random page" link under "Navigation" in the left column. Read carefully (or just skim) the article that opens and try spotting things that are outdated, badly worded or just plain wrong. Keep clicking "Random page" until you feel the urge to gouge your eyes out with a spork, or until the random process produces the same article for the third time - whichever comes first.--ZooGuard (talk) 17:18, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

I hate that game so much. --TheLateGatsby (The end of the dock ) 20:32, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

Avantgarde music is the best[edit]

Discussion is for fools who need to listen to music. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 22:13, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Meet progressive. Osaka Sun (talk) 22:16, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure, but sounds like you would enjoy Igorrr, An American Nihilist. Brutal Swing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYxu2G8zdEw
Myself, I respect this kind of music, but haven't gotten into it much. Nullahnung (talk) 02:53, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
It's weird, but I do like it. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 04:59, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Quirky, pretty electro FTW. --PsyGremlinZungumza! 06:11, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Speaking of VEVO ads, Reflektor. Osaka Sun (talk) 06:44, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Is Kayo Dot still around? I used to be friends with some members. DickTurpis (talk) 17:37, 17 September 2013 (UTC)


Just been reading a short article about the whole nature vs nurture about a gay gene. I don't really want to go into that but I have a question about genes in general.

I understand that there is a gene for eye colour, a gene that decides if you are right or left handed and gene for all manner of different things. So if in fact there is a genetic component to sexuality, would it have to be a single gene or can it be a number genes combining to produce a certain effect? AMassiveGay (talk) 15:52, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

It can really be any number of genes. I doubt it's exactly one base pair since it seems to happen regardless of family and would suggest that more than one base pair can cause it. Just my speculation, I care more about the person him/her/itself than why it's caused. Zero (talk) 15:59, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
yeh. I can understand why folk are interested in mapping genes from a sciencey point of view, but I find the nature vs nurture debate for sexuality a diversion AMassiveGay (talk) 16:05, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I am reminded of X-Men: The Last Stand (the X-Gene Suppressor) with a dash of Gundam SEED thrown in for good measure. Such ideas are ripe for abuse if genetic enhancement becomes a thing in humans. I want science to advance, but in the hands of the wrong engineer it can be quite horrific. Zero (talk) 16:11, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Potholer54 made a case about the 'gay gene' being linked to the 'wants lots of sex' gene. I don't know if he was actually positing that as the case (I don't believe he had sources) or if he was just using it as a hypothetical situation to explain how some less 'evolutionary' traits are passed along. Polite Timesplitter Cultural loneliness is a right pain 16:15, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
[EC] I've not the foggiest notion, nor glimmer of a clue, but /r/askscience has this to say about it. (That's the most relevant thread that came up when searching that subreddit for "gay gene.") TL;DR: "biological but not directly genetic" i.e. not the result of a single base pair, and with some talk of epigenetic factors in play. Alec Sanderson (talk) 16:17, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm afraid that the idea that there is "a gene for eye colour" or for being right or left-handed is a gross oversimplification. I know that blue/brown eye colour is the typical example, but it's really not that straightforward. --Weirdstuff (talk) 16:22, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, even eye color has as many as 16 genes associated with it. I assume you are referring to Xq28Wikipedia, the alleged "gay gene" (from the man who brought you the god gene). However, the original study has failed replication. — Unsigned, by: Nebuchadnezzar / talk / contribs
When something as complicated as sexuality is involved, it's probably many genes doing it. The more interesting question is why there would be such genes at all. Homosexuality is usually a sub-optimal reproductive strategy. But adaptation is the cornerstone of evolution; this is what's wrong with piffle like The Bell Curve. (If you are going to argue innate population differences in intelligence, you have to show that intelligence is less adaptive for some human groups than for others, and that seems quite unlikely.)
If homosexuality is genetic, there ought to be a showing either that it is adaptive, or that it is the byproduct of traits that are adaptive. I suspect that being gay may improve the reproductive fitness of your close relations; the association of gay people with the more developed forms of culture seems to be something that has held true in multiple places and times. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 16:55, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Remember, evolution is not an engineer. When you see a product of evolution you should think "Why not?" rather than "Why?". If a mutation makes some goats 20% taller, bright blue and, coincidentally resistant to a goat virus that is meanwhile killing off competitor goats right and left, you end up with a bunch of tall blue goats and no more goat virus. Being bright blue was not an adaptive change, just an accident. The existence of homosexuality in a population doesn't mean homosexuality is adaptive, it just means it's not sufficiently maladaptive to get wiped out. Like red hair (so far). What does red hair do for your reproductive fitness? Apparently (judging from some gingers I've spoken to) it causes people to yell abuse from passing vehicles and throw things at you, which seems maladaptive. But then, if that's true why does red hair dye sell so well? Are people a lot more enthusiastic about being yelled at by strangers than I thought?
Anyway, it's weird that we're so concerned about this. Outside of the "gays are the enemy" crazies I don't see why anybody would give a crap about finding a "gene for gay" or contrariwise proving that there is no such thing. Tialaramex (talk) 12:13, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Ah, but it does have implications! Simplistically, if there indeed be a gay gene or something to that effect, then we may more effectively decry such offensive sayings as "Gays are just men with some sort of mental disorder." or "Stop being confused, stupid!". Nullahnung (talk) 12:57, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
actually no. You think a gay gene will stop people being homophobic? Does being born black stop being racists? To such folk gay will always being an abomination. All that will change is their argument - instead of being seen to making sinful choices gays will just be seen to have some kind of disease, or dreadful mutation or just freaks of nature. They'll probably even insist it can cured if there is a physical cause. As for gays themselves, do we need to know? Will make any difference? No. For me, it in no way validates my orientation any more or less than if it was the result of getting barbie dolls as a child, personal choice or some inappropriate touching. It is a diversion that gets us focusing on why we are what we are when we should be focusing on how we deal with what we are AMassiveGay (talk) 14:42, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
In addition, basing your argument on one empirical fact is a bad idea. It essentially implies "Well, being gay is morally dubious, but people shouldn't be persecuted for it because they just can't help it." So what if it were a choice? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 15:12, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Well no, you misunderstand. I was going on about how ignorant people wrongfully perceive homosexuality as a state of confusion away from the natural and that has absolutely nothing to do with morality or moral dubiousness, simply a matter of being wrong about facts regardless of value judgement.
But AMassiveGay actually said something that makes more sense to me. One should focus on things that actually matter, as in the here and now, not on things you can't control, like your upbringing or your genes. Nullahnung (talk) 15:28, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
It wouldn't make a difference to me whether being gay is a specific genetic inheritance, somehow triggered, or something that's recruited by handing out leaflets. Most people seem to be under the impression that their sexual orientation is something that just caught them unawares. Some have wanted and tried to change, but their success rate has not been impressive. That it is innate seems the easiest explanation. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 00:13, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

The greatest work of literature of our time[edit]

A book report on To Kill A Mockingbird as done by a five year-old. Behold. — Unsigned, by: MadmanJohnson / talk / contribs 07:20, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

I'm still holding out for recognition for The Ansestorial Gods. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 17:28, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Aaaargh, the spelling! The spelling! Won't someone think of the poor worms? Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 17:50, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Science disproves gay marriage[edit]

Fucking magnets, how do they show us why gays shouldn't marry? PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 01:11, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

If Insane Clown Posse had a part in funding this... Osaka Sun (talk) 01:22, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Already been WiGOed. Twice. DickTurpis (talk) 01:27, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
This might quite literally be the stupidest argument against gay marriage I've ever seen. It's the logic a five-year-old would use. The most hilarious part is how smart this guy thinks he is, and that he thinks he did science. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 01:55, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
He's wearing a labcoat and working with beakers. How can what he does not be science? --OverworldTheme (talk) 02:11, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
The real question is "Is any publicity good publicity?" Nullahnung (talk) 02:22, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I think he's on to something. After all, my doctor seems convinced that I contain sodium. How could he have known that? - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 02:32, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
As a physicist, I profoundly agree. I'm flabbergasted as to how I never noticed this before! - GrantC (talk) 03:30, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Does this mean we need to rename Monopoles, Homopoles? --Revolverman (talk) 07:28, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I thought my electric company was a natural monopoly? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 10:36, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
That's why you can't be homosexual if you want to enjoy "electric" sex. Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic?Moderator 10:38, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I personally prefer my sex to be garish if I have the right protection on (sunglasses). Shadow of Lords talk 14:53, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I guess ShadowofLords is referring to [this]. Tialaramex (talk) 15:34, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Anything you would like to see added to RW?[edit]

I've been working on gadgets for various things, and I also have a plan to move template formatting to CSS page for better interskin compatibility. Are there any particular gadgets that I should make or any way that you think that the format or layout can be improved? I can make formatting changes in gadgets and scripts, so they can be opt-in only. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 20:29, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Not by you--Mikal | lakiM 20:39, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Considering 2 hours ago I had to fix your poor understanding of HTML, I would like to add (-1)(Inquisitor Ehrenstein)-- Token Conservative Feminist Thought Police 21:11, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
My initial response was something snarky and annoyed, like "Can you make a widget that forces a user to work on their poor social skills?"
But your earnest attempt to demonstrate worth and step away from incendiary topics is something that should be applauded. I think this may be a good idea. I will try to think of something that I think the site needs, that you could do.--ADtalkModerator 21:17, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't know if you can do this, but I wish that there was an easy way to ensure that an unblocked user's IP was not also blocked.--ADtalkModerator 21:21, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
What AD said, both times. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 21:28, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. That would be a useful tool. Also, thanks for not being sarcastic; it doesn't help when people do that. If I ask what I should do to be productive and someone says "LOLOLOLOLOL don't edit!!!1!111!" that doesn't help. I was also planning to ask you anyway if there is any experience that you have with this. I was trying to think earlier how such a task would be done. It might be doable to have something display on their user page like the rename user or userrights links in the toolbox, that would correspond to whether the user is IP blocked. If it's not doable with client side scripts, I could try writing an extension and see if David can install it. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 01:30, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

web of trust[edit]

Just been having a look at the web of trust info for Rational wiki (and also CP). Seems that RW has quite a good reputation. For those who don't know WOT allows you to rate any webiste as accurate trustworthy etc.

Although I guess that most people who vote must give a good rating, the people who actually bother to write some text seem split about 50 - 50. Some amusing comments I found include:

  • This is an extremist left-wing website. It's goal is to make fun of any conservative ideas. Don't believe the positive ratings. Obama and the left have plenty of money to spread propaganda like this. "
  • "Anyone that wrote for this site or enjoys this site is doomed. You may die today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now, but you will die and stand before your God and give an account for yourself to Him who is Holy."--Weirdstuff (talk) 15:00, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

So there you have it.--Weirdstuff (talk) 15:00, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

I'm still waiting on my god damn Obama propaganda money. --Revolverman (talk) 15:16, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Me too. All I got is the stupid phone. DickTurpis (talk) 16:02, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
This is an extremist left-wing website. It's goal is to make fun of any conservative ideas.
Well, yeah. Thanks for noticing the sign on the door. What other mind blowing revelations are you going to share with us next, that the fucking Earth is round?-- Token Conservative Feminist Thought Police 00:02, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
You must be a liberal. Doctor Dark (talk) 00:22, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Clearly, all of the worlds anti-science movements have been caused entirely by Conservatives.-- Token Conservative Feminist Thought Police 16:14, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Works for me.--Aloysius the Gaul (talk) 03:46, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

I'm thinking about starting an intensive one on one class to help Autistic people[edit]

The sort of target that I would be looking to help would be high functioning Autistic people who seem like they have the capacity to be normal, but through ineffective treatment, sheltering, or lack of trying or assistance, they remain at a very immature or inept level. I realized one day that there's probably a lot more Autistic people like me who could become "normal" but who never had the experiences to bring about the change. One example I saw was on some Autism documentary were a kid who was at least 20 was going to live in a group home and considered super heroes to be his actual heroes; that almost made me die inside. He seemed like someone who had the capacity to be normal and live on his own with proper experience, but constant sheltering had stunted him and made him seem more severely disabled than he really was. If his parents had told him to grow up and not look to super heroes, among other things, he would probably be a lot more mature and ready to live on his own. I'm also in the process of helping an Autistic friend who's parents keep trying to prevent him from moving out because they don't think he can handle it. When analyzing the methods of "treatment" offered to Autistic people, they all seem ineffective at making them "normal" and giving them real life experience. For example, social groups and social advice lectures have always seemed like crap that don't give actually useful advice and the social groups seem like closed off groups like Love-shy.com that just keep people inside the support group without actually helping them get out. I've found that actual real life experience is one of the best things for helping one grow up and become mature.

The issue that I run into is that I don't see a lot of parents paying money for their kids to drink at parties. The drinking age is also restrictive. Anyone would have to be at least 21, but they wouldn't be able to be much older than that. It would also take at least 1-2 years of guidance before the person would be able to reach a point where they would be recognizably "normal" and be able to continue on their own. One of the biggest obstacles would just be getting them to trust me in the beginning, because of the mentality that they drill into Autistic people that they should never do anything outside their comfort zone.

Mainly what we would do would be every day activities, helping them become independent (in practice, not "this is what you should do" like the usual classes do), going to bars, spending time with my friends, and just regular daily stuff. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 15:43, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

I think this is a bad idea. Looking to superheroes as heroes? Great idea. (Steve Rodgers anyone?) Preventing him from moving out? Terrible idea. Sometimes a throw in the water helps. If you really want to help, don't consider it therapy or a class. Just be there for him. Talk to him. Care. That's all he could really ever want. Zero (talk) 15:50, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
So I also think this is a terrible idea. First off, as I'm sure you know, autism is a classification for a very wide spectrum of disorders; autistic you may be, but that doesn't qualify you to deal with the wide spread of disorders and symptoms present in the autism spectrum. Second, your behaviour here suggests that you have a ways to go yourself. Do what Zero suggests and provide someone to talk to and to care about him, fine. Don't try to make this a therapy session or class. - GrantC (talk) 16:00, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I think IE is perhaps too rigid in what he believes is 'normal' to be advising people on how to be normal. AMassiveGay (talk) 16:03, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I, for one, think that IE would be well-served by undergoing the kind of course that he describes here. It would probably really help him with the problems he has repeatedly demonstrated on this website. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 16:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Why did i know by the section title this was written by you Ehr? LEts not and say we didn't.--Mikal | lakiM 16:31, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
So, is this going to be a self-help group? Redchuck.gif ГенгисGum diseaseModerator 17:46, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
From you above description it sounds like your planning to take autistic people out to bars and get them laid, something like a pickup artist course for the (more) mentally handicapped? But let's try to think this through: My first question if I were interviewing you would be to ask if you live what you consider to be a "normal" life? Do you have a job, healthy relationships with people in your area, an active healthy sex life? What are your qualifications for working with high functioning autistic people aside from being one yourself? --Marlow (talk) 18:13, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I think you got to focused on sex. I shouldn't mention it; in our culture people get obsessed with it. Eventually trying to get them in a relationship and helping them get married would be a goal, but that's it. I do consider myself to be relatively "normal" IRL, and I've had people tell me as such. I also have a lot of knowledge on Autism, having studied it and psychology, and I have had an active sex life to an extent. I also have a job and have been living semi independently with a roommate. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 20:25, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Wait, you studied psychology at a university?Th. BernhardDas Leben ist ein Prozeß, den man verliert, was man auch tut und wer man auch ist. 20:55, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Great idea, where do I sign up? I will do whatever it takes to have an active sex life, to an extent, and live semi-independently. Tielec01 (talk) 00:45, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I studied psychology at a university. And Tielec, fuck off. I at least have an age excuse, unlike certain people. Plus I'm farther along the independence track than plenty of people. I would have no problem teaching a 24 year old Autistic person how to live on their own. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 01:35, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
"I would have no problem teaching a 24 year old Autistic person how to live on their own." That statement is nearly as bold as it is ignorant. That's akin to claiming you'd have "no problem" with getting a junky to kick heroin. As in it's based on the assumption that person is not only capable of, but also desires to, live what you consider a "normal" life. ---Inquisitor (talk) 01:53, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
That's true. They would need to have the desire to become normal. If they didn't have that drive, I wouldn't even bother. The trouble would be knowing where they actually don't want to do what it would take or whether they're just having a hard time outside their comfort zone. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 01:58, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
I have a 19 year old high functioning autistic son - was the top 1st year Comp Sci student at the local uni last year. I think this is a terrible idea. autistic people are not "wrong", nor do THEY have a need to function according to "our" rules. Mostly what I see is parents who want them to "get better" - but also mostly they seem perfectly happy with themselves. Let them come to grips with their own lives.--Aloysius the Gaul (talk) 02:02, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
That's fine if they're truly happy with the way they are. With most people in the Asperger's classification, you're going to get people who want to be involved socially with other people. If someone with Autism is content to be alone perpetually, that's fine, but those who want to be with other people should be given the opportunity. The way that public schools handle things doesn't help; it makes Autistic people stand out even more. They teach work-arounds for odd behaviors that just look more odd, for one, rather than trying to get kids out of their comfort zone to eliminate their behavior. That sort of thing does require a commitment to change by the Autistic person. I know other people who have forced themselves to change, and it requires full commitment and is very hard. I have a friend who had massive laughing fits at the word wood who is now planning on moving into an apartment with his girlfriend. I had to throw off all the bitchy stuff the school system drilled into me and replace it with valuable experience. It frustrates me to see Autistic people lose out to bad education. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 02:32, 18 September 2013 (UTC) It ultimately lays with the Autistic person whether they want to change. If not, that's ok, but if they do, they should be given the opportunity. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 02:40, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
This is the first time you've mentioned Aspergers....but as it happen, I have been clinically diagnosed with Aspergers - but not until I was in my early 40's and only because my son was diagnosed with autism! I strongly believe that the best "treatment" for aspergers is that the "sufferers" should understand the nature of their "condition". In my case that was a total eye opener - suddenly I knew why things weren't quite the same for me as for others - and almost overnight I realized that I didn't actually have to try to be the same at all - I was able to be happy being me. Again I think you are trying to shoehorn people into "normal behavior" because of your own expectations and the perfectly understandable pressures of society. But IMO people like me and my son are better off without your good meaning interference.--Aloysius the Gaul (talk) 03:42, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

You've yet to say anything to convince me that you have the time, tools, and talent to provide any sort of successful therapy. You should take your plans to an Autism forum, bounce it off those walls, see what sort of reception you receive. I, like many others, have lived the life of having an Autistic child in the family. For decades I've listened to one expert (real, pretend, and just plain frauds) after another claim they had the technique to make everything alright. So forgive me if I'm a bit brusk with you, but I have little patience for this bullshit. --Inquisitor (talk) 03:15, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

I think that your skepticism is a good thing. I can see what other people with detailed knowledge on the subject say. I admit that any treatment that I might provide isn't going to be a cure-all solution and it isn't for everyone. In fact, I'd say that there's only a very small percentage of people who it would work for. It's really "I defeated Autism with X, Y, and Z" so I know it works in people with a specific set of conditions and experiences. The trouble I see is that other Autistic people wouldn't have had the experiences I have had, and so they won't arrive at my conclusions, and so it would be up to me to explain to them the importance of various stages. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 03:48, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't aware that Autism could be defeated. Could you please elaborate? I'm interested in X, Y and Z. BigCat (meow) 04:42, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
I too have the drive to be normal and defeat Autism. Please lay out your three step plan Ehr; stop holding out on us. Tielec01 (talk) 06:33, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

What the fuck is 'normal' anyway? AMassiveGay (talk) 10:40, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

What you're describing is essentially social skills training with a bit of mentoring. There are many services available which offer this, I would suggest that it may be wiser for you to volunteer with an existing service rather than starting your own. I do see the value of mentoring someone in social situations rather than just teaching them the skills and expecting them to find their own way, but it needs to be done properly. Using alcohol to improve someone's social functioning isn't going to help, nor is pushing someone who has a diagnosis of autism too far out of their comfort zone.
You also need to consider that your definition of "normal" may be based on popular culture rather than reality. If I told you I was 24, lived at home with my parents, absolutely love superhero movies, never drank or did drugs, haven't been in a relationship for the past 6 months and prefer socialising in small groups rather than at parties you may consider my life to not be "normal" and that I may benefit from some mentoring. But in reality I have no problems socialising with people, am successful in a job which requires high levels of face to face interaction etc; it's just that my "normal" differs from another's "normal".
I feel you have the best intentions and could offer a lot of assistance to other people with autism, but you need to recognise your own limits, and perhaps could find some assistance from a mentor in this field (talk) 12:15, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
I'll elaborate about methods of overcoming Autism in a blog post. It's going to require a lot of in depth explanations that I can't really go into here. Plus it would be a huge writing job. Short explanation is that it takes a lot of real world experience. I'll direct you to it when I'm done.
For your situation, I wouldn't call that "not normal" without knowing more. There are plenty of people who live at home at that age and there's nothing wrong with super hero movies; the problem is when someone looks to them as actual heroes. Normal is also a range; you don't have to be completely "normal" in every way, but enough to pass with mainstream social groups. I wouldn't call your lack of a recent relationship a problem, but if you never had a relationship at that age, I would say it is, even if you've had sex. Unless you drink and go to parties, I would find it odd if you had sex but weren't even in a relationship. Even if you do go to parties, it's not a great method of getting laid; you also don't feel good about it afterward. My goal isn't just to provide social skills training; it's also to do the things that social skills classes ignore or pussy out on, such as getting rid of odd or repetitive behaviors. There are a lot of small things that allow me to pick up on whether someone is Autistic. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 14:15, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Good god. I'm already viewed as an angry asshole and I've already lost 100% of my confidence that RW can be what I hoped it could be as a board member (don't vote for me if you think the RMF is a popularity contest rather than about being productive, as you've collectively tried making it), so I'll say it if nobody will: god fucking dammit you're cementing RW's status as a shit chat site. Why are you subjecting all these nice people to your hypomanic episode? Pay attention to what all these people are saying to you. They're trying to be helpful. I'm trying to be helpful despite talking at you through clenched teeth. You don't "overcome" autism. You don't teach people how to be Sasha Ehrenstein because you're a creepy shit show. You're not qualified to do these things. You're not qualified to talk about your inane project. Nobody thinks this is a good idea. You only getting responses because RWians can't shut up, apparently myself included. You are exhibiting some of the worst characteristics of a poorly socialized aspie with no ability to empathize. You're never wrong. You've always got a response. You don't shut up. Blah blah blah. You're making RW worse. Why do we attract people who come here to subject us to this infuriating attention seeking behavior. Sasha, you're seeing people on the autism spectrum telling you're wrong. that this is pointless, that they are perfectly happy with their lives, etc. Go do something productive, rather than try to convince people who can't be convinced that you're not an idiot. Please sit on your hands for just few minutes to introspect. I frankly don't think you can do it. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 14:58, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
I was responding to people who seemed to posting here constructively. If you don't want me to continue this discussion, than I won't. You're wrong about how I act IRL, but that doesn't matter and I won't try to convince you. I will take the time to think about what you have said. –Aleksandr(a) Ehrenstein, Jewish Bolshevik 15:41, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

Advice to Ehr[edit]

Stop posting in this section and dont post ones like it again, love, all of the wiki--Mikal | lakiM 01:57, 18 September 2013 (UTC)