POLI: Concrete Umbrellas (was: Faster driving saves lives)

Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko (sasha1@netcom.com)
Sat, 16 Jan 1999 15:50:01 -0500

At 14:33 01/16/99 , Forrest Bishop wrote:

>You can also argue reducio ad absurdum - lowering the limit to zero will
>'save' all the lives. I have never seen anyone do an analysis of this
>phenomenon like the one above; why do you suppose that is? Might it
>conflict with the kindergarten culture belief sysem?

I think people would tell you that they "have to drive" to "survive".

I have offered some reductio ad absurdum suggestions before that are clear of this "have to" issue, for example:

(of course, one can prohibit everything that is not absolutely necessary, such as driving to movies or sports games, or any fun activities. But then, people may find that the life itself is no longer really "important")

The apparent truth here is that people want not to optimize their safety at any cost, but to find a reasonable compromise between risk factors, efforts, quality of life, lifespan, etc. This is not a specifically extropian opinion, it's plain common sense.

Now, why there is so little publicity for these suggestions, and support for balanced approach, while the risk aversion suggestions receive millions of dollars for "research", and billions - for implementation? How can we respond to that publication now, so that everybody could see it? (Actually, it may be possible to write an article for NYT or something - anybody interested to work on it?)

The issue I think is that the distribution of ideas is propelled by power interests more than by their truth value; this problem is apparently worst with the centralized power, though a mechanism for distribution of critical evaluations of non-coercive projects is also quite needed.

So they offer lop-sided arguments that sound convincing enough for the majority of the population, who do not care to think of balanced social approaches or philosophical foundations of the legal system. And that's enough to justify further funding for "protective" projects, further expansion of the state, etc.

Who would pay millions of dollars for the study showing what kinds of risks people are willing to bear in their pursuit of quality of life, freedom, and happiness? Not the State, I think.

I would expect that some visionary journalistic efforts aimed at the Slow Zone could make some difference here. But they, apparently, don't, with all those civil libertarians and journalists out there. Or maybe, they couldn't find the right meme?

An article on Concrete Umbrellas, anyone?

I actually strongly doubt that a well-chosen phrase can generally make much difference, but since the illogical swamp of social ideas tends to swing between polar states, and social policies keep being followed until they become not just theoretically ungrounded, but hugely ridiculous and wasteful, exposing problems at these critical points early may help swing both opinions and policies. - Another task for the Institute of Memetic Engineering?

Alexander Chislenko <
http://www.lucifer.com/~sasha/home.html> <sasha1@netcom.com> <sasha@media.mit.edu>