Re: Legislation advancing the cause of social evolution

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 10:46:50 -0700 (PDT)

"Abraham Moses Genen" writes:
>... computer dating services. ...
>It seems that some door-to-door salesmen were involved in selling the
>service for in excess of $1000. while using a retail installment contract
>with a fairly high interest rate. They claimed in their sales pitch that
>the matches that they could make using a computer would be absolutely
>compatible with their client's profiles. They offered a guarantee of
>compatibility or your money back. ...
>1. The company did not have a computer.
>2. There was no data base of compatible characteristics. ...
>The legislation, which regulated for-profit organizations involved in the
>sale of commercial social referal services saved a lot of people a lot of
>money in the very short term. It provided guarantees that the privacy of
>the people who became involved in social referral service schemes would be

A failure to honor money-back guarantees could be addressed by
standard contract law. And if customers wanted privacy enough they
could only buy such products that guarenteed privacy.

So the key here seems to be that you identified what you considered to
be a low quality product, which customers weren't treating as such.
You thought you knew better than them about the product quality, and
proceeded to make it difficult or impossible for them to buy that product.

This sort of situation is exactly the sort that I have focused on
modeling in my academic work on product bans. (See: So I am interested to learn
more about your reasoning.

Did you consider the possibility of just warning customers that you
considered this product to be low quality? For example, you could
have printed a flyer which you required salespeople to give potential
customers prior to a sale. (A similar things happens with moving
companies now.) Did you consider just taxing the products you disliked?

Who exactly did you think would thank you for this work, and reward
you politically. Customers who would otherwise have bought the
product? Those who would have sold the product? Those who sold
competing products? Other concerned citizens?

Robin D. Hanson