Let me know if I missed it, but I saw no comments to my post yesterday in which anyone was willing to take a side in a debate that allegedly represents 49% of America.

I realize this blog readership skews toward skeptics and science lovers. But still, not one person is willing to make a rational case against doctor-assisted suicide?

That is exactly what I predicted.

The 49% poll number was never real. No rational person prefers the government having veto power over the end-of-life decisions that they, their family, and their doctors prefer. And the irrational people don't want me shining a light on their argument.

This reminds me of the conspiracy theory that says gay activists exaggerated the risk of AIDS to the heterosexual community because it was the best way to get funding. I have no opinion on the validity of that conspiracy theory beyond the fact that it activated my pattern recognition for the doctor-assisted suicide topic. It looks as though a tiny percentage of the public (a subset of creationists perhaps) has been using misleading poll results to make it seem as though support for their position is strong when in fact it is nearly non-existent.

I'm still willing to say I'm wrong about the polls being bogus. But it seems mighty strange that 49% of the American public are suddenly hiding.

I submit that the traditional media is missing a big story here on the misleading nature of those polls.

My book's sales rank has dropped since I started hammering on this topic, so I will take that as my guide to back off and let the 1% of the public who are  on the other side have their victory.

I will also take this opportunity to apologize to anyone who felt threatened by my choice of words on this topic.

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +36
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Dec 4, 2013
One more comment:

Carry on, Scott.

You have a voice that will be heard, and a style that will be understood. You have an unmistakable passion for the message, and a sharp enough mind to argue the point. You already have our attention, the attention of the media, and yes, the attention of your detractors. All those stupid statistics tell me that at least one thing is true: we could be at a tipping point if the right person is willing to push. You have the ability, you have the desire, and you have the courage. You can be that right person, and you can change the world.

So carry on, Scott. Please. Carry on.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
Phantom II, I couldn't agree with you more. Forgiveness is a powerful tool. "Hatred is a prison of your own making". I heard that once, but don't know where it came from. I would back that suggestion to forgive. It doesn't mean forget, though. If someone truly feels that a change is in order to right a wrong, then that can, and should, be pursued. But anger and hatred would only get in the way of making a rational call for change.

Some amount of righteous anger can be useful to start change. But when you make public statements that "... I would push a magic button to send every politician who opposes doctor-assisted suicide into a painful death spiral that lasts for months ...", that may cross a line from thoughtful argument into emotional outburst.

So I, too, suggest that you forgive the spineless, power-greedy, politicians. Forgive the people who, for whatever reasons, feel that it would be morally wrong to assist anyone to an early death, for any reason. I promise you that most of them are not "nut-jobs". You can't un-ring the bell that has already replicated itself across the Internet, but you can present a case that the legitimate media can spread to people outside of the Dilbert fandom. But you can only do it with a calm head, and I really believe that hatred and raw anger will only get in the way.

One of the most powerful statements from the Bible is when Jesus was dying on the cross, following seriously cruel torture, he said "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing".

Dec 4, 2013
The pro-suffering crowd has a good reason not to debate you on the question you posed: They don't support the opposing view. They don't want the government to make the choice - they want the government to force their personal choice on everyone.

The constitution does seem to support Dr. assisted suicide:
4th Amendment: Unreasonable search & seizure, or the "if you weren't violating my rights, how would you know?" amendment.
5th Amendment: Otherwise known as the "don't torture me until AFTER you convict me" amendment.
8th Amendment: Don't be cruel.
9th Amendment: The "my body, my right" amendment, used to justify Roe v. Wade.

My father-in-law recently died. He had an infection that couldn't be controlled, and chose to stop fighting. He wanted to die to end his suffering. My wife and I watched him starve to death, which was his choice and entirely legal. Allowing him a dignified end to his suffering was not. It was the most horrific process I've ever been through.
Dec 4, 2013
[You haven't even identified the right debate. The question is about whether government has a constitutional right to make you suffer if you choose not to. -- Scott]

The answer is YES! The fifth amendment reads, in part, that a person can't be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. I'm just saying the government has the constitutional right to make laws about depriving life.
Dec 4, 2013
@priceymark - Your explanation of the devil's advocate position is what I was trying to express, although I did it rather sloppily and with way too many words. Although my position wasn't as devil's advocate. Thank you for putting it so clearly and concisely.

Scott - You keep mentioning the 1% that are nut jobs having the only opinion that keeps this from becoming law nationwide but several people have made very good points that there are other factors that cause people to have serious reservations that have nothing to do with a "creationist" point of view. It may be time to re-evaluate the belief that those 1% have that much power all by themselves, or even with the assistance of cowardly politicians.
Dec 4, 2013
Apologize for nothing. I'm glad you took a strong stand, forced discussion and outed the possible inaccuracy of "well-known" information on the subject which may have prevented others from approaching it.
Dec 4, 2013

You said that we "can't rationally deny that [your] emotional state is part of the relevant data." I disagree. Emotions interfere with the rational examination of an issue. The stronger the emotion, particularly if the emotion is negative, the greater the interference. Were that not so, our judicial system would make decisons concerning guilt or innocence based on the emotional state of the victim.

Rather than engage in a discussion of this issue with someone who would tell me he wanted me to die a painful death if I disagreed with him, I would rather propose a different subject for your consideration: the effect of hatred on the soul of the hater.

I know you don't believe there is anything more to you than a computer program that thinks it's a piece of meat, but regardless, your "main program" is affected by your state of mind.

Let me try to put this in your terms. Hatred is a computer virus that affects all your other subroutines. It robs your CPU of cycles by continually calling up negative subroutines that override the programs that provide you with balance and happiness.

In your book, you often mention (somtimes indirectly) the benefit of positive feedback versus negative criticism. You talk about the effect of positive thoughts and affirmations on both your state of mind and your ability to let success find you. I would ask you to consider reapplying your lessons to yourself.

One of the greatest lessons the Christian religion teaches is the power of forgiveness. It doesn't matter if your animus is against a person or a government. The person you are going to hurt most with your anger is yourself.

For those of us who are religious, we ask God to help us heal our souls and to help us forgive. The Lord's Prayer, supposedly authored by Jesus, includes in it the line, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Even though you are not a believer, I would suggest you review that prayer as one of your daily affirmations.

It might help put you in touch with He Who Created The Computer Program That Is Known As The Universe. Or it might help inject an anti-virus program that can help rebalance the load on your CPU.

Hatred can be addictive. It's such a powerful emotion. But it's a mental cancer that can destroy you. Please consider this, Scott. I don't think the person I've been hearing since your father became so ill is the same man I've come to 'know' over these past many years. That man would not hate and wish for painful deaths to those who disagreed with his emotional reaction to a horrible situation that was out of his control to resolve.

It does no good to be angry with anyone, including yourself, over painful events in your life. You need to grieve, and you need to heal.

In any case, that's the last I'm going to say on this issue, ever. Like you, I'm moving on. I hope that with time you'll be able to move on as well.

+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
PS "let it go" is also not a sign of a strong argument.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
[Emotion is part of the data. You agree. Let it go. -- Scott]

So you're OK with emotion ("I feel like life is sacred and must be preserved") being part of the data for the other side too, right?
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
"[For the record, my anger is only about the government torturing millions of senior citizens to death to satisfy a very small portion of the population. It was a relief when my father finally escaped his personal hell. My emotion on this topic is about the fate of the living. -- Scott]"

"[I'm saying 1% of the public think the government should make end-of-life decisions over the wishes of a patient, doctors, and family. The other 48% are just under-informed and think they disagree with me, but don't. -- Scott]"

Scott, I did hear you about your reason for the anger. The circmstances I was referring to was the pain and suffering. I also hear you on the relief. Same with my Mom. While nobody wanted to hasten the death, at least outwardly, we all were relieved the suffering ended.

I disagree with that 1% number, though. People have far too much experience with suffering to not understand what's at stake. And they also understand euthanasia since most people have gone through a loved pet that need to be put down. Most of the questions in the surveys I pointed to really were fairly objective. So I'm more likely to believe that "No" answers numbers in the 30's%.

However if you mean that people would agree that the government shouldn't "Torture millions of senior citizens to death", then that's just misinforming the public in the other direction. The government is not *actively* torturing anyone (outside of the CIA terrorist stories). It may feel that way, since people have some ingrained need to blame someone for their suffering, but the root cause of the pain and torture is the illness itself. Contributing to that is the lack of adequate medication and treatment of the disease or at least the pain. And then it's the government removal of the option of ending the suffering artificially. Also, the government is not really making end-of-life decisions. They are not deciding to euthanize anyone over a patient's or family's will.

That 30 %, unfortunately, is a big number in political terms. It's not an important topic to enough people to make a potential politically damaging change to the law. Just as labeling laws against euthanasia as "government torture" is big exaggeration, I suspect politicians would be afraid of the conservative exaggeration that the change would be a "license to murder". Politicians are much more interested in keeping their jobs over doing the right thing. And in this political climate, where fence-sitters are more likely to be the deciding factors, it's much safer to not make changes. While more people might be favoring legalizing euthanasia at the moment, I don't think enough of them are interested enough to make it a deciding factor. Only people with direct experience, such as yourself, are that interested, and that really is a small number.

However, given your name recognition, it may be possible that you could be a catalyst for such a change. It won't happen on this forum, but if it got picked up by the Wall Street Journal, then that would be a wider audience.
Dec 4, 2013
Hey, as long as you get to decide which arguments are rational and which arguments are irrational...

But then all hotbutton issue debates are based largely on confirmation bias these days, and it's impossible to separate the good/bad information from agrees/disagrees with my side.
Dec 4, 2013
"My book's sales rank has dropped since I started hammering on this topic, so I will take that as my guide to back off and let the 1% of the public who are on the other side have their victory."

Way to stand up for what you believe in.
Dec 4, 2013
"Kind of contradictory there, but it looks like after all that, you're in favor of a "sometimes intervene" solution. Specifically, intervene unless the patient and doctor agree on end of life. "

I was arguing against the right to die solely as a devil's advocate. I absolutely support everyone's ability to do whatever they want with their life, including ending it, as long as they are not infringing on someone else's ability to do the same.

I do believe the government should always take the side of preserving life, because for it to do otherwise leads into some queasy ground. But the individual should be able to override that. I was proposing a way to accomplish that, by introducing a third party into the voting process.
Dec 4, 2013
Just for the sake of discussion, let me take the anti-doctor assisted suicide stance.

Many who oppose the death penalty say that if just one innocent person is wrongfully put to death, it is too many. So while there are many vile criminals who deserve death for their crimes, the moral cost of killing one innocent outweighs the moral cost of preserving the life of mass murderers.

This same thought process could be applied to doctor assisted suicide. If you assume that no system of checks and balances could 100% ensure that no one would ever be killed against their will, then does the moral cost of enabling one murder, an irreversible mistake, outweigh the moral cost of torturing several people. I don't have an answer, but I don't think this issue is so simple that only nut cases and religious crazies oppose it. Just throwing this point of view out there for the sake of debate Scott, don't come after me with a torch and a pitchfork.
Dec 4, 2013

Let me try to understand. IF:

1. You are tolerant with people being personally opposed to the idea of taking one's own life.
2. You agree the line may be vague on when and how to determine what constitutes end of life.
3. You concede that it gets a little tricky once a third party (the doctor or relatives speaking for the patient) is involved in the taking of the life.

You think that ultimately the government has no right to stop you from taking your own life willingly and with consent at least in certain medical situations (end of life).

Then sure, I agree with you. But you are wrong about the 1%. For some weird reason, a LOT of people think that if they see something as morally wrong, they should make it illegal.

I should be able to morally evaluate for myself any of your actions or beliefs (euthanasia, sexuality, diet, etc). And I should be able to voice my evaluation, and even try to influence other people. But unless it specifically infringes on someone else's rights, I shouldn't be able to legally impose my morality on you.

Unfortunately, very few Americans agree with the previous sentence.

0 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
@marcg - because it has the slang "c u m" in it. Yeah, the filter is that stupid.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
I bought the book because of your last post!

To be fair, I wanted it before then, but I might have waited for it to hit the used book market. I agree with your views, and think that you may have an opportunity, due to your successes and financial situation, to bring about a change that would lead to a great societal benefit. Also, your marketing worked on me - I think I would "enjoy the show" when you're "freed of [your] last remaining reason to self-censor" and I also think I know "someone in [my] life who is making suboptimal career and lifestyle decisions and doesn't want your advice." I realize that you probably hypnotized me, and I'm ok with that.

Basically, don't stop what you are doing because of any worries about the super-minority of nut-job windbags who want to take away our freedoms because of their personal beliefs. What you are doing is working, and it’s important!
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
OK, why is "c i r c u m stances" a dirty word?
Dec 4, 2013
"evolution is very compatible with Catholic doctrine on the origins of man"

Exactly. Although many Catholics in the US are poorly catechized on the details of this very subject, most generally aren't "creationists" as Scott seems to use the term. In fact the "Big Bang" theory about the beginning of the universe was first proposed by a Catholic priest working as part of the Vatican Science Office. And by the way was never once criticized for it by the church hierarchy, only by other scientists. Including the calculation on a beginning 14 B years ago. So while there are some fundamentalists who read a literal interpretation of the Genesis origin story, they are a very few.

[For the record, I am pro-religion, although I am not a believer. I think religion is a net positive to people's experience of life. And while there are negative consequences of any large and important system, the benefits probably outweigh the costs. This is similar to my point that hospitals kill plenty of people but on balance they are a positive thing. So let's not make this debate a case of me against religion. This is a case of 1% nut jobs effectively opposing the best interests of society. -- Scott]
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
"[But I am skeptical that folks on the Internet (who are anonymous) are shy about debating me on their deeply-held beliefs on this topic. That would violate a pattern set by every Internet debate from the beginning of the Internet.]"

I think forums have evolved beyond the pure anonymity they once were. On many forums, including yours, I see the same people posting often to different topics, turning the forum into more of a community. While technically anonymous, since it's still difficult to match my online persona directly with my offline person, I feel that people are identifying more and more with their online presence. Couple that with the !$%*!$%*!$%*! that started the discussion, and people might hesitate to "kick a man while he's down". For the record, I don't think you're "down" in the sense that you're defenseless - just hurting. And to that you have my condolences. My Mom suffered for years before she passed, although not to to the point that anyone (including herself) sought her death. But it sucks, nonetheless.

On another point, you keep mentioning creationists as being the biggest offenders. I'd like to point out that the Roman Catholic Church is probably the biggest single group that opposes any kind of human euthanasia. Yet they are not "creationists" in the common sense of the term. They believe that evolution is very compatible with Cathollic doctrine on the origins of man. This has been affirmed by Pope's as recent as Pope John Paul II. They even teach evolution in Catholic schools. The idea that life has intrinsic value goes much deeper than the debate on the literal/figurative telling of the creation in Genesis.

[For the record, my anger is only about the government torturing millions of senior citizens to death to satisfy a very small portion of the population. It was a relief when my father finally escaped his personal hell. My emotion on this topic is about the fate of the living. -- Scott]
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog