Jul 052013

popoffWestern society seems far too lenient on those who harm others due to gross negligence. Far too often people are given a free pass because they “believe” something “deeply”. I was recently gladdened to see that parents who killed their child by resorting to “prayer” rather than going to a doctor were convicted of homicide.

In fairness, this is only a small first step. The true culprit, the man who should be in jail, is the clergyman or woo-peddler who convinced these parents that prayer was the correct course of action. That person (if s/he exists) is morally no better than the man who sold novelty golf-ball finders as bomb-detectors  to governments. Yet somehow he isn’t even prosecuted, whereas golf-ball-man is going to jail.

Usually the priests, homeopaths, anti-vaxxers, and other woo-peddlers avoid any prosecution because they are seen to “believe deeply” in the bullshit they are spouting. This is a terrible excuse. It’s my contention that even if a priest honestly believed that drinking poison gives you super X-Men powers, as someone in a position of authority giving that sort of advice he has a moral responsibility to know at least as much about how poison affects the typical human as a high-school graduate. I don’t give the smallest shit as to what he sincerely believed. Only what he can be reasonably expected to know before advising others.

This is not a claim that anyone who disagrees with the current scientific consensus needs to be jailed. Only that persons who put themselves in positions to advise others have the basic moral decency to ensure that the advice they are giving isn’t going to get people killed. I’m very disappointed in humanity, as most people seem to not care, and that leads to untold numbers of preventable deaths.

This also incentivizes people to know as little as possible about the real world and what effects real things have on real people, because as long as sincere ignorance is a valid defense they can get away with murder by simply not bothering to know anything. This is the most perverse of perverse incentives.

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