The Cull.

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The Cull.

Postby Tailsteak » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:21 pm

Okay, hypothetical situation. Don't worry about logistics or enforcement - we'll say a genie handles all that.

We give everyone on Earth over the age of 18 five "Save" tokens and one "Kill" token.

You can apply "Save" tokens to anyone you want (over the age of 18) - family, friends, celebrities, strangers... you can even apply all five to yourself, if you want.

Likewise, you can apply your "Kill" token to anyone you want (over the age of 18).

It's a secret ballot, so no one will ever find out how you distributed your tokens and there'll be no reprisals. You can't choose not to participate.

Once all the tokens are tallied, everyone with more "Kill"s than "Save"s is offed.

In this situation, how many people do you think would die, and what sort of people would they be?
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Re: The Cull.

Postby JustinReilly » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:57 pm

My first instinct was to go with the more obnoxious celebrities and public figures, and I'm certain there would be significant losses among boy bands and the US Congress. But on reflection, my guess would be that that backbiting little shit at the office, you know the one I'm talking about, him and all his little friends would kak it en masse. As for how I'd vote, saves would go to my loved ones. If I had to assign a 'kill', it would go to me. There's no-one I feel morally comfortable with causing their death. If there was someone I felt needed to die that badly, I'd rather not assign the task to some random bureaucrat, I'd do it myself.
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Re: The Cull.

Postby RyukaTana » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:39 pm

Honestly, I'd probably see if I could trade a few save tokens for kill tokens. I don't concern myself with a sense of morality and I'd absolutely be willing to remove a few people from the world. I am willing to be entirely honest about that. I'd protect the people in my life I am concerned that might have enemies, but I doubt either my half-brother or best friend has anyone who would think of them much, other than the people who are also in my life, who would either not want to kill them, or wouldn't waste their one token on it.
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Re: The Cull.

Postby snowyowl » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:32 pm

Let's make a first guesstimate. If everyone allocates their tokens randomly, the number of tokens you'll get of each type follows a Poisson distribution with parameter 5 for the save tokens and 1 for the kill tokens. (For the purposes of this approximation, we're rounding the population of Earth up to infinity). The difference between these two is something called a Skellam distribution with parameters 5 and 1, which I just learned about now on Wikipedia, and we want the probability that it's less than 0. I haven't wrestled WolframAlpha into giving me an exact value for that, but I think about 1-2% of people would die if they allocated their tokens randomly. That's about the scale of the devastation we're looking at here.

Second guesstimate. I would probably allocate my save tokens to myself and my loved ones, because I care about their well-being. But there isn't anyone I know personally that I hate enough to want to kill them. There might be someone famous that I wouldn't mind seeing dead, though. (I'm putting myself in the shoes of the average member of the public here.) So I'd expect people who are famous to get the brunt of the kill tokens. That being said, even teenage pop stars tend to have larger fandoms than hatedoms, and they only need a dedicated fandom a fraction of the size of their hatedom.

I think the people most likely to die would be people like Edward Snowden or Fred Phelps or Barack Obama or Bill Gates. People that someone somewhere is pointing at and saying "That kind of guy is the reason so much is WRONG with the world today". Nobody really cares enough about them to waste a save token that could go to your loved ones, but a lot of people won't mind using their kill tokens for "frivolous" purposes.

If you're curious how I'd vote: If I didn't have anyone I'd like to use a kill token on, I'd use it on some random person, and then give them one of my save tokens to cancel it out. Nothing gained, nothing lost. However, I believe there are people the world would be better off without - dictators, drug lords, rapists, that sort of thing. But I don't think I have the right to sentence someone to death without carefully studying the evidence to know I'm not sending an innocent person to their grave. So I don't know who I'd kill. Maybe Kim Jong-Un, after I'd done enough research to be sure that would be making the situation better in his part of the world.

I'd use most of my save tokens on people I just identified as at-risk: probably Richard Dawkins, Julian Assange, Bill Gates, and the two of my friends and family who have the most enemies.
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Re: The Cull.

Postby kd7sov » Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:30 pm

What happens if someone doesn't want to use their kill token?

Personally, the last time I wanted someone dead they were fictional. And then they did die, and I didn't like it. And unless I deliberately assigned a save token (mine or someone else's, by agreement) to the same person I assigned my kill token, I would be specifically contributing to someone's death. And I don't see a way in which that's morally or ethically defensible.
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Re: The Cull.

Postby RyukaTana » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:09 am

You can stuff morality, but you can't 'ethically defend' killing anyone... Really? Fuckin' really?

No seriously, that's why I'm trading my save tokens. There's NO ONE? Not Putin, not Kim Jong-Un? Not (since snowy mentioned him) Fred Phelps? These aren't fundamentally fucked up people who hurt other people? They deserve to live?!

This is why I can't stand 'good'... This is why I am such a misanthrope. Life is so goddamned sacred to people that they would literally forgo OTHER LIVES just to avoid being responsible for someone's death... I don't see 'morality' or compassion, I see cowardice. I see people who are so weak that they can't handle what should be no burden at all in removing at least those people who truly serve only to worsen the world.

Shit, how depressing is it that Snowden is remotely on snowy's list of first people to come to mind (and I'm blaming that on society, not you snowy) before dictators and murderers.

Sorry, Tailsteak, if you feel I've taken your exercise too far. I hope this is actually what you intended, to illicit honest responses no matter what they were, but I'm sorry if you feel I've been insulting. I have no respect for the mentality, none. I can still respect the people behind it, depending on the reasoning, but the mentality is so pathetic that it sickens me.
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Re: The Cull.

Postby JustinReilly » Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:01 am

I wouldn't say that I can't ethically defend killing. If I truly grokked (side note - contemplating this question and y'all's responses has made me realize the profound extent to which R.A. Heinlein has influenced my ethical worldview), I mean truly grokked that someone really needed to be dead, I would kill them. But that would require me knowing them and the situation intimately.

I control my actions. I assume moral culpability for my actions. Outside of that, my power and knowledge is very limited. Thus, my duty (with duty being defined as those actions that if I do not perform them, I would...it's hard to word it properly. Be less than I ought to be is probably closest I can come without writing an essay about it. Another Heinlein-influenced definition, that.) to protect my fellow man only really extends to where my power and knowledge does. My family. My friends. My neighbors and co-workers. The person being attacked right in front of me. I cannot extend this duty to all of humanity. Partly because I lack the power to effect change outside of my small little circle of existence, but more importantly because I lack the knowledge to use what power I have effectively and justly.
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Re: The Cull.

Postby snowyowl » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:35 pm

JustinReilly wrote:I wouldn't say that I can't ethically defend killing. If I truly grokked (side note - contemplating this question and y'all's responses has made me realize the profound extent to which R.A. Heinlein has influenced my ethical worldview), I mean truly grokked that someone really needed to be dead, I would kill them. But that would require me knowing them and the situation intimately.

But knowledge is easy enough to acquire. You don't have to know the situation in all its totality down to the quantum level, you just have to be sure that the amount of suffering caused by allowing that person to remain alive is greater than the amount of suffering cause by killing them. There are cases where it's really difficult to determine how much a person is responsible for the harm they're being accused of, and those are the cases that go to court and sometimes get the wrong ruling from the judge. There are also open-and-shut cases where it's clear what happened and what needs to be done about it.

And it's like this hypothetical is specifically engineered to get me to admit I'd kill someone outside of self-defence if I had the right reason to. I would never be able to choose who should die if I had the freedom to undetectably kill as many people as I wanted (like in Death Note). There is a very blurry line between the people who deserve to die and the people who don't. But if I have only one kill token, and I'm free to use it on someone who is on the far side of that line, who objectively unambiguously absolutely would make the world a better place by dying... then it seems like a very good idea.
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Re: The Cull.

Postby RyukaTana » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:23 pm

I feel the point of the hypothetical is to get us to think about what we'd do if we had the 'Death Note' in a way. Except, not only is it (technically) usable only once, but there are a number of other variables.

You know what, I think we should challenge Tailsteak to answer his own hypothetical.
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Re: The Cull.

Postby JoshOfSpam » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:43 am

Hmmmmmmm...thing is, even if you apply this, would it even really have an effect.

You might be able to kill someone really not liked by the public in general, but what guaranty is there that it will have the desired results?

Some cases it would seem like only another similar jerk would take their place.
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