The Case For Being An Uninformed Citizen

The Case For Being An Uninformed Citizen

How much of your time do you spend thinking about politics? 

Me? I'm ashamed to say how much time I spent listening to political podcasts and YouTube channels in the past few years. I thought it would make me a respectable person who could hold conversations at cocktail parties. But I was just kidding myself - I don't even like drinking. 

For some time I actually thought having that type of knowledge was important. I often agreed when people said that "the government affects you whether you like it or not so you better pay attention to it" and "the world would be a better place if more people got involved in politics."

I now think paying attention to politics is a waste of time and mental energy, especially when you think about the opportunity cost.

I can say for a fact that my reality would have been the same, if not a lot better, had I never payed any attention to politics. In other words, if I never knew what's going on in the Middle East or even who is my current president, my life would have been no worse. I simply don't think those facts will ever become useful in my life other than for trivial purposes. 

Sure that information may convey that something bad is going on, but it does me no good to know them. Just like it does me no good to know that a dog just got run over a couple blocks from me. It's a huge bummer, but there's nothing I can do and therefore no reason to know. In fact, it would have been better to not be aware of the k-9's tragedy because knowing such a thing only makes me depressed and unfocused. That's a net-negative for society.

Even if knowing a little bit about what's going on at the national level can be useful, shouldn't it be proportionate to your control over it? For example, spending 20% of your time learning about what's going on in politics is irrational if you have an almost-non-existent power to do something impactful with it. 

While it may be important to be aware of the government's laws and policies at a basic level, very quickly we run into diminishing returns. That point is when we watch the news like a drama show every day and keep up with the president's tweets.

I don't know about you, but I've noticed that the people that pay the most attention to politics have less control over their emotions. You can see this with the people that went out of their minds when Trump won because they thought the world was coming to an end. Their mood is beholden to the political climate.

The thought of paying attention to what Trump is up to and getting mad over it is just absurd. There's nothing the average citizen could do. Voting comes every 4 years and even then your vote has virtually no impact. So just stop wasting your time and focus on things you do have control over.

If anything, elections makes people more passive: it fools them into thinking that they're making a difference in the world just by voting. 

Young people (particularly college students) are the ones who should ignore politics the most. They still have a lot to improve about themselves before they spend (in my opinion waste) so much of their time trying to save the world through politics. As Jordan Peterson would say, "they need to sort themselves out first."

People should measure all of the time and emotional energy used on arguing and fretting over politics and compare it to the actual impact that they have had with it. I think if they did that, most would immediately give up on politics and take on a more cost effective endeavor for themselves such as bettering their immediate environment. If everyone did that I believe the world would truly be a better place. 

Check Your Rationality Before You Wreck Your Morality

Check Your Rationality Before You Wreck Your Morality

Intuitively, we understand that if we can get the same results with either violence or non-violence, then the method of non-violence is infinitely more moral. To clarify, here are some examples of goals and how they can be met with and without violence:

  1. Getting a girl -  I can kidnap one and trap her in a well Buffalo Bill style, OR I can make myself appealing, ask her out, and allow her to voluntarily choose to be with me.
  2. Getting a kid to do chores - I can threaten to hit him if he doesn't do it, OR I can negotiate or make a game out of it to help him want to do it.
  3. Bettering the education system - I can take money from people against their will and subsidize public schools, OR I can work for, create or support companies like Praxis, which make education cheaper and more efficient.

Notice that the peaceful solutions require more work and creativity. On the other hand, violence is an easy, one-size-fits-all type of tool. It simply doesn't require much critical thought, work or patience.

Do you want something done but you're too lazy, incompetent and/or sadistic? Well, have I got the perfect solution for you: violence.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that corporal punishment is absolutely necessary for this or that when they haven't even read a single book on peaceful parenting. 

The lack of research is even more egregious when it comes to people advocating for government force. That's because people get their belief in government through social osmosis instead of through critical thought. Even people who don't care at all about politics are absolutely, 100% sure that society would collapse without government coercion. It's almost as if they were taught by schools run by governments. Oh, wait.

It really bothers me that most people argue for corporal punishment and institutionalized violence as if they've personally ruled out every voluntary option. It bothers me even more that those people are usually the same ones who claim to care about people. 

About 70% of the U.S. population still endorses corporal punishment and the love for government coercion is as popular as the love for hamburgers. Do you think all of those people thoroughly examined their options before reaching those conclusions? Especially when I consider how little critical thought is promoted in schools, I doubt it.  

The fact is, most people reach for the sword way too quickly. I attribute this to laziness, incompetency, and/or sadism. I mean, just think of the three violent scenarios I gave and see what applies with what. It's actually a fun thought experiment. 

Whatever the reason is, I don't think it's an excuse. If people support violent solutions when they didn't even look for voluntary alternatives, I think they are being immoral. So, here's my general rule that everyone who does not want to be immoral must follow: 

If you haven't properly searched for peaceful solutions, your default position should NOT be that a violent one is necessary. 

(Of course, this is provided that you have the time to assess your options - I'm not suggesting, if a crazy guy ran at you with a knife, that you stop and think of every course of action before shooting him)

Doing merely some research is not enough. To do this properly, I recommend that you thoroughly test all proposed peaceful solutions. I know, it sounds like hard work, but you should be happy to have a high tolerance before resorting to violence. If you don't have that then I'm afraid you may have a bad case of authoritarianism.

Notice how, with this moral rule, it is easy to not do the wrong thing. It is just as simple as not advocating for or committing violence when you don't know enough. You can literally do this in your sleep! 

If you're a person who has supported or committed violence without satisfying this rule, you probably want to demand that I show you a peaceful solution before you let go of your belief in the violent one. While I could probably point you to a non-violent alternative to some situations, the truth is that I shouldn't have to. 

That's because the burden of proof is not on me, but rather on the people that claim that the ONLY way to get something done is through force. It's not up to the girl to prove to me why I shouldn't kidnap her. If I belt a child to get him to do chores, it is not up to him to justify why I shouldn't have done it. The same goes with me demanding forced redistribution of wealth. I'm the aggressor, so why should the victims carry the burden? Sadly this simple truth of who should carry the burden of proof has been tragically ignored.

Okay, now that you know these things, there really is no excuse. Like I said, all you have to do is drop your support of violence until you do the proper research. That is, if you don't want to be immoral. Luckily for you, there are people out there that have devoted their whole lives to finding peaceful alternatives. Every resource imaginable is easily accessible to us by the power of the internet. So, go out there and explore. Once you let go of the limiting idea that violence is necessary, you might be surprised by all the possibilities. 

To make it easier for you, below are some useful resources that will help you discover peaceful alternatives having to do with parenting and socioeconomics. 

If you're looking for tips on how to get a girl voluntarily for a change, first of all I've had no success there so you're asking the wrong guy and second of all, there's probably no hope for you at this point if you're looking for reasons not to kidnap one. 

On Parenting

On Socioeconomics

  • Freedom! by Adam Kokesh. A fine (and free) book introducing voluntaryism.
  • pressingthebutton.com. A site that keeps an ever expanding list of alternatives to governments that already exist
  • FEE.org. It has great articles which illuminate all the good that comes out of free markets and the bad things that come out of government.

Some Thoughts On Immigration And Stefan Molyneux

I want to air my thoughts on something that's been bothering me. It has to do with this tweet (and many others like it) by Stefan.

I find that kind of tweet to be unprincipled and manipulative. The argument behind it is this: "If DACA didn't get passed, that child would have never been molested, therefore DACA is bad." While the premise is true, it is not a good reason in and of itself to criminalize people who qualify as DACA recipients. For starters, the alleged molester would have probably done that crime elsewhere, but let's ignore that.

Let's say Bob is stopped and caught holding a stash of weed but the cop lets him go because marijuana was just legalized. Later that day, Bob murders someone. Now, wouldn't it be manipulative if I use this story to convince/scare people into supporting drug laws? And what if I showed you a correlation of people who smoke weed and commit crimes? Would I then be justified in criminalizing stoners? 

I think it would be wrong for me to do that. Even if weed was illegal, I think you should cheer that the cop didn't enforce such a backwards law. While it's tragic that a person got murdered, it is illogical to dwell on the things that could have coincidentally prevented it. 

Now let me clarify that I'm not fully supporting the abolishment of all immigration laws. I'm actually still making up my mind on that. I'm just using that counterexample to show that that particular argument is an invalid one. There may be good arguments for deportation of dreamers but that is not one.

I also want to express my disappointment that Stefan is pushing that type of sophistry. Either Stefan knows this flaw in his argument or he doesn't care because he wants to push an agenda. Knowing how smart he is I'm willing to bet on the latter.

And this is not the only type of argument in which he should know better. He has also argued against immigration for the reason that it would lower wages. That is the exact same argument for minimum wage which I know he is against. Those two arguments ignore the fact that companies will simply take their jobs overseas if they can't get low enough wages here, causing even more unemployment.

Another occation that really bothered me was when he dismissed a person on twitter by pointing out the lack of followers that the person had. These kind of low blows feel out of character compared to the way he used to be. At least I don't remember him being that way.

I've been listening to Stefan since 2011. He taught me almost everything I know in philosophy, which is why this change from him has really bothered me. 

I know he's just trying to win by any means necessary. Maybe he's justified in doing all of that because it gets him more power to do what he thinks is good. Because trolling and making flawed but catchy arguments attracts a bigger audience, and a bigger audience means bigger influence. I'm not so sure if that influence is a good thing though. Currently I'm more inclined to say that he is doing his audience a disservice by manipulating them with logical fallacies and passing it off as philosophy.