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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.








 
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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."

So are you saying the 1% that you described earlier as "nut-jobs" is a very significant portion of your readership?

Seriously, if you believe in something, stand up for it! But I would recommend waiting until you cool down bit before you start.

[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]
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
[Emotion, by its nature, is not rational. I think you've lost the argument when you say "my emotions are part of the rational argument, but your argument has to be practical and logical".]

Ruh roh. Someone else is pointing out chinks in your armor. :^D

WATYF

[He's as confused as you are. See my response to that below. -- Scott]
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
[I believe instead that I posed the question in a way that made opponents doubt their own views, as they should. -- Scott]

haha... how very charitable of you to believe such a thing about your own argument. :^D

In reality, you posed the question in a way that was intellectually disingenuous and weasely, as myself and others have pointed out.

I'm still waiting for you to present a rational argument. Once you have, I'll know whether or not there is a rational counter-argument.

WATYF

[You want a rational argument for why my government shouldn't be torturing my parents for the benefit of someone else's religious beliefs or lack of knowledge about the success of doctor-assisted suicide in several places? I'm fairly sure the burden is on the other side. -- Scott]
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
[Keep in mind that I WANT your argument to be strong. Otherwise it would be pointless to tear it apart in public. -- Scott]

You haven't shown any ability to tear anything apart. Witty quips are a poor substitute for substantive, logical deconstruction.

So far, your argument is purely emotional: "I don't like the idea of the government telling me I can't kill (or help kill) a loved one if they're suffering". You, of course, didn't word it that clearly. You hid behind a bunch of weasel words (like "end of life care") and other disingenuous framing, but that's what it amounts to at this point.

As I asked before, what is your sound, consistent philosophical basis for why people should be allowed to kill someone who is suffering?

Btw, you should note that, "It has outcomes which I find emotionally satisfying or pragmatically acceptable" is not a sound philosophical basis.

WATYF

[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]
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
"Emotion **IS** a huge part of the rational argument."

I think the relevant definitions of rational in this context are:
1. agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible: a rational plan for economic development.
2. of, pertaining to, or constituting reasoning powers: the rational faculty.

Neither of those has anything to do with emotion. Emotion, by its nature, is not rational. I think you've lost the argument when you say "my emotions are part of the rational argument, but your argument has to be practical and logical". It's OK for your rage about your father to be included, but not someone else's passionate and emotional belief in the value of human life? It just doesn't work.

[Emotion is part of the data. You agree. Let it go. -- Scott]
 
 
Dec 4, 2013
No, not according to the rules you've set. But if it were a fair debate, with supposedly impartial judges, I'd say there were a few practical concerns mentioned. Practical of course being in my opinion versus in yours. I'm no more comfortable allowing the government to make decisions about when to end my life because I'm a drain on "their" resources than I am about them making decisions about when you end yours based on their perceived level of your pain and suffering. I just don't trust them period. And in any other context neither do you. But just like people with a religious opinion can allow emotion seep into an argument and ignore the point trying to be reached it seems that the anti-religious have also done that here. (BTW - not all, or even most, religious people are "creationists" as you seem to define the term.)

"[No one has presented a coherent argument on practical grounds. That argument would take the form of showing that in places it has been legal for some time, with safeguards, that problems are above a tolerable level. The argument that something bad might happen is archaic because we can now simply observe what is happening. And keep in mind that the argument that something bad might happen is true of all things from hospital visits to having a police force. So that is not a real argument, just a fear. -- Scott]"
 
 
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Dec 4, 2013
"Because we are talking about an action (ending a life) that is completely, totally, 100% irrevocable, taking action is ipso facto risky than not taking it. After all, if you decide to live, you can always change your mind tomorrow, but the reverse doesn't hold."

That's a much better argument.

"Also, again, legal precedence in many cases sets the value of human life as priceless for all practical purposes,"

Possibly, but not in all cases.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/25626294/ns/us_news-environment/t/how-value-life-epa-devalues-its-estimate/#.TyQ4SsVSTw0

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/business/economy/17regulation.html?_r=2&


"Considering both of these, the government essentially cannot choose to do anything EXCEPT protect life at all costs....

The government, by default, should always take the stance of protecting life, but as long as the individual and the doctor are in agreement, the government would not have the power to force the issue."

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.
 
 
Dec 4, 2013
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORT YOUR POSITION.

I shared your blog everywhere (FB, G , and Twitter), and it was also shared on Ronni Bennett's blog, TimeGoesBy. Most reactions were wholeheartedly supportive. I didn't respond because I assume you don't have time to read through all the comments. Also I didn't want to have to register, but seeing you didn't get the real story yesterday, I feel motivated to join your community and support you.

Here's what's happening, Scott: your readers probably tend to be younger. I'm 59, and I have a blog about aging with power and joy. Your readers aren't thinking about dying, and may need to distance themselves in self-protection. They're young. They'll learn.

In the meantime, know that everybody in my age demographic stood and applauded. Best wishes, and my condolences in the loss of your father.
 
 
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
[You don't come across as rational. Sorry. I need a stronger opponent to make the debate even mildly useful. -- Scott]

Translation: "My emotions don't like what you're saying, but I don't have a logical explanation for why, so I'm just going to dismiss everything you've said outright."

Scott, your arguments keep getting worse and worse. I've laid out a detailed analysis of the weaknesses in your argument, and your reply is that I don't "come across" as rational? More weasel words is all you can muster up?

How can you be so blind to your own irrationality while claiming to point it out in others?

(Don't worry... I know how. The question is rhetorical)

WATYF

[Keep in mind that I WANT your argument to be strong. Otherwise it would be pointless to tear it apart in public. -- Scott]
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
One of Scott's original problems was with how the survey question was worded. Here's a website with a bunch of survey results, complete with the survey questions:
http://euthanasia.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000134

The wording on most of the questions was relatively benign, like the most recent (from 2010), "Next, we'd like to ask you some questions about euthanasia. Generally speaking, do you support or oppose legalizing euthanasia in the United States?" That one got a 42% for PAS, vs 36% against, with 22% unsure.

This question was posed in 2007, "When a person has a disease that cannot be cured and is living in severe pain, do you think doctors should or should not be allowed by law to assist the patient to commit suicide if the patient requests it?". It got a 56% Yes vs 38% No result.

The results from all the surveys vary all over the place, but seem to round off around 50% for allowing PAS against a bit less than 40% against. While it's not the 49% number in that one survey, it's well above Scott's "throw-out" number of 1%.

But I'll second (third?) what several commenters have said here - Scott, I believe that you got very few arguments because nobody wants to argue with an angry person, especially one who's known to be acerbic at times. And since most of the arguments would come from those who believe in God, or at least in some metaphysical concept of a value of life, and you've made it quite clear that you're not one of those, maybe people would want to avoid getting belittled. Your reply, "A belief in magic is not a philosophy", strengthens that.

FWIW, I'm one of those believers. I believe that life is inherently valuable and a gift from God. I would hope that if my time comes to make such a decision that my faith would be strong enough to accept the pain and not choose to hasten the end of that life. However, that is a moral choice for myself. My philosophy (not based on the degrading term, "magic") is that the government needs to stay out of moral choices that don't affect others. The choice to end my own life is between me and my God, and also my loved ones. You can't legislate morality. Just because it's illegal to have a doctor prescribe life-ending drugs, and the patient is forced out of a choice to end his or her life, that doesn't make the patient moral. The desire to actively end your own life is the sin, whether you have the resources to carry it out or not. The rest is just logistics.

[I have complete respect for your opinion because you don't seek to force your beliefs on others. 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 believe instead that I posed the question in a way that made opponents doubt their own views, as they should. -- Scott]


 
 
Dec 4, 2013
I support legalizing doctor assisted suicide. But I can easily believe that far more than 1% of my fellow Americans oppose it, even when you phrase opposition as, "supporting government interference in end of life decisions made by you, your family, and your doctor." It's not completely irrational to worry that this could turn out badly for some people. Poll results may be higher or lower depending on whether you ask the question or Pat Roberts asks the question, but I don't think 99-1 is the underlying distribution.

[The only people in opposition are creationist nut jobs and people who haven't yet heard that similar systems are working fine in other places. I can't prove a negative (that there are no informed and rational folks in opposition) but you have to admit you are surprised that no one has stepped forward here to champion the cause of government deciding your end-of-life options. -- Scott]
 
 
Dec 4, 2013
Good Lord, are you really going to back off after all that because of book sales?

Yes you are right: 49% do not oppose doctor-assisted suicide.
Yes, minorities and media manipulate and fabricate data to further their interests.

And what are you prepared to do about it? If nothing, then keep it to yourself. The smallest action is more powerful than the biggest rant.

[I did manage to demonstrate that there is not one person among my readers willing to argue why the government should have a veto over their end-of-life care. And this blog has enough reach within the traditional media that in all likelihood that insight will influence the debate going forward. I doubt you will ever again see the 49% poll number in traditional media without a "probably bullshit" qualifier of some sort.

Someone pointed to user anothermick as accepting my debate challenge. But he only accepted his own question, not mine. He argues for an individual choosing against euthanasia. I have no objection to an individual choosing his or her own course for any reason. I only object to the government limiting my choices. No one will accept that challenge because I assume no one is on the other side. -- Scott]
 
 
Dec 4, 2013
@Dilbro - There is a lot more to this argument than other people's religions being forced down your throat. There are the practical realities of who is to be trusted to make the decision and when. While there are certainly religious arguments being exerted, how do the authorities decide which cases to investigate when someone complains that the decision made was coerced by other family members, or when some one decided to "save the medical resources" before the patient was ready to make an independent decision. If you want to make an effective argument you need to keep anti-religious sentiment out of it or else you just become as irrelevant as those arguing on a purely religious basis.

[No one has presented a coherent argument on practical grounds. That argument would take the form of showing that in places it has been legal for some time, with safeguards, that problems are above a tolerable level. The argument that something bad might happen is archaic because we can now simply observe what is happening. And keep in mind that the argument that something bad might happen is true of all things from hospital visits to having a police force. So that is not a real argument, just a fear. -- Scott]
 
 
Dec 4, 2013
Most American people's opinion on any social issue can be paraphrased as the following: "Everybody should be free, to do what I think they should do."

The 49% answered yes because they interpreted the question as "should the government have veto power over _other people's_ decisions?" Of course the government should not tell me what to do, but all those other people can't be trusted to make the right decision.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
"c i r c u m s t a n c e s"
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
Allthough I agree with you on the issue, I don't know if the way you handled it here was very effective. Too much emotion in your arguments. If you reread your own posts maybe 2 months, you will see what I mean.
You have a way of presenting your case that makes me want to go against it, even when I actually agree.
On one of the rare occasions that you show some true emotion, it comes across as hate and bitterness.
I am very sorry for your loss and the suffering that your father had to go through. I am glad that I live in a place where !$%*!$%*!$%*! are different.

Regards,
Bob

[Emotion **IS** a huge part of the rational argument. The current laws make people feel exactly the way I expressed my own feelings. If you thought people in my position were simply annoyed or frustrated you would have the wrong data to participate in this debate. On a purely objective basis, opponents of death-with-dignity need to know that a portion of their fellow citizens respond to the activists with the same loathing we reserve for pedophiles and terrorists. You can be horrified and insulted by my choice of words in this debate, but you can't rationally deny that my emotional state is part of the relevant data. -- Scott]
 
 
Dec 4, 2013
delius1967s devils-advocate answer would be the best way to argue for government to always prolong life, imho.
Scotts experience is not the context from which governement can act. They come from the outside, and can't know for sure whom to trust for the final decision. For them to investigate every single case would be an insurmountable task.
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 4, 2013
I believe "anothermick" clearly accepted your challenge, and replied in a tone that suggests he/she is capable of putting together an argument without resorting to mud-slinging and name-calling.

You issued the challenge. It has been accepted by a willing adversary. This deserves a better response than your cursory put-down at the end of his post. Stand by your opinions and let the debate engage.

At least nash has picked it up, and now nash and anothermick seem to be having a mutually respectful debate (although it has somewhat descended to a "yes it is" / "no it isn't" argument over whether existence has precedence over experience), and Scott, you've got sidelined.

(N.B. I'm currently on your side Scott, and it would take a LOT for me to shift my position. Which is why it bothers me that you've issued this challenge then won't follow through)
 
 
Dec 4, 2013
1st of all, I can see the right-to-end-'my'-life, and doctor-assisted suicide, as two related but separate issues.
I'm certainly not interested in compelling anyone, least of all a doctor, to help me end the needless suffering of myself and my family when I decide it's my time to go.

I'm also not interested in compelling anyone to hang on to a life they no longer wish to continue living - nor am I willing to compel, convince, or coerce anyone to die before they decide it's their time.

What I don't get is how other people who are neither family nor friend of mine, feel they either have a right or a duty to prolong my existence.

I'm glad you can end the suffering of a pet, which by extension ends the suffering of the pet-owners.

When we learn that it's ok to do the same for people, and to stay out of other people's business, we will have evolved.
 
 
Dec 3, 2013
I put my 7 1/2-year old Great Dane down yesterday, as it was time to do so. She was miserable, and becoming aggressive.

I hope that someone can do that for me when the right time comes.
 
 
 
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