The Freedom to Be Unhealthy Is the Opposite of True Freedom

In a letter to The New York Times regarding the Big Apple's trans fat ban, an Australian physician writes:

Experience has shown that consumers do not always use their freedom to make healthy choices. So a regulation that is based on science and in the best interests of the consumer should not be interpreted as an unwarranted intrusion into personal lifestyle choices.

Is the freedom to choose unhealthy food that difficult to forfeit?

Which reminds me of a comment I once heard another doctor make on CNN regarding smoking: "People who are making decisions for themselves don’t always come up with the right answer." In other words, freedom is all well and good, as long as people use it to make exactly the same choices I would make. This seems to be one of the main lessons taught in schools of public health.

[Thanks to Audrey Silk for the tip.]

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  • ||

    Freedom is slavery.

  • Jonathan C. Hohensee||

    "People who are making decisions for themselves don't always come up with the right answer."
    They don't always come up with YOUR right answer, but for me, although smoking comes at a physical risk I do it anyways due to the stress-reducing and socail benifits.

  • ||

    ...doctor make on CNN regarding smoking: "People who are making decisions for themselves don't always come up with the right answer."

    Oh, doctors always come up with the "right answer". Like bleeding, thalidomide, homosexuality as an illness? Give me a break you paternalistic assholes.

  • Larry A||

    Is the freedom to choose unhealthy food that difficult to forfeit?

    Yes. As my wife said when her physician suggested she give up chocolate so she'd live longer, "Why?"

    So a regulation that is based on science and in the best interests of the consumer should not be interpreted as an unwarranted intrusion into personal lifestyle choices.

    Bullshit. The only legitimate reason for government is to protect my right to make my own damn "personal lifestyle choices."

  • ||

    I laugh every time I walk by George Washington University Hospital and see all the docs outside puffing away on their cigs. I think they must teach a course in med school called "God Complex."

  • ||

    Money buys lots of freedom. I'd rather pay the parking ticket than lower myself to sticking coins in the meter. If I smoked, I'd gladly pay whatever fine was levied to enjoy my freedom to do so. I'm free to go to Paris for the weekend if I want. You want more freedom, get more money. I inherited mine.

  • Jonathan Aldridge||

    That Australian physician should be forced to eat this (scroll down after clicking).

  • ||

    Banning transfats was the weasel way out.

    I'm still pushing for mandatory daily calisthenics.

    I envision something along the lines of North Korea's "Mass Games."

    They're all so thin!

  • ||

    Jonathan

    What social benefits does smoking confer? The commeraderie of the cancer ward? Could it be that smart people have more freedom than stupid people (nothing personal)?

  • ||

    North Korea: Better Living Through Starvation.

  • Jennifer||

    The commeraderie of the cancer ward? Could it be that smart people have more freedom than stupid people (nothing personal)?

    That depends. Do I have more freedom than you because I know how to spell "camaraderie" and you don't?

  • ||

    Jennifer

    Knowing how to spell will get you a job that requires the skill. Fortunately, I don't have to work at all, much less at a low-level job that doesn't include a personal secretary who knows how to spell. Are you looking for work?

  • ||

    Jennifer

    I'll give you $6 an hour and two weeks' vacation. How is that for freedom?

  • ||

    why not combine the two and smoke some trans fat?

    ahh the sweet fatty smell of freedom...

    from an Australian point of view, we have a much greater emphasis on the public health system so the freedom to baste yourselves with lard is impinging on my freedom not to subsidise your fat arse.

    unfortunately the immediate answer of 'privatise' isn't really viable, behind energy, mining and agriculture the highest government subsidised industry is private health insurance (not sure about the us?) from doing my tax return I found that not only are my taxes going to public hospitals but also to prop up an unviable industry, and I cant really afford to support the obease class's health problems

  • Jennifer||

    Damn, Daniel. You're independently wealthy and the best thing you can think to do with your wealth and freedom is brag about it on the Internet?

  • ||

    In a reuters story about the WHO report on the 'obesity epidemic'(as it's become obvious to even the most dedicated collectivist that famine and malnourishment are almost always effected by politics, or fashion), one of the mouthpieces spouted the following;
    "... would like to see economic incentives to encourage consumers to buy healthier food. 'Taxes on soft drinks, for example, should be considered ... The whole problem is that consumers ... we are not completely free in deciding our own food choices,' he said. "
    (the elisions are mine but do not change the essence of the statement)
    I read that as 'Let's compel choices because people don't have enough of them.' Huh?!
    This all stems from socialized medicine. Everything a person does affects their health. With socialized medicine, health costs are public costs, thus making everything that anybody does part of the public domain. Nice little bait & switch, wouldn't you say?

  • ||

    So a regulation that is based on science and in the best interests of the consumer should not be interpreted as an unwarranted intrusion into personal lifestyle choices.

    Doctors as scientists...some maybe, most not. And since when did science become a moralizing religion concerned with what's 'in my best interest'

  • ||

    How about a regulation based on money? Your poor lifestyle choices drive my health insurance costs up. I had a complete physical two months ago. I'm healthy as a horse. I exercise regularly. I don't smoke. I drink in moderation.

    Why the hell should I pay more for insurance because of all the addicts who can't control their impulse to smoke cigarettes or get crapulous? I say base health insurance premiums on weight and lifestyle. Auto insurance underwriters look at our driving records. Life insurance underwriters want to know my age and my health status. Overweight smokers should pay more than I do for health insurance. I'm sure the actuarials at the insurance companies could work out a fair premium scale.

  • ||

    From what I understand (and I could be wrong), trans fats are both less tasty and less good for you than the other kind. They are, however, also cheaper.

    This from a poster on a web board I frequent:

    "This process turns otherwise healthy fats (like olive oil) into harmful fats, which can then be added to low fat spreads and similar products (which are also clorinated to remove the grey colour, dyed yellow and have vitamins added to them to compensate for the low nutritional value.)

    Traditionally, cakes have been made with butter (which is more expensive, and also has negative connotations, since it's pure fat) butter is much nicer for making cakes and is also healthier. Like fructose (corn syrup) which is a whole other topic, trans fats are annother artificial product added to food to reduce the cost and to avoid the negative connotations associated with using an alternative product (butter and sugar respectively.)"

    Personally, I can't get too worked up about government's intention to ban a substance that tastes worse and is more unhealthy than the alternative.

  • Jennifer||

    Why the hell should I pay more for insurance because of all the addicts who can't control their impulse to smoke cigarettes or get crapulous? I say base health insurance premiums on weight and lifestyle.

    Don't they already? There's certainly a difference between smokers and non-smokers, for starters.

  • ||

    I can't help but wonder how doctors like him would have sidestepped responsibility if the AMA and AHA had their way 30 years ago when they would have compelled, and subsequently killed, tens of thousands of cardiac patients by having them reduce their protein and fat intake in favor of fruits and breads. Not to mention the asthma sufferers who would have died from emphysema and lung cance after being prescribed cigarettes.

  • ||

    Mark,
    Transfat may be worse for you than pure saturated fat like lard (but not by much) and it is surely worse for you than unsaturated fats like olive or canola oil. However, it is cheaper to produce, cheaper to store, and cheaper to transport than any other form of fat. Granted, Crisco doesn't taste anywhere near as good as lard, but shouldn't the consumer be the judge of that? Cheaper food vs. better tasting food, that seems to be the conundrum of the ages doesn't it?

    The whole reason that many restaurants changed from saturated fat (tallow, lard, palm oil) to partially hydrogenated shortning was at the behest of the CSPI who claimed that hydrogenated oils were much healthier for you. This same organization is now demanding that restaurants stop serving it, for our health. Bit of a credibilty hit don't you think?

    Also, just an FYI, butter is not pure fat. It has about 20% water in it. Not that it makes a damn bit of difference nutritionally, but if you compare Kcal/volume it would appear that butter is lower in calories than shortning but this is due to water not "healthy-ness".

    Lastly, if you are so keen on the government banning substances that taste worse and are less healthy than alternatives the what happens after trans-fats are banned? The next unhealthy alternative is sat fat like lard and butter. Sure, you can't bake a flaky pie crust without a solid fat, but it isn't good for you anyway. Then what? Well, peanut oil has a high smoke point, but it isn't anywhere near as healthy or flavorful as olive oil, so off it goes. Olive oil has a lower percentage of monounsaturated fats than canola or safflower, so it needs to go too. What we are left with is a tasteless oil that you can't deep fry shit in, but it's healthy by goodness!

    Putting aside oil for a while, what about white bread? It isn't anywhere near as tasty or healthy as wheat bread is it? Well, white bread has to go then. After white bread is banned, then what? Honey wheat, then whole wheat, then bread all together? Are we going to be left with plain boiled grains with no sugar or salt because it's better for us? Gruel so packed full of goodness and flavor that nobody will eat it.

    What about mandatory exercising? Surely, it is better to exercise than not? Maybe the government will demand that we all exercise at least 30 minutes a day, under penalty of fine or jail. This article shows that others are thinking about it. Okay, to be fair, based on the author's other writings, I think the article was written in jest. However, the fact that it has shown up on a food related website and numerous blogs shows that many people feel that we should adopt a more socialist attitude towards exercise as many communist countries do. Remember, what's good for you is good for the country!

  • ||

    As my brother m-dawg says: Same shit, different day:

    "Housewives on the whole cannot be trusted to buy all the right things where nutrition and health care are concerned. This is really no more than an extension of the principle according to which the housewife herself would not trust a child of four to select the week's purchases. For in the case of nutrition and health, just as in the case of education, the gentleman in Whitehall really does know better what is good for people than the people know themselves."

    - Douglas Jay, a British MP and intellectual influence of the Labour government of the 1940s

    "People who are forced to pay for medical care out of pocket don't have the ability to make good decisions about what care to purchase."

    - Paul Krugman '06

  • Bill||

    The secular lefts (and center and right etc) faith in "science" and especially "medical science" to inform "public policy" has always struck me as far more dangerous to Liberty than
    anything supported by evangelical Christians.

  • ||

    Kwix

    Not that I am thinking the ban on trans-fat is something that makes a lot of sense, but your slippery slope argument (despite all the steps you indicate) is just a slippery slope argument. And, as such, is a fallacious (if not fellatious) argument.

  • ||

    Guys- please keep in mind that not all doctors believe in this sh*t (i.e. banning everything we somehow don't like). I am a doctor who has a very healthy diet- but I believe on principle that I should be able to open a trans-fat warehouse where I inject busloads of people with the f*cking stuff should they so desire (and pay). Oh and I'm Australian too - so we're not all nannies down here.

  • ||

    By the way Kwix,

    I am not sure it is fair to pick on you about that. It is just that after awhile all the slippery slopes around here make me dizzy. The world just ain't that lubricated.

  • ||

    MainstreamMan,

    20 years ago when the mandates for non-smoking areas, etc. began to be imposed people scoffed at slippery slope arguments. Well today employers are demanding employees urinate on command to prove they have not been smoking tobacco.

    The world has a hell of a lot more greasy slopes then you think it does. History proves those concerned about slippery slopes have been far more accurate in their concerns then those who scoffed at the idea of slippery slopes.

  • ||

    The whole reason that many restaurants changed from saturated fat (tallow, lard, palm oil) to partially hydrogenated shortning was at the behest of the CSPI who claimed that hydrogenated oils were much healthier for you. This same organization is now demanding that restaurants stop serving it, for our health. Bit of a credibilty hit don't you think?

    Yes, in the same way that 20 years ago we were hearing from the Cassandras about "global cooling" and instead today it's the oppposite we have to fear. There is a fiendish mindset among these scare-mongers; and a huge part of it comes from having to promote the most frightening consequences "if something isn't done now!"

    I believe I heard on the way into work that the polar icecaps are going to begin melting in 35 years. Anyone want to put money on that?

  • Dan T.||

    Why the hell should I pay more for insurance because of all the addicts who can't control their impulse to smoke cigarettes or get crapulous? I say base health insurance premiums on weight and lifestyle.

    This kind of defeats the point of insurance. Taken to its logical conclusion, you'd end up with a system where the only people who could afford health insurance are those who aren't likely to need it.

    Granted, as technology and genetic research improves, this is what will happen. So a national health care system is probably the only thing that will work. And yes, that will mean that healthy people will pay a little more to cover unhealthy people.

    The question is, will it be worth it? As a fairly healthy person, I say yes.

  • ||

    ... but your slippery slope argument (despite all the steps you indicate) is just a slippery slope argument. And, as such, is a fallacious (if not fellatious) argument.

    Being that we are discussing fat and oil, it really is slippery :-}

  • ||

    The only reason the neo-nannies succeeded in the smoking wars was the "second hand smoke" card (bullshit as it was): "I don't care about your health, I care about mine"

    Now where is that line of reasoning for trans-fat?

    And they say the slippery slope never happens.

  • ||

    Experience has shown that politicians waste my tax money on counter productive issues year after year without any accountability.

    Experience has shown that those who sing the sweetest moral love songs the loudest are likely the dirtiest bird in the bunch.

    Experience has shown that if given the opportunity to make decisions for you someone surely will and claim its whats best for you even if totally opposite of what they themselves are doing. Social Security versus Federal Pension Plans ring any bells?

    TFP will be the new government agency kicking doors down before they can drain the deep fryer and destroy the evidence.

  • Dan T.||

    Ironchef, other people's unhealthy habits affect my insurance premiums. So the state has every right to step in and regulate these poor choices.

    It's no different than regulating reckless driving. We all have the right to be safe on the roadways from other people's irresponsible driving.

  • Jennifer||

    Yes, in the same way that 20 years ago we were hearing from the Cassandras about "global cooling" and instead today it's the oppposite we have to fear. There is a fiendish mindset among these scare-mongers; and a huge part of it comes from having to promote the most frightening consequences "if something isn't done now!"

    "Global cooling" was not the belief of mainstream scientists, but was pushed by a few magazine editors looking for a sensational cover story. The lard vs. transfat issue is a different matter, since it was THE SAME ORGANIZATION that pushed first one and then the other.

    How many here can remember the late 70s and early 80s, when it seemed like every damned day there was another food banned because it caused cancer? Then it turned out that the way such carcinogenic qualities were determined was like this: Hey, we've made this lab rat eat enough red food coloring to dye 10,000 pounds of M&Ms each day. And the lab rat got sick! Hey, red M&Ms give you cancer!

    No, actually, turns out that anything is unhealthy, if you consume such monstrous amounts of it. Instead of nannies saying "Don't eat red M&Ms ever ever ever," a more sensible piece of advice is "don't eat 10,000 pounds of red M&Ms every day."

    Same thing with transfats. Who has dropped dead from eating a single pie made with Crisco? Nobody. But if some fatass with more cellulite than self-control eats twenty pies per week for many years and eventually develops health problems. . . let's blame the ingredients in the piecrust for his health problems! Let's ban such piecrusts altogether!

  • ||

    This kind of defeats the point of insurance.

    Only if you have no comprehension of how insurance works. It is called a risk pool. Should I be paying the same hurricane premium living 10 miles in from the Gulf as the guy in the condo that costs four times what my house costs and is on the beach? Should you be paying the same automobile insurance if you drive 5,000 miles a year in your Volvo as your neighbor who drives 25,000 miles in his Corvette?

    Taken to its logical conclusion, you'd end up with a system where the only people who could afford health insurance are those who aren't likely to need it.

    Taken to its logical conclusion smokers form a pool that funds the healthcare costs of treating smokers, non-smokers form a pool that funds non-smokers. Fat asses can just as easily be in one pool, people who know when to quit at the buffet line can be in another. If you charge everyone the same healthcare premium you remove the consequence of making poor choices (higher healthcare costs), and penalize the decision to make good choices (lower healthcare costs). Even a simpleton understands how people will behave if that happens. With Hillary and Dan T. I am not so sure.

    The ethical dilemma of genetic research and insurance premiums is going to take place, but there is nothing remotely inappropriate about charging fat smokers more for their health insurance. Smoking and Oreos are choice, genes are not.

  • ||

    The aurgument that our unhealthy lifestyles cost other people money in the form of taxes for public health and increased health insurance premiums is a socialists exercise in economics.
    After studying health care "economics" for a dozen years I can honestly tell you that if we were all 100% healthy tomorrow our health care system would consume just as much money as it does today. The money would just shift from care to "prevention." The health care unions, doctors and hospitals wouldn't have it any other way.
    The entire concept of cost savings or expense in healthcare is a fallacious argument.

  • Dan T.||

    Taken to its logical conclusion smokers form a pool that funds the healthcare costs of treating smokers, non-smokers form a pool that funds non-smokers. Fat asses can just as easily be in one pool, people who know when to quit at the buffet line can be in another.

    But smoking and being overweight are not the only indicators that somebody might have health problems in the future. Taken to its logical conclusion, insurance companies someday will require you to submit to a test that can determine with certainty what health problems you're going to have. If you test positive for cancer to develop in the next five years, you won't be able to get insurance from anybody. If you test totally clean, you won't need health insurance anyway.

    That's an extreme hypothetical, I admit, but the principle is there - people who are very high-risk for health problems are not going to be able to afford insurance. But they're still going to get sick, and somebody is still going to pay for their treatment.

    If you charge everyone the same healthcare premium you remove the consequence of making poor choices (higher healthcare costs), and penalize the decision to make good choices (lower healthcare costs).

    True in theory, but only if you assume people will make lifestyle choices based on healthcare costs who wouldn't make them based on improving their health anyway. (In other words, do many smokers really think "who cares if I get lung cancer, my insurance will take care of it"?) Also, there are many factors that affect your health that you have no control over yet would raise your insurance premiums if they could be detected.

  • ||

    do many smokers really think "who cares if I get lung cancer, my insurance will take care of it"

    Probably not. They probably think that they will be among the 80% of smokers who won't get lung cancer anyway.

    One of the problems with insurance in general, and especially managed care is that it creates a disconnect between consuming healthcare and paying for it. Adding in the fact that most people's health insurance premiums are at least partially paid for by their employers further clouds the connection. But people do think "who cares if I smoke, my health insurance will pay for the costs associated with it and some stiff who doesn't smoke will pay more than he should to see that I pay less than I should."

    It is simple elasticity of demand. It is clearly shown that increasing the cost of cigarettes decreases the consumption of cigarettes. Increasing the insurance premiums coming out of your pocket if you choose to smoke will make smoking more expensive. Cigarettes are normal goods, if their price goes up you consume less. But if your employer sucks it up and pays more for his group health plan and you get a smaller raise it is much harder to see. And oh by the way, I have seen some pretty decent peer-reviewed studies that show over a lifetime smokers do not create significantly greater burdens than non-smokers once you factor in the taxes paid and the benefits foregone by early death. If you die at 65 of a heart attack you sure won't be spending 10 years requiring Alzheimer's treatment. Perhaps that is a conversation for another time.

  • ||

    I've already noticed that health insurance companies have been weeding out from their candidate pool using questions about obesity.

    The problem with private health insurance is there's always going to be some group that won't be able to get coverage--let's say someone has a history of cancer and her health insurer decides to drop her because she's reached the limit of payment under their policies.

    So do we just write these people off and say, too bad, you lose?

    No wonder libertarians have a reputation of being selfish little snot-asses.

  • Bagger||

    I shudder to think what will happen once the group-think crowd figures out that people who live longer are actually a bigger drain on the healthcare system than those who drop dead earlier in life.

  • ||

    Ha. Jennifer just pwned all over some guy who's all rich.

    He's rich.

    On teh intartubes.

  • ||

    "I believe I heard on the way into work that the polar icecaps are going to begin melting in 35 years. Anyone want to put money on that?"


    Well, that prediction is a bit late to take a bet on...

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1938132,00.html
    "last summer the ice cap receded about 200 miles further north than the average of two decades ago"

    "http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/08/060810-greenland.html"
    The Greenland ice sheet is melting three times faster today than it was five years ago, according to a new study.

    http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/Key_Topics/IceSheet_SeaLevel/ice_shelf_loss.html
    "Around 8000 km2 has been lost since the 1950's. In the same period meteorological stations measured an increase in the air temperature of about 2°C."

  • ||

    "History proves those concerned about slippery slopes have been far more accurate in their concerns then those who scoffed at the idea of slippery slopes."

    That is an easy assertion to make.

    I'll counter...

    History proves those concerned about slippery slopes have been far less accurate in their concerns THAN those who scoffed at the idea of slippery slopes.

  • ||

    Daniel:

    Could it be that smart people have more freedom than stupid people (nothing personal)?

    Bad inference. It just means that folks who don't smoke tend to be more hep to the harmful effects of smoking and/or tend to care more.

  • ||

    TJIT,

    Your one example does not suddenly validate slippery slope arguments... and is in essence, a slippery slope argument.

  • ||

    MainstreamMan:

    History proves those concerned about slippery slopes have been far less accurate in their concerns THAN those who scoffed at the idea of slippery slopes.

    That's certainly not true concerning government intervention.

  • ||

    Rick B...

    Yeah, yeah, Yadda yadda yadda...

    Example followed by counter example.

    It is sloppy thinking.

  • ||

    grumpy realist:

    No wonder libertarians have a reputation of being selfish little snot-asses.

    What ever. When what libertarians advocate is put into practice, people's lives tend to be vastly enriched.

  • ||

    Or maybe I should say


    Slope-ey thinking.

  • ||

    MainstreamMan:

    It is sloppy thinking.

    No it's not. It's more rigorous thinking. Some cases merit categorization. Government intervention has certainly proved to be a slippery slope.

  • ||

    Slope-ey thinking.

    :)

  • ||

    Rick,

    You make me laugh.

    You just used the words "certainly" and "proved" as if they meant something in this context.

    And "rigorous" too...give me a break.

    Again, yadda yadda, example/counter example.

    Goverment has certainly proven to be a cumbersome dinosaur resistent to change...

  • ||

    Rick,

    The transfat ban is a bad idea.
    Not because it may lead to a white bread ban.
    It is a bad idea because it is hard to implement, enforce, and restricts people's freedom of choice. The slippery slope argument does not address the problem under discussion. The slippery slope argument is invalid. It's use is sloppy thinking.

    I have no problem with the libertarian wish to throw sand on the greasy slopes of government, but after awhile the endless use of invalid arguments for why they are doing so gets tiresome.

  • ||

    MainstreamMan,

    "Certainly" and "proved" are accurate cuz of the history of government intervention. And thought that allows categorization is indeed more rigorous.

  • ||

    "And thought that allows categorization is indeed more rigorous."

    Sorry, but as categorization is so close to the heart of any form of thought its presence hardly constitutes rigor.

    An entity as multidimensional as "history of government" can not be readily categorized along a single dimension without losing so much information as to be meaningless.

  • ||

    MainstreamMan:

    It is a bad idea because it is hard to implement, enforce, and restricts people's freedom of choice

    I agree that those are better reasons for opposing it. But they do not invalidate slippery slope concerns. Government often uses one restriction of freedom as a pretext for another.

  • ||

    An entity as multidimensional as "history of government" can not be readily categorized along a single dimension without losing so much information as to be meaningless.

    Losing information?? We're observing tendencies.

  • ||

    "Government often uses one restriction of freedom as a pretext for another."

    And government often avoids this tendency.

    Using slippery slope arguments doesn't help the situation. Demonstrating why a past decision was the wrong with valid arguments can help to establish the opposite precedence, slippery slope arguments don't help as they are invalid.

  • ||

    "We're observing tendencies."

    Observing one tendency while ingoring others.

    ie. losing information.

  • ||

    Overcoming the tendency to observe only the data that confirm what one believes is a primary goal of education.

  • ||

    Slippery slope arguments don't help as they are invalid.


    They can't be invalid if (and this is only one of the reasons), government often uses one restriction of freedom as a pretext for another.

    And it's manifest that government does this.

  • ||

    ie. losing information.

    What?? Just cuz certain aspects are fucused upon doesn't mean that others are "lost"-gone. Also, certain things may not be relevant for any given investigation.

  • ||

    Joe:

    Overcoming the tendency to observe only the data that confirm what one believes is a primary goal of education.

    That's a good point. At least it should be a primary goal of education.

  • ||

    Rick,

    You are trying to hard here.

    "There are two types of fallacy referred to as "slippery slopes":

    1. Causal Version:
    Type:

    Non Causa Pro Causa
    Form:

    If A happens, then by a gradual series of small steps through B, C,…, X, Y, eventually Z will happen, too.
    Z should not happen.
    Therefore, A should not happen, either. ...
    2. Semantic Version:
    Type:

    Vagueness
    Forms:

    * A differs from Z by a continuum of insignificant changes, and there is no non-arbitrary place at which a sharp line between the two can be drawn.
    Therefore, there is really no difference between A and Z.
    * A differs from Z by a continuum of insignificant changes with no non-arbitrary line between the two.
    Therefore, A doesn't exist."

    More http://www.fallacyfiles.org/slipslop.html

  • ||

    If the slippery slope were axiomatically true, all governments would be totalitarian dictatorships. The slippery slope is just a rhetorical device used in propaganda. The uneducated, the targets of propaganda, easily believe the rhetoric and assumes it's the same as analysis.

  • ||

    "Just cuz certain aspects are fucused upon doesn't mean that others are "lost"-gone. Also, certain things may not be relevant for any given investigation."

    To elaborate, when you take something as multidimensional as "history of government" and make a cartoonish unidimensional model of it that ignores all the important factors related to the question at hand, your conclusions are meaningless.

    This transfat ban has as great a chance of leading to less of these kinds of laws as more since it will be difficult to implement, all but impossible to enforce, and result in higher food prices for no good reason. It will be challenged in court, and as long as the lawyers bringing suit avoid the invalid slippery slope argument has a good chance of being struck down as overburdensome.

    yadda yadda example/counter example.

    Argue for/against the law based on its merit or lack thereof.

  • ||

    make a...model of it that ignores all the important factors related to the question at hand, your conclusions are meaningless.

    This is silly. The observation of tendencies is doing science.

    ignores all the important factors

    The observation of tendencies helps us to determine which factors are important for given parameters.

    This transfat ban has as great a chance of leading to less of these kinds of laws

    That happy result could indeed happen. But also, government could point out that the public is being "protected" and more of the same is needed.

  • ||

    For all the slippery slopers...

    Here is the nature of the problem...


    "If we allow then to put Transfats, which have been shown to lead to increased risk of heart disease, in our foods just to defend liberty...the next thing you know, they'll be no way to stop people from cooking with mercury."

    The problem with slippery slopes is that they are slippery and sloping in two directions at once.

  • ||

    If the slippery slope were axiomatically true, all governments would be totalitarian dictatorships.

    It's certainly not axiomatically true, but governments do demonstrate an overwhemling trend of getting bigger and more intrusive.

  • ||

    Rick,

    "The observation of tendencies is doing science."

    Well then my cats do science as they have observed my tendency to feed them when I get home.

    "The observation of tendencies helps us to determine which factors are important for given parameters."

    True, but mediating factors and alternate explanations need to be kept in mind at all times. If your model is to simplistic, you can't do this.

  • ||

    In fact, the cats do better science because they're not incumbered by a quasi-religious zealotry. Feline observations have an certain objectivity that's lacking in scientifically illiterate humans.

  • ||

    Is the freedom to choose unhealthy food that difficult to forfeit?

    I don't want to forfeit it.

    Experience has shown that consumers do not always use their freedom to make healthy choices. So a regulation that is based on science and in the best interests of the consumer should not be interpreted as an unwarranted intrusion into personal lifestyle choices.

    Yes, it should be interpreted as an unwarranted intrusion into personal lifestyle choices.

    There are other desireable things in the world besides long-term health risk minimization. Each individual has a right to decide for himself/herself how much (if at all) to prioritize health as compared to other benefits. That is to a great extent what freedom means.

    Also, from a utilitarian standpoint, each individual has direct access to his or her own preferences, and is thus in the best position to determine how to satisfy them. (with some necessary exceptions for insane or mentally undeveloped humans)

    Ok, I am done preaching to the quire for now.

  • ||

    Maybe we freedom addicts are going about this the wrong way. Maybe, when addressing technocrats and communitarians, "the Left" and the aggressively whole grain, we should speak in a language they prefer: public health...

    WARNING: High concentrations of coercive power have been shown in long-term studies to cause permanent, irreversible health effects including, but not limited to, death, serious injury, long lines, depression, loss of appetite, exit wounds, panic attacks, malnutrition, sterilization, imprisonment, shock therapy, capital flight, lobotomy, paranoia, nostalgia, chafing, substandard service, and even delusions of persecution. Please consult your physician-legislator from south Texas before using. Store in a cool place. Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts, tree nuts, and pork. Warning not valid in Massachussetts.

  • Robert||

    Causal slippery slopes are easily over-diagnosed by post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Things tend to change gradually, so it's usually easy to point to past changes that were partial versions of later changes. But that doesn't mean the partial change caused or helped cause the full change.

  • ||

    Well then my cats do science as they have observed my tendency to feed them when I get home.

    Yep, I shoulda said that the observation of tendencies is an important part of doing science.

    BTW, I have a cat too-Used to have two but one of em died a little over a year ago. :( I love cats.

  • ||

    Rick,

    Sorry to hear about your feline friend.

    Having a cat, of course, is a protective factor identified in scientific studies. You have greater probability of living longer and avoiding dementia because you have a cat.

    Maybe there outta be law mandating cat ownership to offset the negative effects of transfats... ;^)

  • ||

    Thanks, MainstreamMan.

    Shh! Don't give em any ideas...

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