Thursday, 16 February 2012

Optimistic biases and suicide

I promised in my previous post that I'd address how people can somehow believe that suicide is always the product of a diseased and somewhat inhuman mind. I don't have the self-discipline to fully address these concerns, and I do not have the desire to gain that self-discipline either, and therefore, I shall do my usual haphazard diatribe.

The main reason I'll address why people do not think suicide is the answer for anyone, regardless of situation, is simply because of our old arch-nemesis here at this blog: Optimism. While some simply think suicide is a sin, due to religion, or those that could be left behind (despite how pain of life could be > pain of grief), the major cause of opposition among those who we often meet around these parts, the 'rationalists' at Less Wrong and Overcoming Bias, is due to Optimism and the sum of its many component biases. Not only, as I stated in the previous post, am I quite certain that they do not understand the breadth of suffering another person could go through, but they also believe that life is full of lots of exciting opportunities, despite the non-existence of free will that they accept, and the resulting loss of such opportunities in those who are terminally ill, or terminally MENTALLY ill. I was going to say, it's because they have a fetish for life ("let's cryogenically freeze ourselves until humans have become the master race reached the technological singularity, then we can live forever and ever and ever, fap fap fap/shlick shlick shlick"), or because they are secretly (who knows?) afraid of death - but those are harsh, and maybe not entirely true. But the optimistic rejection of suicide as a right, is essentially the same as the other rejections - irrational. You should see by now how ignorant it really is - the argument basically goes, A Things are good for me now B Therefore things must be good for other people! C Why would anyone commit suicide then? or alternatively A Things in my life have been generally good B I've had some grief, but I got over it C Hey, I got over it, so why can't you? Don't you know that life is generally good? Wait for the future. The future is magical [insert onomatopoeia for fervent (emotional) masturbation]. It has robots and flying cars and jedi and genetic engineering and a master AI, don't forget that. You'll feel better once you invest in THE FUTURE (TM)!

Why do people reject the existence of Suicidal Resolution? I think this is because they really can't imagine it. It is also because they view, for the reasons described earlier, that suicide is always an irrational thought. You can't give informed consent to kill yourself, because, as this people believe, you will regret it later (in hell), or WOULD regret it had you not been dead at the time. I think also, that the reason I can't discern immediately why they reject its existence, is possibly because of the great barrier I feel. I'm serious about this. I don't mean anything 'magick', I mean I really feel that when mental health professionals talk about suicide, they are almost believing that it is a disease and a curse, and as if it is their religion to do so. No rational reason required. It suits their tastes to believe that you can't be justified in killing yourself, so they doubt that anyone can feel as if they have thought things through and come to a conclusion that does not fit in with the rest of society.

Bringing a human life into this world is a childish idea. Bye for now.


  1. Excellent entry! Thank you for keeping up your posting, you got a lot of attention with this one!

  2. Agree with the post, but to be fair, at least among LW-style transhumanists, not all optimism comes from people who think that life is already awesome. If you think some major human re-engineering tech (AI, modifiable uploads, brain mods, ...) is plausible, then many current problem could be fixed. Mental health problem, zero/negative-sum sexuality or just general shittiness like boredom can then be improved to a point that life might actually become awesome. So at least from this transhumanist perspective, arguing from current broken hardware is really just status quo bias. Life might suck, but as long as technology progresses, it won't suck forever, the reply goes, and we'd like to be still around when it actually gets better.

    Now I personally don't buy this argument 'cause I'm fairly pessimistic about the necessary technology ever happening and even if, some hellish Hansonian upload world full of even more fucked up ape minds enslaved to economic growth seems much more likely.

    Also, and I personally rarely see this point being made, probably because most transhumanists etc. are (vaguely) utilitarians, future pleasure doesn't make up for past suffering, so even if the future actually gets better, it would still not be worth it to tolerate the suffering right now. I think Benatar makes the point that putting benefit and harm on the same scale is absurd because there is some harm that is so severe that no benefit could ever make up for it. The idea of irreparable damage is completely foreign to utilitarianism and that strikes me as one of the clearest indications of how insane the whole framework is.

  3. "The idea of irreparable damage is completely foreign to utilitarianism"
    Excellent point; it allows for scenarios in which one can entitle oneself credit to distribute harm, for all the good work done.

  4. Thanks Franc, for once my productivity almost resembles your level.

    Yeah, I am very interested in LW, despite how I more often than not am very critical of it. Transhumanism sounds cool, as does flaming swords and Beezlebub and Jinn, but I can never shake the feeling "This is wrong. On the internet. NO NO NO". I'm sorry again I didn't really go into things as fully as I might have liked to, I'm just not really the kind of person who can write an entry that does that sort of thing. I can't keep a cool head, really.

    "I think Benatar makes the point that putting benefit and harm on the same scale is absurd because there is some harm that is so severe that no benefit could ever make up for it"
    Oh my god that is such an amazing thing to say. I know of the asymmetry, but I didn't know utilitarianism was that easy to refute (my general argument was: "due to utilitarianism, we should feed some people to the lions because their suffering will be made up for by the thousands of people we will have watching having fun.") I really will have to read Benatar's book (the problem with that is, there is no possible way at the moment I could sneak it past my parents. I COULD tell them that I'm reading it because it sounds interesting because it's SO wrong, but I've attempted suicide before, so I'm not sure they'd buy my excuse.)

  5. Thanks muflax! Searched for it online, found a torrent with no seeds. Basically couldn't find it at all.