What’s killing us?

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Mike Huemer looks at what’s killing us:

The top causes of death almost never appear in political discourse or discussions of social problems. They’re almost all diseases, and there is almost no debate about what should be done about them. This is despite that they are killing vastly more people than even the most destructive of the social problems that we do talk about. (Illegal drugs account for 0.7% of the death rate; murder, about 0.6%.)


Hypothesis: We don’t much care about the good of society. Refinement: Love of the social good is not the main motivation for (i) political action, and (ii) political discourse. We don’t talk about what’s good for society because we want to help our fellow humans. We talk about society because we want to align ourselves with a chosen group, to signal that alignment to others, and to tell a story about who we are. There are AIDS activists because there are people who want to express sympathy for gays, to align themselves against conservatives, and thereby to express “who they are”. There are no nephritis activists, because there’s no salient group you align yourself with (kidney disease sufferers?) by advocating for nephritis research, there’s no group you thereby align yourself against, and you don’t tell any story about what kind of person you are.


  1. Ross says:

    Diseases/Handicaps ⇒ Fate. No freewill. “it’s not their choice, don’t stigmatize, stop it you bastards” (Now, have a Coke and a Smile)

    Murder/Drugs ⇒ Choice; done by freewill. “it’s your fault, you should be punished”. (Now, go to jail).

    Upshot: we’re trying to stop the things we do to each other on purpose. For everything else there are candlelight vigils, pink ribbon races, and other campaigns.

    We can always break out the in/out group incantations, but I think it’s overwrought, here.

  2. John K. says:

    Insightful but bogus via Not Noticing. The number one cause of death in the United States, by far, remains elective abortion. And unlike all the other major causes of death, every single death by elective abortion is completely preventable.

  3. Slovenian Guest says:

    Apropos AIDS, via moonbattery:

    “Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.

    The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.”

    I guess being trendy is more important than having a clean blood supply. The 2 Kevins did an episode on this problem.

    On the other side, crossing the US border illegally isn’t a criminal offense either. And it isn’t “rape” rape when a Democrat does it.

    That’s the same Jerry Brown, by the way, who raised some eyebrows while attending the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris, proclaiming the “coercive power of the central state” is needed to promote good public policy.

    Pure evil.

  4. Morris says:

    Crossing the border illegally the FIRST time is an infraction. Second time or further is a felony.

  5. Sam J. says:

    Jerry Brown and the people in California are completely out of their minds. Completely. I think he’s mentally impaired. I base this not on some of the stupid things he does but on some of the things he hasn’t done. I saw mentioned that the major pipelines delivering water to the cities run right over faults and I don’t think they have any back up plan of they break. I noticed in the spillway collapse he did…nothing. When I saw that big hole the first thing that immediately popped in head was they need to corral every helicopter they have and fill that hole. Steal all the concrete highway dividers, anything, they need to fill that hole and they didn’t do a damn thing. It might have cost a fortune maybe 20-30 million dollars but now the whole spillway is gone and it could cost 400 million.

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