Shayne Wissler
“How far into the foundations, when it comes, must the revolution penetrate?” – Thomas E. Phipps, Jr.


March 11 2021

Consider two scenarios: (1) If you line 10,000 people up against a wall and have one of them randomly shot, you will (rightly) cause a global outrage. However, if you (2) line up 10,000 people and give them a shot and one of them dies a tortured death even worse than being shot, then hardly anyone bats an eye.

Surely, a fascinating social phenomenon. What’s going on here?

Consider this changing (1) like this: Instead of imagining someone else lining up the 10,000 people, imagine the 10,000 people were willingly playing a massive game of Russian Roulette. Perhaps there’d still be a global outrage, but it’d along the lines of “What a bunch of idiots!” And then about half of those outraged would be handing out “Darwin Awards” and the other half would decide it’s yet another reason to ban guns (there’s always a reason to ban guns, and especially if it corrupts the human gene pool).

And consider changing (2) like this: Instead of imagining people willingly lining up for their vaccine, imagine that the government passed laws that nudged or coerced these people into getting the vaccines. Socrates would have to ask: What’s the moral difference between the revised (2) and the original (1)?

Consider changing (1) like this: Instead of imagining the idiots were voluntarily playing Russian Roulette for fun, imagine that someone had bribed them to play it with a $10,000 prize. So now there is a real material benefit to playing. Is it worth $10,000 for taking on a 1 in 10,000 chance of death? I suspect that there are many who would not consider them “idiots” anymore, and many of those who did would not if we raised the prize value to $1M.

Or, consider that instead of the game show participants voluntarily playing for prize money, they’re told that on penalty of fines or imprisonment, they may not participate in society anymore unless they will play for the $10,000 prize. Furthermore, the prize money will be given as a novel cryptocurrency that some consider to be highly valuable and beneficial to society, some consider to be worthless or harmful, but few really comprehend.