Hurt and truth

One of the more odd rules of social interaction is that the person in pain gets to own the truth and those without pain adjust. Think for instance about the words used to describe undesired traits that some people have to bear their whole life, such as low intelligence or high BMI. As they are the ones in pain, their needs dictate the wording of the debate and more.

Decades ago you could thus use the word ‘moron’ and ‘idiot’ in a technical sense. The term ‘moron’ once denoted mild mental retardation and would be associated with an IQ in the 51-70 range. An idiot would have an IQ between 0 and 25, and an imbecile between 26 and 50. These terms then got displaced by varying levels of ‘retardation’, but that term itself has of course become laden as people now know what it means. The ‘euphemism’ treadmill has thus more recently lead to terms like ‘mentally challenged’ and a variety of more specialised mental issues, like autism. No doubt that term will also go the way of the dodo as soon as it is commonly understood and thus seen as a form of stigma.

You get the same issue when it comes to ‘indigenous’: apparently one cannot even use the term ‘Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander’ any more in Australia, but need to say ‘first Australian’.

Though irritating, I can see the point of the euphemism treadmill: by owning the terminology, the sufferers or their representatives basically force the audience into acknowledging them as a problem worthy of subsidy. It conforms to the logic of ‘if I can dictate the terms of our conversation on an issue, I get to talk solutions, which of course means you pay and I receive’. As such it’s a straightforward power-play and at least does not by necessity need to be untruthful or lead to dysfunctional policies. It’s a simple tug of war using language as the rope.

Things get worse and more intricate when the persons in pain feels aggrieved by the truth itself and thus demands you start denying a truth. The best modern example of this is probably the causes of obesity. Not long ago, it was deemed ‘obvious’ that obesity was caused by overeating and under-exercise and as such associated with some lack of mental self-control. Nowadays, that completely obvious truth has gone the way of the moron. Many obese people want you to pretend that their condition is caused by anything other than their eating and activity behaviour: with great gusto will you hear the furious demands of some obese people that you believe their condition to be entirely genetic or the result of the evil machinations of the food industry, or even that they just ‘didn’t know’ the immediate causes. Note that the same is not true for the ex-moron: the ex-moron or her representative still acknowledges that the ex-moron has a mental issue and is basically dependent on understanding and help of others as a result. The re-labelling is just a way of demanding respect, not of distorting the truth. This is not true for the genetically obese though.

Intuitively, we all ‘get’ what is going on: the person most in pain feels most sensitive about something and hence to keep the peace we go along with the bull-shit and keep our mouths shut about the nonsense uttered. By the same token, few walk up to a raving evangelist and tell them what they really think about the deity being raved about; few nay-say a retard who pretends to be ‘about average’; almost no-one will say ‘nonsense’ when a bankrupt person says they have just been unlucky ten times in a row with their brilliant business ventures. Many of us may not believe the nonsense that the sufferer propounds, but it’s considered good manners to at least pretend to go along with it. Until they ask you for a loan of course!

Lots of policy goes along with the truth-ignoring road of least resistance, basically out of sympathy. Many a policy maker thus pretends to believe that obese people ‘really’ did not know fast-food made them fat. They then publicly subsidise dieticians who then go around talking about healthy food choices or they insist on calorie counts being clearly advertised, with of course almost no behavioural effects on eating habits at all because the bullshit was, after all, just bullshit. Similarly, government departments spend lots of time pointing out to the unemployed that in order to get a job it is handy to look for one, or they devise school history curricula pointing out how nice the proclaimed history of the current sufferers is and how evil the history of the non-sufferers is.

Whilst we all seem to ‘get’ this intuitively, it is actually a very strange phenomenon when you reflect on it. Think about it: in order for such ‘good manners’ to make sense, one firstly needs to buy into the idea that people derive actual pleasure from something untruthful, ie that the truth is secondary and that false beliefs have their own payoff. One leaves the realm of most of economics at that point.

It gets worse: in order for this politeness to make sense, the listener has to have little own regard for the truth and be willing to submit his own beliefs to whatever is needed to keep the peace. Hence the listener needs to care about the false beliefs of the other and be willing to give up something himself. He needs to be somewhat weak.

The basic mechanism is thus one of an internal balance and is therefore an artefact of ‘equal’ societies: by showing hurt, a presumed right to an equal outcome is upset, and an automatic sense of entitlement to the truth on the side of the sufferer is seen as a ‘natural’ way of restoring parity. This also shows the public use of the mechanism: it generates conflict-minimizing language and hurt-equalising subsidies. Of course, because the subsidies are given as a result of hurt, and not on the basis of any causes of hurt, there is the great likelihood that the subsidies will be dysfunctional and even hurt-increasing in the longer-run, but that is another matter.

Note how this mechanism completely changes the dynamics of open debate in an egalitarian ‘polite’ society, with or without politicians (!!!): open debate on causes and consequences of policies will quickly be hijacked by ‘hurt’, ie will degenerate into a shouting match as to who hurts the most and hence who has the right to say what is true and what is not true on a particular topic. As a reaction to this hijacking, real debate is forced to take place behind a wall of euphemistic jargon that avoids hitting the nerve-ends of those who feel the most hurt on a topic and thus who think they own the truth. By playing the ‘I am hurt’ card, the hurt occupy more of the public sphere in a polite egalitarian society and successfully argue for a balancing subsidy, but they also become enemies of the truth when having the real debates.

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54 Responses to Hurt and truth

  1. Pappinbarra Fox says:

    People on islands have to grow gardens because there is not enough land to be able to gather and be nomadic. So Torres Strait Islanders have gardens.

  2. Michael S. says:

    I’m getting nostalgic for the days when Rafe was blogging about CO2 being great plant food.

  3. Michael S. says:

    By playing the ‘I am hurt’ card, the hurt occupy more of the public sphere in a polite egalitarian society

    Yeah

  4. desipis says:

    So what you’re saying is that as a self identified truth-seeker, politically correct language ‘hurts’ you and therefore we should adopt your new language and label those who use advocate for politically correct speech as ‘enemies of the truth’?

    • Paul Frijters says:

      :-) yes please. And if that is too much to ask, it would be nice to help me perfect my observations and theories on these phenomena!

      • desipis says:

        I think an important critique of your post can come from considering a deconstructionist understanding of language, particularly in the context of rapid social change.

        Over recent decades there has been much change in social attitudes toward personal attributes such as the atypical cognitive traits that you mention. If you consider that people infer meanings of words from their use, both contemporary and historical, then there can be a tension in the meaning of the word between its different uses. Attempts to refer to a given attribute in a way that reflects the contemporary values could be hamstrung by the historical prejudices linked to available words.

        Using new words (or utilising existing words in novel ways) will naturally not excise the contemporary prejudices, since they will generally be attached to the underlying reality to which the word will refer. However, it will allow those who adopt the language to shed the historical prejudices attached to the existing words. In a sense it’s a sort of linguistic inflation. At first glance it would appear to be something that obfuscates communication just as monetary inflation would appear to obfuscate prices.

        However, just as monetary inflation can help lubricate the prices in the market to adjust to changing values in the real economy, perhaps linguistic inflation can help lubricate people’s use of language to adjust to changing values of modern society. Consider how an economist views the grumpy guy who whinges about how prices keep going up year after year.

        Of course, just like monetary inflation, if the social justice movement causes the rate of change to be too high and people begin to expect rapid change then the whole system starts to break down.

      • conrad says:

        Words with affect often lose their valence over time if they are used a lot. This is why you always have to think of new insults over time (it’s why the Uncle F* insult in the South Park movie was funny). This is just a property of words, rather than anything especially meaningful. People also just think of new terms for almost everything too, even if it doesn’t matter much sociologically. A serious example would be the term shell shock, which we now know as post-traumatic stress, presumably because it happens to be more accurate rather than because people with it don’t deserve some help. A less serious example would be the term “heterosexually challenged” which I think was initially used in a comedy skit by a Malaysian Comedian to make fun of the government’s laws (“I’m not gay, just heterosexually challenged”) although perhaps it was around before that. Now it’s more common but still somewhat funny because it hasn’t been overused.

        So changes can really be related to not too much, and I wouldn’t necessarily read any deep conspiracies into all of them (that being said, some are obviously politically motivated).

    • Paul Frijters says:

      desipis,

      oh, and if you look at my post on this topic 6 years ago (http://clubtroppo.com.au/2007/06/28/can-you-handle-the-truth-ii-does-everybody-lie-and-does-it-matter/) then you will see that my theories indeed have moved on since then, partly because of what I have learned interacting on clubtroppo. The importance of egalitarianism wasn’t so clear then. Also, I then put too much emphasis on complexity of society in the explanation.

  5. Reader Z. says:

    I’ve been reading Troppo forever but I think this is the first time in about 5 years I’ve felt like commenting. What an extraordinary blindness to any emotional or social intelligence to write this. Mr Frijters I think you have seriously jumped the shark with this one I’m afraid, at least as far as my future reading of Troppo is concerned.

  6. SJ says:

    Paul, I take it this is your latest audition for Andrew Bolt’s job?

  7. I’ll just leave this here

  8. Paul frijters says:

    Desipis,

    Yes, there is of course a lot of language change because new categories come up and old ones are tainted. This is why I started with the IQ example though: whilst IQ is just as much in our language as before, the labels to denote particular low ranges have become outlawed. Now one is just forced to say ‘IQ between 50 and 70’ instead of moron. Similar things can be said about first Australians: in what way are we getting more accurate labels there than before?

    Conrad,
    I don’t think in terms of conspiracies at all, though I agree we are talking about a very difficult area on which to make any firm calls. Also, I am not talking about something that is without function in our societies, but I do think that this penchant to avoid saying truths in the open and even to self-censor thinking those things if those truths are themselves experienced as hurtful seriously hampers open rational debate on a whole range of issues.

    Felixstowe,
    Funny video. It’s message is ‘just be nice and positive’. I guess the reason I am having difficulties adhering to that good advise is because I am still mulling over the recent increase in mental health problems in our societies and am gradually working my way through the issues, of which this issue of public discourse is particularly thorny. Not a task that makes for happy feel good polite thoughts. Sorry.

    • I don’t think it’s message is ‘just be nice and positive’ – if you read the subtext the message is that DFW is asserting a “real” education is one that awakens consciousness about one’s own feelings and decisions aka emotional intelligence.

      That is to say the phenomenon you describe in your post relates to a lack of EQ on the part of those “pained”.

      • jennymcculloch says:

        It is hard to know what triggers self- awareness. I find concepts like this hit home when I already know.

    • jennymcculloch says:

      Agree paul that new meanings do not neccessarily denote increased accuracy.

      Is there some deep titillation in ascribing a nuance or a new meaning to a familiar set of syllables? It is akin to playing and suprising. It is a sort of verbal peek- a- boo. You’re in and you’re out till you guess the meaning. It is at first light and clear then becomes laden with values that we push awkwardly around. I wonder what people mean when the say, (usually approvingly) , ‘She calls a spade a spade’, and what about, ‘He calls a spade a shovel’ ?

      Did you note my even handed use of the masc/fem pronoun? That was a tickle – really I think any nodding to that difference in this context (and in many others) between a ‘he’ and a ‘she’ is utterly without merit. It is a bit of word/meaning/values play that began as a subscription to accuracy (the delightful realisationdue to the 2nd wave that not all people are men) but has now become awkward and frankly, a little clunky.

      Sound like Judith Lucy there :)

  9. Simon Musgrave says:

    “Not long ago, it was deemed ‘obvious’ that obesity was caused by overeating and under-exercise” – maybe it is not so obvious. The data on lab animals is thought-provoking…..

    • crocodile says:

      Years ago too, gays were known as poofs and being gay was happy.

    • murph the surf. says:

      Good article, thanks.I think the biochemistry is leading to the behavioural changes.
      A holistic approach at this point would include a start to questioning of the food corporations.
      A starch (from corn) and fructose ( from certain sugars ) make a foundation for other animal’s diets.These are animals which we then consume.
      These carbohydrates are also now the basis for many everyday foods products some of which apparently can be considered healthy- packaged cereals and mueslis for example.

      • murph the surf. says:

        Following on from Ian Milliss’ comments – I’m not sure Paul Fritter that you have debunked the approach taken by medical science that this is a multifactorial and complex issue.
        Perhaps you could outline , just for recollections sake the debunking of the interplay between ghrelin , leptin and fructose and it’s adverse effect on those gaining weight and having difficulty removing it?Or how insulin production pushing foods influence weight loss?
        The point you , if I could use such a description , exaggerate is that the fault lies in overconsumption of “all those fast foods”.This completely misses the problem that many eat what are termed healthy foods but are being blindsided by the actual constituents of these foods.

  10. Michael says:

    Have you considered that people may know the truth but not get any satisfaction from hearing it from some graceless self satisfied bore (present company excluded of course)?

    Since you believe obesity is caused by a lack of will-power that has magically increased since the 1970’s then do you propose any policies to protect people from their own lack of willpower. Perhaps a step tax on junk food and refined carbs? Whatever the cause of obesity increasing the costs of this kind of food is unlikely to worsen the problem and it could raise money to offset the increase in treatment costs.

    Interestingly Bicycle Network Victoria has teamed up with Coca Cola to fight obesity !

    • Paul Frijters says:

      “Have you considered that people may know the truth but not get any satisfaction from hearing it ”
      Of course, though one leaves most of mainstream economics at that point which assumes that information and beliefs have no direct satisfaction. So you need to be willing to engage with ideas outside of the mainstream of economics, such as the idea that people care about a falsehood or at the least the pretense of one, and then think through the consequences of such traits. The issue of caring about others’ pretenses even if all involved know the real truth is called ‘face’, a very tricky issue I have written and blogged about before, whilst the notion that people have different layers of beliefs where they feel hurt with the truth gets you into the utility of half-believed fantasies. These are tough human traits to get your head round and explore. Both are important and fascinating aspects of humanity that get you into this area of public discourse versus academic discourse versus policy discussion (or the lack of it). It calls into question the role of paternalism and why one should trust the paternalists.

      From my previous threads on obesity you will see I already in 2006 advocated differential health premiums based on BMI partially to ‘help’ that will power. I still think that’s a good idea and a natural way to go given the huge additional costs to the medical system.

      • conrad says:

        I think you are talking about what social psychologists call social attribution theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attribution_%28psychology%29) and cognitive people just call beliefs. If you want a fun question, you could try and work out what a false belief is, which might seem obvious to start with but turns out to be anything but.

        • Paul frijters says:

          Yes, have had a few rounds with false beliefs too. From a unitary mind perspective its tough, but as soon as you think of the brain as a story telling device with many layers that generates competing stories, the issue of false beliefs becomes much easier as all beliefs then start to become situational.

        • Ian Milliss says:

          In which case this post illustrates almost every bias and error listed starting with fundamental attribution error (“the tendency to over-value dispositional or personality-based explanations for behavior while under-valuing situational explanations”) and following up with dollops of most of the others. Definitely in the running for Bolt’s job.

        • Paul fritters says:

          Ian,

          Care to explain or is this just blind anger at thoughts you don’t want to see (and that no one is forcing you to read)?

        • Ian Milliss says:

          Paul
          Simon Musgraves link was a good summary of how science has undermined the ill informed position your elaborate confection is built on. The equally ill informed suggestion that I’m angry (rather than bemused) implies that it was your hope that some of your audience would react that way ie you were trolling, hence the Bolt connection.

        • Paul fritters says:

          Ian,
          I already at length discussed and debunked much of that berriby article and others like it in a set of blogs here on troppo you clearly missed. Blind and lazy anger it is hence, sort of illustrating the point of this blog really.

        • Ian Milliss says:

          ah yes, debunked. Exactly what Bolt would say. But then unlike him you are here as a fully qualified medical researcher discussing your specialist field aren’t you?

      • conrad says:

        I think if you speak to the obese marmosets, they’ll be able to tell you who the aliens are that are force feeding them fatty food.

        • john r walker says:

          Paul Ian is right. The science on this is , in a recursive way, definite, there is much more to the problem than simply eating too much and not exercising.
          For some examples:
          some drugs used to treat depression and other mental conditions are strongly linked to serious weight gain.

          Some kinds of ‘modern’ food have effects on metabolism that are greater than their calorific value . These foods also have a ‘addictive quality’ for some. And these same foods differ from traditional ‘rich’ (people) foods -they are cheap and in plentiful supply .

        • Paul Frijters says:

          John,
          we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. For a rehash of most of this, see http://economics.com.au/?p=9778

          Sure, the depression medicines and addictive foods add twists to the tale, but wont be able to truly explain much of the huge increase we have seen in recent decades. Indeed, I am willing to make you the following falsifiable prediction on this one: ban all depression medication and all food (additives) you think are addictive, and you will get almost no change in the obesity rates. And if you truly believed that that is not true, then you should expect great things of new depression medicines and food bans.

        • john r walker says:

          Paul yes, agree to disagree…. :-)
          this obesity/mental health problem is a non linear, multi threaded , complex feedback, type problem. Beyond that nobody really knows.

        • Marks says:

          Just come back from a trip to the Czech Republic.

          All those guys in the pubs with great big bellies…nothing whatever to do with the half litre glasses of beer at $2 the glass, nor the rather tasty fatty sausages either. Surely it is the genetics.

          Speaking of which, I am now glad to know that it is not MY fault that after ten weeks of a diet of roast duck, pork neck and dumplings, litres of beer, Czech white wines I have put on four kilos.

          Previously, I have been able to take this off by sensible diet and exercise when back in Oz. Now I know it is useless trying coz it’s nothing I can do anything about.

          As much as it might sound like sarcasm, there is a serious point. If people, albeit well meaning people, keep putting out the message that you can’t do something about one’s various problems, then there is a good chance that one will not attempt to help oneself.

          At the moment, I am well overweight, and it is MY responsibility to do something about it. The last thing I need is for someone to tell me it’s not my fault because it is, and because the only way for me to lose that weight is to diet and exercise.

          By all means, be polite, but lying or deliberately obscuring what are serious life threatening problems is pernicious.

        • john r walker says:

          Marks
          We ate really well,when in France, and lost weight. We ate really well, when in Tuscany, and regained what we had lost in France. Do not really know why.

  11. Tim Macknay says:

    What do you make of the change from “political economy” to “economics”?
    It terms of your hypothesis, it must have happened because economist’s feelings are hurt by the implication that many of their theories and assumptions may be ideological rather than scientific. But is this just a case of a tug-of-war using language as a rope, or is it that the hurt economists are aggrieved by the truth itself?
    ;)

    • Paul frijters says:

      :-) you are not the first to argue precisely this point with which I have a lot of sympathy. Sen and Blau would probably also agree with you.

  12. Chris Lloyd says:

    The Orwellian sanitisation of language does not work for long.

    I recall that when my son was in primary school, they streamed the math classes but instead of calling them A, B, C, D they called them kanga, koala, goanna and possum. The kids knew exactly what the hierarchy was. Within a week, “possum” was being used as synonymous with “moron”!

    • marks says:

      +1

      Any change in language alone is quite pointless unless the original term is particularly unkind.

      Society can insist that overweight people, for example, be referred to as ‘full figured’ or some other euphemism, but the brain will scream ‘FATSO!’ as loudly as ever. Not nice, but people are only fooling themselves if they think changing the name by itself changes attitudes.

  13. MT Isa Miner says:

    Within a week, “possum” was being used as synonymous with “moron”!
    Exactly. Because kids haven’t built up that layer of “face”” or bullshit yet. This layer is is sand in the gears of the way everything works.They know that the world is what it is unequal, discriminating and full of unfairness. I suspect more sand gets in as everything in life gets more complicated. But how and why? Brain neurotransmitters overload?

    I don’t like the way left wing groups (as I see them) support people in grabbing “face”” or social masks to try and hide what I see as failings.I can’t agree with depsis.Sometimes language change is positive, cutting out disfiguring old wounds, sometimes it is creating victimhood. Others like depsis see all language change as positive.I see it as a verbal crutch reflecting the metaphysical crutch.

    It doesn’t really matter if the problem ( IQ, Obesity. predisposition to alcohol etc )is genetic or due to self will. The only thing that you can influence is your own behaviour. ( (within reason of course- not subnormal IQ) If the poblem is genetic you will get more sympathy ONLY if you are pulling out all stops in your attempt to deal with it by using your self will.

    Yes I know, what if we are given a genetic amount of self control? What should we say to that: I’m genetically fu*cked – I’m going to die at 25 of booze , meth and loose women?

    It is a real issue that you wrestle with Paul, I read you and see that you get a head grip on mental illness and sometimes its a leglock on fatties. It is interesting.

  14. desipis says:

    From my previous threads on obesity you will see I already in 2006 advocated differential health premiums based on BMI partially to ‘help’ that will power. I still think that’s a good idea and a natural way to go given the huge additional costs to the medical system.

    So you’re still advocating a policy that attempts to use rational incentives to change behaviour that is largely not rooted in rational decisions?

    • Paul Frijters says:

      yep, that is indeed still my best-guess approach to the situation. By treating people as rational and responsible for their choices, the idea is that they become more rational and responsible. In effect, having differential health insurance rates helps people become more responsible and rational. I agree it wont work for everyone but I don’t really see better alternatives at this moment. Can you?

      • john r walker says:

        Paul, what if mental health problems are the root cause?

      • conrad says:

        You have treat them as rational and responsible on some level, since if you didn’t you could essentially apply the arguments against your interpretation of obesity mutatis mutandis to any other thing you felt like. This includes any number of criminal groups, many of whom really do have identifiable neurological problems that would give them a much stronger case for being excluded from responsibility than any of the arguments put forward here. For example, most people with obesity don’t have frontal lobe dysfunction.

        The alternative way to deal with these groups is to look at the literature for breaking habits (gambling and so on) and find strategies that work. I imagine some of these will look a lot like yours (just look at the gambling/sin taxes) except we won’t call them rational anymore, we’ll just call them things that work.

        • john r walker says:

          “we won’t call them rational anymore, we’ll just call them things that work.” :-)

          A interesting twist on this is the most successful AI type programs these days are based on massive piles of data, comparison, feed back and provability matching type stuff. While they are giving very good results, some do not like them (Nomk Chomsky for example). This is because it is intrinsicaly impossible to understand how these systems actually arrive at their surprisingly accurate results.

      • Michael says:

        In effect, having differential health insurance rates helps people become more responsible and rational. I agree it wont work for everyone but I don’t really see better alternatives at this moment. Can you?

        I can see a better alternative – treat the junk food problem the same as the tobacco industry with higher taxes and advertising restrictions. On one hand you can take an idealogical approach and say because some people can handle shooting up things like heroin responsibly or smoking tobacco then we should let all people make rational choices and be responsible for the consequences of their behaviour – but that isn’t the way most harmful and potentially addictive products are dealt with and the call to abandon this approach is only really popular in the fringe libertarian circles (although a higher percentage of economists are probably in this group than in the general population.)

        The junk food industry (I include most manufactured food in this category) is harmful and their products are too easily available and crowd out other sources of food. It shouldn’t be allowed to continue the harm it does on the scale it does anymore than people should be able to sell other harmful substances with impunity.

        I’m not advocating banning it, just winding it back to the level of occasional indulgence rather than core diet.

        • Michael says:

          Further on this Paul, out of interest do you think tobacco should be restricted in anyway? if so why? Or should we abandon the current approach in favour of higher health premiums only?

        • Paul Frijters says:

          tobacco, as indeed other drugs, would be an area of consenting adults for me, Michael, in that I dont think outlawing has worked. Indeed, I think its a dismal failure.
          I do see the point of banning advertising for tobacco and other drugs as it is essentially a way of the majority to create a negative stigma on behaviours they had rather not see but ultimately wont try to stop.

          I think the ‘obesity is the fault of junk food’ is plain wrong on the science but if you want to waste time giving banning ads a go, I cant see the great harm in banning junk food ads. I suspect you will find it impossible to define junk food in a way to make the legislation work. Even if you can, it would of course stigmatise the users of junk food, which I am not really in favour of. I would just want to make them financially responsible for the consequences of their choices on medical costs.

        • conrad says:

          There have been nasty warnings for food adds on television in France for some time now (you see them at the bottom of the TV), and whilst you can’t pull out the effect of them by themselves, the French population is still getting fatter. So I don’t see it having a thrilling effect.

        • john r walker says:

          Unlike smoking , there is nothing intrinsically harmful about manufactured food. The problem is that for a manufacturer, sugar, cheap oils, salt, and vegetable gums are cheap ‘extenders’ that improve the bottom line, at the expense of the bottom line .

        • Michael says:

          This is all fascinating stuff, food manufacturers aren’t trying to increase market share, advertising is ineffectual despite the money that’s spent on it, all children and adults have control over what food they eat, as well as perfect information about dietary effects and would be responsive to increases in health premiums, but not advertising or other restrictions which only serve to stigmatise users not inform them. Junk food is also demonstrably unrelated to weight gain or other health issues. Seems like that’s all sorted out then. I’m sure these findings could be used to save billions of dollars in media spends.

          I agree that the current “war on drugs” is a dismal failure, but I don’t think people should be left to their own devices to self-medicate.

      • desipis says:

        By treating people as rational and responsible for their choices, the idea is that they become more rational and responsible.

        Do you have any evidence that this approach actually works and in what contexts it works, or is it an idealogical assumption?

        If so, to what extent does it work; is it necessary to make people suffer the entire burden of their bad choices, or does a partial or symbolic burden shift choices just as much as the entire burden?

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