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California Debate on Assisted Dying - Search for a Unicorn - Scott Adams' Blog

California Debate on Assisted Dying – Search for a Unicorn

California’s politicians are considering legislation on assisted dying. I plan to get involved in the debate but I have one problem: I can’t find anyone who is against it.

Can you help me find a human with an opposing opinion? If such a human exists, he or she must be as rare as a unicorn because I can’t find that person.

My understanding is that at least two organizations oppose the legislation. The AMA is opposed to doctors being in the business of assisting death. I certainly understand that from the organization’s perspective. But organizations are not people.

Likewise, the Catholic Church opposes assisted dying on religious grounds. I get that too. A church needs to be consistent. But a church is not an individual.

I am looking for any California citizen who believes the government should be allowed to prevent his or her own loved ones from dying in comfort instead of suffering in agony for months. Is anyone on that side? Anyone?

My understanding is that the vote in California might be close. Half of our elected representatives might be under the mistaken impression that voters are in favor of the government making their loved ones suffer in agony for months for no reason. The reality (which I am testing here) is that there is no real opposition from citizens. The opposition comes from organizations with a self-preservation motive. And organizations are not people. They do not suffer with people. They do not have loved ones. They do not pay property taxes in California.

The last time I asked this question I discovered exactly two people in the entire United States who were opposed to assisted dying. They were married to each other and both earned a living (in part) by writing articles about this sort of thing. 

Over the course of my entire life, I have never met anyone who wanted the government to make personal decisions about their level of pain. It is a myth that such people exist. And yet the laws of the land seem to imagine these unicorns are the majority of voters.

My ideal debate partner on this topic would be a Catholic Bishop living in California. But any California-based representative of the church would be good too. My offer is to debate this topic with a worthy spokesperson from the other side, in any forum. I would be happy to include an opposing argument in this blog as well.

Maybe I am wrong, but I think the so-called “debate” on assisted dying is a complete fraud. Individuals all seem to be on the same side (in favor) and organizations such as the AMA and the Catholic Church are the only opposition. And organizations are not people. They get to speak on topics, but they do not get to vote.

Does anyone have a connection to a Catholic Bishop willing to take the side of putting the government in charge of managing my personal level of pain before I die? I would like to meet such a person for a public debate.

Update 8:00 AM PST

Okay, I feel I need to clarify my point. My hypothesis is that the existence of a debate over assisted dying is a mass illusion. And I mean that in a literal sense, not in the sense of winning an argument by clever wording. I am saying that in a literal sense, this is a mass illusion.

Do you realize how outrageous that claim is?

And yet how easy to disprove. All we need is one person to come forward and say some version of “I prefer that the government decides how much pain I suffer at the end of my death, not me.”

Here is my hypothesis for the cause of the mass illusion. I think that when the question of assisted death is posed in language that is unclear, reasonable people say they oppose it. It makes total sense to oppose an unclear proposition about life and death coming from your government. So what you really have is a normal risk-avoidance response from normal people.

But only when the question is unclear, or the details surrounding it are unknown.

What happens when you ask the question about assisted death clearly? It turns out that everyone is on the same page. So let me state the question clearly here:

Do you want the government to decide how much pain you or your loved ones should suffer before dying? (The alternative is that you, your doctor, and your loved ones would make the decisions without the government.)

There you have the question written clearly. Does anyone oppose it?

I realize that reasonable people can oppose laws based on the details. But in this case we have the example of states already doing similar things with no big problems and some surprising benefits. It turns out that a lot of people go through the process to get the end-of-life pills and don’t use them. Apparently it feels good to have the option in case things get worse.

So the question of whether a practical law can be fashioned has been answered by example. And there is literally no one in favor of the government deciding how much they should suffer.

The so-called debate about assisted dying is LITERALLY a mass illusion.

Prove me wrong by finding an informed person who disagrees.

Update 3/31/15

I have one volunteer (over on Twitter) to take the side that assisted dying should not be legal in California. If you see a better candidate, please upvote here so I don’t miss the comment.

Update 2 3/31/15

I am in conversation with Jimmy Akin (see his website) about taking this conversation to our respective websites. But keep in mind that I am still looking for the unicorn (an ordinary citizen with an opposing opinion). I conceded that organizations are opposed to assisted death laws for reasons that make sense for the organization but not citizens in general. And obviously the reps for those organizations will have views consistent with who pays their bills.

Update 3 4/1/15

I have traded a few emails with Jimmy Akin to see if we can get a conversation on this topic going but I haven’t yet found a point of disagreement. (This was my prediction, by the way.) So far I have seen two emails explaining why he would prefer having no option for assisted death, but no opinion yet on why that personal preference should be binding on me.

Update 4 4/2/15

Jimmy will be arguing from a “common good” standard. I will send him some questions to get things going and report back here in a few days.

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In other news, how about a robot that swims ashore from a military ship to look around. Already here. Soon I expect robots and humans fighting side-by-side, with the robots having some autonomy even during a firefight.

And if FaceBook succeeds with its drones that provide Internet access to remote places, soon an African tribesman will be able to check his Instagram account. So, that’s like progress or something.

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