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Shame Shaming - Scott Adam's Blog

Shame Shaming

Most civilized people agree that so-called “fat-shaming” has no place in our modern world. The unwritten rules of polite society say that a person’s appearance is out of bounds for criticism. That feels right to me.

But we can still shame people for being stupid, evil, or lazy. The thinking here – as far as I can tell – is that people don’t have a lot of choice about their appearance, but they can control their actions and their knowledge. We can criticize people’s choices, but not their genetic makeup.

But there’s one problem with that rule. I’ve never seen a dumb person become smart, an evil person become good, or a lazy person become ambitious. I’m sure it happens to some degree, but generally speaking, it isn’t a thing.

We have some control over our intelligence, ambition, and character, but not much. On the whole, dumb people stay dumb, lazy people stay lazy, and sociopaths (for example) stay evil. Biology is hard to overcome.

My moist robot filter on the world says free will is an illusion. That means nothing is worthy of shame because no one is actually choosing anything. All decisions happen the way they have to happen given the chemistry of a given situation. The laws of physics do not change based on our wants. (As far as I know.)

I was born ambitious. I have no memory of being any other way. Consistent with that observation, I have met lazy people who seem to have been born that way. Does my genetic luck with ambition give me the right to shame the people born without it? I don’t think so. I just got lucky on that one dimension.

I’m also short, bald, and near-sighted. People try shaming me for that stuff on a regular basis. But it doesn’t work because I lost all sense of shame some time ago. In my world view, shame is nothing but a filter some people put on their own observations. 

Next time someone tries to shame you, just remember you’re listening to a moist robot with no free will. It takes the sting out of it.

I might be on CNN today with Jake Tapper but these things tend to get rescheduled based on breaking new. Follow me on Twitter for updates, or just wait for the clip. @ScottAdamsSays