# The Ratio: II

## X, Y in order (see below)

• ### 2, 18

• Total voters
10

#### BicycleTree

The previous "ratio" was a little unclear and vague. Just what is "worth," after all? And Monique's objection about fractional options holds. So here is the new question:

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If you have the ability, through distributing money and manpower, to save x lives from terrorists or y lives from other causes, how great does the ratio y:x need to be before you are undecided which group of lives to save?

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For example, if you choose y = 15 and x = 5, then that means that if you are given the choice to save 6 lives from terrorism or 14 lives from other causes, you would save the 6 and let the 14 die, and that if you are given the choice to save 4 lives from terrorism or 16 lives from other causes, you would save the 16 and let the 4 die.

"Other deaths" are deaths to cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, accidents, pneumonia, etc.

Groups X and Y are equal other than their manners of death and their sizes.

This is not merely an abstraction. This is the question that must be asked by all those who allocate funds on the national level.

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#### brewnog

Gold Member
You forgot to add a "this is completely stupid" option. If you had done so, I would have been interested to see the results.

#### BicycleTree

That was an abusive post, brewnog.

you're still on this flame? get over it. i'm surprised your flame has yet to be deleted and you haven't had a reprmand.

#### BicycleTree

This is hardly a flame--it is a poll. The statements people choose to make in it reflect their own decisions and beliefs.

Incidentally, why don't you vote in it? Where do you stand on this issue?

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#### icvotria

BicycleTree said:
That was an abusive post, brewnog.
This is also an abusive post. Shut the hell up with your stupid polls and comments, we all get your point, stop trying to shove your 'look at me, I'm so subversive and objective' comments down everyone's throat, it's insensitive and pointless and it's pissing a lot of people off.

#### BicycleTree

Actually, so far as I know only one person besides myself has voted in either of the polls. I think any point the polls are intended to demonstrate is far from made.

I don't consider it ridiculous that one might choose something other than 10, 10. I can see how you could make a point for 9, 11 or even 8, 12, for example.

I encourage people to vote. This poll is not a rhetorical question.

#### brewnog

Gold Member
I'm sorry, BicycleTree, for abusing you by calling your question stupid.

I'm abstaining from this absurd poll in protest at your lack of sensitivity towards the issue, and would not be surprised for others to follow.

#### brewnog

Gold Member
BicycleTree said:
I encourage people to vote. This poll is not a rhetorical question.
Have you considered that the lack of response is due to peoples' general disgust at your comments, and lack of understanding, sensitivity and sympathy in the other thread?

#### Tom Mattson

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Guys,

The poll doesn't break any rules. Don't lose your cool about it. Just stop responding, and just watch them fall off the first page of GD by the end of the day.

Better yet, instead of just watching, go and reply to the threads below this one. The faster you do that, the faster this one will sink.

#### zoobyshoe

Tom Mattson said:
Guys,

The poll doesn't break any rules. Don't lose your cool about it.
This poll breaks so many rules of common decency that I can't believe you haven't deleted it, the other one, and banned Bicycle Tree.

Given what just happened this morning in London, this isn't the time to ask Brewnog or Icvotria to maintain their cool in the face of BT's poking of their wounds.

-zoobyshoe

#### Evo

Mentor
The thread really doesn't violate the guidelines and BT has already received a warning, which he announced previously.

I think BT will soon learn that his opinions are not shared among the majority of the population and hopefully will understand why and learn something.

I agree with Tom, let the thread die.

i tried to kill it after tom's post, but it didn't work.

#### mattmns

I agree in a sense that the lives lost in the UK bombings are not that big of a deal number wise, as was 9/11. The whole thing is of course that these were most likely innocent people, or people who should not have died yet. Personally if you are obese or smoke, then you should not be surprised if you die at an early age. So I would have to go with a ratio (X:Y) of greater than 1:19+, meaning more than 19 Y for 1 X

#### BicycleTree

mattmns said:
The fat smoker may be a father, a mother, a lover, a friend.
But he still chooses smoke over life.

EDIT : This post was accidentally edited by me, while I was trying to respond to it. The above is obviously erroneous. The quted words belong to BT (not mattmns) and the response is mine (not BT's).

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#### Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
BT, I accidentally edited your post ( meant to reply to it but hit the wrong button, honest). I shall do my best to restore it...give me a minute.

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#### Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Okay, I've lost it, and can't restore it. I shall ask the admins if something can be done to retrieve it.

I apologize for the screw up.

#### mattmns

Bicycle Tree said:
The fat smoker may be a father, a mother, a lover, a friend.
Yes but it was his decision to smoke and become overweight. When someone smokes they know, or should know, the risk involved. When most people go to work, or to the train station, they usually do not expect to, and don't deserve to, die there.

Yes there are exceptions to these: People with eating disorders, but they make up an extremely small percentage. Also, people who do work at a high risk job: police/firefighters/etc. However, the percent that these people make up of the total population is nowhere near the large majority of the other side, and people with high risk jobs know it.

#### juvenal

It's completely naive (if not in bad taste given current events) to discuss the negative impact of terrorism purely in terms of body counts.

What is the impact of exogenous shocks to the economy like:

1. US political leaders being kidnapped/assassinated?
3. Bridges, tunnels, subways, skyscrapers, and other structures being blown up?
4. Drinking water supplies being contaminated?
5. Dirty bombs being set off in major US cities?
6. A real nuke being set off in a major US city?
7. Capital markets being roiled?
8. Consumer confidence going down, creating a recessive impact?
etc.

If we were to set the antiterrorism budget at 0, there's a good chance some of the above would happen. What is the optimal value? Who the hell knows. I don't think anyone has a really good handle on the probability of the above events happening, let alone the cost/benefit tradeoff of spending more money. I'm sure they've done some tests though with fake terrorists trying to sneak through the border.

#### BicycleTree

Note: the following post is approximately the post that Gokul accidentally edited, as best I remember it.

mattmns said:
I agree in a sense that the lives lost in the UK bombings are not that big of a deal number wise, as was 9/11. The whole thing is of course that these were most likely innocent people, or people who should not have died yet. Personally if you are obese or smoke, then you should not be surprised if you die at an early age. So I would have to go with a ratio (X:Y) of greater than 1:19+, meaning more than 19 Y for 1 X
If you reduce access to unhealthy food and reduce food advertising, thus saving a person's life who would otherwise have died from obesity and heart disease, then you have saved a person's life. If you remove the cigarettes that would kill a smoker, then you have saved that person's life. That person may have been a father, a mother, a lover, a friend. Every life is valuable.

I have read about an experiment done wherein thin prison inmates were fed large amounts of food. They did get fat, but after they were returned to normal rations most of them soon returned to normal weight. Whereas someone who had attained the weight they did in the middle of the experiment just through the course of their life might spend unsuccessful years trying to shed it. Weight is a function of genes and subconscious attitudes that few people have much control over. It doesn't make sense to blame them for things out of their control.

Also, based on studies on mice, it is likely that some people are more likely than others to become addicted to nicotine once exposed to it.

However, you can take the opposing opinion that smoking and obesity can best be controlled by willpower. I don't know how many studies you can find supporting that view, but it could be a reason for you to choose a ratio other than 10:10.

Evo said:
I think BT will soon learn that his opinions are not shared among the majority of the population and hopefully will understand why and learn something.
The poll states right now that my opinion here is actually the majority opinion. Are people refraining from voting not because they don't want to hurt my feelings by disagreeing with me? I think if people had much disagreement they would jump right in and voice it. Why don't you vote?

#### BicycleTree

juvenal said:
It's completely naive (if not in bad taste given current events) to discuss the negative impact of terrorism purely in terms of body counts.

What is the impact of exogenous shocks to the economy like:

1. US political leaders being kidnapped/assassinated?
3. Bridges, tunnels, subways, skyscrapers, and other structures being blown up?
4. Drinking water supplies being contaminated?
5. Dirty bombs being set off in major US cities?
6. A real nuke being set off in a major US city?
7. Capital markets being roiled?
8. Consumer confidence going down, creating a recessive impact?
etc.
You have a mix of reasons there. Some of them are in fact best looked at in terms of body count: dirty bombs, nuclear warfare, and contaminated drinking supplies. I am all in favor of much stronger measures restricting the international motion of nuclear material and technology. I don't think very much has been done about this, and I think it is the most important thing. I am doubtful about how severely a drinking supply can be contaminated, but that could be a disaster too.

No political leaders or business leaders have been kidnapped or assassinated by terrorists so far that I know of. But if they were, ask this question: how many lives of ordinary people would you sacrifice in order to save the leader? By this you may determine how much worse a kidnapping or assassination of a leader is than a bombing of ordinary people. I don't think it's much worse. It's as sad when leaders die as when other people die, but leaders can be replaced and the system will continue to function.

The other reasons you provide have to do with people's reaction to terrorism, which I agree is too great. Should we react more strongly to terrorism because of the negative consequences of terrorism due to people reacting strongly to it? That seems insane to me.

If we were to set the antiterrorism budget at 0, there's a good chance some of the above would happen. What is the optimal value? Who the hell knows. I don't think anyone has a really good handle on the probability of the above events happening, let alone the cost/benefit tradeoff of spending more money. I'm sure they've done some tests though with fake terrorists trying to sneak through the border.
To determine the best antiterrorism budget, one would have to be a team of analysts with access to information of how many dollars it takes to save a life in other areas. Personally, I think that invading Iraq, which has no nuclear weapons and no WMDs and therefore is not a truly dangerous source of terrorists, is a needless and wasteful move. But these are questions for analysts.

#### russ_watters

Mentor
BicycleTree said:
The poll states right now that my opinion here is actually the majority opinion. Are people refraining from voting not because they don't want to hurt my feelings by disagreeing with me? I think if people had much disagreement they would jump right in and voice it. Why don't you vote?
No, people are refraining from voting because the entire premise of the poll is bogus. In effect, you ensured that only people that agree with you would respond to the poll.

If you try just a little harder at counting, you will find you have 3 people agreeing with you and 8 (in this thread alone) who don't.

#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
russ_watters said:
No, people are refraining from voting because the entire premise of the poll is bogus. In effect, you ensured that only people that agree with you would respond to the poll.

If you try just a little harder at counting, you will find you have 3 people agreeing with you and 8 (in this thread alone) who don't.
I'll add my vote to the "this poll is pointless/worthless/tasteless/based on a bogus premise/not worth voting in" crowd.

#### BicycleTree

Translation: you guys agree with my vote, but don't want to admit it. If you really disagreed, you would not hesitate to place your opposing vote.

I am interested to know any "premises" of the poll, Moonbear. I wasn't aware of any significant assumptions implicit in it. I did assume that nobody wants to vote a ratio greater than 10:10--is that where your dispute is?

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