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PostSubject: Out of sight, out of mind   Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:44 am

When I was young I had a tendency to think big. One of the things I realized a lot before junior high was that there were things in the world beyond imagination. There were things of such great scales that they could not be comprehended. In particular I took an interest in pain and suffering here. I realized that I felt sympathetic when something horrible occurred to me, but I never felt sympathetic when I didn't know of it. However I realized that, in principle, I did know that there was suffering greater than I could comprehend...so by comprehending it as much as possible I would come as near as possible to understanding it. Clearly violent movies, however unrealistic, became symbolic of this. Everything became symbolic, and there was no end to it.

Another thing I realized was that people who were privileged in life had immense power to influence the lives of others. I realized that if I saw a person starving in front of me, then I would surely try to help. However, even though I'm just as capable of helping people who are starving which I do not see, I don't. This was another version of "out of sight, out of mind." We base our actions on those situations which force themselves in our lives, but how often do we seek action to engage in important situations? This made me realize that I was incomprehensibly evil, because I was an enabler of great suffering which could be dispelled by my proportionately insignificant effort. Compared to this, murdering a dozen people would be a small affair.

However I did not seek to murder anyone, because it was simply difficult and unnecessary. For a while I embraced my evil nature and lived contently. However, for some reason or another, I started to desire to reconcile my emotional inconsistencies. Emotional inconsistency didn't break my doctrine of self-honest, so long as the thoughts were honest, but it was still bothersome. The fact was I was just a highly empathetic person, and I disliked the thought of suffering...so I wanted to do something about it so I could achieve a greater "spiritual" state. And of course promoting health and positive experiences is just the flip side of that.

So I've sought to embrace my evil nature to some extent, but also seek my "artistic vision" to some extent as well.

However I'm curious how other people see it. Do they realize it and just not care? Or do they not realize it to a strong degree? Or do they realize it yet claim that they are powerless? Etc. etc.

Basically, what is your take on "out of sight, out of mind?"
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:12 pm

The majority will likely agree that when considering an "out of sight, out of mind" situation, that they would be otherwise powerless to stop whatever it may be.

I think it has to do with the level of personal deprecation and just how little people give themselves in to be: that they are finite things that should care only for the immediate, lest they seek to disregard themselves. That, to them, seems a larger crime than trying to accommodate for people in other situations.

This is something I can agree with. While these situations are trying of others and incredibly difficult, there is a limit to human empathy and awareness.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:37 am

Our finite awareness can be patched by an abstract awareness. People do this all the time, especially people like mathematicians and scientists. They work with things they can't always comprehend directly, but they still understand the phenomena or concepts they work with to some degree or another. I certainly don't think people have an obligation to disregard themselves. People who adopt an "eye for an eye" philosophy wouldn't seek to help strangers more than strangers seek to help them. Of course when I think of those people who suffer unconditionally, it is nonetheless true that the majority of them would take advantage of privileges as much as the next. For example, people in the low class are forced to rely on other people more while people in the upper class don't find such necessary, and thereby can focus more on themselves. Of course the cooperation between people in the low class is a survival strategy, but the way this survival strategy manifests on the subjective level is through compassion and care etc. It's not some emotionless selfish tactical play (although it could be at times). Anyway, the point is when these people occasionally move from a lower class to an upper class their mindset can change over time to be more like that of the usual upper class person...someone with little dependence on others, and more time to focus on themselves. Of course it's still likely they will maintain an attachment and care for the family and people they grew up with, as is the case with everyone.

(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808152413.htm)

Helping other people when it brings no benefits to oneself is pointless. If it forms a meaningful relationship with the helper, then that is incredibly beneficial. If no meaningful relationship is formed, yet the helper still feels better for doing what they did, then that is also beneficial. Of course there is a limit to things...if a person becomes obsessed with helping strangers then, while they might feel good about it at times, it could eat away at other aspects of their life. The people being helped would accept such graciously, but the helper would suffer. Ultimately we all are designed to propagate, but some of us stray from that goal nonetheless. Sometimes we mutilate our genitalia, kill our children, kill ourselves, etc. Excessive altruism is just another example of such, but most of us, if we engaged in broad altruistic efforts, would only engage in such to the point where it satisfied us and then no more.

Taxer, Monolith, and I entertained the idea of a person (actually me) trying to produce as many successful offspring as possible. I think it would be interesting if a person took on such a goal...if they didn't just live life naturally, but actually made calculated efforts to achieve such an end.

Sorry I'm rambling way past relevance to your comment.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:49 am

I think the perennial example of a too broad concept of altruism can be found in the likes of celebrities. They'll often pit their egocentric selves against what they think is necessary to be seen as benevolent in a society to reap some unseen benefit, be it box office sales, status, what have you.

At that point, altruism means nothing because of the end it achieved: so what if you've assisted somebody who required it if you're going to use it as your soapbox? The point it stopped being beneficial was when they opened their mouth about how big of a help they were.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:04 am

I understand the concept, but I think there are greater powers at work. I'm aware of such suffering in which I would be able to help, but don't have the means to do so. An example would be starving Africans. Sure, I could donate to a "non-profit organization" to help these people, but I have little money in which to do it with. I do have enough to spare for such a cause, but not enough to help on any level that would be noticeable. But of course, if I were to donate it could make a difference when added to the donations of others. But the biggest reason I don't is that I don't fully trust these organizations is that I'm not entirely sure of their altruistic motives.

Just look at all the commercials you see for these things, if they would spend less time and money filming starving children and advertising they could be making a real difference.

But on a smaller scale, I always try to help when I am presented with a situation where I could. If a homeless person is standing on a street corner with a sign, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and donate when I can. Even if there is a high probability that they are lying about having 3 starving kids and are really planning on spending any money received on alcohol.

If I had an opportunity to give starving people some of my food, I would surely do it. But going through a bureaucracy to help those in need isn't appealing to me.

On a wider scale with the population, I can't really say. I do know that many people are selfish and lack empathy. I'm not trying to sound self-righteous and say I couldn't be more empathetic, but many people simply don't care about others.

We need to revert to the days of old where small communities care for each other. And I hate to say it, because I likely sound like a dick, but Africa needs to help themselves. The areas with need to help the areas without. Look out for your fellow man. We shouldn't have to travel halfway across the world to help people when there are nations nearby that are capable of helping.

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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:37 am

trilithonian wrote:
I think the perennial example of a too broad concept of altruism can be found in the likes of celebrities. They'll often pit their egocentric selves against what they think is necessary to be seen as benevolent in a society to reap some unseen benefit, be it box office sales, status, what have you.

At that point, altruism means nothing because of the end it achieved: so what if you've assisted somebody who required it if you're going to use it as your soapbox? The point it stopped being beneficial was when they opened their mouth about how big of a help they were.

It could be thin line at times...it depends on whether they are promoting charity or simply promoting their image etc.. Either motive is about equally fortunate in its consequences, but one is principled in altruism while the other is principled in symbiosis. I agree with what you're saying though. There is definitely a purely business motive behind a lot of charity.

Axe wrote:
I understand the concept, but I think there are greater powers at work. I'm aware of such suffering in which I would be able to help, but don't have the means to do so. An example would be starving Africans. Sure, I could donate to a "non-profit organization" to help these people, but I have little money in which to do it with. I do have enough to spare for such a cause, but not enough to help on any level that would be noticeable. But of course, if I were to donate it could make a difference when added to the donations of others. But the biggest reason I don't is that I don't fully trust these organizations is that I'm not entirely sure of their altruistic motives.

Just look at all the commercials you see for these things, if they would spend less time and money filming starving children and advertising they could be making a real difference.

But on a smaller scale, I always try to help when I am presented with a situation where I could. If a homeless person is standing on a street corner with a sign, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and donate when I can. Even if there is a high probability that they are lying about having 3 starving kids and are really planning on spending any money received on alcohol.

If I had an opportunity to give starving people some of my food, I would surely do it. But going through a bureaucracy to help those in need isn't appealing to me.

On a wider scale with the population, I can't really say. I do know that many people are selfish and lack empathy. I'm not trying to sound self-righteous and say I couldn't be more empathetic, but many people simply don't care about others.

We need to revert to the days of old where small communities care for each other. And I hate to say it, because I likely sound like a dick, but Africa needs to help themselves. The areas with need to help the areas without. Look out for your fellow man. We shouldn't have to travel halfway across the world to help people when there are nations nearby that are capable of helping.


Well ideal as it may be for the impoverished to fix all their problems, the world doesn't work by what is ideal. Some places in the world are ravaged by corruption, poverty, superstition, and violence. In many cases a large part of the problem is the selfishness of those who do have the power to do something about it, but don't...or they make it even worse. The question is...let it persist as it is, or do something to help?

I disagree that mistrust of charity organizations is sufficient reason not to donate though (if donating to charity is the action of choice here). First of all, the idea that /all/ or virtually all charity organizations are corrupt is pure conspiracy. I'm not saying you adopt that position, but I'm just setting up an initial point. The mere existence of charity says something about the nature and motives of a lot of people...the legitimate desire to actually help people nearby or internationally. Of course they are concerned about whether or not their money is actually going to its intended cause, which is why there are checks and balances. There are some private organizations that review charities, and I'm sure the government also investigates matters too...sometimes an organization is hit with fraud, and then they damage the reputation of charity and that is perhaps more unfortunate than what their crime was. Some charities muster up less evidence than others, but the criticisms are out there. It just takes some research to find reliable charities. It's certainly not a corrupt industry...people who go into nonprofit aren't generally those kinds of people. They are real people you can meet and interact with...not mysterious dark puppets.

So you can simply do research on finding a good charity. Of course not having much to give isn't a problem...next time you go to buy a video game just give that money to charity instead, since while the game would be fun the charity money will probably have a bigger impact. If you were starving you would probably desire $60 worth of food (super cheap and nutritious food at that) rather than a game. Or at least invest that money so that you can give more down the line.

Also I don't think this is about changing the world, but simply making a proportionate impact. It's true that sending $200 to help some disease-prone people isn't going to make a big difference in the grand scheme of things. However, relative to your life, it would make a big difference.

As for charity commercials...that's all about promotion and getting people to send in money. They are only allowed to spend so much on advertisement, and the goal is that the advertisement will pay for itself and then some. It just happens to be the case that bothering people about giving to charity is an effective strategy.

Also, I share your likening of close-knit small communities.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:41 pm

Yeah that makes sense. Also, I think there is a slight opinion of fate, or just being realistic. As much as anyone would want to, they can't fix everything. Even a billionaire would have trouble making a huge impact, although he could definitely help. I think it just basically comes down to a neighborly sort of mentality. If you have, help those who don't who are around. Luckily, there is a good mixture of the haves and have-nots in the world, and humanitarian efforts can take care of the heavily poor areas.

I think as a country though we shouldn't have to worry about helping everyone else, especially when our own country is failing to thrive.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:57 am

what a billionaire has to say:
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/02/03/gupta.gates.vaccines.world.health/

Also, the world's problems are to some degree our problems. Things have been getting better though, and they can continue to get better. Problem solving and progressing are worthwhile goals.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:29 pm

So long as you have the means to do so, which is where we will undoubtedly fall short. Philanthropy is great on paper and I don't have any particular disrespect for the man, but this reminds me of similar pontificating that other people bursting at the seams with money tend to do.

Maybe he wants to honestly do something about the way things are outside the realm he's created for himself and have an impact beyond being "that Microsoft guy," but even if this is the case, he's one in a fucking million.

Everybody talks the talk but nobody wants to walk the walk unless they're the Red Cross or a legitimate charity organization (let's not go into the New Orleans hurricane aftermath catastrophe).
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:27 pm

It doesn't matter to me if he's doing it as a private joke with his friends, but he appeared sincere to me. Also you don't need to be a billionaire or a millionaire to make a large impact with respect to scales on the personal level. And you don't need to be a saint to do something decent.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:32 pm

Not at all, but what do people propose the basis for contribution to a better society is?

Merely being philosophical about the matter doesn't make you or anybody else any better: it instead presents circular logic.

We can effectively agree that natural disasters displace people, but are we going to stop weather from acting to prevent the otherwise inevitable reaction of the displacement of people after a storm?

We are finite and unable compared to people with larger checkbooks. People turn to money as damage mitigation. The person who holds the money has to account to be benevolent otherwise the concept of philanthropy is gone, and Gates is just another Bono. I don't care what he is or how he decides to solve problems to other people if it works, but at least he isn't inflating his ego by offering an introspective.

It is the sad, destitute way of things. I'm certainly not a hero - I'll save the skin of mine and yours, but no further.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:23 pm

I loosely understand the things you're saying, but I'm not sure what prompted you to bring this up so strongly unless it's just an issue you are generally interested in and/or you're commenting on me personally. I made a post about something I found interesting and meaningful, and then there were some discussions and particularly I disagreed with some of the things Axe said. I'm not aware that any of the points or statements I've made anywhere in this thread are mistaken. Also, there is no circular logic going on here. I wouldn't assume you're being defensive about anything, but it does seem like it. If you believe we have a disagreement about something then please state the disagreement clearly, or at least state the thing you're trying to argue clearly.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:29 pm

It isn't being philosophical with me that I have an issue with at all. It's trying to explain that to anybody that wants a black and white result. I thought I made the "other people" part pretty clear.

Example of my reason for stating circular logic: I've lost my house to a hurricane. Many other people received aid to try to rebuild before me, only to effectively waste it on hookers and coke. Because of the mistreatment of what was supposed to be assistance for living, the government is less likely to help me with my house. I have to cut tons of red tape to even get an answer and when I do, it's likely "go fuck yourself." This happened with Hurricane Katrina, when our government was fine with cutting checks to people who had no business with them, making FEMA an even more exclusive option when you're at the end of your rope should a natural disaster come storming your way.

This situation is happening right now. Take Joplin, Missouri: all the relief that was sent out there to rebuild after the tornado that struck there has been converted to the more immediate disaster in New York. You can say 'well, they've had their time,' logically, but it doesn't quite function like that. There are too many hands and too many people to try to take care of them all. We don't deny the people in New York our attention because it's an immediate need of assistance, but the people in Joplin haven't exactly come full circle, either.

About 6 miles from where I used to live, tornadoes destroyed my brother's place of work and tore out a couple subdivisions. People were killed. Debris was everywhere, roads were shut down and people were without electricity for almost a month after the fact. It got media coverage for about a week, then was effectively put in the back of the heads of the nation while FEMA turned its head. It was left to home, commercial, and industrial organizations in the area to revitalize the community that nobody else but people on the panhandle gave a flying fuck about.

Like many, many other people, I lived this growing up. Storm after storm, house after house, move after move. Nobody helped us but us, and I'm sure that's the same case for a lot of people. Why should we trust good faith, philanthropy or the government to come take care of us when the walls come down? Because it's "the right thing to do?" It doesn't work like that. They're not wrong for not helping us when we sought it, or for giving a chance to other people. Depending on the good faith of other people is an equivalent argument to credit, and we've known what that's done to us in the past decade.

We're back at square one, trying to take care of things ourselves because of the inevitable failure of philanthropy, government assistance, et cetera.

Practicality falls short. That's my only point. We can only do so much. Maybe that's all Bill Gates wants to do: enough to sate as many people as he possibly can with the resources he's amassed. That's good, but the problem persists.

This is effectively where "out of sight, out of mind" isn't so much a choice than it is a recognition of finite ability. Doubt it makes anybody evil so much than it does human.

You and I aren't having any issues talking about it, but try bringing this on-paper argument to practicality and you can see where flaws would open.
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PostSubject: Re: Out of sight, out of mind   Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:55 pm

Okay, no problem. I was just a little confused. I think defining failure here is necessary. Performing unsatisfactorily isn't as great a failure as not performing at all, as disappointing as it might be. Your story reminds me of other stories I've heard where people were "allowed" to die in the midst of philanthropic efforts. Once again that is disappointing, even more so, but it's a lesser evil compared to simply not doing anything. I would say the term "failure" holds limited practical value here, since not all failures are equal.

There were some things I didn't mention early on. My initial post was very vague and presented a broad view on things. Of course this is going to stray far from practical considerations, because the practical considerations come next. "Out of sight, out of mind" was more an identification of a problem (if one wants to see it that way), and a motivation. The *solving* of the problem could take many different forms (certainly charity only being one large category of possibilities), and I just wasn't really focusing on that part. I assumed there would be worthwhile solutions that one could find if they spent enough time thinking/researching/investigating, and it would be more of a personal endeavor. Due to wealth gaps a respected charity organization would have to be either utterly corrupt and/or misguided to end up not being at least reasonably effective though, if not quite effective...where effective is measured roughly as the ratio of the output (services) to the input (donations).

Anyway, yes I did leave out the practical issues, and there will almost always be flaws to any action intended to reach a particular goal. However, I don't think this suggests philanthropic efforts are not worthwhile. As for what efforts to go with, and how to go about them, that's something that can sap hours and days and weeks of thought/consideration, if not even more. So that's why I left that issue to the wind, although it has become a little relevant now.
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