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United States Government Medicine Science

US Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition 630

Posted by kdawson
from the haunting-fear-that-someone-somewhere-is-having-a-good-time dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Deborah Blum has an article in Slate about the US government's mostly forgotten policy in the 1920s and 1930s of poisoning industrial alcohols manufactured in the US to scare people into giving up illicit drinking during Prohibition. Known as the 'chemist's war of Prohibition,' the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, killed at least 10,000 people between 1926 and 1933. The story begins with ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919, which banned sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the US. By the mid-1920s, when the government saw that its 'noble experiment' was in danger of failing, it decided that the problem was that readily available methyl (industrial) alcohol — itself a poison — didn't taste nasty enough. The government put its chemists to work designing ever more unpalatable toxins — adding such chemicals as kerosene, brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. In 1926, in New York City, 1,200 were sickened by poisonous alcohol; 400 died. The following year, deaths climbed to 700. These numbers were repeated in cities around the country as public-health officials nationwide joined in the angry clamor to stop the poisoning program. But an official sense of higher purpose kept it in place, while lawmakers opposed to the plan were accused of being in cahoots with criminals and bootleggers. The chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, one of the poisoning program's most outspoken opponents, liked to call it 'our national experiment in extermination.'"
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US Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @08:58PM (#31301058)
    Nice how much hate exists among our democracy. (Ok, Representative democracy)
  • by Saono (12019) * <r.andom@nos[ ].com ['hut' in gap]> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:05PM (#31301110) Homepage

    Denaturing alcohol is a common practice even today to prevent tax dodging, perhaps the best mass-scale denaturing occurring today is in Ethanol plants.

  • by sjpm (30128) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:07PM (#31301120) Homepage

    It's a good thing we no longer do things like that. You know, like add tylenol (APAP) to opiate painkillers so that if you abuse them you die of liver failure. Cause that wouldn't be cool at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:11PM (#31301138)

    Yes, because adding one pain reliever to another pain reliever would make no other sense than to kill the patient.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:14PM (#31301160)

    One might observe the very real actions of the FDA, approving EXPENSIVE dangerous new drugs, that should never have been released, and disparging other treatments that still work better (older generics, supplements). Some estimates are that several hundred thousand per year die because of such federally approved/mandated poisoning, millions more are injured.

    Do you have citations for the above? Especially the last sentence?

  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:15PM (#31301174) Homepage Journal

    Stupid doctors are as much to blame for this as the FDA. When a drug company's patent is about to expire, they often superficially change the molecular structure of the popular drug so that they can get a new patent. Then they start the marketing blitz to "ask your doctor about" the new drug. Smart doctors will prescribe the proven cure over the patent cash-in drugs.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:15PM (#31301176) Journal

    I think the home brewing and other do-it-yourself alcohol production communities would beg to differ with you. You only run into any real risk when you start distilling anyway.

  • Methanol (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:17PM (#31301200)

    Wait wait wait...we're talking about "poisoning" methanol? Which is already extremely toxic?

    I don't really see the purpose, but I definitely don't see a reason for outrage. Denatured alcohol (ethanol poisoned with methanol) is still produced, largely for taxation purposes I believe.

  • by selven (1556643) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:24PM (#31301258)

    Several hundred thousand die per year? So it's half as bad as cancer or heart disease? I find that very hard to believe. And federally mandated poisoning? No one is forcing patients to take these drugs. Taking these drugs is a risk patients willingly take since, if they have a deadly disease, doing nothing itself has a high mortality rate.

  • Listen you Dolts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PatTheGreat (956344) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:24PM (#31301260) Homepage
    They still do this stuff. It's called denatured. You're not supposed to drink industrial solvents. That's why they're industrial. No one complains that we poison antifreeze with ethylene glycol - BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DRINK ANTIFREEZE. Stuff meant for consumption is taxed at a higher rate and undergoes a lot of inspections to make sure it's fit for human consumption. If it's not meant for human consumption, they don't get taxed as heavily and don't undergo inspections. How do you prove your stuff isn't meant for humans? You poison it and LABEL IT AS SUCH. Industrial solvents are labeled poisonous because they are. We're not poisoning the masses, we are providing them solvents at cheaper rates.
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:39PM (#31301394) Journal

    Early on in the 13-year experiment to outlaw ethyl alcohol, bootleggers turned to its poisonous cousin methyl alcohol, also known as wood alcohol, to quench the nation's thirst. Norris and Gettler saw the results carried into the city morgue. To begin with, methyl alcohol causes the same pleasant feelings of inebriation as ethyl alcohol, but these are quickly followed by blindness, coma and death.

    So basically the bootleggers were defrauding the drinkers during prohibition by replacing the cheap (but legal for industrial uses) Methanol which can lead to blindness and ultimately death. The underground market was defrauding and poisoning people wholesale. So in effect, the Methanol was only safe to be used in industrial products as it was and would never have poisoned people if it had not been fraudulently added to alcoholic beverages in the first place. That isn't to say the government wasn't wrong, it most certainly was as is the entire concept of a drug war in of its self, it is that these underground markets were knowingly putting tainted Methanol into their products and killing drinkers as a result.

  • Re:Methanol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:48PM (#31301452) Journal

    The fact remains that these bootleggers were adding a chemical that was already known to be poisonous and extremely dangerous to drink. It's like complaining that the government put strychnine in gasoline and since bootleggers were adding gasoline to their drinks the government was solely responsible for deaths. No. These bootleggers put poison in their products to begin with; they knew it was killing people and they did it anyway.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:52PM (#31301480)

    Religionists are against booze, those disagreeing with religion are going to Hell, might as well give them an express ticket.

    That Prohibition and the poisoning campaign happened prove this post is no troll.

  • If surgeons on the front lines in Korea can do it, anyone can. Plus, we've got this thing called the Internet nowadays. In the twenty first century, humans can find out the right way to do a great many things, very easily.

    The more you know!

  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @09:59PM (#31301532)

    You mean someone drinking two known poisons, and the potential to be drinking a third unknown one?

    The two known poisons are... Ethanol and Methanol. Ethanol being esp. poisonous mainly in large quantities, but also having effects in lower quantities (such as liver damage when imbibed over extended periods).

    In basically well-defined quantities.

    And then someone quietly slips a third in.

    In what way should the poisoner not be held responsible in that case?

    If evilguy sneaks a drug in your beer, the court won't agree with evilguy that since you were technically already drinking something poisonous that was bad for you (Ethanol), that it somehow makes your addition harmless, or makes evilguy less culpable for the result.

    The thing is evilguy has taken control away. If someone wants to deliberately imbibe a certain poison, OK, the maker can't be held responsible for that, as long as they are up front about the content and the risks.

    But slipping in additional ingredients solely to poison is a different matter altogether.

  • by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:00PM (#31301546)
    Yep, that's the Land of the Free (tm) for you
  • by sjames (1099) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:01PM (#31301556) Homepage

    It's not a matter of not being able to believe the government would ever do such a thing. It's laughed at because the same people who would call a government review board a "death panel" fully support the private "death panels" each insurance company has.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:10PM (#31301620)

    I hate to burst your bubble, but presidents have nothing to do with Constitutional amendments. It was passed by the requisite number of states. This was a progressive (socialist/fascist/communist/liberal) idea. You know, the Obama/Hillary/Pelosi/Reid (hell, most democrats) types of their time. Unfortunately, progressivism had it's claws in both parties, but is mostly gone from the Republican party. This comment is going to get modded to hell.

  • by government, religion, etc. please note one small detail:

    there is no greater destruction of freedom in the history of mankind than drug addiction

    you take a mind that contemplates history or philosophy or art and replace it with one that is only concerned where its next fix comes from

    so the most autocratic fascist fundamentalist brutal regime you can possible imagine is but a wall flower in comparison to the bars of the mind that represents the freedom destruction done by drugs

    which makes two ironic points possible: government declares a war on drugs perhaps out of professional jealousy. and some people fight the government telling them what to do... so they can choose themselves to be slaves

    either way, what i fear the most is the government that ACTIVELY PROMOTES the use of drugs, for example, heroin. when some evil mastermind figures out he doesn't have to fight drugs, but actually use them to supplicate and dominate, as a LITERAL opiate of the masses... at that point, mankind is genuinely screwed

    actually drugs have already been used with this effect in warfare: the british forcing the chinese to take opium, the settlers of north america neutralizing the red man with "fire water", etc.

    all i'm asking is that while y'all busy demonizing the freedom destruction of government and religion, that you don't forget the most successful freedom destroyer of them all: drugs

  • by currently_awake (1248758) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:14PM (#31301652)
    government run health care seems to work well everywhere it's been tried. I get to vote for the idiot who appoints the moron who denies me medical care. I might only have a small chance to fix the problem, but the guy in office remembers me when he makes his choices. how about in a free system? Oh right, only the rich (shareholders) get a vote.
  • by aronschatz (570456) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:16PM (#31301680) Homepage

    A progressive is a progressive no matter which party they are under. The D or the R doesn't matter, stop thinking one party is better than the other.

    Political parties are just bad for this country. Washington knew it. And by Washington, I mean the founding father.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:16PM (#31301682)

    Then get rid of the poison *and* the tax. Duh.

    You think it's better for people to die than to get drunk cheap. Fuck you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:20PM (#31301708)

    A lot of medicines are poisonous at high doses. That's why you're supposed to listen to your doctor.

    And how come no one is complaining about the bootleggers who were using denatured alcohol without properly distilling it? But for their actions, nobody would've been poisoned by this.

    Worse, drug dealers still do that today, too, just to make a buck, when they cut their drugs with other poisonous substances and the government sure isn't forcing that upon them.

  • by Weezul (52464) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:34PM (#31301772)

    I'm not sure you can lay all the blame for the temperance movement upon christianity, substantial blame also rests with the women's right advocates. Ironically, woman's rights has generally been an astounding atheistic movement throughout the last two centuries, with the temperance movement being uniquely both religious and disastrous.

    That said, authoritarian and/or religiously motivated men were the ones who imposed and implemented the poisoning. So yes you may lay these 10,000 deaths at the feet of authoritarianism and christianity.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:01PM (#31301966)
    You really think that the drug gangs in Mexico would just stop fighting if drugs were legalized?

    Yes. When you take the profit out of it, they stop. The only reasons gangs exist in the USA is because of prohibition. The mob tried to get in, and was stuck doing things like garbage collection. But Prohibition funded them directly, and they gained a foothold. That let them fund less profitable ventures, like protection rackets, prostitution, and tax evasion. Make all the illegal stuff legal, and the funding of gangs ends. No more money, no more guns. No guns, no violence.

    But the Puritanical US won't let that happen here, and pushes hard to make others conform to our morality. Nothing is worse than religion... "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians." God is fine, the people that claim to be following Him are the problem...

    When you take away what people have been fighting over, and that fighting gave them power, they will just find something else to fight over.

    You seem very confused. These aren't idealistic people fighting for or against anything. They are capitalists where the rules of capitalism require enforcing their own contracts through violence and they are allowed to create barriers of entry for competitors (those barriers of entry being served via lead). They don't fight because it is a fun way to pass the time. They fight because it makes them lots of money. Make it legal, tax it, and you'll have the government funding increase while their funding decreases. They'll move on to profiting from the next victimless crime, and if you get rid of them all, they'll get a job.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:02PM (#31301974)

    It's laughed at because the same people who would call a government review board a "death panel" fully support the private "death panels" each insurance company has.

    Totally. That's what's bugged me about the whole "death panel" fubar from the beginning - we've ALREADY got them and the only people who aren't beholden to death panels are the uninsured.

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:03PM (#31301982) Homepage

    Yes, that's why despite the repeal of the prohibition the Mafia is still as strong as ever. Right.

    I think that political reasons and economic reasons work differently. Political reasons are easily changeable, especially if they change slowly, by shifting to "new threats" or becoming more radical. The way of running a political organization stays about the same, the funding source doesn't necessarily change, people with experience in some area retain their expertise.

    But economical reasons aren't so flexible. If drugs are legalized it'll pull the rug from under a lot of organizations. You don't just switch to say, the weapons black market from one day to the other. The suppliers are different, the places where to get them are different, the way of selling is different. There will be existing competition. And since guns can be had legally there will be much fewer people willing to buy. Drugs are one of the very few things that are outright illegal that large amounts of people want. Any alternative will probably be in much less demand, and just that is going to hurt quite a bit.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:56PM (#31302334) Homepage Journal

    A progressive is a progressive no matter which party they are under

    And why would you associate restrictions on freedom with progressive ideals?

    The D or the R doesn't matter, stop thinking one party is better than the other.

    I'm not sure how you came to conclude that I was saying one was better than the other. They both have plenty of problems. I'm just tired of the endless media feeds of how the current president is some sort of evil satanic islamo-fascist abortionist cannibal simply because he doesn't have an R after his name.

  • Re:Ah yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @12:08AM (#31302436)

    Ya I've never liked the argument that because marijuana is natural it must be safe/harmless. No, not really. Plenty of dangerous natural shit out there. Some of the most deadly venoms known are from natural sources. That something is natural has no bearing at all on if it is safe or healthy or anything else.

    Now, that said, marijuana is rather safe and non-addictive, and as such ought to be legalized. However the reason to legalize it is because it is safe and we have science showing that, not because it is natural.

  • by Stiletto (12066) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @12:14AM (#31302484)

    An insurance company can't prevent you from being treated for a condition.

    Total, unfiltered denial of reality.

    If a medical procedure costs $400,000 and I have $400 in my bank account, and my insurance company says "We're not going to cover it." they are essentially PREVENTING me from being treated. If the treatment would save my life, they are effectively a "private death panel".

  • by Draconius42 (751172) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @12:20AM (#31302520)
    Okay, first off, I agree with everything you've said here. But why has it become so common these days to call people with different or even incorrect information "liars"? Isn't it enough to just call them wrong and point out why? Why attribute deliberate deception to them without any proof? All that does is foster hostility and blind them to the point you are trying to make.
  • by trout007 (975317) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @12:23AM (#31302546)
    Here is the problem with your analysis. If I choose not to do drugs my life is still harmed by the war on drugs. It is the war that causes something that should be next to free to cost more than gold. That amount of profit goes to fund armed gangs, corrupt police, fill jails, and plenty of other things that directly affect me. In a free society the person who takes the risks should suffer the consequences of their actions not punish everyone because a few people can't control themselves.
  • by ppanon (16583) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @01:46AM (#31303106) Homepage Journal
    If a safe form of nicotine ingestion is what you want, there's the patch. I can't think of a safe form of nicotine ingestion that's still going to allow you to "look cool" though.
  • Re:Ah yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tirefire (724526) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @01:57AM (#31303172)

    No, the reason to legalize marijuana is because free people have a right to put whatever they want into their own bodies.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Sunday February 28, 2010 @03:25AM (#31303620)

    > Religionists are against booze,

    Many of the religious folk were certainly supporters but could not have been the primary mover. Look at the who controlled the government at the time, it was the Progressives. There were many reasons[1] that movement quickly disowned the name for the better part of a century before recently deciding that, their prior victims mostly dead of old age and the official histories carefully cleansed, they could reclaim the name and move openly against the Republic once again.

    [1] Being on record saying nice things about every fasist dictator we would eventually end up fighting WWII and the Cold War against, Margaret sanger and her eugenics, the League of Nations, making the Depression Great, and so on.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Sunday February 28, 2010 @03:26AM (#31303622)

    I don't think it's fair to equate authoritarianism with christianity. As far as I can tell, christianity is directly opposed authoritarianism. Don't get me wrong, many who claim to be christian advocate authoritarianism, but is it really fair to say that someone subscribes to a philosophy when they either fail to grasp one of it's basic tenants, willfully ignore it, or are lying specifically to give the false impression they subscribe to the philosophy?

    Like the other poster said, how can someone claim to be a Christian if they want to ban alcohol? The Bible specifically instructs people to drink it. And it also specifically opposes using force to manipulate the behavior of others. Christianity should not have to own this dark chapter of history, rather it should disown the bastards who perpetrated it.

  • by siloko (1133863) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @03:45AM (#31303712)

    As far as I can tell, christianity is directly opposed authoritarianism.

    So can you explain the role of God in your non-authoritarian Christianity?

  • by insertwackynamehere (891357) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @03:53AM (#31303754) Journal
    To give everyone a chance at salvation and allow us to find our own paths with the free will bestowed upon us? I know I'm going to be called a troll but the parent was ignorant and trolling whereas I'm offering a perspective that may not hold as much cynicism but still holds relevence
  • by Kumiorava (95318) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @05:11AM (#31304080)

    Whenever Christianity is criticized someone has to come up with an answer that they are doing it wrong and they are not *real* Christians. Now if I interpret your answer correctly, your branch of Christianity (and the Bible) promotes/approves oral sex and pre-marital wobble jobs, right?

  • by mpe (36238) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @06:45AM (#31304362)
    Others drink alcohol in their ceremonies (e.g. Anglican Christians, and plenty of pagans, druids etc)

    Not just Anglican Christians. Monks and Monasteries have a long association with the production of drinking alcohol, including wines. Anyway until very recently, in Europe, beer was drunk by just about everyone (drinking untreated water tended to be rather lethal). To the extent that people who's ancestors drank beer are much more able to deal with alcohol than those who's ancestors didn't.
  • by mpe (36238) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @07:40AM (#31304520)
    I don't think it's fair to equate authoritarianism with christianity. As far as I can tell, christianity is directly opposed authoritarianism. Don't get me wrong, many who claim to be christian advocate authoritarianism, but is it really fair to say that someone subscribes to a philosophy when they either fail to grasp one of it's basic tenants, willfully ignore it, or are lying specifically to give the false impression they subscribe to the philosophy?

    Fairly early on in it's history Christianity was adopted by a "super power" state. Roman Catholisism could hardly have been anything other than authoritatian.
    All of the Abrahamic religions appear to be somewhat anti-athoritarian. But that dosn't stop highly authoritarian versions of them existing.
  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @08:03AM (#31304602) Journal

    "I always find it funny that people who risk jail time for a drug claim they haven't got a problem. "No sirree, I am not a drunk. Yes I am drinking industrial alcohol laced with rat poison for flavor sold to me by outragous prices and I could go to jail for it, but really, I got it all under control."

    Apparently we haha when someone offs them self doing something stupid like swimming with sharks with a bloody cut, but when someone does something Darwin like drinking poisoned alcohol, bust out the sympathy cards. Stupid is stupid and it's not going to get any smarter by justifying it.

  • by siloko (1133863) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @08:09AM (#31304630)
    Any movement founded on the principle of 'Do what you're told', irrespective of the source of that commandment, has got off on the wrong foot if you ask me. And the fact that from those authoritarian roots there has sprouted a vast edifice of hierarchical institutions very much at the behest of man seems to justify my skepticism!
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @08:18AM (#31304672)

    The sad thing is that they still haven't learned.
    Look at the current drug policies.

    They're utterly self defeating and create a situation which makes the problems they're supposed to address worse.

  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:18AM (#31305384)
    You just made the GP's point: Pedophilia is anathema to the point of merely using it to illustrate a point is automatically considered to invalidate the point. It's the Hitler of sexuality* (mention it and the discussion stops being rational) and it automatically disables all higher reasoning in most people. Which is precisely because of social conditioning, given that various cultures practiced and in rare cases still practice it and saw/see nothing wrong with it.

    So yes, pedophilia being abhorrent to most people is exactly the same as oral sex being abhorrent to some people. Even though one can make logically valid arguments as to why it's bad, most people immediately become irrational when it's mentioned and detest it because they are expected to do so. (Besides, the arguments against oral sex are also logically valid; they merely have some premises most people assume to be false.)

    Note that I'm not defending pedophilia here. It's bad for a number of reasons but we need to stop kneejerking every time it's mentioned. All that does accomplish is to make it impossible for us to actually deal with the issue. We need to get rid of that berserk button.


    * Does it count as a Godwin when I invoke Gowin's Law to illustrate a point?
  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:42AM (#31305582) Journal

    I agree that there is way too much scaremongering over pedophilia, and it's ridiciluous the way it's treated as a thought crime.

    But that doesn't mean equating oral sex to sex with children is valid. What next? If I was disagreeing with someone who says that gay sex between adults was wrong, are you going to say "Well his view is equally valid as someone who believes that raping babies and then eating them is wrong"? No, it's not equally valid. Yes, there's a debate to be had on when children can consent. But it's not meaningful to say that any "X is wrong" view is equally valid as any other.

    The thing you are missing is that there other reasons than simply thinking it "abhorrent". The criticism against non-consensual sex is not that it is "abhorrent".

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:54AM (#31305692) Journal

    >>>To give everyone a chance at salvation and allow us to find our own paths with the free will bestowed upon us?

    And spend eternity burning in hell if you choose the wrong thing. That's like a government that tolerates Free Speech Protesters for a few years and then decides, "That's enough" and runs over them with tanks and/or make them disappear in a prison.

    NOT free will.

  • by Artifakt (700173) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @11:53AM (#31306170)

    Right after you explain the role of inviolate physical laws in your 'Non-authoritarian' Science.

    What's that you say? Not every case where there are principles and consequences deserves to be compared to human political systems?

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Sunday February 28, 2010 @01:26PM (#31307032)
    Most Christians consider there to be a vast difference between the concepts of 'Christian Church' and 'the Christian Religion'. One is an actual body, the other not. You can practice Christianity without ever becoming involved with, or part of, a church.
  • by Omestes (471991) <[omestes] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday February 28, 2010 @01:42PM (#31307172) Homepage Journal

    ...many who claim to be christian advocate authoritarianism,

    Sounds a lot like the "No True Scotsman" fallacy [wikipedia.org] to me. Christianity is defined by its followers, and only by its tenets in how its followers take them up.

    Its like saying the Judeo-Christian religions are peaceful because one of the Ten Commandments says "thou shall not murder". Or saying politicians are inherently honest because all of them claim to be truthful.

  • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @01:51PM (#31307246) Homepage
    Since when does "free will" mean the same thing as "no consequences"?
  • by gizmo_mathboy (43426) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @02:53PM (#31307768)

    Are the Democratic and Republican parties the same as they were about 100 years ago?

    Are the Democrats the party of racists? Look up Dixiecrats. Are the Republicans really the same party as what Lincoln belonged to?

    Hell the Republicans aren't the same party as even 30 years ago, I'm pretty sure that Reagan and Goldwater would be thrown out by the current Republicans.

    Then again there isn't much difference between parties now and may there hasn't really ever been much difference.

  • by Pollardito (781263) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @03:30PM (#31308040)

    "I always find it funny that people who risk jail time for a drug claim they haven't got a problem.

    Laws against doing something don't make something wrong to do, laws can at most reflect a judgement by society that something is wrong to do. The US, like most countries, wouldn't exist if people only did things that are legal. Slavery wasn't the right thing to do before it was illegal. And drinking alcohol wasn't fine to do, then not fine to do, then fine to do depending on the decade you're in.

    Maybe the problem isn't that people's alcohol problem compelled them to drink alcohol with rat poison in it, maybe the problem was that people were *secretly* putting rat poison in alcohol in a deliberate effort to kill enough people that the rest would be forced to toe the line.

  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @07:49PM (#31310124)

    it is not your free will that is doing that, but a biochemical compulsion.

    Who chose to put the chemicals in there? I did. Its my mind and I'll saute it in whatever sauce I want.

    if you are a room trying to write a story, and your roommate is blaring music at maximum volume, are you free?

    So we should appoint a supervisory board to ensure that only compatible roommate pairings are made? If I want an a*hole for a roommate, that's my right.

  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Monday March 01, 2010 @12:20PM (#31317468)

    Sounds a lot like the "No True Scotsman" fallacy to me. Christianity is defined by its followers, and only by its tenets in how its followers take them up. Its like saying the Judeo-Christian religions are peaceful because one of the Ten Commandments says "thou shall not murder". Or saying politicians are inherently honest because all of them claim to be truthful

    So what percentage of followers do you consider to be the 'breaking point' at which the actions of a minority become the will of a majority? Let's say you have a political group calling for some arbitrary law to be changed "Repeal the tax on moon-rocks." What percentage of 'wing-nuts' must that group contain before the message of those wing-nuts becomes what you accept to be the position of the majority?

    In a free and open organization, you cannot prevent the inclusion of people who present undesired opinions without enforcing some strict code upon them.

    Do you apply a multiplyer to that variable if the groups cause is popular on the internet, or an already fringe group?

  • by Gabrosin (1688194) on Monday March 01, 2010 @03:09PM (#31320146)

    No, Christianity is defined by its principles, NOT its "followers". The logical distinction between the fallacy you presented and the current case is that being a Scotsman is an intrinsic property of a human being that cannot be changed, while being a Christian is an individual's elective choice and can be changed. (Yes, I'm defining Scotsman as one who was born a Scot, not allowing for the possibility of emigration from one country to another, but that's the premise on which the fallacy is built.)

    You can definitely make the argument that someone who claims to be a Christian but doesn't adhere to the tenets of Christianity is not a Christian, just as you can make the argument that someone who claims to be a communist but doesn't adhere to the tenets of communism is not a communist.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @03:54PM (#31320814)

    An insurance company can't prevent you from being treated for a condition.

    Total, unfiltered denial of reality.

    If a medical procedure costs $400,000 and I have $400 in my bank account, and my insurance company says "We're not going to cover it." they are essentially PREVENTING me from being treated. If the treatment would save my life, they are effectively a "private death panel".

    If you have $400 in your bank account, you prevented yourself from being treated by being a good for nothing slack off. Don't blame an insurance company, or the U.S. taxpayers, for not fronting you $400,000. Go earn some money.

    The first poster is correct. An insurance company CAN NOT prevent you from getting a treatment. They can simply refuse to pay for it, and it's up to you to find a way to fund it. You should try your local church. Their pretty good about funding the indigent.

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