you're not helping August 19, 2008 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Someone wants to help people. The answers? Kill people, kill yourself, kill all the religious people, and stop having babies. People, please.

You have GOT to be kidding me. We're MeFi. We're better than this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Etiquette/Policy at 11:30 AM (177 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Well, the Olaf Stapledon ref is nice but it IS basically chatfilter.
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on August 19, 2008


Whenever someone answers a question about improving the world with "Kill yourself", it seems like the only proper response should be "You first."
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 11:36 AM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


We're MeFi. We're better than this.

Unfortunately, we're MeFi, and it's par for the course. Hatefulness like that is something I have to willfully overlook in order glean the good stuff. It's too bad.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:36 AM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


To be fair, stop having [too many] babies is actually a correct answer.
posted by Grither at 11:36 AM on August 19, 2008 [32 favorites]


When a post is chatfilter and therefore an obvious candidate for deletion, a lot of people use the thread to relieve themselves in order to keep the rest of the site nice and clean-smelling. People, that's what your Moleskines are for. It even comes with paper so you can wipe yourself after.
posted by ardgedee at 11:37 AM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


TBH dumb and snarky responses to a vague hypothetical question are far less horrible than, say, the reply to the guy whose wife had depression which went along the lines of “She’s clearly a terrible person, dump her immediately and never let your child see her again” .
posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on August 19, 2008


And while we're here, can somebody please correct the awful grammar in that first answer?
posted by Grither at 11:41 AM on August 19, 2008


Have babies

But, only if you're white!

You'll make the members on Stormfront White Nationalist Community really happy.
posted by sixcolors at 11:41 AM on August 19, 2008


We wouldn’t have all these problems if they closed new sign-ups and/or randomly deleted 20,000 or so existing accounts. MeFi would be much better off over the long term.
posted by bondcliff at 11:42 AM on August 19, 2008 [8 favorites]


To be fair, stop having [too many] babies is actually a correct answer.

How is 2001 star-babbie formed?
posted by Artw at 11:42 AM on August 19, 2008


To be fair, stop having [too many] babies is actually a correct answer.

Yes, but it would be even more helpful if you could convince others to do the same.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:43 AM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


The question is kind of chat-filtery in retrospect. But I'm also kind of sick of the NO BABBY BRIGADE here on Metafilter. That's not the answer, as much as it might appeal to people who weren't going to have any babies anyway. That way they get to feel superior for doing something they already wanted to do.
posted by Justinian at 11:43 AM on August 19, 2008 [6 favorites]


The poster is asking what we can do to help people millions of years from now. Seems like a perfect thing to throw on the BBQ, but maybe a little too hypothetical and unanswerable for AskMe.

That said, the mods have repeatedly made it clear that they don't appreciate people shitting in AskMe, no matter how worthy of deletion the question may be.
posted by box at 11:45 AM on August 19, 2008


sigh.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:46 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


We're MeFi. We're better than this.

Demonstrably, we are not. Don't kill the messenger.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:46 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Waah! People didn't give the kinds of answers I want to see to an open-ended question!
posted by yhbc at 11:47 AM on August 19, 2008 [17 favorites]


(It's because it's so hypothetical and unanswerable, it seems to me, that 'have babies' and 'don't have babies' both seem like reasonable answers.)
posted by box at 11:47 AM on August 19, 2008


Waah! People didn't give the kinds of answers I want to see to an open-ended question!
posted by yhbc at 11:47 AM on August 19 [+] [!]


Yep, and

(It's because it's so hypothetical and unanswerable, it seems to me, that 'have babies' and 'don't have babies' both seem like reasonable answers.)
posted by box at 11:47 AM on August 19 [+] [!]


Yep. Sorry they're not bright and sunny, but these are perfectly valid answers. Whether it's a valid question is another story...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:49 AM on August 19, 2008


'don't have babies' or 'kill yourself' are only acceptable answers if you consider non-existence an improvement in the human condition. if you do, then please, improve the world a little by your example.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:50 AM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


far less horrible than, say, the reply to the guy whose wife had depression

Yeah, that one was rough. It seemed like everyone else in the thread just thought she was just being mean for no reason, rather than considering that she might have serious mental issues that are more important than a fight over a birthday present.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:52 AM on August 19, 2008


Oh please........... Get off it.

Kill people = "I don't think creating more children would be too helpful at this stage. We're stuck on a planet with an immense population and with dwindling resources. Creating a super virus that will kill half the population might have a more beneficial effect than increasing the population even more."

How is that a bad answer? How exactly are we better than that? Only happy smiley answers to 10 million year questions? Seriously?
posted by Ragma at 11:53 AM on August 19, 2008 [6 favorites]


The problem is the question, not the answer. It is clearly chatfilter, which invites opinions (however uninformed) rather than actual answers. Whether or not you agree with half-baked Malthusianism, it just as legitimate a response to this particular question as contributing to Amnesty International.
posted by googly at 11:54 AM on August 19, 2008


it just as legitimate a response to this particular question as contributing to Amnesty International.

What devilish fun it would be to do both!
posted by kosem at 11:58 AM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is a fantastic post and I flagged it as such.

Fantastically bad but fantastic nonetheless.
posted by Stynxno at 11:59 AM on August 19, 2008


No, creating viruses that are designed to kill 1/2 the people in the world may end up making the other half so gross-looking that no one will want to procreate. Or maybe kill them, too. I mean it's pretty hard to make a virus that is REALLY LETHAL 1/2 the time. It'll want to be lethal all the time.

And if that happens, then the eels will soon take over. They've been waiting for this time for hundreds of millions of years, stockpiling little air bubbles and little eel-shoes against the day that humanity kills or neuters itself. I just pray that I am taken quickly, that I don't have to suffer the agony of watching the eels march up from the Delaware River with tiny little boards with tiny little nails in them. This would also spare me the agony of being smacked repeatedly with these tiny little boards with nails in them.

So yeah, please don't go creating lethal viruses of any sort.
posted by Mister_A at 12:01 PM on August 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


Personally, I like a little electroshock in my eelmageddon.
posted by box at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Keep reading and posting to Metafilter - when the Singularity is online this shit will all be sorted out automatically.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Aw....the poor mods are going to be so busy when they get back, since I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a lot of flags flying around on this one....
posted by Grither at 12:13 PM on August 19, 2008


One line answers to the question really don't cut it. But then again, most short, one line answers in AskMefi are best left unsaid. "Have babies.", "Teach school.", "Yeah...have kids and raise them right.", "Become a scientist.". I'm surprised no one posted "Please" or "STFU". That would have completed the circle.

I'm glad Cool Papa Bell go to the root of the problem with this thread. It shows how much "better than this" AskMefi users can become. Kudos.
posted by JJ86 at 12:19 PM on August 19, 2008


Where do they wear their little eel-shoes?
posted by JaredSeth at 12:19 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Attention mods! I would like to preemptively assure you that my answer in that thread is for real and serious. DO NOT DELETE!
posted by ND¢ at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2008


I was hoping that thread would be salvageable. I could see a way in which it would be. Part of the problem is that when people say some variant of "make certain there are fewer people in the world" there is almost no way to do it that is

1. not inflammatory
2. not a message that people will take offense to even if you phrased it perfectly

People flip out over "have babies" and "have no more babies" answers equally. I'm nt sure what to do about that. I've been here all day just watching that thread....
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:21 PM on August 19, 2008


Kill people = "I don't think creating more children would be too helpful at this stage. We're stuck on a planet with an immense population and with dwindling resources. Creating a super virus that will kill half the population might have a more beneficial effect than increasing the population even more."

No, "Kill People" = "Kill People"

And not creating any more children, whatever stage we're at, on whatever planet we occupy, is extinction within at most about 100 years and that's all it could possibly be.

The math is not that complicated.

And if that killer virus ended up leaving behind only people as devoid of the spark of human warmth and empathy as to offhandedly suggest killing half the human population, I wouldn't call that a beneficial effect at all. No, in that case, I'd say we would just be better off going down slowly and agonizingly from overcrowding, resource depletion and environmental devastation.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:22 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Vote for Barack.

*ducks*
posted by baphomet at 12:22 PM on August 19, 2008


Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dammit I knew I should have copied that after I posted it so I could put it on my profile.
posted by ND¢ at 12:24 PM on August 19, 2008


The Eelimination of Mankind!
posted by ericb at 12:26 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


ND¢ you are on my last nerve, but I'll email you your comment if you promise to not put it back in the thread or here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:27 PM on August 19, 2008


No that's okay. I don't mean to be on your last nerve. Just forget it. Thanks for the offer.
posted by ND¢ at 12:28 PM on August 19, 2008


People flip out over "have babies..."

Choose Life! Wake me up before you go, go.
posted by ericb at 12:31 PM on August 19, 2008


I wouldn't call that a beneficial effect at all. No, in that case, I'd say we would just be better off going down slowly and agonizingly from overcrowding, resource depletion and environmental devastation.

Because why should the other inhabitants of the earth get off scot-free!
posted by mrnutty at 12:31 PM on August 19, 2008


saulgoodman thought: And not creating any more children, whatever stage we're at, on whatever planet we occupy, is extinction within at most about 100 years and that's all it could possibly be.

What the difference between "not creating any more children" and "creating less children"? Now guess which one was not said in the thread in question? Congrats on the reading comprehension!
posted by JJ86 at 12:33 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


It would help if people would answer the question and not respond to other answerers.
"Have babies" and "Don't have babies" are both valid and constructive answers. "Those people who say 'Have babies' are wrong" and "Those people who say 'Don't have babies' are misanthropes" are just troll comments and should be deleted.
posted by rocket88 at 12:34 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


People flip out over "have babies" and "have no more babies" answers equally. I'm not sure what to do about that.

Maybe that's because for some reason it's never "have fewer babies." It's not binary, is it? No more than one baby per person (meaning, couples get two) = zero population growth over the long term. It's that simple. Anyone following that rule isn't contributing to population growth period, so telling them to kill themselves is just intentionally rude and misanthropic. Which is fine. Rude and misanthropic comments aren't always bad. But then defending those comments as if they were anything more than snark is just distracting.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:34 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the problem that led to fightiness is that:
Short term: baby= interesting person that can contribute great things to society.
Long term though, baby = future baby making machine, and drain on the earth's resources + contributer to emissions.

The question was very long term.

Also, the argument of not having babies = extinction doesn't hold water as the question wasn't for everyone, it was for one person.
posted by piedmont at 12:35 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where do they wear their little eel-shoes?

Wherever they want, buddy boy.
posted by Mister_A at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2008


Hmmph. I thought my "the best way to reduce population is to educate women and lift people out of poverty" was relatively un-inflammatory as ways to reduce population go.
posted by Justinian at 12:40 PM on August 19, 2008


What the difference between "not creating any more children" and "creating less children"?

"Not creating any more children" means no one anywhere should have children, does it not?

That's not the same thing as we should have fewer children.

"Have babies" and "Don't have babies" are both valid and constructive answers.

Is "Kill yourself. First tell everyone else you know to kill themselves, and then kill yourself." a valid and constructive answer? Okay. Sure.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:41 PM on August 19, 2008


Of the three answers linked to by CPB, the only one that's even remotely offensive is wfgrms' "3. Develop a virus that kills only religions nutjobs.".

Which really should be simplified to "Develop a virus that kills only nutjobs" as it would also include racists, homophobes, people who buy cat curios on the Home Shopping Network, NRA, MADD and PETA fanatics, neoconservative wackos, leftist extremists, crystal-wand waving pseudopagans as well as people who think having n+1 kids is a good thing.
posted by loquacious at 12:43 PM on August 19, 2008


No more than one baby per person (meaning, couples get two) = zero population growth over the long term.

Exactly. But since so many Mefites are foregoing children altogether, I figure I have some breathing room. I haven't completed my calculations, but it looks like I better start saving for 20-25 little pairs of shoes.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:45 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


people who buy cat curios on the Home Shopping Network

COLD DEAD HANDS BUDDY. OUT OF MY COLD DEAD FUCKING HANDS. YOU'D BETTER START WORKING ON THAT VIRUS SOON BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT IT'S GOING TO TAKE.
posted by baphomet at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2008 [10 favorites]


And if that happens, then the eels will soon take over.

I, for one...
posted by timeistight at 12:55 PM on August 19, 2008


"For sale: eel-shoes, never used."

The saddest words in the English language.
posted by ND¢ at 12:57 PM on August 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


What things could one person do now to best progress human civilization in the long term (ie, millions of years)?

I think the only fair answer to this is: Eat it!
posted by ob at 1:03 PM on August 19, 2008


Eh, the virus thing may be the right answer. Epidemics have curious consequences, terrible in the short term, sure, but the question is about the very Long Term.

In Europe, the Plague, by reducing the population of serfs, increased their economic bargaining power, which in increased their wealth, health, and rights, and their awareness they could bargain for rights. It also tore apart some hereditary land-owning families, which also led to greater equality. And the fueled the search for replacements for peasant labor, which spurred science and invention.

Indeed, with the Black Death, there might not have been a Renaissance, or at least not one so sweeping in its changes. And freedom and free inquiry in the West would have been set back centuries.

Similarly, the great carnage of the Great War (World War I) broke the back of European monarchy and aristocracy, by killing off lots of oh-so-well-bred bluebloods. of course, it also laid the groundwork for German fascism, the next war, and Soviet repression. And the collapse of colonialism (version 2, anyway).

So the answer is NOT categorically wrong. It's distasteful, perhaps, but not wrong.

And distasteful but possibly correct isn't against any guidelines.

I ran into a distasteful (to me) answer last night in askMefi. I did what the poster should have done: if there's an answer you think is incorrect, politely explain why you think it's incorrect in the askMefi thread.

Don't run to Metatalk shouting "Somone is wrong on the Internet!"
posted by orthogonality at 1:06 PM on August 19, 2008 [10 favorites]


Whoops. "Indeed, withOUT the Black Death,"
posted by orthogonality at 1:07 PM on August 19, 2008


"The poster is asking what we can do to help people millions of years from now."

You probably shouldn't kill the guy whose great-great-grandson will invent the helmet that blocks Space Hitler's mind control nano-rays.
posted by klangklangston at 1:08 PM on August 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


People always fail to talk about how bad Space Stalin is.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on August 19, 2008 [18 favorites]


It's even fashionable to wear the sickle and space-hammer.
posted by klangklangston at 1:12 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The original post should be deleted for framing a hypothetical, unanswerable question. This MeTa post should be deleted for pandering.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:12 PM on August 19, 2008


> People always fail to talk about how bad Space Stalin is.

They get edited out of the cyber-smello-holo-infinidepth immersivision group portraits when they do that.
posted by ardgedee at 1:13 PM on August 19, 2008


Space Stalin pales in comparison to Astro Mao.
posted by baphomet at 1:14 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm legitimately worried about the future of human evolution, and not just in the Idiocracy "we're all doomed and stupid" kind of way.

Fortunately, I won't give a damn once I'm dead.
posted by giraffe at 1:14 PM on August 19, 2008


This MeTa post should be deleted for pandering.

But what about Panda-ing. You don't see so much of that these days, huh?
posted by ob at 1:16 PM on August 19, 2008


And if that happens, then the eels will soon take over.

But then the seals will take out the eels. And the few humans left, well, I'm sure they can find a stockpile of clubs somewhere, and then get to work repopulating.
posted by inigo2 at 1:16 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eh, the virus thing may be the right answer. Epidemics have curious consequences, terrible in the short term, sure, but the question is about the very Long Term.

The Spanish Flu (1918 Influenza Pandemic) killed people with stronger immune systems, so theoretically you could accidentally wipe out the strongest of the species.
posted by giraffe at 1:18 PM on August 19, 2008


You probably shouldn't kill the guy whose great-great-grandson will invent the helmet that blocks Space Hitler's mind control nano-rays.

Oh no, do you realize what you've done?

Millions of years from now, Space Hitler's GoogleBots will crawl this very thread, entering the information into the HITLERTRON 5000 space computer. Using that information, Space Hitler will develop anti-mind-control-nano-ray-blocking-helmet technology in time to prevent the revolution from ever happening!

Today is truly a sad day for the future of the human race.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:20 PM on August 19, 2008


Yeah, but those were Spanish people.
posted by Artw at 1:20 PM on August 19, 2008


Anyway, everyone knows the answer is “buy an iPhone”.
posted by Artw at 1:21 PM on August 19, 2008


And the few humans left, well, I'm sure they can find a stockpile of clubs somewhere, and then get to work repopulating.

Which is why we must not allow a mine-shaft gap with those damn ruskies.
posted by timeistight at 1:23 PM on August 19, 2008


Um, ZPG is the correct answer.

I really do not understand how or why people would suggest the opposite or think that suggesting zero population growth is somehow "hateful".

My theory is that it's people who have kids, so they don't want to think they're contributing to the earth's demise.
posted by Zambrano at 1:24 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


All Space Hitler wanted at first was a little Lebensweltraum, but then he went too far.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


FWIW I wasn't trying to be fighty or jokey when I reffed the Voluntary Human Extinction movement... I thought that was a perfectly legitimate comment. I don't advocate it myself, having already spawned.

*Waits patiently for jessamyn to go delete phrontist's ref to the same outfit.*
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:24 PM on August 19, 2008


I can't believe my follow the Golden Path suggestion is unappreciated.
posted by low affect at 1:25 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


But since so many Mefites are foregoing children altogether

Mefites are the new Shakers. We'll need to set up an adoption program to bring in the brightest young Farkers and Slashdotlings if we want to keep the userbase flush over time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:25 PM on August 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


"And if that killer virus ended up leaving behind only people as devoid of the spark of human warmth and empathy as to offhandedly suggest killing half the human population, I wouldn't call that a beneficial effect at all."

I don't think you read the original AskMe question. The time span involved was millions of years.

If you think "humans" millions of years from now will have any sort of emotion that you and I would be able to fathom.......... I don't even know how to address that. Maybe try looking at "human emotion" several million years ago. What do you think that would have been like? Fucking, fighting and eating?

"Warmth and empathy" probably loses it's meaning went you're looking at millions of years of history. Especially when the creatures we evolved from made it through several events that nearly eradicated all life on the planet.

However humans evolve in the next several million years, their morals and values will be radically different. But, if we survive that long, I suspect they'd be *extremely* happy to know we didn't over populate and poison the planet so bad only bugs lived through it.

Putting your moral compass around questions that involve whatever bizarre creatures humans have evolved into 5 million years from now is silly. The scope of the question makes empathy a non-issue.
posted by Ragma at 1:26 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Mefites are foregoing children altogether

But they are buying new accounts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:27 PM on August 19, 2008


now it's been 10,000 years
man has cried a billion tears
for what he never knew
now man's reign is through

but through the eternal night
the twinkling of starlight
so very far away
maybe it's only yesterday...

in the year 2525
if man is still alive
if woman can survive
they may find...
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on August 19, 2008


Is it wrong to think HITLERTRON 5000 would make a great username?

Fucking, fighting and eating?

Ah, Saturday nights...
posted by adamdschneider at 1:28 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


This MeTa post should be deleted for pandering.

Yes, because asking for a higher level of discourse is somehow preying on the weaknesses of others to further my own agenda.

Or were you commenting on my choice of prostitutes? Leave my working girls out of this. They work hard for their money, so you better treat them right.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:28 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, it's usually good etiquette to put a link to the MeTa thread in the post you are calling out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 PM on August 19, 2008


I don't think creating more children would be too helpful at this stage. We're stuck on a planet with an immense population and with dwindling resources. Creating a super virus that will kill half the population might have a more beneficial effect than increasing the population even more.

Ideally, finding a cheap efficient method of getting people off the planet and supporting them elsewhere would help humankind in the short and long term.


What was wrong with this answer? I don't necessarily agree, but it doesn't come across as snark or a cheap shot to me. A bit mad scientist, and/or clinical, but as mentioned in orthoganility's comment, but I think it's a valid opinion.

People, please indeed.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:33 PM on August 19, 2008


I ain't making no damn furniture.
posted by ND¢ at 1:34 PM on August 19, 2008


Also, it's usually good etiquette to put a link to the MeTa thread in the post you are calling out.

It's there.
posted by giraffe at 1:34 PM on August 19, 2008


Overthinking a plate of eels....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:42 PM on August 19, 2008


Let the biting of me begin!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:50 PM on August 19, 2008


I'm legitimately worried about the future of human evolution,

personally, i think human evolution is best thought of as something that just kind of runs on and on, going nowhere in particular, like a treadmill--or maybe its more like a thick, viscous liquid slowly flowing into a container with all sorts of nooks and crannies. in either case, it's not something that can be ascribed a value judgment.

human life itself is the only goal of human evolution. evolution is just a complex mechanism that keeps living things alive, a way to make the biological compromises necessary for survival while preserving as much as possible of the integrity of a species. so what metrics are useful for judging how well it's going? well, survival is the obvious one. so what does survival require? the usual answer is being an effective competitor. but that's wrong. competitive fitness plays a relatively minor role in natural selection. more important is being well-adapted to one's environment. aggressive competitors actually don't fair all that well in the wild compared to the less competitive species. social animals that coexist well with other species (small mammals like mice and rats, cockroaches, birds, etc.) thrive while more aggressive competitive species (alligators, lions, bears, etc.) almost all face long-term challenges to their survival.

the human race seems to have decided in recent decades that we want to be one of those species that chooses competition as its survival strategy. so i don't really have high hopes.


Putting your moral compass around questions that involve whatever bizarre creatures humans have evolved into 5 million years from now is silly. The scope of the question makes empathy a non-issue.


Ha! We're already bizarre creatures. The "release a virus" answer was a short-term proposal--an option for something one person could do today to shape evolution. The empathy part of my comment related to releasing a virus tomorrow that kills everybody and leaves behind only a world of inhuman, black-hearted automatons half-consciously tearing away hunks of each other's flesh and writhing in agony. That part wasn't about events 5 million years from now.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:01 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: a world of inhuman, black-hearted automatons half-consciously tearing away hunks of each other's flesh and writhing in agony
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on August 19, 2008


Guy_Inamonkeysuit -- so, was it you?
posted by ericb at 2:06 PM on August 19, 2008


MetaTalk: a world of inhuman, black-hearted automatons half-consciously tearing away hunks of each other's flesh
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:10 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Artw, please pass the spleen
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:11 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


But if humans by some miracle did still exist in some recognizable form 5 million years from now, I'd bet they would have actually evolved a vastly more complex form of empathy. I don't think a species' long-term survival prospects are very good without some form of it. (But that's conjecture, too, like the assertion about humans evolving past empathy.)
posted by saulgoodman at 2:11 PM on August 19, 2008


In the dark future of the 41st millennium, there is ONLY WAR!
posted by Artw at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2008


a world of inhuman, black-hearted automatons half-consciously tearing away hunks of each other's flesh

*feels distant stir of arousal*
posted by quonsar at 2:24 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


"Oh no, do you realize what you've done?

Millions of years from now, Space Hitler's GoogleBots will crawl this very thread, entering the information into the HITLERTRON 5000 space computer. Using that information, Space Hitler will develop anti-mind-control-nano-ray-blocking-helmet technology in time to prevent the revolution from ever happening!

Today is truly a sad day for the future of the human race.
"

NO FOLLOW NO FOLLOW!
posted by klangklangston at 2:26 PM on August 19, 2008


The human race will amuse itself to death.
posted by dg at 2:27 PM on August 19, 2008


ND¢ you are on my last nerve

*considers options, weighs risks*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:42 PM on August 19, 2008


Ah, the Victorian fallacy rears its head. Evolution as progress.

Evolution is directionless, valueless, above all mindless. It does not "work" for "the good of the species". The universe doesn't care. It has no inbuilt notions of progress in a human sense. It is not Dick's VALIS, it is Lovecraft's Azathoth.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:43 PM on August 19, 2008 [6 favorites]


My answers would have been "realise your religion is a lie" and "go vegan and work hard to convince everyone you know to go vegan" but the question is inherently speciesist and shows concern only for "human civilization" (whatever the fuck that is), rather than for the quality of all life on Earth and, yeah, humans? I'm not that impressed.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:48 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Evolution vs Entropy
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on August 19, 2008


Howz about inventing a virus that simultaneously reduces aggression, sterilizes half the worlds male population, AND cures cancer?

WIN WIN WIN.
posted by tkchrist at 2:53 PM on August 19, 2008


The original post should be deleted for framing a hypothetical, unanswerable question. This MeTa post should be deleted for pandering.

Hey, Cool Papa Bell just wants to talk...MetaTalk, that is.
posted by ignignokt at 2:54 PM on August 19, 2008


Scientology?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:01 PM on August 19, 2008


This is one of the most "open-ended unanswerable or hypothetical" questions I've seen left standing. Answering it requires knowing the future. For example, one of the best answers in that thread mentions non-proliferation. I could say, with equal validity, "you should support your local nuclear program because some governments will need superior military power to stop the hordes / communists / terrorists / aliens that will otherwise oppress most of humanity."

It is true that the guidelines say that it must have an answer OR be intended to be put to practical use, and the asker did wrap the question within this practical framework, so it does technically look like it should be allowed to stay. I think we should reconsider that part of the guidelines. It effectively makes all hypothetical or unanswerable questions okay. For example, we know you cannot ask "what would the world be like if Hitler had never been born?" Okay, fine. But can I ask "I'm so distressed when I think about the damage that was done by Hitler, and the costs of WWII to all countries involved, and the lasting effects it has had on many countries' electoral politics. I'd like to make the world more like what it would be like if Hitler had never been born. How can I do that?"

Now, one could argue that my proposed Hitler question is different than the question about the next million years, because the Hitler question requires assuming something counter-factual. But assuming that the human race will be around in a million years may be equally counter-factual. I think the question should be sent to the BBQ.
posted by salvia at 3:12 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can someone remember to ask that question every year so that in millions of years, beings will know that we cared.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:16 PM on August 19, 2008




In a million years someone’s going to have to pick the “best answer”.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Who is John Titor? And why does he keep favoriting these questions?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:26 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Who is John Titor?

The protagonist of an unpublished Ayn Rand novel.
posted by GuyZero at 3:35 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's on, bitches.
posted by HITLERTRON 5000 at 3:44 PM on August 19, 2008 [13 favorites]


Join hands! Use the power of love on him!
posted by Artw at 4:04 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hey guys, sorry I'm late to this thread. I was busy releasing my genetically-engineered super-virus that will interfere with BMP signaling during eel embryonic development and prevent them from growing legs, thereby improving the lot of al our descendants. What did I miss?
posted by nowonmai at 4:05 PM on August 19, 2008


It's on, bitches.

I post a MeTa callout, someone makes a snark, someone gets an idea, and mathowie ends up $5 richer. What a country.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:11 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have children.
Have children sterilized.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:20 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


And on the "let's make a virus" tip, it would probably be better to develop something that doesn't kill humans, but rather, I don't know, cows or something.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:24 PM on August 19, 2008


"For sale: eel-shoes, never used."

Does this mean I have to pony up $5 for a sock puppet?
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:25 PM on August 19, 2008


As the author of the comment linked to by "stop having babies", I feel compelled to note two things:

- If you read my comment, I'm not actually advocating that. I'm just noting that "have more babies" isn't a good solution on its own.

- Associating that with jokers/trolls/nihilists who are advocating killing yourself or other people is fucking douchey.
posted by mkultra at 4:46 PM on August 19, 2008


HITLERTRON 5000 has the best profile pic ever.
posted by baphomet at 4:50 PM on August 19, 2008


"Fucking Douchey"

Hmmm..... band name? sitcom?
posted by salvia at 5:08 PM on August 19, 2008


band name? sitcom?

punchline to a take-off on a joke involving Minnie Mouse?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:14 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did it animate in your browser? It's supposed to be a 'They Live' joke. I'm seriously posting a feature request to support animated gifs in profile pictures. I mean, fuck, I read 4chan to get this shit. Fucking 4Chan! The site that makes Murdoch's Wall Street Journal look respectable by comparison?

Also, let's not even start on the fact that a thousand-year reich was *clearly* outside of the human capacity for planning, the idea of a million-year timescale as a planning horizon is fucking retarded. Off the top of my head, homo sapiens has been a going concern for somewhere between 6014* and one-hundred-thousand years. Positing that we will exist as a recognizable species for a timeframe that's an order of magnitude greater than that is ludicrous.

*(That's right, Ussher gets some love in this club.)
posted by HITLERTRON 5000 at 5:23 PM on August 19, 2008


nowonmai has averted the eely eschaton...or has he?
posted by Mister_A at 6:20 PM on August 19, 2008


For the record, the current profile pic of the chair-throwing pandas, while hilarious, pales in comparison to the previous profile pic, which was a photo of GWB.
posted by baphomet at 6:29 PM on August 19, 2008


Putting your moral compass around questions that involve whatever bizarre creatures humans have evolved into 5 million years from now is silly.

No, allowing an AskMe about whatever bizarre creatures humans have evolved into 5 million years from now to stay is silly. I completely agree with salvia: the question is chatfilter and should be axed.
posted by languagehat at 6:56 PM on August 19, 2008


MeFites with kids are waaaay too busy to log in often enough to counter the anti-breeders. If the clever ones don't have kids, then the idiots win.
posted by norm at 6:59 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The best way to help humanity is to exterminate all other life. How awesome will it be in 1 billion years when the most recent common ancestor of every single fucking multicellular life form on the planet is human?

That, my friend, is called winning evolution.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:04 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Axe me no questions, I'll tell you no lies.
posted by Mister_A at 7:10 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder why it's so bad in answer to the most hypothetical question possible to say that humans aren't all that great, and in all fairness should be wiped off the face of the earth? It was a shit question, more open-ended than something that's really very open-ended, and those 'negative' solutions were actually quite fair answers.
posted by ob at 7:14 PM on August 19, 2008


Or what languagehat said.
posted by ob at 7:15 PM on August 19, 2008


Yeah, and the comment calling someone "horribly misanthropic, evil, or both" is total chat. It doesn't provide an answer to the question -- it just attacks the motivations of another respondent. Flagged as a derail. We don't need equal space for the pro-virus and anti-virus contingents, and the question is not "what are the motivations of those who would create a super virus?" The closest that comment comes to relevance is when it says the virus "wouldn't have the effect you [ie, the original commenter] desire," but since it doesn't say one way or another how it relates to the effect the OP desires, that comment should be deleted.
posted by salvia at 7:32 PM on August 19, 2008


No! Don't deeleete meeeeeeeee.....
posted by Justinian at 7:41 PM on August 19, 2008


Mefites are the new Shakers.

Except for the whole celibacy thing.

Oh... wait....
posted by orange swan at 7:44 PM on August 19, 2008


Usher: he has a wonderful personalty and a great person to hang around He is so freakin sexy

Ussher: part of a substantial research tradition, a large community of intellectuals working toward a common goal under an accepted methodology
posted by lukemeister at 7:48 PM on August 19, 2008


I thought my answer was decent...
posted by andythebean at 9:43 PM on August 19, 2008


That's a really terrible question, even if it did remind me of - and is sort of answered by - Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:53 PM on August 19, 2008


Usher. Not as sexy, dark, a bit quick to bury loved ones.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:05 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


We wouldn’t have all these problems if they closed new sign-ups and/or randomly deleted 20,000 or so existing accounts. MeFi would be much better off over the long term.

That got seven favorites? If I ran a site like this, I'd take 20,000 lulzy schlubs (myself included) for a new user like ornate insect any day of the week. Do you think there was some kind of magic wand that limited early pre $5 metafilter to awesome individuals? I suspect it was just easier to banhammer the schlubs before the community got big. If you want to throw out the good with the bad, go ahead, but in my mind, metafilter is an irreversible victim of its own success.

Also, if you keep talking that way someone less lazy than me (and who is not a member of the Dungeons of Daggorath cult) will probably go over your posting history and haul out all the crap you said on a bad day.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:43 PM on August 19, 2008


What does ornate insect have to do with anything, BrotherCaine?
posted by cgc373 at 12:56 AM on August 20, 2008


I just picked him as the newest sign up I could think of who contributes excellent posts (IMO). If bondcliff's contention is that lower user # means better quality I thought I'd pick a counterexample.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:41 AM on August 20, 2008


Ah. Cool beans, then, BrotherCaine. I was reading you wrong, as if ornate insect was an example worth less than any of 20,000 random others, rather than worth less merely from the standpoint of dollars-per-member. And I thought, "What? ornate insect's an excellent member! I am offended!" Dumb me, sorry.
posted by cgc373 at 3:00 AM on August 20, 2008


This is all a very interesting thread. I always grew up, being the born and bred red that I am, not wanting any kids.. now I'm married to someone who wants some kids and I've decided to go along with it, because they are wonderful and fun, and why not! But there's no moral compunction or biological urge making me want to go have some kids..
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:28 AM on August 20, 2008


Well, I think we've reached some common ground in this thread. Despite our varied viewpoints and sometimes contentious disagreements, I think we all agree that people who don't have kids are pussies who are afraid of the big rides.

Right?
posted by Mister_A at 7:01 AM on August 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Im very curious as to what the OP means by "helping." Historically, a lot of repressive regimes have been very stable. The feudal system is time tested. So is a slave system. If long term survival is the goal then the whole enlightenment ideal should be tossed off, but who is going to listen to the guy on the streetcorner with a sign saying "Lets become serfs!"

Dunno, but the question boils down to "What activism is the best?" Who knows. its unanswerable subjective chatfilter.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:48 AM on August 20, 2008


Ok, I have a question; let's just say it's purely hypothetical too. So, if someone did make a really dangerous virus, like one that could kill off half the human and cow population, and then that person accidently, I don't know... left it somewhere, like, maybe in their pocket when they sent their lab coat to the dry cleaners. And let's furthermore say that this person was just doing it as an intellectual exercise and wasn't actually planning on killing off anyone, but when the lab coat came back the vial was empty...

So, how exactly do you apologize for maybe sort of unintentionally unleashing a global genocide?

I'm thinking flowers and a card.
posted by quin at 7:53 AM on August 20, 2008


quin: Chocolate.
posted by Mister_A at 7:58 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


quin, I have to go with a lobster dinner and a backrub.
posted by piedmont at 8:29 AM on August 20, 2008


I think we all agree that people who don't have kids are pussies who are afraid of the big rides.

It doesn't count as a big ride if it's happening in a minivan.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:36 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


You got me where I live there, cortex.
posted by Mister_A at 8:39 AM on August 20, 2008


quin, I'd call it even if you could make it as though Hitler had never been born.
posted by salvia at 8:39 AM on August 20, 2008


The elephant in the room with this hemicaust virus is, which half gets destroyed? Red states? Women? Fat people? Foreigners? How does it work?
posted by Mister_A at 8:48 AM on August 20, 2008


So, how exactly do you apologize for maybe sort of unintentionally unleashing a global genocide?

Seppuku.
posted by baphomet at 9:12 AM on August 20, 2008


which half gets destroyed?

The obvious answer is a gigantic lottery of some kind, where the losers engage in a bizarre deathsport.
posted by aramaic at 9:19 AM on August 20, 2008


Extermination by deathsport? Could work if the winners think they’ll escape the game by winning, only to have it turn out to be a CRUEL TRICK at the end. Of course it’ll all go wrong then, with them breaking out of the game and leading a revolution against the overclass and all.
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on August 20, 2008


That sounds like it would make a really good Terrible Movie, Artw.
posted by Mister_A at 10:10 AM on August 20, 2008


I'm pretty certain it's already made several.
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on August 20, 2008


The obvious answer is a gigantic lottery of some kind, where the losers engage in a bizarre deathsport.

Competitive dickpunching, obviously.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:24 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The obvious answer is a gigantic lottery of some kind, where the losers engage in a bizarre deathsport.

Wait, wait, wait. Is this entire metatalk thread just a viral ad for the new Death Race movie?
posted by inigo2 at 10:34 AM on August 20, 2008


The obvious answer is a gigantic lottery of some kind, where the losers engage in a bizarre deathsport.

Competitive dickpunching, obviously.


In a world...plagued by disaster...governed by a tyrant...and ruled by fear...

...one man will rise above.

THIS SUMMER

THE JUNK

GETS

PUNCHED
                        _    ,-,    _
                 ,--, /: :\/': :`\/: :\
                |`;  ' `,'   `.;    `: |
                |    |     |  '  |     |.
                | :  |     | pb  |     ||
                | :. |  :  |  :  |  :  | \
                 \__/: :.. : :.. | :.. |  )
                      `---',\___/,\___/ /'
                           `==._ .. . /'
                                `-::-'

posted by adamdschneider at 10:35 AM on August 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


why is pb's name on that?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:41 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


why is pb's name on that?

I...think...it's because it would leave an impression reading "dp" on one's junk? But I may very well be overthinking this.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:57 AM on August 20, 2008


That's probably what he's trying for, but wouldn't it leave a dq?
posted by team lowkey at 11:07 AM on August 20, 2008


Extermination by deathsport? Could work if the winners think they’ll escape the game by winning

Oh! Oh! They escape by designing the most fashionable anti-virus suits?
posted by salvia at 11:08 AM on August 20, 2008


That's probably what he's trying for, but wouldn't it leave a dq?

It's probably intentional: YOU JUST GOT SOFT-SERVED!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:09 AM on August 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


I think the "pb" stands for "plate of beans"
posted by aramaic at 11:09 AM on August 20, 2008


How come my ASCII art is teh suxxor?

<----_(#$$(#
posted by Mister_A at 11:45 AM on August 20, 2008


I posted the original question. Sorry if it's too hypothetical. It wasn't supposed to be. I wanted ideas for the kind of things one could do right now. Yes there is some "have babies"/"kill everyone" argument but I've also found other parts of the thread fascinating and thought provoking. Sorry if that doesn't meet the requirements.

FWIW, blocking new sign-ups wouldn't have stopped me because I've been around for seven years. I'm just an infrequent visitor.
posted by fabius at 12:01 PM on August 20, 2008


Hi fabius! I think it's much ado about nothing.
posted by Mister_A at 12:05 PM on August 20, 2008


FWIW, blocking new sign-ups wouldn't have stopped me because I've been around for seven years. I'm just an infrequent visitor.
posted by fabius

I don't think that was a jab at you, it was a jab at the people who suggested that everyone stop having babies/kill half the population. Though some might argue that what he suggested would actually improve Metafilter, so I'm not sure if it was a jab or something they actually wanted done....
posted by Grither at 12:35 PM on August 20, 2008


I am totally not helping. So. Fair cop.
posted by everichon at 2:23 PM on August 20, 2008


If you want me to help by manning the flamethrower overlooking the main gate of the deathsport arena I’m totally down for that
posted by Artw at 2:43 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Artw, no way, that's worse than being a redshirt. Not only 100% fatal, but usually with a javelin/crossbow bold/grapnel lodged in your gut, and falling screaming to the sands/spikes/rubble below.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:51 PM on August 20, 2008


yes, but... FLAMETHROWER!
posted by Artw at 3:53 PM on August 20, 2008


Whoa, fabius maintains Pepys' Diary! That thing is really great! We're in the midst of the Great Plague of London right now! And we're a year out from the Great Fire!
posted by cgc373 at 12:01 AM on August 21, 2008


yes, but... FLAMETHROWER!

I think we've all felt like that at some point.
posted by ob at 4:51 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoa, fabius maintains Pepys' Diary!

Holy crap! Sorry, Phil, if I'd known it was you I'd have dialed the snark way down. (It's still chatfilter, though.)

MeFi: 0 posts RSS feed of posts by fabius, 4 comments
MetaTalk: 0 posts RSS feed of posts by fabius, 1 comment
Ask MeFi: 1 question RSS feed of posts by fabius, 2 answers

That's quite a record for someone who's been here since 2001!

posted by languagehat at 9:38 AM on August 21, 2008


...also there'd be a near 1005 chance of getting in a Wilhelm scream.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


100% even. WTF shift key?
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on August 21, 2008


Well, this is probably a waste of time, but I still think it's silly to have deleted my post about the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement when phrontist's was allowed to stand.

The biting of me therefore continues.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2008


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