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Archive | July, 2017

The Case for Unconditional Assisted Suicide

I’m not telling everyone to kill themselves. I’m here to argue that suicide should be institutionalized in a way that minimizes the suffering of both those choosing to end their lives on their own terms and the loved ones they intend to leave behind. This system would allow for people to have access to both counseling and humane ways to end their life should they so choose. It would handle documenting their last wishes and minimizing the work a grieving family would have to deal with.

Our lives belong to us completely. Arguably, this idea is the basis of laws forbidding murder, because earlier iterations of them allowed for the murder of slaves by their owners. A slave’s life is owned by their master, thus the master can kill them if they should so choose. But given this basis, shouldn’t it necessarily follow that the right to commit suicide is a right just as fundamental as the right to life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week, we heard about the suicide of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and with it came the slew of comments calling him weak and selfish, asserting that suicide is a cop out. Even in the countries where assisted dying is legal, we still see a bias against those who are young, physically fit, but dealing with mental illnesses like in the case of Adam Maier-Clayton. We saw this same level of vitriol when a Dutch court ruled to allow a 20 year old abuse victim to take her own life (with assistance) as a mercy killing. These reactions are natural since we’re hard wired to be repulsed by death. But this undermines the amount of time they might have spent pondering this decision, and it ignores the fact that people almost never commit suicide to hurt others.

Studies have shown that while most people who have living wills would rather not be kept on life support, an overwhelming majority of those faced with the choice to keep a loved one on life support would choose to extend their life as much as they can. This choice is often a selfish one and the lengths we are willing to go to just to stay alive aren’t as far as the lengths our loved ones would rather put us through. This is usually because the idea of allowing a loved one die on our watch makes us feel responsible for their death, regardless of how much involvement we had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allowing people to take the timing and means of their death into their own hands minimizes the suffering of both those dying and the loved ones they’ll leave behind, no matter how repulsed most of us are with the idea of death, not to mention our own death. We should move beyond that impulse and instead be repulsed by people trying to assert their wills on the lives of mature, independent adults. Just like how we abhor the idea of forcibly ending a life, we should abhor the idea of forcing someone to continue living a life they no longer want.

We should hold the right to die on one’s own terms just as sacred as the right to life.

Posted in Society0 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Saturday, July 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venue: Uno Morato
Garden Area GYY Building, #1 Tomas Morato Ave, Quezon City
Waze link: http://mobile-web.world.waze.com/en_GB/meetup/location?h=wdw54nm22
PWD Friendly? Yes
Date: Saturday July 22, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Topics:
– Uber, Grab and the LTFRB [http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/915145/uber-grab-patrons-already-having-difficult-time-booking-rides]
– Nadine Lustre and Cohabiting in 2017 [http://filipinofreethinkers.org/2017/07/16/in-defense-of-nadine-lustre-and-cohabitation-a-response-to-anna-cosio/]
– Female Doctor Who [http://jezebel.com/british-papers-publish-nude-photos-of-first-woman-dr-w-1797016343]
– Are Controversial Speeches violent?
[https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/07/why-its-a-bad-idea-to-tell-students-words-are-violence/533970/]
– Raunchy topic of the week

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.
Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0928 872 0020 / 0920 975 0092

* Newbies are welcome, and admission to the meetup is free. (Note: this does not apply to the food and other activities we may be having)
* Early birds get to play board/video/party games with the group.
* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.

Posted in Meetup0 Comments

In Defense Of Nadine Lustre And Cohabitation: A Response To Anna Cosio

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an article by Anna Cosio claiming that cohabitation is Bad For You, and chastising Nadine Lustre for implying that living-in is no big deal.

Lustre, in what appears to be a rushed ambush interview in a hallway, had this to say about her rumored live-in situation with James Reid: “If that was true, so what?”

She said a bit more, but that, to me, sums it up.

So what if financially independent consenting adults choose to live together? As long as they are not harming anyone, or being abusive to each other, then nobody has any right to intervene, or to even demand any answers from them regarding their personal lives.

Leaving Lustre and Reid to their own privacy, let us now move on to discussing the science of cohabitation, which Cosio appears to make much of in her response. She cites a total of ten studies to back up her claims that cohabitation is Bad For You. Out of these, only one study from 2009 is within the past decade, while all the rest are more than ten years old.

The 2009 study which Cosio cited as proof to “clearly show that cohabitation is not the way to go for a successful marriage”, does not actually back up her claims.

The study acknowledges that the link between cohabitation and divorce is not conclusive, and needs to be updated with more recent data:

… many studies published on cohabitation have been based on a single data set, the National Survey of Families and Households. Although it comprises a random sample of the United States population, it is now somewhat outdated, for the first wave occurred in the late 1980s.

… good estimates of the strength of the association between premarital cohabitation and divorce are not available. For example, studies have shown that those who cohabited premaritally experienced a divorce rate that was somewhere between 1.29 and 1.86 times greater than the rate for those who did not cohabit premaritally … these estimates are based on couples who married as early as the 1960s and none of these studies included participants who married later than the 1990s. Updated samples will be necessary before steadfast conclusions can be drawn about the degree of risk for divorce.

And here’s what the study actually said when discussing the question of whether or not cohabitation should be discouraged:

… some might say that the question about dissuading couples is really more about religion than practice based on social science. Others would say that, even when it comes to social science, blanket proscriptive advice is not indicated or, at best, is premature. Not even the three authors of this paper completely agree on what would be the best practice under differing circumstances.

So, has anything changed since the 2009 study? Or, as Cosio asks:

But is cohabitation or “living-in” suddenly a good idea just because “it’s 2017”?

Actually, yes, if one bothers to look at more recent studies, it turns out our scientific understanding of cohabitation has been significantly updated.

Previous studies did indeed establish a link — known as “the cohabitation effect” — between premarital cohabitation and higher rates of divorce. However, the link does not prove that it is the act of cohabitation itself — and not other factors — which increases the risk of divorce.

If you’re trying to figure out whether or not cohabitation itself causes subsequent divorce, you must rule out other factors.

A 2014 study shows that previous studies failed to rule out an important factor — the age of the couple when deciding to commit. The age of this commitment — whether it is cohabitation or marriage — is the statistically significant factor in divorce risk, not cohabitation itself. A person who makes the commitment decision at age 23 (Nadine Lustre’s age) has half the divorce risk of someone who makes that decision at age 18.

In an interview, the researcher behind the study explains:

Previous studies compared the divorced rates of couples who cohabited with those who didn’t by using the age of marriage. Kuperberg did something new: She compared the relationships using the date of first moving in together. That date, she reasoned, is when a couple really takes on the roles of marriage, regardless of whether they have a legal certificate.

Using this method, she found no link between whether people had cohabited before marriage and their rate of divorce. The turning point in age for picking a life partner seems to be about 23, Kuperberg said.

“That’s when people are able to pick a partner who is more compatible,” she said. “Maybe they are a little more mature. They’re a little set up in the world.”

Previous studies did not account for age at cohabitation. Those that accounted for age at all used age at marriage, or age at the time of data collection. When the 2014 study accounted for age at cohabitation, the statistical link between cohabitation and divorce risk diminished or disappeared.

Standardizing by age at marriage in statistical comparisons of marriage dissolution among premarital cohabitors and direct marriers resulted in an artificially inflated “gap” in divorce rates relative to both models that standardized age using age at coresidence and models that did not take into account age at all. Hazard ratios for the effect of cohabitation on marriage dissolution when controlling for coresidence were 54% to 76% smaller than those found when controlling for age at marriage. The association between cohabitation and marriage dissolution was nonsignificant in models that controlled for age at coresidence and demographic characteristics, even in the cohort who married prior to 2000, for whom all prior research has found a significant positive association of cohabitation and divorce. These findings indicate that previous research on cohabitation and divorce that typically standardized age using age at marriage may have overstated the association between cohabitation and divorce if controlling for age at coresidence is the correct model specification.

By the way, a 2017 study shows that the health benefits associated with marriage and cohabitation are the same (and any differences are mostly explained by childhood backgrounds, not by the act of cohabitation):

Results show no differences in self-rated health between cohabiting and married people in Norway, Germany, and for Australian women. In the U.K, and U.S., and for Australian men, however, marriage is significantly associated with better health. Much of this association disappears when accounting for childhood disadvantage and union duration in the U.S., Australia, and for British women, but differences persist for British men. Our study indicates that early life conditions can be an important source of selection for explaining marriage benefits, and that policy makers should focus on reducing disadvantage in childhood rather than legislating incentives to marry in adulthood.

All of the above is from research abroad, though. Unfortunately, I have not found cohabitation research specific to the Philippine context, but if anyone knows of any, please do share your links in the comments.

In the meantime, I’m inclined to believe that it is not cohabitation which inherently affects a relationship’s outcome. I agree with the following recommendations from the cited studies:

The 2009 study calls for strengthening communication and understanding so that couples can “make better, more informed choices in their relationships”.

The 2014 study advises avoiding making major commitment decisions at a young age, and waiting until they are “more established in their lives, goals, and careers”.

It makes sense to me that the couple’s level of maturity, responsibility, sincerity, communication skills, healthy boundaries, and kindness and respect for each other would matter much more than whether or not they live together outside of marriage. Or whether or not they have sex or children outside of marriage. Or whether or not they’re heterosexual. Or whether or not they’re monogamous.

I do agree with Cosio’s statement that “cohabitation is not a recipe for happiness”, and I would add that neither is marriage. I’m not sure that it is possible to find anything that guarantees happiness. But I’m all for supporting people who find moments of happiness in their relationships, whatever form those relationships may take, provided that they do not abuse each other or hurt anyone else.

Posted in Media, Personal, Philosophy, Pop Culture, Science, Secularism, Society0 Comments

Pride March and Prejudice

 

I’ve been to many pride marches but the most recent one in Marikina was the first time that I got to talk to one of the Christian protesters from the other side. His name was Koy, and we were able to have conversations about topics ranging from morality to epistemology. And although we may have disagreed strongly with each other’s conclusions, we didn’t devolve into a shouting match. I was listening intently to his arguments and I felt that he was also listening intently to mine.

I imagine that many people would say that I am wasting time trying to engage these so-called “fundamentalists.” To assume this, however, smacks of prejudice. I also think it’s not fair because it denies both parties a chance to learn from one another. If someone else knew that I was terribly wrong in my assertions, I would like that person to explain to me why, the same way that if I honestly believed that someone would go to hell for what they were doing, I would try my best to save their souls. Frankly, I have a bit more respect for these people who think they are saving other people from eternal damnation than for those who would rather watch other people burn in hell than have to endure social confrontation. I believe that they may be misguided, but I don’t think that they bear malice in their hearts, which is why I think it is unfair to characterize all of them as “full of hate”. Some of them may be, but definitely not all.

It is also quite unfortunate that quite a few people from the march started showing bad form when engaging the protesters, even going so far as to use their educational attainment to prove how they are on the “right side.” I think that this too is unfair and uncalled for, and does not help the cause, as it risks adding legitimacy to highly-educated fundamentalists as well as alienating less-educated members of the pride community.

Alas, not all discourse will go smoothly and there are inevitably cases where it’s best to disengage. What’s important is to be able to identify these cases as soon as possible. Let me give an example:

One of the protesters was shouting that there are no nonhuman animals who practice homosexuality. I tried to tell him that contrary to what he was saying, homosexual behavior has been widely observed in nonhuman animals. He then backtracked to say we shouldn’t be basing morality on animals, which wasn’t at all related to what I said, and actually nullified his original statement completely. When I tried to expound, he replied that I couldn’t possibly convince him of my point through discussion. And with that, I thanked him for his honesty and walked away.

Had I had more time, I would have loved to talk more to Koy about deconstructing the bible as a source of absolute truth and discussing studies about God as a projection of the self. The least I was able to do was hand him a bottle of water on the way back to my contingent. He asked me if I was sure that I wanted him to have it, us being on different sides of the event and all. I was a bit surprised at the question and just had to remind him: “Lahat tayo nauuhaw. (We all get thirsty.)

This short experience of mine made me hope that we can all find the compassion in us to resist othering those we disagree with and instead find our common humanity. Let us engage each other as individuals who are capable of love and change, however slowly, however small.

 

Below are some shots from various pamphlets circulated around the event:

The helpful

The hellful

And the sellful!

Posted in Education, Freedom of Expression, Gender Rights, HIV/AIDS, Personal, Philosophy, Society, Stories0 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, July 9, 2017, Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venue: Uno Morato
Garden Area GYY Building, #1 Tomas Morato Ave, Quezon City
Waze link: http://mobile-web.world.waze.com/en_GB/meetup/location?h=wdw54nm22
PWD Friendly? Yes
Date: Sunday July 9, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Topics:
– Billboard date proposal [http://www.rappler.com/rappler-blogs/don-kevin-hapal/174612-billboard-date-proposal-creepy]
– Martial Law SC decision [http://www.rappler.com/nation/174819-sc-ruling-martial-law-duterte-nationwide]
– “Pastor Hokage” Facebook groups [http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/911423/hontiveros-wants-stiff-penalties-vs-lewd-facebook-groups] (Side comment: why is this even a thing? It’s 2017, people)
– One year under Duterte [https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/opinion/philippines-duterte.html]
– Raunchy topic of the week

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.
Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0928 872 0020 / 0920 975 0092

* Newbies are welcome, and admission to the meetup is free. (Note: this does not apply to the food and other activities we may be having)
* Early birds get to play board/video/party games with the group.
* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.

Posted in Meetup0 Comments


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