Altruistic punishers make prejudice bad:
Infertility gets into everything.  I think it was a French aviator who said, “It isn’t perfect when there is nothing left to add.  It is perfect when there is nothing left to take away.”  Obviously this site could use a lot of improvement.  But it isn’t my fault.  In a few days I shall be at a conference showing people my work.  My plan is to say, “Give me an issue.  What is important that may affect you personally.  What would bring out the hero in you?  Let me see if what I have to say will give you reason to change how you think about it; not reverse what you think, but change it.”  I would hope to get something like peace or world hunger or malaria or global warming or peak oil or saving souls or something.  Then I could explain what I have and showed how it tied into his own issue.  We shall see whether my nerves hold. (By the way.  I’m back now and I didn’t have the nerve. March 24, 2011)

So my issue is the prejudice against marrying cousins. 

And what is prejudice?  For my purposes prejudice is treating people like they have done something wrong when they have done nothing wrong.  It is a truism that prejudice hurts the one who is prejudiced as well as the one who is the victim of prejudice.  But it is more focused than that. 

There has been a flurry of interest in recent years in what are called, “Altruistic Punishers.”   I took no note because I didn’t see how it could possibly have anything to do with my own subject.  But of course it does. 

The bottom line is that if you want somebody to do something crummy to somebody else, the easiest was is to get the person you want to do the hurting to believe that the person who is to be hurt has done something bad.  There is ample experimental evidence for this.  I have never put out a contract on anybody, nor would I condone it, but when I read about it, what appears to be the case is that the contract killer will not do it only for pay.  He must first be made to believe that the victim has done wrong.  Only then will he undertake the terrible risk with his life and the terrible punishment of his mind to do deliberate harm to somebody.

When punishing evil we are willing to hurt ourselves.  So it is not some airy moral structure to the universe, it is not karma; it is not a satisfying fated tit for tat.  When we sense evil we prepare to make a sacrifice in order to punish it.  So prejudice is bad.  All prejudice is bad in both directions. 

Only with the marrying of cousins issue, there is the added price that if we do not accept it we shall not survive.

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