Slavery FTW, because starving kids in Africa

The Cult has been silent for a while. If anyone is still around and reading, I'm sorry about that! Technology is advancing rapidly and I'm awaiting cyborg-based or fully virtual existence, but real life still gets in the way sometimes.

I had another post (related to science and Covid) almost ready last weekend when the aforementioned IRL interfered. This morning I ran across an item that looked more urgent, especially in light of current events in the US.


[Photo and story, Wikipedia]

For those who don't already know, Scott Adams is the creator of the popular comic strip Dilbert, which is a well-done satire of US office life. Normally at this point I'd share an example or two.

Not this time, and not sorry. I don't want to make light of the decidedly not-humorous material he's generating about slavery and efforts at making reparation.
[To determine what slavery stole from the black community] ...[C]ompare what would happen to the average black person if they had stayed unmolested in Africa and there had never been a slave trade...Because if the people who were brought to America as slaves, and then their descendants, are doing much worse than if they'd never been brought with slavery, then that's the amount of reparations. That's how much they lost...all the money they would have made if they just stay in Africa. 
You know what the problem is, right? They would owe money to white people.
No, Mr. Adams. That's not the problem. The problem is that a human being should never be owned by another human being. And the problem is people who still don't get that.

The argument presented by Adams is based on a fallacy called relative privation. Here's the idea:

1. You've got a problem.
2. Someone else, somewhere, has a worse problem.
3. Therefore, your problem isn't really that bad.

In other words, if your situation isn't the literal worst that could ever possibly happen in the whole entire known universe, meh...it's not a problem. (Okay, I'm exaggerating a little for effect, but you get the idea.)

This fallacy is based upon declaring one thing irrelevant when compared to another. It frequently sets up false dilemmas using either unsound comparators or in its fundamental assumption that we're not capable of caring about more than one thing at a time.

Do you see false dilemmas in Adams' idea? He's limiting the whole subject to only two possibilities:
The options the Africans had were (1) slavery, or (2) tribal life

Does that really seem likely? If they hadn't been taken as slaves, they and their descendants would have continued their 1640s-era African lifestyle unchanged forever?

I have mixed feelings about reparations, and we could do a discussion sometime if anyone is interested. But until now it never entered my mind to consider slavery beneficial in some manner.

I also have mixed feelings about ever looking at Dilbert again. Usually I try to separate artists and their work, because it's not reasonable to follow only creators whose beliefs I agree with. But I might have to make an exception. This line of thought is truly repulsive.



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