A related more painful, if not quite as frequent, example is the pain of childbirth.

When the first analgesics and techniques for relieving the pain of childbirth became available, in the 19th century, there was a very big movement in Western society against using them. The arguments given were that the pain 1) is natural 2) is God's just punishment. For decades, these analgesics were not used nearly as widely as they might have been.

Incidentally, IIRC, among the biggest opponents of analgesics were midwifes.

It is interesting to note that the Bible attributed this to collective punishment for Eve's sin but didn't try to explain why it was good for the woman.

Why should it be good for the woman? It's a punishment. A punishment is supposed to be bad.

Punishments are supposed to be rehabilitative.

The thinking today has evolved somewhat, away from thinking the pain of childbirth is a punishment. Yet there is still a widespread tendency (including amongst nonreligious people) to claim that a painful childbirth is a natural childbirth, and to overemphasize and invent dangers of epidurals.

Many of us *are* hit with a baseball once a month.

by Alexandros 1 min read22nd Dec 201031 comments

39


Watching the video of Eliezer's Singularity Summit 2010 talk, I thought once more about the 'baseball' argument. Here's a text version from How to Seem (and Be) Deep:

[...] given human nature, if people got hit on the head by a baseball bat every week, pretty soon they would invent reasons why getting hit on the head with a baseball bat was a good thing.

And then it dawned on me. Roughly half of human kind, women, are inflicted with a painful experience about once a month for a large period of their lives.

So, if the hypothesis was correct, we would expect to have deep-sounding memes about why this was a good thing floating around. Not one to disappoint, the internet has indeed produced at least two such lists, linked here for your reading pleasure. However, neither of these lists claim that the benefits outweigh the costs, nor do they make any deep-sounding arguments about why this is in fact a good thing overall. Whether or not they are supported by the evidence, the benefits mentioned are relatively practical. What's more, you don't hear these going around a lot (as far as I know, which, admittedly, is not very far). 

So why aren't these memes philosophised about? Perhaps the ick factor? Maybe the fact that having the other half of the population going around and having perfectly normal lives without any obvious drawbacks acts as a sanity test? 

In any case, since this is a counter-argument that may eventually get raised, and since I didn't want to suppress it in favour of a soldier fighting on our side, I thought I'd type this up and feed it to the LessWrong hivemind for better or worse.