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Of course, if you've gone through the trouble of thinking it through that far, you probably don't want to decrease your confidence too much, or you may wind up deferring to those expansive, confident fools who didn't think it through at all :P

I'm not sure why this comment was at -1; despite the angry tone, it makes some interesting points. Both the "mental patch" and the "missed orgy" arguments helped me overcome my gut reaction and think more objectively about the situation.

While reading through this and the other "speck vs torture" threads, many of the important ideas were just clarifications or modifications of the initial problem: for example, replacing "dust speck" (which rounds to 0 in my head, even if it shouldn't) with "toe stub" or "face punch", and suddenly the utilitarian answer becomes much more intuitive for me. Same for replacing "torture" with "missed a 50-year party". I'm still pretty sure if faced with the choice as originally stated, I would choose specks, but at least I'd feel morally bad about it :P

A grassroots campaign sounds like a significant expenditure of effort compared to voting and casual conversation about the issues. Perhaps maximizing our influence on the votes of others is not the only consideration, and voting hits a sweet spot which returns acceptable values for "(potentially) having an effect", "not too time consuming", and "improves my self-image".

You're right about setting aside some time for research, though; it'd be nice if we maximized potential effect in the correct direction :P

Because if you're considering disobeying orders, it is presumably because you think you WILL be vindicated by events (regardless of the actual likelihood of that transpiring). Therefore, punishing only people who turn out to be wrong fails to sufficiently discourage anybody who actually should be discouraged :P