Save The Children ™

At the risk of getting burned for heresy, I’d like to ask: Why should we value the lives of children so much more than other people’s? There’s an obvious reason for it in evolutionary psychology, but my model predicts that we should have come up with dozens of rational-sounding justifications for it, like we did for meat-eating and mindless entertainment. Surely someone, somewhere, has come up with a nice-sounding, pseudoscientific explanation of why it is worthwhile to go to such extreme measures as putting blocking software on all public computers to “protect” children. Congress, which is well-known for passing verbose book-length bills, didn’t include any justification for the Child Online Protection Act in the bill; it simply asserted that the “protection of minors” is a “compelling government interest”. Even websites against it rarely question the premise of needing to “protect children”; they simply argued that it was ineffective, had undesirable side effects or violated the First Amendment.

11 thoughts on “Save The Children ™

  1. Children have more remaining years of expected lifespan and health-span. Also, much more speculatively, it seems possible to me that the median person’s quality of life declines continuously from some very young age, or at least that they believe this to be so. If actions become unconscious when automatized, children may experience much more consciousness in a given unit of time than adults. In the opening of “Summer of the Doormouse”, author John Mortimer, an old man, claims that subjectively, time passes faster as you age, so senescence doesn’t seem gradual but rather extremely sudden. I have heard similar suggestions elsewhere.

  2. They have more expected life to lose. They have limited ability to defend themselves, but are more likely to ultimately make large contributions to society than vulnerable adults. Their brains are flexible so they will be better adapted to the technology and environment of coming decades.

  3. Those are good arguments, but they actually make sense. What arguments could be used to support a conclusion that *doesn’t* make sense (eg, that children are so vulnerable to “harmful material” that we should spend billions on censoring software, or that one missing child is as deserving of media coverage as a thousand dead adults).

  4. I don’t think people demand arguments to support nonsensical conclusions. They simply assume the conclusions and ignore or attack anyone challenging them.

  5. It is possible that young children would consume junk mental fare in the same way they might consume candy and junk food to the exclusion of nutritional food. Children must pass through developmental periods on the way to becoming adults. Various types of mental stimulation have different effects on brain development.

    I must agree that the subject has not been studied nearly well enough.

  6. Children are cute and we have psychological adaptations that reinforce our attention towards them, because they are largely helpless. We can control them in ways we can’t control other adults.

  7. Pingback: Life, the Universe, and Everything » Breeding Licenses

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