Let’s first establish that this entire post is speculation. My only claim is that this is a fascinating concept that is a ton of fun to think about!

For the sake of simplicity, I will use the word computer to describe any mechanism used to run a simulation. This will therefore include everything from a desktop computer that we’d be familiar with, to the mind of a super-intelligent life form. If details of the mechanism are relevant, I’ll clarify at that time.

The Simulation Argument

The concept of the simulation is now in the realm of pop science. It’s the idea that this entire universe could be inside a computer. This idea is made more compelling by how close we seem to be to reaching the ability to create such simulations ourselves.

The most famous arguments presented to support this idea were presented by Nick Bostrom in 2003. Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

at least one of the following propositions is true:
(1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage;
(2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof);
(3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation.

Or, in other words, the only realistic way humanity will not create simulations is that they either go extinct before they’re able or they choose not to. I think that is fair. With that in mind, it seems to be very likely that we’ll create simulations than not. The conclusion is that, if we can create them, and probably in vast quantities, and the simulated beings are capable of making their own simulations, and those simulated can make simulations, and so on, it seems very unlikely that we’re at the beginning of this apparently infinite series of simulations.

One Obvious Weak Spot

No matter what the makeup of the computer, it will require matter and energy to run. There is a finite supply of those in this universe. To simulate our universe exactly as it is down to the subatomic level would take more matter and energy than we actually have in our universe. For example, if we use 1 bit of information to represent a single electron in the simulation, that bit requires more than 1 electron to actually store and process. With this fact in place, we have to realize that we will have to cut a lot of corners in the universes we simulate.

One solution is to make the simulated universe smaller than ours, either in space (physically smaller) or in time (runs for a shorter period). The smaller the universe, the more likely we’d be to even be capable of simulating it.

Another, and more commonly accepted solution, is to only process the information necessary dependent on the purpose of the simulation. For instance, if we want to create a simulation to study an animal’s behavior in a specific environment, we wouldn’t need to process anything that wouldn’t be directly relevant. If the animals would never come in contact with a specific variety of tree, there’s no reason to have the tree in the simulation. If the animals can’t comprehend space, stars, planets, etc, then we can fake all those details.

This “fudging the details” trick is actually used in current video games. One method is called “dynamic occlusion culling” and it means the part of the world you see is the only world that exists. Everything behind and off to the side of the camera ceases to exist as soon as you turn away.

That quickly and easily gives us back our ability to create a simulation.

In both of these cases, it makes infinitely nested simulations impossible. Each child simulation will have at least slightly fewer resources than the parent simulation to work with to create their simulations. This means that there would be a child simulation that would not have the resources needed to create their own simulations. This is relevant because now we are working with a finite depth of simulations, and that increases the odds of us being the top-level simulation.

Even then, we have the potential to make millions and millions of these simulations. Even if we’re not literally working with infinity, the number is so staggeringly huge, that it feels almost impossible for us to not be inside one. What other option do we have?

The Unknown Variables

Since we’re talking about what created our universe, we literally don’t know. It’s even possible that it is unknowable. We’re trying to weigh probabilities based one possibility. You can’t calculate odds until you actually have the full set of possibilities to compare. Otherwise, we’re talking hunches or educated guesses at best. It may turn out that these hunches are dead on. We may find out they weren’t even close. It does at least seem inevitable that simulations will exist, because it seems inevitable that we will create them. Other than that, who knows?

Mechanisms for a Digital World

If we go forward with the premise that simulations are possible and are contained within a computer, we are forced to go a little deeper to examine what process in the computer is relevant for a simulation to exist.

Consider a simulation running on a desktop computer. If nobody observes the events inside the simulation from outside (via a computer monitor, for example), did the simulation happen? The monitor is simply a way of observing the process. Therefore one would logically conclude that the simulation is happening either way. That means that there is no requirement for us to observe the output of a simulation for us to create one.

What is happening inside the actual computer itself? Quite simply, electrons are shuffled around. That’s how all electronics work. One electron bumps into the next, sending a signal to the other end to perform a specific task. Even inside a computer, where the available paths for the movement of these electrons are carefully chosen, the shuffling of these electrons is meaningless without a way to interpret their movement.

There’s nothing special about how electrons move through a transistor. When a transistor is switched on, the electrons start to flow. When off, they stop. Almost every part of a computer works on principles very similar to this.

If it’s the behavior of the electron that is relevant to a digital world, then the computer itself doesn’t matter. An electron moving outside a computer in a way identical to an electron inside a computer is just as valid. Therefore the logical conclusion appears to be that the requirement for an electron’s movement to create a simulation is that the path of the electron has the potential to be interpreted as a simulation. If that is the case, then no actual computer of any kind is even necessary. In fact, no human interaction is necessary at all. We break free of the intent requirement of an intelligently designed simulation into natural digital worlds (NDWs).

The next step is the inevitable conclusion that the electron itself doesn’t matter. It’s simply the movement. It’s the potential to interpret that movement as a digital world that matters. An NDW could be run using photons or protons or hydrogen atoms or mosquitoes or fish or planets or stars. Any moving thing or collection of moving things could be used.

Time is another interesting factor of simulations. Again, let’s go back to desktop computers. The first personal computers were incredibly slow compared to what we have now. Let’s imagine that we tried to play a full HD movie on such a machine, and it managed to play the video at a rate of one frame per minute. Watching it from out point of view is so slow, it’s practically meaningless. Now imagine you lived in that movie as it was playing. To you, there wouldn’t be a gap between the “slices of time” (frames). Everything would appear perfectly normal. This same concept can be applied to the speed at which a digital world is generated. A single particle lazily meandering through space for billions of years could easily be responsible for centuries of time in an NDW.

The opposite is therefore also true. A collection of incredibly fast moving particles could be responsible for creating years in a digital world in mere seconds in their own.

Is motion even a prerequisite? If it’s the potential of interpretation that is relevant, than one could use other sources other than movement. Form, for instance. The earliest computers used punch cards as a way of storing and computing. The computer was more of an interpreter of what the cards contained. It was the physical shape of the cards with the potential in that case. Not the movement.

If form and movement work, is there anything that doesn’t? Color, taste, temperature, acidity, placement, orientation, sound, and mass would all work. In fact, anything that possesses variable qualities has the potential we’re after.

This all suggests that a single particle could be involved in countless other overlapping NDWs within the exact same space. It’s like books on a shelf where the books are all sharing some pages with each other.

Let’s imagine that the fewest particles required for a digital world is 1 million. Lets say we are also limiting ourselves to interpreting the movement of those particles into an NDW. The exact same movement of those exact same 1 million particles can still be interpreted in a myriad of ways, with each way being a completely distinct and equally real NDW.

An NDW can be generated by as little as a single string in string theory to as much as the entire observable universe.

If we now circle back to an intelligently designed simulation inside a computer of some kind, we can now see that there would be countless other naturally occurring digital worlds running in the exact same space using the exact same matter and energy.

Nesting Worlds

Inside NDWs that resulted in intelligent life similar to ours, it’s certainly possible that life would evolve intellectually much like our own, to the point of creating simulations. Even if the NDW had no big bang, and it began with intelligent life already in full swing, those beings would be up against the same enormous volume of NDWs of their universe.

Likewise, an intentionally created simulation in our universe is still going to possess a vast number of NDWs inside it. Not only is the matter that is used to create the simulation used to simultaneously create several NDWs, the simulation itself is producing them.

Probability of Life in Natural Digital Worlds vs Simulations

As I pointed out above, working with probabilities without having all the necessary data is quite speculative. We may find that life is an inevitability in all universes. Perhaps we will find that life is nearly impossible and an incredible rarity. If all we are relying on is intuition and hunches, then we aren’t really talking about probability. With that in mind, there are a few interesting things to think about that would play a factor in the probability calculations.

Not all simulations would have life. Even now we run simulations where life isn’t even relevant to what we’re studying. This establishes the fact that neither simulations or NDWs have a 100% chance of containing life.

It is literally impossible for the number of simulations to exceed the number of NDWs. This is demonstrated by the fact that simulations will occupy the same space as an enormous number of NDWs.

With the sheer volume of NDWs, even if only the absolute tiniest fraction of all NDWs resulted in some form of life, that alone would be more than humanity could ever make. Even if humanity could somehow keep pace with the universe, the universe already has a 14 billion year head start at this.

Conclusion

Given that nearly any combination of time, space, energy, and matter, and any combination of any of their measurable properties has the same potential to be interpreted as a digital world as the electrons moving inside a computer, the number of digital worlds must be an incomprehensibly huge number. The minute fraction of those that contain intelligent life would also be just as incomprehensible. No matter how fast humanity creates simulations, it is physically impossible to get ahead. Humanity will never even come even remotely close to the number of NDWs.

With all this in mind, returning to the simulation argument, following the premise that digital worlds are either the only or at least most common sources of existence (debatable in itself) it is far more reasonable to conclude that we are not in an intelligently engineered simulation, but are in fact in a naturally occurring digital world that was spawned from the random properties of elements inside our parent universe.

Anarchy and socialism sound like drastically opposing idiologies… and frankly, they are, but they have significant similarities that are often overlooked. The biggest one is motivation.

Why are you socialist? In my personal experience, anyone I’ve ever asked about the subject has told me they are socialist because they feel it is the system most likely to help others. They feel that capitalism is too selfish, and that we need to take care of each other. I personally feel the same way. I don’t feel that it is my obligation to help others, but like you, I do feel a compulsion in that direction. If I stopped my train of thought there, I would probably also be socialist. On the surface that is it’s entire goal. The fastest route to helping the poor is to take money from everyone who has it, and share it with those who don’t. If I were being honest, I’d also say that this is true. Taking from one person and giving to another is the fastest solution. It’s also the worst.

Consider the people living on native reserves in Canada. I’ve written about this before but to summarize, the socialist behaviour towards these groups of people has harmed them more than it’s helped. Money is taken from other Canadians and handed to those living on the reserves. The end result is actually devastating to those who are receiving the money. It conditions them to behave in ways that are against the socialist interest, and even their own interests.

Now obviously, that’s a pretty big blanket statement, but you’ll find the reserves that don’t fit that description are more the exception than the rule.

So if we care about the poor what should we do to help them? Just handing them money obviously isn’t helping. Well, what happens if we stop giving them money. Without that income, someone without money would need to work in order to gain money. That sounds simple enough, so let’s follow that idea and see where it takes us.

First of all, there’s this big blind spot everyone seems to have when it comes to making money, and that’s self-employment. You don’t need to be employed to have an income. If you’re able to make things, or you have a talent in some area, there’s a good chance you could just go out and profit from it. The socialist concern about this is that competition should be controlled. The idea of a big company putting a little company out of business is unpleasant, so because of that and other reasons, business ownership should be regulated. These regulations actually cost money and are very complicated to deal with. Without a relevant education and startup capital, starting a business is nearly impossible. Again, the socialist solution to help these people actually ensures they will not succeed. Eliminate these laws, and the poor will have the option to fend for themselves.

Self-employment isn’t an option for everyone. Many will need or prefer getting a job. The two biggest obstacles to getting a good income are education and experience. If you have neither of these then you can still get work as an “unskilled labourer”, but at this point, the employer won’t value your work very much. The natural socialist solution to this is to force the employer to pay more than the labour is worth by implementing a minimum wage. It seems to make sense on the surface. This way, the employer will make a little less, but the employee will make enough to live off.

It’s not that easy though. Let’s say I run a factory and I want to pay someone $3/hour to sweep the floors. By keeping the floors clean, I’ve been able to calculate that the efficiency gain profits me about $4/hour. It’s clearly worth it for me to pay that $3/hour if someone is willing to do it. But now a new minimum wage law comes into play and I am told I have to pay at least $5/hour to an employee regardless of what they profit me. Well, now I actually lose money by paying someone to sweep the floors. I don’t give the sweeper a raise. I’m forced to fire him, and buy some Roombas.

But who on earth would ever work for $3/hour? You can’t live off of that!

First point, not all employees are concerned about a livable wage. High school students often work at low paying part time jobs, that would be far too little to live off, but that doesn’t matter. It gives them some money to spend, and some employment experience they’ll be able to use later.

How much money do college students pay for their education? What are they getting an education for? The education is a way to increase the individual’s value to an employer. As mentioned above, another way to increase your value to an employer is through experience. So while one individual is paying out for an education, another person can be earning money while gaining experience. It’s probably more valuable than some other non-monetary benefits gained from some employers, like health benefits and vacation time, as it increases your value and increases your future earning potential. While the sweeper may only be getting $3/hour, they’ll be able to leverage that experience into a better paying job in the future. A minimum wage actually makes getting that experience harder, if not impossible, forcing them into the education solution which costs them money that we’ve already determined they don’t have.

The end result is people who actually can’t earn any money because of a flawed system that was designed to help them.

This has all been about unintentional implications socialism has on the poor, but we haven’t even pointed out the fact that it creates more poor people.

The simplest way to see this is to consider a single rational person who sees a system that gives them two options. You can either spend each day working hard and creating profits for yourself and others, or you can simply benefit from the labour of others. A socialist system incentivizes abuse of the system. Rationally looking at it, it would make sense for people to choose not to work. It’s the path of least resistance.

This pattern continues to harm the economy. With fewer people working, the number of people that can be taxed is decreased, so the amount of taxes taken from each individual must increase. This then further incentivizes people to stop working, since they get less and less benefit from it as time goes on. It eventually becomes more profitable to stop working. Obviously, this system would collapse given enough time.

Your emotional desire to see people given the best chance at success in life cannot be fulfilled by the state. It can be fulfilled by anarchy though. Even if we simply said that the best thing for everyone is to just leave everyone else alone to take care of themselves, that would be better than the harm we’d be doing with socialism. But that’s not what anarchy is saying. Anarchy says, we shouldn’t be forcing people to do anything. It’s that use of force that causes so much trouble. If we want to help others, we should help others! Let’s help find jobs for the unemployed, and get them set up with charitable organizations that  can help them survive in the meantime. Let’s help educate people on managing finances and ways to live off less money. Let’s make it more socially acceptable for adults to get a roommate. None of this requires any force, and lets us satisfy our craving to see people taken care of.

I’m betting you’re more anarchist than you thought. You just haven’t realized it yet. 🙂

I’ve been asked by more than one friend of family member what my beliefs are. I also get the impression that, those who haven’t asked, want to, but feel it would be rude to do so. Now you don’t have to. But be warned, this might not be something you want to read. I do my best to be sensitive, and I have no intention of offending anyone or even in trying to persuade you to stop believing what you believe. This is simply an effort to illustrate what I believe and why.

As always, if you ever have a sincere question for me, please ask. I have a lot more thoughts on this topic than a single post would allow. If I don’t want to answer it (extremely unlikely), I’ll just let you know. I certainly won’t feel offended by being asked. It’s quite likely that our beliefs differ, but if you’re OK with that, so am I! 

So the big one to get out of the way, I am an agnostic atheist.

The reason is quite simple. What verifiable evidence is there? Is there any way anyone can demonstrate that there is a god? The first people to ever claim that some form of god exist did so to fill a void in their understanding of the world. They saw something that they couldn’t explain and concluded that it must be supernatural. As time continues and our understanding of the universe grows the definition of god changes. While lightning and volcanoes were originally concluded to be an act of god, we now know better. Every time we prove something new that used to be attributed to a god, the definition shifts to explain away what we still don’t know.

What is so wrong with the conclusion that we don’t know things yet? I’d much rather say “I don’t know” then accept something as fact without proof.

As a side note, this is why I feel like “I don’t know” is an appropriate answer to questions like “was the founder of Mormonism (or any faith) a liar”. Whether the founder was innocently mistaken, or maliciously misleading people is unknown to me, and potentially unknowable. But the burden of proof of the validity of a religion lies with the religion, not me. Can you demonstrate to me that he was telling the truth?

Many religions, especially some Christian denominations, claim that the acceptance of their religion is the only way to get into heaven. Some will even go as far as to say that you will be eternally punished if you don’t live the way their gospel teaches. The concept of an eternal punishment for a finite offence is irrational. The opposite is equally true. Eternal reward because you coincidentally lived the few years you had on earth in line with the right teachings doesn’t make sense either. Those religions that teach that the consequences of choices made in this world are eternal make their God appear irrational. Irrationality cannot be a feature of a perfect being. Therefore, those religions that claim to have a perfect God and eternal consequences to life choices cannot be true. That rules out a LOT of religions.

Another is the point of religious diversity. The fact that a person’s religion is most likely to be dictated by their geographical location, or their ancestry, raises the question of validity for any one of them. It would be much more understandable to believe in the religion of your local area, when the technology wasn’t present to show you how many options for religions you really had. In those times, it would be much harder to see that, no matter what specific religion you believed, there were more people who believed otherwise.

One objection to this reasoning would be to claim that the majority of religious individuals are simply ignorant, not realizing that there are other options. The conclusion then being that there is no reason to be like the ignorant theist, and make an uneducated decision about religion. That being the case, one cannot make an “educated decision” in this regard. Many religions, Christianity in particular, claim that your emotions are how you will be lead to God. When you find the right church, it will feel right. Unfortunately, that reasoning means God is guiding people to many conflicting religions at once. Whether you’re christian, islamic, hindu, budhist, jewish, or some other faith, you feel your beliefs are the “truest”. I would have equal claim to my atheism, since the rationality of it “feels right” to me, and therefore a god must have directed me to it. Even inside some of these religions, you will find denominations that claim their variation is true while the others are either innocently lacking, or intentionally evil. Emotion is an absolutely abysmal indicator of truth.

With some religions preaching eternal damnation and suffering for non-believers, and others promising an incomprehensibly enlightened and, again, eternal existence for those adhering to their laws, it makes the decision of religion a dangerous one. A decision that depends almost entirely on chance. There are such a wide variety of religions that you will never be capable of appreciating the doctrine of all of them, and therefore you would be incapable of making an educated decision on which is the true religion. This then makes God unfair. Again, there is no mechanism for determining the will of God. You can’t rely on feelings, as we mentioned above. You can’t rely on prayer for the same reason. People all over the world use prayer to confirm their beliefs, despite those confirmations being different from millions of other people who have said the same prayer. So it’s chance. Your odds of even picking the correct religious group is at least 1 in 7. Those 7 are Abrahamic, Iranian, Indian, East Asian, African, Indigenous and folk, and other. One of those 7 is other, or “anything not fitting into one of the previous 6 categories“, and there are plenty of smaller religions that don’t fit in those previous categories. 1 in 7 is generous. Then you have to pick between the actual religions inside those groups.

Lets say the right answer is in the Abrahamic group. Now you have to pick either Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. 1 in 3 chance of picking the right one. Let’s say Christianity is the true religion. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations. That means you have a 1 in 41,000 chance of happening to pick the church God wanted you to pick. It’s more likely that you will die by being run over by a car than pick the right religion.

How could we be given no evidence and no means to learn what God wants, and be judged eternally when we have nothing but random chance to depend on to pick a correct religion. My conclusion is that, if there is a God, and if any religion is true, then God is not perfect, kind, or fair.

Now there are religions who would agree with me that God judging us based on whether we performed the appropriate rituals in this life isn’t cool. They would claim that we would be judged based on how we lived our specific life. Based on the “cards we were dealt”. Whether or not we were just plain ‘ol good people. I find this a nice thought, but still not relevant. Appeal is not a synonym of truth. I have no interest in believing something that is irrational simply because it’s nice to believe it. The appeal of a religion has no bearing on it’s legitimacy. Extremist Islamic radicals have as much claim on religious validity as charitable, peace loving Jews.

So, if there is a God, then the majority of humanity has fallen short of his requirements. He either intends to punish us all, or at least withhold some blessings from us, for having either accidentally picked the wrong religion, or having abstained from the game entirely.

In my opinion, if I’m wrong, and there is a creator and an afterlife, I think he’d be proud of the atheists. We made good use the resources he gave us. We relied on our minds instead of trends, and when we saw there was no proof of his existence, we lived our lives well anyway.

Recently, my wife shared with me these incredibly awesome videos that do an excellent job of conveying the principles of anarchism/libertarianism in a non-confrontation, and even approachable way:

These types of videos inevitably get us asking ourselves what side we’re on. Not only that, but what can we do to improve the freedoms of ourselves and others?

A good friend of ours, knowing our political beliefs, conveyed her concerns about the libertarian party. She mentioned that she didn’t feel such a small party would ever really get into power, so even though voting for them might be the best option, it would end up being useless when compared to the votes gained by the other parties. She brought up that not voting seemed just as useless, if not more so, because the government doesn’t care about how many people vote. They just take whoever got the most votes and puts them in power.

I think all anarchists and libertarians have been here. What I find interesting is that the answer to this question is where the two philosophies part ways. Libertarians choose to work inside the system, trying to change things from the inside. Anarchists don’t believe the system is legitimate, and even believe engaging with it is morally offensive.

I do not vote.

What do we find offensive about government? They rely on violence to get their way and they rely on theft to pay for what they deem appropriate, including the salaries of the politicians. That applies to every politician in government. Even a politician who is working to eliminate the government, and works for free is forcing others to be without government. Voting for any politician is stating that you endorse them to act on your behalf. That means you are enlisting them to see to it that others are forced to do things the way you believe are right. By voting, you become an aggressor against others.

So just don’t vote. You aren’t a bad person for not voting. You gave it thought, and have made a decision. Even if you previously never voted just out of apathy or ignorance, now it’s an informed decision. Inaction is rarely a bad thing. If deciding between robbing someone, and inaction, you would rightly choose inaction. Inaction is not apathy.

Deciding not to vote is not the same as deciding to ignore the problem, or even deciding to do nothing. There are a few things you can do that would make a far greater difference than voting.

  • Keep learning – Almost instinctively, as soon as people discover an objection to Anarchy, instead of attempting to resolve it, they throw their hands in the air and say “Well, I guess we do need government after all!” Every state-controlled service has a free market alternative. Roads, fire departments, hospitals, police, military, etc, can all be addressed, and solutions have already been thought of by many very educated individuals. You can even try to come up with your own solutions to problems you think of yourself. Get as creative as you can. Be willing to think about the craziest possibilities, and then try to turn them into realistic solutions. The more you know, the more confident you’ll become, and the better able you’ll be to defend your beliefs.
  • Don’t be shy – People find anarchists interesting. Don’t shy away from talking about it. Avoid getting mad! Almost all anarchists, when they first realize they are anarchist, are furious, and justifiably so IMO. The problem is, it’s hard to sound rational and be taken seriously when you’re filled with rage! Answer questions when you can, and be perfectly comfortable saying “I don’t know, what do you think?” Stay calm, and the person you’re talking with will notice. You almost certainly won’t convert someone to Anarchy in a single conversation, but the discussion will keep them thinking about it long after it’s over.
  • Support non-government alternatives when possible – The government has monopolies on a lot of things, so when you find someone providing a product or service that negates the work of government, take advantage of it. Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, litecoin, etc) is a great example of non-government controlled currency that is gaining popularity all over the world. Peacekeeper is an app that replaces several government controlled services (Police, fire, ambulance) with free association among your neighbours. When you use the internet, use a VPN (ivpn.net, ipredator.se, frootvpn.com) or even the TOR browser bundle to prevent the government from tracing your internet activity back to you. Teracycle is a great, non-government solution to recycling. There are tons more of these out there. By supporting these yourself, and telling your friends and family about them, you are helping people naturally transition away from any dependency on the government at all.
  • Avoid paying taxes – This one is tricky. Don’t do anything that could cause harm, financial or otherwise, to yourself or your family. Complacently paying taxes is being financially irresponsible. In 2000, the average Canadian family earned $51,174 and paid $24,309. That’s 47.5% of their total income, stolen. If you need to, talk to accountants and do research online on how to legally keep the most money you can. (The only reason to be concerned with legality is for your safety, not because of it’s legitimacy!)

I like the saying that the only difference between a libertarian and an anarchist is 6 months. Eventually, you realize that freedom is incompatible with the state, and you simply change the way you identify yourself from libertarian to anarchist.

Edit: I often try to use reason and persuasion to make my point, but I may come across quite sarcastic and frustrated here. I acknowledge that that is not the best way to debate a point. I also beg you to take this post in context with my other posts. I’m not foolishly claiming that all police are bad people, or that we don’t need brave individual’s to protect us. This post is just analyzing a single video that has been making the rounds.

The following is a video put out by the “Freeway Patrol Media Relations Office”. They’re a pro police group in the US. The video is on the topic of police brutality in that country.

They begin by posing several questions that are likely to cross the minds of most citizens.

“Why so much police brutality?”
“What’s with all the police violence?”
“Are the police out of control?”
“Are there any honest cops left?”

Unfortunately, that’s as far as the video goes. Instead of answering any of them, the video seems to point out that, since more non-police are doing bad things, their own use of violence is fine.

Check out what police brutality is:

Police brutality is a civil rights violation that occurs when a police officer acts with excessive force […] Excessive force is not subject to a precise definition, but it is generally beyond the force a reasonable and prudent law enforcement officer would use under the circumstances. – Source: USLegal.com

The legal definition of excessive force is, whatever the law/police consider to be excessive force. Unfortunately, that means that we lowly mortals have no way of knowing when excessive force is actually being used.

A recurring point here is going to be the fact that the source of the data is the police officers themselves. I don’t know about you, but if I was committing police brutality, I’d lie like crazy on any report. There are also independently collected stats that conflict dramatically with those in this video.

Right away they bring up that there are only 2.5 police officers for every 1000 people. I was, and still am curious about the relevance of this statistic. Maybe they’ll address it later? Let’s forget the invalidity of their numbers for now, and try to find how they intend to address the concerns they’ve brought up.

0.12% of the US population are “peace officers”. It’s unclear to me whether this number includes all law enforcement, or just police. The video opens addressing the concerns about police officers, so let’s assume that’s what they mean. They arrest 3.89% of the population annually. Keep in mind, those arrests don’t mean anyone did anything actually wrong. Out of those, over 12 million arrests each year (again, their numbers) how many do you think actually should have been arrested? Those numbers include people like an elderly gentleman who was trying to feed the homeless, or someone voluntarily buying or selling marijuana, or several individuals who were arrested for “resisting arrest” (explain that to me).

Sorry, that’s off topic. We’re trying to prove that cops are doing good. Let’s continue.

Side note: I am very curious about how they measure when an officer “comes into contact” with someone. Do they actually report on who “observed” them? The count “motorists”? What’s a “consensual encounter”? Did they all make a note of encountering this guy?

In any case, they go on to proudly claim that only 26,000 (0.049%) of the citizens actually made official complaints of police brutality specifically. This is actually incredible. Those are 26,000, either unbelievably brave, or unbelievably stupid individuals. Did you know that, in many jurisdictions, you actually cannot file a complaint anonymously? On top of that, many places actually require you to disclose the nature of the complaint to a police officer in person first, so that they can decide whether your complaint is valid or not. If I was accused of police brutality, I’d probably make sure those complaints didn’t make it through. Of course, those 26,000 complaints referred to in the video are pertaining to excessive force, which really makes me wonder how many go, either unsuccessfully reported, or keep silent out of fear.

Here’s a video of some people trying to file a complaint with police:

Sorry, off topic again. We’re trying to figure out how this video proves police are helping people.

Of those complaints only 8% were sustained for a total of 2080 complaints per year. So obviously, 92% of the people who file police brutality complaints are liars. That makes sense right? Of course, it’s law enforcement who decide which complaints to allow, and it’s law enforcement who decides which complaints were actually sustained. At this point, because of the enormous conflict of interest, how could any open minded person not see the enormous bias here?

In the data used for this video, the narrator claims there were 14,827 murders. That, of course, doesn’t include the 400 annual deaths at the hand of police officers. That 400 is the FBI’s numbers, however there are certain deaths the FBI doesn’t count. Private estimates put it closer to 1000, but since we’re trying to make these numbers look better, we’ll use the FBI’s 400. So ~3% of all murders were by police. Weird that they left that out of the video. It’s a good stat. Also, if you’re using his numbers, then only 2080 people are physically abused by police officers each year.

Oh… the video ended.

At least it had the comforting big bold words “RESIST NOT, WORRY NOT”. Of course, the “if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear” sentiment doesn’t work. You have broken a law. It’s extremely likely that something you have done in the last 24 hours is likely illegal. According to the law, you are a criminal, and the police simply need to figure out which law you broke. It’s not a matter of guilty or not guilty. It’s just a matter of what you’re guilty of.

It’s also slightly terrifying that the same people promoting this video are the ones promoting an online police apparel company with a t-shirt on the front page, showing the following Hemingway quote on it:

“There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

My take away from this is that, police only make up 3% of all murders, and there’s a lot more crime going on then just what police are doing, so stop complaining, stop resisting, and let the police do whatever they want to you! If you’d just do everything they tell you, nobody would get hurt!

…Isn’t that what every villain in every movie says to their hostages?

If you know me at all, you likely know that I am absolutely anti-state. There is no case where initiatory force is justified, and the state cannot exist without it. You cannot be against the existent of the state, and be in favour of state funded organizations. The state has nothing but stolen money to pay for whatever they pay for.

…Every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.
– Frédéric Bastiat

I would be an idiot if I thought people didn’t need hospitals or fire departments or protective services. We need all of these things. We don’t need to be robbed to pay for them. In fact, when the money for these essential services we consume are paid for by a third party (the state), the services are not working for us. They are working for the government. Think of how scary that actually is. When you go to the hospital, you want your doctor to have none other than your health needs in mind. What happens when the doctor does not work for you, but instead, works for the government?

As recently as 1972, the US government via the U.S. Public Health Service, used it’s citizens as unknowing guinea pigs in the 40 year Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, to test the effects of syphilis on around 600 black men in Macon County, Alabama. The doctors under the government’s employ, entered the area, claiming to offer free medical care, meals, and burial insurance. They told those participating in the study that they just had “bad blood”, which was a local term used to describe various illnesses that included symptoms like those of syphilis. None of the participants were told they had syphilis, and the doctors never treated any of them for their syphilis, despite the discovery of penicillin as an effective treatment in the 1940’s.

For the most part, doctors and civil servants simply did their jobs. Some merely followed orders, others worked for the glory of science.
– John Heller, Director of the Public Health Service’s Division of Venereal Diseases

At the same time as that experiment, the US government also sent doctors to Guatemala to actually infect people with syphilis and other STDs, resulting in 83 deaths.

The doctors in both cases were “just doing their jobs”.

I frequently discuss the horrendous actions taken by many police officers with friends and family, and on social media. Yes, those who do these incredibly violent acts are, themselves, in the wrong. These acts, as horrible as they are, typically receive a slap on the wrist compared to the consequences of anyone else doing the same thing. I believe that the “bad cops” are a minority, and that many cops are not intentionally trying to do bad things. That being said, if you’re a police officer, your job is one of oppression, not protection.

I know that is an incredibly uncomfortable thing to hear, and, if you have friends or family that are police officers, or if you are one yourself, I’m certain your immediate reaction is that I’m wrong, and that police put their lives at risk for us every day. You may go as far as to argue that they deserve our respect, and that, when they oppress people, that’s only because their job dictates that they do so.

That last point, that they do what they do “because their job dictates that they do so”, is exactly my problem with the police. This makes it incredibly clear that the police are not working for you. They are employees of the state. They are literally “law enforcement”, not “people protectors”. By agreeing to the job, they are saying that, no matter what laws are made, whether they violate the rights of people or not, they will enforce them.

I truly believe that most police officers have never considered the distinction between protecting the people and enforcing the law, but there is one, and it’s huge.

In order to understand how the law, and law enforcement eliminates freedom, we need to understand what freedom really is. Lets say that you want to sell your car. If you have to seek the approval of anyone else before you sell it, then you are not free to sell your car. You don’t have the final say in what it is you do. Even if the person you seek approval from allows you to sell the car, you are not free because it was not your decision.

Using Canada as an example, you cannot buy or sell anything without the government’s approval (taxes, licensing). You can’t keep what you earn (Taxes). You cannot enter or leave the country either (passports). You cannot marry who you want (LGBT, Polygamy, etc). You can’t eat what you want (Drug laws, food regulations and licensing). You can’t defend yourself, your family, or your property. You can’t wear what you want (Indecency laws). You can’t even say what you want. Did you know it’s actually impossible to own property in Canada? It’s actually illegal. If you literally claimed ownership of property, no matter who you bought it from, you would be stealing it from the “crown”. When you buy property, you are paying to essentially have the right to use the land. At any point, the law would allow the monarchy to reclaim the land from you for whatever purposes they deemed appropriate.

And who enforces these ridiculous laws?

I get that it’s an unpleasant realization, but the unpleasantness of a fact does not change the fact’s legitimacy. The government would have no power over it’s people if it wasn’t for the police.

We need police officers. We just all suffer as long as they stay law enforcers.

In the free market, we would rely on people to protect our safety, but in a free market, these people would be there to protect our safety. The motivation that these people had to become police officers could actually be realized. They would be in a place to actually do good.

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you’re well aware that I don’t believe anyone is entitled to special treatment. In fact, if I’m getting something I haven’t earned, I often don’t like it. Getting something for nothing diminishes the value of the something. Also, it’s a little insulting. It’s as if the person extending that charity to me is saying that I’m just not capable of doing things for myself.

Now, to be clear, this doesn’t include things like presents to a family member or friend. You can say that, in a way, you’re earning those gifts by the value you provide to the gift giver. The person giving you a gift obviously values the relationship you’re a part of, enough to provide you with that gift. It’s not literally something for nothing. Do you give gifts to people you hate and can gain nothing from?

In Canada and the US, and possibly other places around the world, the native population is treated as children by the government. By supporting them with unearned money and housing, it’s making the statement that the government believes these people would be incapable of doing this on their own. This, in turn, perpetuates negative stereotypes among the general population.

I personally feel a great deal of sadness when I consider the horrific things the invaders of this continent did to it’s native inhabitants upon arrival, but what is even worse, to me, is how this demeaning and destructive behaviour has never stopped. It didn’t end with a single generation. The government has dragged out the torture for centuries.

Imagine that, from the day you were born, to the day you died, you never had a single responsibility. Personally, to have that now is an appealing thought. I wouldn’t stop working, personally, because I love what I do, but having no pressure to work would be nice. That’s not what we’re talking about here though. We’re talking about, from birth, never having any pressure to do anything to provide for yourself. What kind of life would that create?

Let’s say this was you. You never want for anything, so you never have to work. You never have to gain an education, develop a skill, or get a job, or do anything that would be otherwise a natural requirement for survival. You get to live of the efforts of someone else forever. How could you be blamed for acting irresponsibly, if your irresponsible actions have no consequences? Money means nothing to you, because it just comes without any effort, therefore the goods you purchase with this money have no real value to you. You would be living moment to moment, without the natural incentive to pursue long term goals.

When you don’t have to work for what you’re given, corruption becomes natural. It’s commonplace to read about corruption on native reserves among tribal leaders. They receive the money from the government to distribute among the tribe members. The only way they’ve been trained to earn money, is by taking it from the government, so naturally, they’d be inclined to try to maximize their profits by keeping as much as they can, and giving away as little as they can. It’s not easy to condemn someone for their actions, when it’s almost guaranteed that those actions would happen as a response to external stimulus – aka government handouts. The stereotypical behaviour displayed by many natives is, in my opinion, absolutely, 100% understandable, considering how they’ve been treated.

Let’s take this time to clarify that I do not think all natives have succumb to the existing pressure to behave in the ways I’ve pointed out above. I have an extreme respect for the vast numbers of those who somehow, against all odds, managed to see the situation they were in, and get into a better one. I can’t imagine that would be easy to do, but I can imagine not having any regrets once done. Living on the reserves is an easy answer, that the government has told you is perfectly acceptable. I honestly can’t say enough about how much wisdom those individuals are showing.

Remember, I don’t care about what anyone’s contribution to “society” is. These individuals are bound by nobody to get a job or make great scientific breakthroughs, or anything of that nature. Those would all be welcome, and would add value to the free market, but they are just as entitled to do absolutely nothing, provided they do not act as a burden on an unwilling participant.

Society is just a collection of individuals. Your actions are affecting individuals, and by abstracting these people as “society”, it only makes it easier to rationalize acting negatively to those individuals. To say that the native population is society’s problem, is to say that every one of us is being blamed, personally, for the actions of a few, generations ago, and we are somehow responsible for the compensation of the native individuals of the current generation, to which we have also done no wrong.

The government’s cruelty to the native population needs to end. I would love to see citizens and businesses work to educate current and future generations of natives about the value of their life, and the joy the pursuit of happiness itself can bring. There is profit in this action, for all involved.

I am so lucky that I was not born into the same situation as those on a reserve. I don’t know if I’d have had the courage and wisdom to get out.

Anarchist just want to be criminals and steal and use violence.
First big one, no, we don’t like violence. It’s common for people that are acting violently to be labelled as “anarchist” in the news. If they are using force, they are literally not anarchist. The use of force defies the fundamental belief of anarchism – that nobody should be subject to the will of another. By using violence, you become a dictator to your victim, deciding either how they live, or even whether they live. Theft falls into the exact same category. The use of theft and violence is what is wrong with the state. Anarchy and the love of violence are polar opposites.

Anarchists hate the poor
This one I can almost understand people believing. A lot of anachists/libertarians say things like “why should I have to pay for their ___”. Taken at face value, you may agree with the reasoning, but condemn the spirit of the statement. It sounds like they’re just saying “the poor can go die for all I care”. That is actually not even close to the meaning. The challenge is in the word choice. “Why should I…” could be replaced with “why should you…” or “why should anybody else…”. Of course we object to being forced to pay for things we didn’t consent to, but it’s the practice in general we hate. We wouldn’t want you to be robbed to pay for our needs either.

Another key part of that phrase is “have to”. Anarchists are typically quite charitable. They’re careful with their money, because that’s just smart, but they are more than willing to donate to charities that they feel will use the donation wisely. The problem anarchists have is that the choice to be charitable is being forced on them. If you don’t have the choice to not be charitable, then you equally don’t have the choice to be charitable. Anarchists want to be just as charitable as anyone else, but when you steal from an anarchist, you deprive them of that choice.

Anarchists don’t understand economics
I find this one quite ironic really. Many of the wealthiest people in the world are libertarian or at least conservative. Economics are a topic anarchists typically take pride in. Many practice free market concepts as best they can, and profit significantly from it.

This article is a perfect example of several of the flawed statist reasoning used against libertarians/anarchists. They take each point, and apply it to the context of a state, which, of course, would fail, as everything else does.

Take, for example, their first point, “What if you cut all benefits?” Yes, anarchists would love to have all state backed financial benefit programs end. Of course, the idea is that, if they aren’t funding those programs they could lower taxes. As everyone knows, that would never actually happen. They would end funding there, and shift it elsewhere. Probably to their pockets.

The author of that article uses nothing beyond that single point, spins it out of context.
“But if you believe that those programs create dependency, too…. It never stops: Close down the homeless shelters. Shut down the Salvation Army. Make it illegal to throw a starving person a coin or toss a blanket over them as they lay on the sidewalk.”

Again, this is reductio ad absurdum among many other fallacious arguments all packed into one. Charitable organizations would not disappear, but would likely boom in the free market. Businesses aren’t going to make money if everyone is poor, therefore it is logical to assume an organization that helps individuals become profitable, via education for instance, would be something a business owner would want to donate to, and it would be financially beneficial to do so in the long run. Same logic can be applied to health care. Businesses can’t make money of people too sick to buy their stuff. This author takes the anarchist point that the state shouldn’t control charity, to mean that libertarians hate charity.

He goes on to state the the free market is bad because Sears failed to implement it internally. The free market describes relationships between individuals and business. There’s a balance that is maintained by the voluntary interactions of individuals. If your business isn’t meeting the needs of the consumer why should it exist? By definition, it is not contributing anything of value, and it would be right for it to be eliminated. This logic is insane to force internally at a company like Sears, while simultaneously trying to hold onto your market share in all areas. Either you let your stronger departments survive, and cut the losses, or you empower your business to work cooperatively, with actual competitors as your competition. If you get your business to attack your business, naturally, you’re going to take a hit.

“But the Sears experiment showed us that it works best when there is a fabric which knits the competing parts together into something more than the sum of its parts. We call that something a nation.”
We actually call that something theft and violence, and no business would ever succeed implementing that as a strategy. Would you give them your business? Cooperation is always necessary to succeed, but it’s voluntary cooperation that we need. Not teamwork at the end of the a gun.

He brings up several good points about the challenges facing low income areas, but fails monumentally when he points to state action as libertarian in nature. Sampling anarchy in a limited area still under state influence can’t work. This is incredibly simple to explain. The cost of living, due to the need to recover costs resulting from the increase in minimum wage, among other things, is higher than what someone being paid less than minimum wage can afford. A business would not want to sell a good cheaper locally than it does in a neighbouring town. If they did, their local customers would simply shop at the other location. Good business dictates that they need to have consistent pricing across multiple locations.

Trying to drop a Walmart into a low income area, and tell them they can pay their employees whatever they feel like, will not result in wealthier citizens, but a higher profit business.

This gets into issues like the insanity of sales tax. In Nova Scotia, Canada, sales tax is currently 15%. That means that any time you want to buy something, you end up paying 15% more than the sticker price for that item. That doesn’t include fuel. In Canada, the total taxes paid on fuel is approximately 31% of what you’re paying at the pump. Not only does the state actually force the price of a good to increase by creating minimum wage laws, they then increase the price further by taxing it. Trying to throw in some under-minimum wage jobs at that point is definitely going to cause people to starve. Then, of course, there’s property tax, and income tax. You end up being able to spend very little of the money you earn, and that’s thanks to the state.

If all property was private property, everyone with property would be a dictator
I’d like to point out the irony of this concept as well. “To avoid the possibility of millions of minarchies, we must continue with our one enormous oligarchy”.

“If “private ownership” is a barrier against these governmental prerogatives, where does it end? If you can’t outlaw discrimination on private property, what can you outlaw: Fraud? Theft? Murder?”
Ya, it’s that crazy guy again, from that article I linked to in the previous point. Discrimination, so far as it doesn’t violate life, liberty, or property, is not a violation of a fundamental human right. Neither is fraud in some cases. Theft and murder definitely are.

“In Paul Randian libertarianism there is no limit to the deeds a business owner can commit inside the confines of his own business.”
If any anarchist believes this, then, once again, they are not yet anarchists. If you invite someone onto your property (for instance, by opening a business) then you can no longer claim any violation of property, and therefore, have no justified use of force against a trespasser for the act of trespassing. You are free to run your business in absolutely any way you see fit. If it’s bad, the people will let you know by taking their business elsewhere. If it’s good, they’ll support you.

If you invite people on to your property, then start shooting, those would-be victims are absolutely justified in using force to defend themselves against you. Business property is the last place where I’d ever expect any dictatorial attitudes to be present.

Personal private property is an interesting topic though. Remember, the fundamental, inherent rights are to defend yourself against the violation of life, liberty, and property. So what if someone buys up all the property around your home, and does not allow you to travel through their property? You may find a variety of answers, and perhaps in the future of personal air travel, this question will become moot, but as it stands, it’s a logical concern. I’d suggest that the buyer of the property is, in essence, whether intentionally or not, is using the land as a weapon against you. You would be justified in limited trespassing on the property, only to the extent of escaping the imposed confines. You would not be justified in violating the land owner’s own right to property by spending time in his home, or setting up camp, for instance.

Anarchists don’t believe in rules
Anarchists don’t believe in rulers. Huge difference. A ruler is one who imposes their rules on you, whether you consent or not. It’s not the rules that are necessarily objectionable, it’s the lack of consent.

I could elaborate on that, but I think Robert P. Murphy describes it very well in his lecture “The Market for Security”. Here is a part of particular interest on the subject of “free market law”. The entire lecture is excellent, and I recommend watching it from start to finish, but that portion in the link is especially relevant.

Anarchists are stupid and selfish
Wrong. We’re just selfish.

Selfishness is an interesting virtue (yes, I used that word intentionally), and it’s very unlikely that you’ve ever chosen to do a good deed that did not have a selfish benefit. Have you ever donated money to charity? That’s selfish. Perhaps you were motivated by the urge to eliminate guilt, or maybe the urge to experience the satisfaction of helping others. If you had no motive, you wouldn’t do it.

Perhaps you were asked to do something you didn’t want to do, and hated doing it the entire time, and didn’t feel good about it afterwards. How could that possibly be selfish? Maybe you’re uncomfortable with saying no to people, so the inconvenience of performing the task outweighed the unpleasantness associated with rejecting it. Maybe you were asked by a family member, and therefore were satisfying a guilt, or sense of obligation. It could be that you were concerned about the relationship with that individual deteriorating as a result of not helping them, therefore that relationship is worth more to you than the unpleasantness of the task.

Denying this selfishness is unnecessary, as it has no downside. It is evolutionary to be concerned with your own well being. Selfishness has no victim.

What about people who do bad things for “selfish” reasons. If they doing bad things in the name of selfishness, then they are actually not selfish enough. Consider a free market, where all interactions are voluntary. I am a weirdo that steals money from women’s purses (I should have prefaced that with “pretend that I am…”). I’m only going to be able to do that for so long before someone catches me. Then my reputation is immediately garbage. Nobody has to interact with me, therefore few people would interact with me. I would financially and socially suffer as a result of my stupid behaviour. The risk versus the reward or purse change, is really stupid. Therefore, if i was trying to be extremely selfish, I would be doing all I can to improve my reputation whenever possible, by doing things society approves of and appreciates like helping these ladies cross the street (They were all old ladies in my head).

Anarchists are racist/anti-gay/anti-religion/anti-puppies/etc
Nope. In fact, we are literally as tolerant of these groups as you can be. We don’t try to dictate whether your private behaviour is acceptable or not. We stay out of it. It is absolutely nobody else’s business. We even respect the right to think stupidly about these groups. Racism, for example, (that doesn’t result in the violation of anyone’s rights, remember) would technically be allowed, but would be unbelievably stupid. Not just because it’s illogical either. Society doesn’t like racism. That’s not because the government told us it’s bad, that’s just because we’ve decided that it’s insane and based on nothing.

In a free market, nobody has to do business with you. You aren’t entitled to the money someone else has, and nobody is entitled to have you as an employee. Just as a racist is free to not do business with someone of a different race, I’m free to not do business with racists. Further more, I’m free to spread that information around, so that others become aware of the racist practices of an individual. Bigotry of any kind is very likely to result in a loss of income. I don’t even just mean as a business owner, but even as an employee. If people are avoiding your business because your employee is racist, it’s a smart move to replace them with a new employee. Offensive behaviour has natural repercussions.

In fact, only an idiotic business man would turn down a paying customer…

Also, anarchists don’t have a problem with puppies.