| | Abortion and Freakonomics
I realize this has the potential to be an unpopular post, but I'm just generally curious what your all reaction is to the chapter about abortion in Freakonomics. For those who didn't read the book, it's basically a collection of essays where he takes a question and then uses some strategies and tools from economics to break down a mound of data and come up with some intersting theories. He wrote a chapter about how people choose their names, and whether there is cheating in Sumo wrestling.
I think the opening chapter was on the sudden drop in the crime rate in the mid 90's (I think it was mid 90's, but don't get caught up in the details). Basically everyone was attributing it to tougher policing and better law enforcement strategies. He took a look at some criminal data and came up with an interesting hypothesis. Basically, right after Roe v Wade, there was a jump in abortions. Many of those babies that were aborted would have been reaching the age range right around the mid 90's where people are most likley to commit crimes. Hence, it is plausible that if you're looking for reasons to explain the drop in crime, it had less to do with new strategies used by law enforcement, and actually a significant amount to do with the fact that those predisposed to become criminals were never born in the first place. So does that have any bearing on whether those abortions were more acceptable or not? It's a variable that I could often see operating independently from whether the mother makes a love or fear based decision.
Questions like this have always bothered me. This is a controversial form of it. However, I often wonder what the nature of free will is when so much can be predicted statistically in the aggregate. For example, how does Wal Mart know how many bags of tootsie rolls to stock? I don't think many people go in to the store thinking they're coming out with tootsie rolls, but in aggregate, maybe about 3% of us (just to pick a number) end up doing just that. And it's always just about 3% and that's the reason they never have too many and they never run out. So on that day that you decided to pick up those delicious sweets did you make a free decision or not?
By talking about abortion in this post, I'm just upping the ante and asking the difficult question: "is the life that someone is likely to lead appropriate to consider when weighing an abortion?" If your baby is likely to, lets say, be a criminal (insert your own..disabled, drug addicted, abusive, etc) is it better if you abort him? What if he's 100% likely? What if he's 99% likely? What if he's just 1% likely? How in the world would you ever choose to draw the line at some specific point? It's not a fun question, but I don't think you can have a coherent view on this subject without being willing to answer it.