Social Cost of Taboo

Taboos can be a good, useful tool, as this essay shows. The important thing to remember is that in an ideal society, Taboos can serve a useful purpose, taboos would without exception be based on rational assessment of the risks and benefits of taboo behaviors.

Allallt in discussion

A taboo is an unspoken social rule of omission: things you may not talk about. You have every right to say it, but people agree that the speaker will come off badly if they do. Obesity is one of these, where telling a fat person they are fat means the speaker comes off worse than anyone else; being skinny is not a taboo. Obesity is even a taboo when smoking is not. The way we think about obesity, as a right, is warped. It is the result of self-entitlement.

I probably have a low-level body-image dysmorphia, so my decision to isolate obesity as the taboo that has social cost could well be an externalisation of personal concerns (i.e. my fixation on my body image). I understand that bias from the outset. However, I do not think that bias undermines the fact that as a society we are all paying a…

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