Has demonizing drug users done much for the war on drugs? Has slut-shaming teenage girls who have sex done much for the teen pregnancy rate? Has shaming fat people for their size improved public health? We have excellent data, both longitudinal and experimental, on all of these things, and we know that the answers are no.

You can also think of it in terms of good UX. If I want people to use a platform correctly, I have to take actual humans’ usage patterns and tendencies into account. I can’t design an app or a site based on how I think a person ought to behave and try to force my standards onto them. I have to adjust to people’s tendencies, craft the system around them, if I want behavior to be productive.

If I’m a campus planner, I could place sidewalks where I think they will look best, and have people trample all over my flowerbeds and lawns — or I can look at how people walk around campus and cater to them, placing sidewalks where people actually go.

If every student in my class gets a particular item on an exam wrong, I know that I did not teach that material correctly.

Each person does the thing that makes the most sense to them, and works the best for them. Not what we try to impose on them from above. When we fight that or judge that, we’re trying to be gods. Which is foolhardy at best, and deeply marginalizing at worst.

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