The Most Harmful Profession

I found this article “What are the 10 most harmful jobs?” floating around my facebook feed. By “harmful”, they mean harmful to society at large. The article is headlined by a photo of Don Draper embodying the noxious defenders of dishonorable institutions. The article requires that jobs be legal, mainstream, and harmful regardless of individual competency.

I find this list to be woefully inept, given that, by their standards, one profession tops them all: “Religious Leader”.

“1. Marketing and R&D for compusive behaviours such as smoking alcoholism, gambling, and payday loans (and maybe computer games)”

Apparently sex, drugs, and rock n roll just missed the list. Hillary Clinton must have been on staff for the video game drop in.

Which is worse, advertising alcohol/tobacco or advertising that condoms are ineffective and sinful in AIDS-ravaged countries?

“2. Factory farming”

It wouldn’t be morally indignant clickbait without some veganism.

Which is worse, abusing and killing animals for food, or mutilating the genitals of children because god likes it that way.

“3. Homeopathy and other fraudulent medical technology”

This one may have been the closest to the bullseye…

Which is worse, turning people from modern medical care in favor of useless treatments with modest placebo effects, or turning people from modern medical care as well as altruism, service, and charity in favor of useless prayer.

“4. Patent trolls”

Anyone the least bit informed by the nuances of patent law would see that this is hardly a clear-cut moral issue. One could easily argue that patent breakers are an important force against the repressively large scope of corporate patents. However, even if we accept their premise…

Which is worse, making money off someone else’s invention, or trying to convince the population at large that reason, science, and intellectualism aren’t even worthy pursuits in the first place?

“5. Lobbying for rent-seeking businesses or industries”

Which is worse, an institution that tries to get in on the modest corporate welfare system, or churches that shape public opinion while milking the government of grants and services (police, fire, policing, parking) while paying nothing in taxes.

“6. Weapons Research”

The following quote is one of the most absurd I’ve read in a while: “While in some cases new weapons will be more targeted and less harmful than the old ones, in general we expect this work to be very bad for the world.” In other words, This research is trying to reduce violence, but we’re just going to say that it does the opposite. The idea that research is bad because everyone is going to have the technology anyway is a dangerously naive way of looking at global militarization. From a US perspective, the better our weapons, the less collateral damage. I might even argue that the most successful, peaceful military strategy of the last century was mutually assured destruction.

It’s too bad that this is such a tough one to draw comparisons to religious institutions. It’s not like the parties of god have any sort of history pertaining to war and violence…

Which is worse, building advanced weapons that may or may not be used, or propping up violent regimes that have a history and declared intention of violence against civilians, meanwhile, empowering tribalism and divine calls for violence.

“7. Borderline fraudulent lending or otherwise making a financial firm highly risky”

Which is worse, fleecing middle-class/wealthy investors of their hard earned money or fleecing the religious poor/middle-class of their hard-earned money while mounting fortunes in the Vatican or in the pockets of many church leaders.

“8. Fundraising for a charity that achieves nothing, or does harm”

Which is worse, … never mind, this is simply describing a church.

“9. Forest clearing”

Which is worse, bowing to market pressures and contributing to climate change, or crusading for man’s dominion over the planet and the hoax of climate change.

“10. Tax minimisation for the rich”

Which is worse, trying to skirt regulation to remove money from taxation, or removing money from taxation by donating to a church, a legally condoned, mainstream form of minimisation.

In attempting to parallel this absurd list, I missed a lot…

  • Promoting the pseudoscience of creationism and intelligent design.
  • Promoting oppressive theocracy, terror, genocide, and dictatorships
  • Faith, the process by which beliefs are condoned based on insufficient or even contrary evidence, the root of all evil, making otherwise reasonable people stupid.
  • Preservation and continued promotion of iron age philosophies
  • Terrorizing children with threats of hell, and disparaging all people as slaves to a celestial dictator whom we must worship, fear, and love

Of course, if a specific religion is true, I would think it absurd to waste my time on anything else. However, since we have no reason to believe that any of them are true, and since there is no god, I can’t think of a more harmful waste of a human life than to continue to poison everything with religion.


3 thoughts on “The Most Harmful Profession

    • I should add that I don’t take serious issue with the article as a whole. I used it as a tool to make my own point. 🙂 I have come to expect most people to capitulate to the parties of god.


  1. If you put that on the list, it would be a very different article. Beyond that, I think that what you considered for each profession was limited to a subjective, worst take, rather than a more objective, comprehensive view. Power has the potential to do good and ill, so perhaps President of the United States is the worst profession.

    Military research is a good example. Of course, killing lots of people efficiently is bad, but the ability to kill one person precisely rather than take out a city block is a benefit. Deterrence is another benefit. If I was able to engineer a new missile that was 100x more accurate, I would be proud of my contribution. History tells us that the story of military advancement in the past century is one of consistently decreased death and suffering.


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