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Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit (slate.com)
237 points by fhinson on Sept 5, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 240 comments

Forgetting the laws, what sort of people can so casually kill like this? There are basic human instincts not to hurt people. Armies have to train soldiers to ignore these feelings because without training most won't kill even under combat situations. So when I see someone kill so casually I have to believe that they have rehearsed the scenario in their head beforehand. That means a large number of chinese people drive around with a plan in their head covering how to kill should they injure someone. They are mentally prepared at all times to commit murder on demand. That's messed up. It does not speak well of the country or its citizens when they travel abroad.

I have been living in china for over 10 years and I came to the conclusion that what you assume here as being "basic human instincts" is really the result of the culture and the education that shaped us. Let a human being grow with no rules and awareness of good or bad, where the only law is "what is good for you well is good", then you end up with this kind of behaviour.

Yes. Any who have not visited China should keep in mind the people there do not feel protected by their government. They feel oppressed. They know they can't openly criticize the system or they will be hassled or sent to prison for "stirring up trouble". So, it is every man for himself and you get human behavior like this. They're not naturally evil, they just don't have the benefits we do.

The best illustration I've seen of this for anyone who hasn't visited Asia and seen the effects of censorship is this video. One guy asks random people on the street on June 4 if they know what day it is. It is the anniversary of the Tienanmen square massacre. And nearly everyone refuses to answer. They know it was a tragedy and they also know they aren't allowed to talk about it.


The video shows educated people probably around the Beijing university that is not really representative of what is really going on. 99% of the population is oblivious and brain washed. They have really no idea about the tiananmen massacre.

You're right the general public really doesn't know. Sorry, I generalized in my previous comment. Would you agree that the reason that the general public does not know is because the interviewed folks have been censored and self censored?

Yes it is censored ship but it goes beyond banned interviews, they filter all information. I think the most effective tool is selective teaching in school. Whole blocks of history are being ignored or re-written. The history teaching emphasise on how China has been bullied by the whole world in order to seed patriotism, while numerous TV shows and movies make sure to keep those memories fresh.

Gotcha. In defense of their government, which I will almost never ever do, I don't know whether China historically got a fair shake or not. The Japanese, for example, never did say sorry for WW II and Nanjing. At least China didn't lose !

I imagine things haven't been completely fair for China, but that's life and everyone's pretty much in the same boat. I'm sure you will agree that teaching your citizens to distrust the rest of the world doesn't seem practical in today's global society. China, 中國, is no longer "the middle", it is one of many.

China indeed went through tough time, but hopefully things will settle down with the new generations.

I lived in China for a few months. The way it was explained to me was, it's you and your family, and everyone else can f* off.

This is spot on. There's a reason that people's last name comes before their first over there. It's a low trust society where the only thing that matters is your clan.

Last name first has nothing to do with trust. Japan is one of the highest-trust societies in the world (see crime stats) and last name comes first. I live in China and have lived 13 years in Japan so I know what I am talking about.

The order of the last name shows the importance of your family over yourself. Family is far more important over there because it better shields you from society, while simultaneously contributing to the ills of society, i.e. too much self interest vs concern for the whole society; leading to a very difficult to break circular pattern of corruption.

Yes Japan is very different from China if not most of Asia. It's also not hard to see that Japan probably adopted the naming order since they also adopted the Chinese writing system.

I'm Chinese. I was born in Asia and I still routinely visit and keep in touch with my family over there.

To be clear, I'm not saying every Chinese person in China is like this, nor am I saying that it will always be like this. Looking at both HK and Taiwan, things will eventually change for the better in the long term; especially when you consider the long term effects of the one child policy. However (speaking to fellow Chinese people) what I'm describing is real and there's no use in ignoring it, and I feel that there's value in helping people, who aren't of Asian, Hispanic, or Mediterranean (Italian, Greek, etc...) background; to understand it.

The family name lineage is definitely important in Japan as well. Just look at all the Japanese companies named after their founder's family names e.g. Toyota (Toyoda), Mazda (Matsuda), Honda. Also, their main form of religion, Shinto, is basically the worship of ancestors.

It's just a signal of a collectivist society.

The way that's described seems like a society/culture of sociopaths..

You can find people with that mentality in any American city. Sociopaths are pretty evenly distributed across the human population. It's just that here the incentives are different. And there, money and connections are an absolute get out of jail free card.

That said, I'm surprised there isn't a greater culture of vengeance killings over issues like this.

... Committed with vehicles and which involve running the person over four times, making sure to get out of the vehicle to steer your car tire over their skull ...

One reaction people might have to this is 'ugh China'. Another one might be 'ugh rich people'. Article reminded me of the Brazilian banker who ran over a bunch of cyclists a few years ago.

Been living in Vietnam for the last five years. It's the same way here. Maybe it's the Chinese influence?

Not the Chinese influence, the Communist one. That said the morality or lack of same shown by some Chinese or Vietnamese people is far closer to the historical norm for humans than that shown by individuals in societies with rule of law. In pre state societies on average 15% of men died violently and morality was something that applied to the ingroup, not the outgroup.

For further reading on this I can highly recommend Steven Pinker's "Better Angels of Our Nature".


You sure that in Vietnam that there are hit-to-kill incidents?

I thought that thing is exclusive to China. Or at least like that, since I have a few people who got hit by vehicles but only injured, drivers don't even tries to finish off.

I was referring to the comment that family loyalties seem to be all that really count, not specifically traffic accidents.

Family loyalty seems to be a Asian-centric trait, especially in Chinese.

No wonder Vietnam have that similarity since they have been influenced by China for 1000 year.

I think you have to look at this from a certain perspective. Think about it, this is a country of 1.3 billion people. How often does this actually happen?

Secondly, think about incentives. Maybe I am hopelessly naive, but I believe that the majority of human beings have something built into them that stops them from hurting others. For the majority of humanity, you don't need laws against murder, internal morality and social pressure is sufficient. However, this is a small subset of humanity that would make RATIONAL rather than MORAL choices about murder if forced to make a choice about it. This is the reason that murder has such high penalties, for those people.

tldr; China needs to raise the expected penalty for engaging in this sort of behavior to the point that it is not rational. This isn't necessary for the great majority of Chinese (any more than it is anywhere else in the world) but it is necessary for some.

One thing baffles me. If parents knew (there is security camera footage) that their child was run over several times because some asshole made a RATIONAL choice; and then said parents hired a bunch of guys to disappear the asshole, suddenly the expected penalty would change, and so would the rational choice. (There probably wouldn't be much of an investigation, either.) So why aren't they doing it? If the government can't/won't set the proper incentives for the assholes not to murder, why can't the people do it themselves? Desperate times call for desperate measures...

ADDENDUM: admittedly my comment above is emotional. Obviously not every accident ends in the driver running over the victim several times. But from the article and from some of the comments, I got an impression that these cases are not THAT unusual, and it's not just a case of a Western newspaper publishing a sensationalist Sinophobic article.

If you drive in a Chinese city, you're pretty well off. So I would bet that many cases, the victim's family can't afford stuff like that.

The few cases mentioned where something happened to the driver were probably the exceptions where the victim also had money.

Good point, stupid of me not to think of it. So in most cases, the murderer escapes without even paying the "murder fee"? This is even worse...

Sure, this is an extreme case but when living in china you are confronted daily to behaviours that defies our sense of moral. China should pour founds into education but they will never do as educated people would be the end of "elite controlled" china of today.

Think about it, this is a country of 1.3 billion people. How often does this actually happen?

In the Slate Plus special feature section, the author of the article shared statistics on how frequently traffic accidents result in death in China, compared with the United States. In 2013 in the US there were 32,719 deaths, compared to over two million injuries in traffic accidents. That means that, in the United States, there are 70 injuries per every traffic death. According to China's Xinhua News Agency, the ratio of traffic injuries to deaths in China is four to one.

From what little I know about this, which is listening to locals and some foreigners, this comes from the perverse incentive where maiming costs more than the manslaughter payout. It's from advice of prior extortion victims, accounts from the news, hearsay from friends, etc. The incentive is that trying to help a maimed person can cost you dearly. This same thing is why you don't see "good Samaritans". Good Samaritans get taken advantage of. Poole take a sign of help as a sign of guilt.

Interpreting help as a sign of guilt is very strong and has become a strong reason people look the other way instead of helping someone in a bad position, sadly.

The tricky thing here is many are actually killed intentionally. And the killers escaped from that and, instead, were ruled as unintentional. Justice is missing here. That's why the whole damn calculation is valid. I know a lot more similar calculations, driver vs pedestrian, doctor vs patient, kid-robber(yes, many parents are worrying about kids being robbed in front of you, that's not a joke), the list can go on and on. I'm from China. And that's why I left. People in China always debate on wrong factors or they are just not brave enough to talk about it publicly and get used to heavily-self-sensored so that new fake self-consciousnesses take control.

But there's a difference between avoiding helping someone and intentionally taking action to kill someone.

Yes, of course. But the economic calculus is similar. The economic disincentive is huge.

You could add to your knowledge by reading the linked article under discussion

I wonder whether the value of a life goes significantly down when there are 1,500,000,000 other people in the country.

I live in India. The rest of the country ratio is similar here. We have hit and run cases too, very high profile ones. Not the worst ones come back to ensure they've killed a 3 yr old!

Judging by the ease with which cops in US use deadly force 300,000,000 is also enough it seems. And ISIS is controlling how many couple of million at most - and life there is not highly valued too. It is not the population of the country, but that you know you can get away with something.

People throughout history have killed, seemingly casually. It's human nature. I would contend that modern society has instilled these feelings of guilt associated with murder specifically against the natural tendency of man.

The vast majority of people have never and will never murder. It's not human nature to do so.

Two words: Stanley Milgram.

Our morals aren't nearly as absolute as we like to think. 20% of the entire population of Rwanda were hacked to death with farm implements by ordinary people. 25% of the Cambodian population were butchered, starved or worked to death by a poorly-organised militia.

Any of us have the capacity to kill if we have a sufficiently compelling justification. Ask any mother if she would kill to save her children. The difference between murder and self defence is mere context - the Nazis believed that they were defending themselves from a Jewish conspiracy, the Interahamwe believed they were liberating themselves from Tutsi oppression.

Consider the fact that the rate of domestic homicide in the US is drastically higher in households that own a gun. A great number of Americans have killed their partner simply because the means to do so easily was readily available. Evil or insanity is not a prerequisite for murder, only means, motive and opportunity.

> Two words: Stanley Milgram.

In the study, he didn't ask his subjects to kill. And they didn't actually murder anyone.

> Rwanda ... Cambodia ... Nazis ... Interahamwe

People killing on behalf of the State is a whole other matter than what the article is talking about vis-à-vis pedestrian fatalities. The State has been the largest single driver of misery, destruction, and death in human history, and I don't disagree that mass murder has happened and is evil. But drivers ensuring the death of a struck passenger stands in stark contrast to the kill-or-be-killed nature of State violence. On this point, I would agree with your assertion about "compelling justification," which in the case of the State is the threat of violence against the killer for not doing the bidding of the State.

But even in the face of multiple genocides and huge wars, including nuclear bomb blasts, the fact remains that the vast majority of humans have never and will never kill another human.

> A great number of Americans ...

See a sibling response for murder rates and compare to my assertion that a vast majority of people don't do it.

And self-defense is not murder by the legal definition, which include premeditation.

While I think murder is a bit outside the in-built nature of human beings, I absolutely believe that violence in general is one of the core human behaviors. People resort to violence very often, and very quickly. Sure, there's incentive to get the other guy or girl to back down without expending the energy of physically attacking them, but I'm not limiting my definition of violence to only be physical. Psychological violence is half of the infantry's job, anyways. I also offer another[0] interesting story about this fact (that most humans will not voluntarily murder another human being).

[0]: http://www.historynet.com/men-against-fire-how-many-soldiers...

The book Guns, germs and steel retorts that fit the majority of human history (I.e the last hundred thousand years or so) most human encounters with other humans who were not family resulted in death for one party or another. Still the case in some isolated areas. Only the growth of societies really changed that default inclination, out of necessity.

There's a book called "on killing" that you should read.

The book is based on research that was flat made up by S.L.A. Marshall. There is no evidence he ever collected the data he used to spread that myth.

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, Dave Grossman

Quote From Wikipedia

The book is based on SLA Marshall's studies from World War II, which proposed that contrary to popular perception,[1] the majority of soldiers in war do not ever fire their weapons and that this is due to an innate resistance to killing. Based on Marshall's studies the military instituted training measures to break down this resistance and successfully raised soldiers' firing rates to over ninety percent during the war in Vietnam.[2]

Below quote from http://www.warchronicle.com/us/combat_historians_wwii/marsha...

Emphasis not in original

This calculation assumes, however, that of all the questions Marshall might ask the soldiers of a rifle company during his interviews, he would unfailingly want to know who had fired his weapon and who had not. Such a question, posed interview after interview, would have signalled that Marshall was on a particular line of inquiry, and that regardless of the other information Marshall might discover, he was devoted to investigating this facet of combat performance. John Westover, usually in attendance during Marshall's sessions with the troops, does not recall Marshall's ever asking this question. Nor does Westover recall Marshall ever talking about ratios of weapons usage in their many private conversations. Marshall's own personal correspondence leaves no hint that he was ever collecting statistics. His surviving field notebooks show no signs of statistical compilations that would have been necessary to deduce a ratio as precise as Marshall reported later in Men Against Fire. The "systematic collection of data" that made Marshall's ratio of fire so authoritative appears to have been an invention.

Marshall is not the only source of data in the book.

Absence of community, scarcity of resources, and a life of fear might have a significant influence on aggressive behavior in those circumstances.

That seems awfully murderous. Not even animals of the same race face that fate.

That's not true. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gombe_Chimpanzee_War

That's just one example and it isn't exclusive to primates.

> The vast majority of people have never and will never murder.

Like I said, modern society has instilled feelings of guilt and negative consequences with our comparatively well-developed ethical and justice systems, generally leading to situations where the risk of getting caught murdering someone outweighs the benefits of killing them (go to jail, hell, etc). But flip the risk analysis (eg, what this article is about), et voilà, no problem.

> modern society

Did I restrict my statement in some way when I said "vast majority"?

I know citing Wikipedia is lazy, but it mentions high murder rates of 35 in 100,000 during medieval times. I know there are other forms of homicide, but I haven't spent the time to find stats. Assuming on average one murderer per victim, %0.00035 is vansishingly small.


Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manslaughter

In this context, medieval times are "modern society". They already had social, religious and legal norms against killing. Also, most people lived in the countryside or small villages where they didn't have many chances for killing people anyway, so the murder rate in larger towns must be a lot higher than the overall 35 figure.

Every last one of us can kill. Second by second our minds overrule our instincts and our emotions because we're smart and we can think and we're very social animals that care about shame and what others think of us and what we've been told and the consequences of our actions, but every last one of us has a stone cold killer threaded inseparably.

I am an enormous believer in good manners [1].

[1] Which I am much better at in meatspace. Damn you, anonymous internet.

Watch this and see if you change your mind on that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPM-gJA62Rs

600 people killed in 30 years in battle between the featured tribes. Population of New Guinea: 11.3 million.

Some of the battles are agreed upon ahead of time. Killing in battle is not usually considered murder under law, but even so, the vast majority of people do not murder.

The armed militia was also high on drugs when they confronted the motorists, so their very minds (nature) were changed during the encounter.

> People throughout history have killed, seemingly casually. It's human nature.

Putting aside the statement's low plausibility of truth, it is certainly the worst thing I've read in quite some time.

It's not human nature, even the etymology and history for the word "assassin"(hashish eater) says it, in most of the cases humans have needed drugs to bypass his default nature and kill another human.

This is a country that just a generation ago went through the Mao famines, that murdered 50 to 100 million people through forced starvation. As recently as a few decades ago, they still had traditional gulags, and still have re-education camps. During one stretch a decade ago, they famously were executing people in large numbers in stadiums via firing squad, to rapidly 'solve' outstanding crimes - they still do this to a lesser extent today [1].

Even now, the value of life in western China is considered very low. They have half a billion people living on $2 to $3 per day. I don't think there's a single example of such a poor country that has had a first world style (eg Sweden, Canada or Germany) consideration for the bottom 50%.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/28/china-arrests-terro...

Meanwhile also in China they execute people for what seems like every other crime yet running over someone to kill them is brushed off as nothing.

Psychopaths, plain and simple.

In the US, there is no incentive for psychopaths to kill people like this. In China there is.

Also remember that the incidence of this in a country the size of China doesn't allow you to make comparison to the US. Our population is much smaller.

Lastly, the per-capita murder rate in the US is higher (we rank 110, they rank 192) [1]. Even if you account for under-reporting in China, we have a more violent society.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intention... sort by rate

> Even if you account for under-reporting in China, we have a more violent society.

This article is about the casual murder of toddlers and preschoolers with little serious consequence by strangers. I don't think we're accounting for under-reporting enough here.

I was clearly talking about the comparison of the murder rates in the US and China.

And it's not just toddlers and preschoolers. It's all pedestrians, even old people.

People outside China Mainland is hard to imagine the truth behind the news. It's so sad that I have to say the drivers were insane but not totally unreasonable ( Apparently, I'm not agree to what they did or thought ).

In China Mainland, if you drive and hit someone to death, a compensation no more than 15,000 USD will be paid for victim's family. However, if the victim was badly hit the medical expenses could easily reach 15,000 USD and probably beyond 50,000 USD or more. And in that situation, China's terrible medical/car crash insurance can only help a little.

15000? Wow, This is like 3 times more expensive than the "let's forget all about your father killed by our drone by stoopid mistake and take this nice goat" happy tax.

Can you clarify your logic? From what I read:

1. It is basic human instinct to not hurt people. 2. Training can overcome this instinct. 3. Therefore these murderers must have trained themselves. 4. Therefore there are a lot of people in China who must have trained themselves to kill. 5. This all reflects badly on all of China when citizens visit other countries.

Can someone explain why it is reasonable to assume that mental training (2), as opposed to perverse incentives and corruption as the article mentions, is the only way to overcome (1), and why, even assuming (4) to be true, (5) is also true?

Psychopaths with incentives. Like as you said, people normally don't kill others, even when heavily incentivised to do so. In this case, the laws provided perverse incentives, and in a country with so many people, it is not surprising that psychopaths are involved in traffic accidents every day.

Interpreting this as somehow about Chinese culture etc. seems to be over the top IMO. Sure that law is bad, but other than that, there is no news here.

In this case it's kill or get your life ruined/killed/become a slave to your debt.

The solution is rather simple though: make killing more expensive then injury. Best solution would be to reduce the cost of injury, and chuck the rest up to socialism. But it looks like communism China doesn't know socialism ?

You mean it's 'murder' or 'take responsibility for your actions'

I have a thoery that a human life isn't as valuable in places with huge populations.

I rem reading about how people value time so much in the Scandinavian countries because they see so little of the Sun and how in tropical countries the concept of punctuality is close to non existent.

people may down vote because most of us won't venture out to the streets, but we have to realize that though this is hard this is the sad truth.

think about the people would work more than you would because they have feed their family. We may think it's insane hours/task of high risk but they do. It's not like their genes are programmed to make the work crazy but they have to for survival.

I don't mean to support the acts mentioned in the article, but this is what would happen if a person is pushed to the extreme and the person has means to come out of it. Mostly money, power, influence.

How can this be stopped ? I don't have answer but happy to discuss.

This can be seen everywhere, if we open our eyes and look. similar thread. https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/3jgy0b/e...

People who drive cars. There's a long standing history in the US where once you put somebody behind the wheel of a car, there's an increased disdain for people not in cars, and risks are commonly taken that threaten pedestrians and cyclists and other drivers.

This just seems like a logical progression of cars in the US to cars in China.

I'll never understand you crazies who thinks cars and their drivers are evil. Try driving one sometime - you'll notice no urge to run over people.

> you crazies

Personal attacks are not allowed on HN, regardless of how wrong you think someone is.

The same way we eat a dead cow because hey, cheap $1 protein with ketchup. It's habit and no reason to stop and think it through, plus everyone does it so it must be ok.

Not at all the same.

The majority of consumers don't even see the cow, much less kill it themselves.

It's a lot more than "habit", it's downright delicious!

Human meat is also delicious.

If you say so, but definitely not cheap.

Animals aren't as self-evidently like ourselves as other people arem

it's the same in many states in the US... for example, if you are going to shoot someone, make sure that you kill them, if you don't want to go to jail...

Is there really a situation in which the punishment for killing is lighter than for wounding, especially with a weapon/vehicle?? Or are you speaking less formally: that you might never get caught for the kill if there's nobody to turn you in?

> Is there really a situation in which the punishment for killing is lighter than for wounding, especially with a weapon/vehicle?


If someone breaks into your home, in most states self defense would be a slam-dunk defense against a murder charge. Even if acquited of murder, the burglar's family can sue you for wrongful death - the evidentiary bar for wrongful death is much lower than for murder.

It's entirely possible to be acquited of murder, but convicted in civil court and ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to a burglar's family.

Not to mention the fact that in a criminal trial, if the guy is dead he doesn't testify against you.

"Dead men don't sue" is a thing.

In situations in which it is legal for you to employ deadly force, you won't be convicted of any criminal statute if you apply that force or any lesser force. That is, if you have an adequate reason to shoot to kill, a application of force which results in a wound is treated equally with one which results in death. The reverse, obviously, is not true.

In all cases, you may be sued civilly for a wrongful death, battery, or any number of other things. And lots of parties can bring the suit: the individual himself, various members of his family, your homeowners association, etc. N is fairly big, removing one of the N probably is not meaningful. Do these sort of civil suits tend to pay more for woundings than deaths? I have no data on this but would be surprised if that were the case.

I expect the only thing the OP meant is that slain person cannot testify the killer. This is self-evident but not really helpful. How is it different than "if you're going to rob someone, you should also kill them". I suppose this might be good practical, tactical advice for criminals but it isn't advancing the discussion here.

> If someone breaks into your home, in most states self defense would be a slam-dunk defense against a murder charge. Even if acquited of murder, the burglar's family can sue you for wrongful death - the evidentiary bar for wrongful death is much lower than for murder.

In some states you will be immune from civil action if you win your criminal case on self defense. Florida, for example [1].

If no criminal case is brought in Florida, and you are sued civilly and prove self defense in the civil trial, the court is required to award you attorney fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and expenses incurred for your defense.

[1] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Displ...

I think he is saying the dead don't seek prosecutory action in court.

one example that come to mind is Trayvon Martin's case [1] ... since he died, he could not say that the shooter was not acting in self defense... no jail time for the shooter.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Trayvon_Martin

Not trying to be edgy, and this is a throwaway, you saying you couldn't just casually kill someone if you'd been programmed to?

> There are basic human instincts not to hurt people.

citation needed

I don't think this is "human instinct". Looks more like a moral construct.

Not the best source, but this is common knowledge in many circles:

"In a squad of 10 men, on average fewer than three ever fired their weapons in combat. Day in, day out — it did not matter how long they had been soldiers, how many months of combat they had seen, or even that the enemy was about to overrun their position. This was what the highly regarded Brigadier General Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall, better known as S.L.A. Marshall, or ‘Slam,’ concluded in a series of military journal articles and in his book, Men Against Fire, about America’s World War II soldiers. "


And: "This was a problem for the US military and its allies during World War II. New training implements were developed and hit rates improved. The changes were small, but effective."


(playing the devil's advocate) You did note the issues with your sources, but another issue here is both seem to reference western societies, which are guilt[0] societies while asian cultures in general are shame[1] based. This can imply differences in individual morals in people in these cultures.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilt_society

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shame_society

How does the intentional murder of innocents not cause public/societal shame though? The article mentions such murders have caused outrage, so while some may get off lightly in court it would surely bring shame to the person who committed the act.

S.L.A. Marshall made up his figures from whole cloth. There's no evidence he ever did the research he claimed to have done upon which those figures are based.

Below quote from http://www.warchronicle.com/us/combat_historians_wwii/marsha.... Emphasis not in original This calculation assumes, however, that of all the questions Marshall might ask the soldiers of a rifle company during his interviews, he would unfailingly want to know who had fired his weapon and who had not. Such a question, posed interview after interview, would have signalled that Marshall was on a particular line of inquiry, and that regardless of the other information Marshall might discover, he was devoted to investigating this facet of combat performance. John Westover, usually in attendance during Marshall's sessions with the troops, does not recall Marshall's ever asking this question. Nor does Westover recall Marshall ever talking about ratios of weapons usage in their many private conversations. Marshall's own personal correspondence leaves no hint that he was ever collecting statistics. His surviving field notebooks show no signs of statistical compilations that would have been necessary to deduce a ratio as precise as Marshall reported later in Men Against Fire. The "systematic collection of data" that made Marshall's ratio of fire so authoritative appears to have been an invention.

My comment was more about your use of the word "instinct" than the fact that soldiers normally dislike killing. It would not be surprising that some countries have different reactions to killing if this was indeed a moral construct and not an "instinct."

Same thing with the Wikipedia article you link that uses the word "instinct" without justifying it (do we see that in ALL cultures, in babies?)

Interesting. I would suspect that a great amount of the resistance to moving to autonomous warfare (not drone warfare, but weaponry where no human pulls trigger) is by these same soldiers; not so much a matter of being put out of a job, as no longer being able to be the "conscientious objector on the firing line."

>during World War II

What about the previous quarter million years of modern humans killing other humans?

In response to below, many large animals have instincts about not killing their own kind. It is either too physically dangerous (a similarly-sized opponent) or in the case of social animals too socially costly, depriving the group of a member that represents significant investment. Wolves and lions will kill each other, but never casually.

I could not finish this article. I have read about and seen a lot of disturbing things, but this bothers me far more than any horror movie or shock film ever could. The situation exposed in this article evidences something really fundamental about human nature: the banality of evil.

That someone could run over a toddler and then reverse back and forth over them just so they only have to pay $50,000 instead of $400,000 — well, it's absolutely sickening.

Time and again I'm reminded that most people are really only "good" because it benefits them personally in some way. But the ease with which so many people simply rationalize away all the horrors that mankind commits — I suppose that's part of the human genome.

This really depresses me.

Yes it's sickening, and also broadly understood to be a logical thing to do in China.

Let's play the devil's advocate and understand the motive behind it-

The average annual wage of a Chinese citizen is $7,500 USD, whereas the average annual wage of an American is $45,000.

Which means that $400,000 is worth 400,000 x 45,000 / 7,500 = $2,400,000 . And that's only over 23 years so far. You have to keep paying until the day the victim dies. That's the equivalent of $105,000 for Americans per year.

If you refuse to pay, the victim will take you to court and confiscate all your belongings. If you still refuse to get a job to pay, the court will throw your ass in jail and (here is the important part) force your family to pay, indefinitely, until the victim dies.

So are you going to have your family pays $105,000 per year while you sit in jail, or are you going to make sure the victim is dead?

Trust me when I say no one wants to kill another human, but when the law is lay against you in such way, well don't be surprise that humans can override their natural instinct.

(I am from Hong Kong that, while most people there do not share the same sentiment, but can understand the math behind this horrific logic.

This. Frankly I don't understand these people who "don't get it". We're talking about the difference between moving on with your life with a guilty conscience, vs. having your entire life financially ruined due to injuring someone. I make $80k per year. If my country mandated > $100k per year for injuring someone, that's literally the rest of my life destroyed. I could not financially recover for the rest of my life. Ever. For what? An honest accident in which someone's leg is broken and they feign permanent disability?

Imagine you broke someone's leg. Would you rather kill the person and pay $1000, or spend the rest of your life in prison? Letting the person live and paying them $1000 isn't an option. You either get away scott-free, or ruin your life. I can completely understand a culture in which the reality of the consequences makes people choose the lesser punishment.

The solution isn't to increase the punishment for killing someone on the street. The solution is to abolish the ridiculous costs associated with merely injuring someone, especially if that injury comes from an accident.

Of course what's absolutely a joke is people acting all aghast about another country's culture from behind their white picket fences. You do realize that if you were born in their country, you would have the exact same perspective? What the fuck is with this high and mighty bullshit? Your upbringing in a privileged society doesn't make you better than those from less privileged societies, it just makes you privileged. Be thankful your day-to-day routine doesn't involve having to worry about the possibility of having to kill someone in order to keep your pristine life intact.

People are worth more than property.

Would I kill someone I don't know in order to save someone I know and love deeply? No. That is murder. Now saving a loved one vs. saving someone who is a stranger is a different scenario. The scenario depicted here is very clear. Kill or suffer loss of property that will impact your family physically.

I can see that this would be much harder to do in a collectivist society, I'll give you that much. But murder remains immoral.

I also agree that the consequence of injuring someone should be less. But I don't know what it's so high in the first place so I'm not at a point to really comment on that.

As an aside, I was not born in the U.S. and have lived the vast majority of my life in my country of origin. You stating that I would have the same perspective of those in China if I grew up there does not make that perspective the morally justifiable one. Not having grown up in that culture has given me (or most of us) the freedom of thought to come to the point where we can clearly identify it as immoral, even if we are never faced with the proposition.

> What the fuck is with this high and mighty bullshit

By the time a comment descends to this, it's clear that it shouldn't have been posted to HN in the first place. This is supposed to be a site for civil, substantive discussion. If you can't abide by that, please don't post here.

> Of course what's absolutely a joke is people acting all aghast about another country's culture from behind their white picket fences. You do realize that if you were born in their country, you would have the exact same perspective?

From the article:

> With so many hit-to-kill drivers escaping serious punishment, the Chinese public has sometimes taken matters into its own hands. In 2013 a crowd in Zhengzhou in Henan province beat a wealthy driver who killed a 6-year-old after allegedly running him over twice.

Clearly people born and raised in China do not "have the exact same perspective".

I'm seriously ill after reading this

> Time and again I'm reminded that most people are really only "good" because it benefits them personally in some way.

I don't know if that's the general nature of people though - I think when people have enough, but not too much, they're generally good. But if you're below or above that middle bound, things start to go bad. If you're below, natural hunger and base instincts for survival drive your behavior. But if you're above that "safe" level, it seems like a lot of people go a little wonky - lots of people who get to a significantly higher level, it's almost like it sets off a switch in their brain and it turns into a game, where they can't resist seeing how much they can get, damn the consequences.

I'd say not good or bad but flawed.

Same here. I can't understand how people get guts to kill someone. Weren't their hand shaking when thinking of killing someone intentionally

Three questions:

1. The article notes that the monetary cost to the driver for accidentally killing someone is much less than the cost for accidentally disabling someone.

For drivers that do not have much wealth, and who are the sole source of income for their family, I can see how [1] they might decide that the harm to their family from having to pay that higher cost might outweigh the harm from killing a stranger. People tend to value their immediate family very much more than they value strangers.

However, it seems a lot of these cases were people driving expensive luxury cars. For people with the incomes or wealth to afford those cars, is the cost difference enough to actually cause serious hardship for them or their family?

2. How does this work when the pedestrian is a foreigner, such as a tourist or a business traveler?

Do drivers know that (1) these people will have their medical bills taken care of by insurance or the national healthcare systems of their home countries, so there is no need to kill them, and (2) it would really piss off their home country, which would cause severe diplomatic pressure on China to seriously punish the driver?

3. Drivers certainly cannot count on always being able to finish off any pedestrian they hit. Why hasn't an insurance market sprung up to deal with the risk of disabling pedestrians?

[1] Note: "I can see how" is not meant to mean "I approve of". It is observational, not judgmental.

I'm reminded that many land mines are designed to maim rather than kill, maximizing the cost to the enemy by forcing them to care for wounded casualties.

There's a similar dynamic in Mexico. Causing injury can mean responsibility for lifetime care. Another factor is Napoleonic law aka presumption of guilt. So one may end up in jail until trial. The third factor is ubiquitous graft. After an accident, the party with the most cash gets to tell the official story. So yes, advice is to flee with plates and registration (if any). But I didn't get that killing victims was commonplace.

> Another factor is Napoleonic Law AKA presumption of guilt.

Wait what?

> For an accused person, one of the most critical differences is that under Mexican criminal law, the accused is essentially considered guilty until proven innocent.


> Causing injury can mean responsibility for lifetime care.

As well it should.

No, there is insurance for that. Motor vehicles are inherently dangerous machines, and we all take the risk of injuring someone every time we drive. Insurance distributes the risk of driving across all drivers. You should only be punished for injuring someone with a car if you were negligent.

> No, there is insurance for that.

Then being responsible means having the insurance. Not having the insurance is being irresponsible.

That's why having insurance is a requirement for driving in most countries.

Do you think having a law is enough in a country that big? Its probably cheaper to bribe your way out after being caught than to pay the premium.

Or lie. My friend was rear ended recently. When the officer came he took both their statements and checked their insurance. She finds out after the crash the guy that rear ended her had let his car insurance lapse and lied to the officer about the validity of his coverage. Apparently the liar is also a law student at the local university.

This happened in the US and luckily my friend spent the money for uninsured motorist coverage on her policy.

Some burdens are simply too severe to levy on a single person for an accident. These should be borne by a combination of insurance, the community, and/or the state.

The language "accident" (and the associated story) implies that one cannot control whether they injure someone with their 2000lb death machines. That is not true.

> The language "accident" (and the associated story) implies that one cannot control whether they injure someone with their 2000lb death machines. That is not true.

It's an accident because it's not on purpose. If you intentionally kill your ex with your car then people don't call it an accident.

Moreover, there are less than 5000 pedestrian fatalities per year in the US, and the reason there are that many is that US drivers drive three trillion miles a year. That's less than one pedestrian fatality for every 600 million miles. At 12,000 miles a year it would take more than 50,000 years before the average driver would kill one pedestrian. And that isn't doing any accounting for the cases where the pedestrian was at fault.

Most drivers never kill anyone. And that remains true even though almost all drivers are idiots at least some of the time. Because to kill someone you have to be an idiot and be in exactly the wrong place at exactly the wrong time. But you can't control random chance, which is why we have insurance.

Many (most?) accidents are predicated on a purposeful choice to drive dangerously: speeding and unable to slow down sufficiently, fiddling with your phone, driving drunk or tired. You may not mean to harm someone but American society has failed to recognize acts that directly contribute to injury and death.

> Many (most?) accidents are predicated on a purposeful choice to drive dangerously

"Dangerous" is one of those words that have been so abused it has lost all meaning. Infiltrating a violent criminal organization is dangerous. Explosive ordinance disposal is dangerous. Driving 11MPH over the speed limit is completely mundane.

It is obviously possible to drive very dangerously, but people also have a pretty good sense about these things and therefore don't. The number of people who are stupid enough to drive 120MPH in a residential neighborhood is small.

It is also true that e.g. driving faster can be, in a relativistic sense, "more dangerous" than driving slower. But that is true regardless of the point of reference. Driving 10MPH can be "more dangerous" than driving 5MPH. Driving 5MPH can be "more dangerous" than not driving at all. But that doesn't make driving 10MPH (or 40MPH) "dangerous" in an absolute sense. It just puts it in the same category of weighing costs against risks that government engineers do when deciding whether to build a sidewalk or catwalk or traffic light, or pedestrians do when deciding whether to cross at a blind intersection or walk to a different one. Each of which is a "direct cause" when a driver traveling at 40MPH hits a pedestrian crossing at a blind intersection with no traffic light.

I really don't think that's the case. Those are the ones that get paraded around, but there are plenty of collisions that are results of simple mistakes or invisible road hazards.

It is true that one can substantially control whether they injure someone. It is not true that one can perfectly control whether they injure someone (short of abstaining entirely from driving).

Moreover, the word "accident" does not in any way imply that the result could not have been avoided if different decisions were made or more care were taken - that is almost universally the case for "accidental" things.

It's pretty clear that the incentives are all wrong. People doing these things are making the judgment that it's less expensive and less risky to kill than to injure. This is terrible, and a necessary but not sufficient part of the solution is making sure the incentives are right via insurance and liability limits.

And that makes the incentive to kill them instead it injur them.

Not if you set the penalty for killing even higher. The problem here is the order of the size of the penalties, not the penalty itself.

> Not if you set the penalty for killing even higher. The problem here is the order of the size of the penalties, not the penalty itself.

Increasing the penalty for the behavior the government created an incentive to engage in is completely backwards. When the source of the trouble is that the driver is stuck between a rock and a hard place, you don't improve the situation by making the hard place harder. It provides the even more perverse incentive to not only kill the victim but also any witnesses, or do other bad things in order to avoid getting caught.

Look at the root cause. You have an unexpected liability that is so large it makes the person desperate.

What you need then is mandatory insurance. Take the ruinous liability away and the motivation for killing the victim disappears.

You also need to get the probability of getting caught higher, in fact that's probably more important than the size of the punishment itself. Many governments cannot realistically commit to increasing the chances. Edit: Besides, isn't the penalty for murder in most places either the death penalty or life in prison, barring degrees of how much of an accident it was?

It might depend on the circumstances. Even if the driver is fully at fault, though, it doesn't have to financially devastate the individual. This situation is tailor-made for insurance.

In Brazil the punishment for murder is lesser than many other crimes, leading to people murdering investigators (or in one particularly infamous case, a mayor murdered two environmental cops that were going to investigate his farm, got convicted, but still got re-elected).

Also firing a gun and not hitting anything also has a harsher punishment than hitting someone, so unless you are a cop that need to draw attention or something, if you need to fire a gun, you need to make sure you will hit someone.

The general culture of the Central and South America is actually pretty similar to China and other Asian countries.

Did you mean "general disregard of the law" by "culture"? Because the cultures are light years apart.

Are they? Which culture do you feel is more ahead in terms of trust?

That's a very narrow perspective. There are (possibly literally) uncountably many other dimensions of culture than level of trust in society.

Multiple citations needed.

You don't need a research paper to see the similarities. Both are low trust societies with a strong focus on a clan mentality needed for protection from the aforementioned low trust society i.e. bribing officials high and low, using family connections to get access to jobs, real food and real medicine; and so on

When I think about it, I feel that it's one of the reasons that Asian family ties tend to weaken when they migrate to the West. Societal trust is a lot higher here so there's less need to rely on your family.

关系 is important everywhere, but it's way more important in low trust societies.

Not the same, but...an anecdote from when I went through driver's education. This was many moons ago and it was meant tongue in cheek, with a bit of truth -- if you hit a pedestrian to the point they are severely injured, you better hope they don't survive.

Thinking seems to be -- A car versus a pedestrian (or cyclist) unless a glancing blow is going to do a lot of damage to the ped/cyclist. Personal liability could be huge in the case of injury, much more so (potentially) than wrongful death.

We see this commonly in the Bay Area in motorist killing a cyclist, the criminal penalty (if any) is often not as severe as it should be.

(The above said, even when the motorist hits and the ped/cyclist survives, getting justice can be long and involved -- classic case is the Los Gatos/Los Altos business man who severely impacted a cyclist who was permanently injured -- http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_20884491/saratoga-businessman-... )

I don't advocate such, just a story and some bay area experiences I remember.

This is a very good example of the law of unintended consequences.

The story in the intro doesnt match the well-publicized video of the accident, which is on YouTube. The driver does NOT switch into reverse, and the grandmother does not scream for the driver to stop. So unless there was another toddler run-over by a white vehicle in the same city, the driver just made shit up. WTH???

The story emphasizes laws on monetary compensation for victims, which I think misses the point entirely. The real reason people are doing this is because they can commit murder and apparently they are not punished for it. If you deliberately run over a living person to kill him, that is murder.

Everything is about money when the amount is huge, anything else, including killing, comes to the second.

I don't believe anyone enjoys killing there, however when it's tied with huge chunks of money, many of them will choose to kill instead of leaving a disabled human being on wheelchair keeping asking for lifelong financial support. It's indeed similar to the gun-shoot case in USA, either you don't pull the trigger, or you make sure the target is absolutely dead, that explains some victims have lots of gunshots on their body.

The law must be adapted to deal with this.

When the state only thinks about money, people will turn into objects. The population will start to see other humans less valuable than their dinner table and will do their best to exploit them. If you go to China you will see beautiful landscapes, the lineage of one of the most advanced cultures and you will see the pain and the loneliness of its inhabitants. The rest of the world didn't cure the infection in time and now has grown to necrosis at the point that sociopathy it's the norm rather than the exception.

I'm a native living in China. After glancing over the article, I don't bother reading it in details. The title sounds ridiculous, but certainly marketable.

I see people here are generally sensible but also emotional. I don't have country level statistics related to these extreme behaviors. But people around me are all very kind and I know many having very high standard of morality. We're constantly chasing for the positive and good.

People's actions are the reflection of the real laws/rules in their group. And people tend to take advantage of it. Thinking about killing someone would make you lose way less, is it still a normal world? Why didn't those "killers" take equivalent responsibilities? That's the real why.

Did anybody watch the last video? It looks like the person with the young boy pushes the boy under the truck. http://www.fzjfw.com/xxzx/aritcle194.html

I'm surprised that wasn't explained in the article.

I'd like to hear the Chinese perspective.

Also, what penalties do people pay in the US if they accidentally cripple someone?

A few dollars a month more on their insurance premiums.

As a Chinese immigrant I am always baffled when Americans visit third world countries.

Why? Your comment is baffling to me. Why are these countries not worthy of visiting?

It is very hard for us to come in the US. Things are better and safer here. When I got here I discovered that people travel to poor and unsafe countries for fun.

I see your point now. I guess most travelers just want to learn more about the people and cultures of other places.

One of the common criticisms of US citizens is that they are ignorant of the world outside of US borders. I would argue there's no better way to learn about the world than to travel to places outside of your comfort zone.

Do people really travel outside of their comfort zone?

Things are better, may be right. But safer? With guns?

Guns don't kill very many Americans, compared to other causes. Even including guns wielded by police, guns wielded in warfare, accidents, &c.

You're confusing "China" with "all third world countries"

Also, China was a Second World country (at least, back when the distinction still made sense).

Of course, at some point, "Third World" became synonymous with "poor", and was euphemised to "developing".

When Mao created the notion of the Three Worlds, he included China in the Third World [1]. It was (ostensibly) unaligned, whereas Europe (and to an extent Japan) was aligned, making it Second World. He (via Deng) specifically called out the Third World as underdeveloped.

[1] “Speech by Chairman of the Delegation of the People’s Republic of China, Teng Hsiao-Ping, at the Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly: April 10, 1974” (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1974).

According to Wikipedia, Mao's concept is different, despite the similar name. The term "Third World" comes from 1952 and was used to refer to countries not aligned with either the US or USSR, which would not have included China at the time.

In 1952 China was aligned with the USSR. It was in the midst of the Korean War of 1950-1953 where Chinese Communists funded by the USSR is helping North Koreans to fight against the South Koreans allied to the US.

The Chinese Civil War where the Communists were funded by the USSR and the Kuomintang were funded by the US just finished 2 years prior.

Sorry, double negative in my comment which is probably confusing. I meant that China was not included among the unaligned countries at the time, because it was aligned with the USSR. In short, yes, what you said.

But when Mao made his speech in 1974, that was way into the sino-soviet split.

Mao didn't invent the term...

Right, but China was technically third-world (non-aligned) at that point.

Or it was 2nd world (non-free).

Albania was communist but was classic third-world given its rejection of the USSR. China would have been under the same umbrella in the 70s. Of course, now the cold war is over and the term doesn't make much sense in its original context.

I was unaware of Mao's Three World theory.

I had assumed that kelukelugames meant the phrase in the European sense of the term, coined in 1952 by Alfred Sauvy (according to Wikipedia).

Quite correct - I took Kissinger at his word [1] when he said Mao coined it. Kissinger tends to gloss over smaller details at times though, he's an excellent student of historiography.

[1] On China

This appears to be the speech cited: https://books.google.com/books?id=c1hUAAAAMAAJ&focus=searchw...

There's likely to be a better source available to someone wanting to spend the time to find it.

>Also, China was a Second World country (at least, back when the distinction still made sense).

Yea, and Switzerland was "3rd world" back then.

Apart from tier-1 cities, China is indeed a third world country.

Wait... are you saying that it's baffling why Americans are horrified that so many Chinese people are prepared to commit murder for money?

Holy cow, that's some messed up shit. I've never heard of such a thing. And that they're getting slaps on the wrists if any punishment at all because cops are believing their insane stories.

What a cultural mess.

This is most definitely true. It's because a lifetime of compensation is most of the time more money than a single flat payment for causing death. I know of one foreigner who upon accidentally injuring a pedestrian, non too seriously, was advised by his expat friends to get on the first available flight out on the double. Staying would have involved a victim exaggerating injuries and extorting a foreigner for life. So he went to the bank got some money and beelined it to the airport. Not even going back to his flat to pick up things, except for a friend picking up his passport.

Sad perverse incentives.

Of course he can never go there again as he's officially a fugitive.

When a pedestrian or cyclist is killed by a car in the US, so long as the driver is not drunk and does not leave the scene, the driver will almost never face criminal penalties.

What we call car accidents are considered an unavoidable part of life to be resolved by civil courts and insurance payouts.

I'd say say the US has a cultural mess regarding cars too.

This is terrible trope that keeps coming up. When something bad happens in a country, just because you claim the US has the same problem does not at all ever make it acceptable. It's a total non sequitur.

And that's without even mentioning the fact that 1) the people in the article actually fled the scene, 2) many of them got out of the car and ran over the person again, 3) in the US you will in fact face penalties if you are deemed to be negligent in some way (you were speeding, didn't have a license, etc.)


And yes, in the US, if you are negligent, you will be facing criminal and civil penalties, in a legal system where guanxi is much less likely to aid you.

These are really not comparable situations at all. If you ever lived there you'd know you're comparing two very different attitudes. If you were in an unfortunate accident where you're involved with hitting a cyclist or pedestrian, there are certain rules and expectations, right of way, deference to smaller modes of transportation, etc.

There the bigger the vehicle the bigger the deference by smaller vehicles by tradition and necessity, it's completely opposite. In addition, you would know that sidewalk and street are one and the same in most places.

And the occurrence of backing up to purposely e sure terminal injury is not uncommon in the least. It's in the news, it's quite ordinary.

Even if this is true - and I'd suggest it could use some support - it's a bit different than realizing post-accident that the victim is still alive and then intentionally murdering them.

Can you cite sources or any basis at all for this conclusion?

An acquaintance of mine was speeding and killed someone. He went to jail for a couple of years. No alcohol or drugs were involved and he didn't leave the scene. He was going something like 80 in a 55mph zone.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/opinion/sunday/is-it-ok-to... has a bunch of examples (though does not link to sources).

Quote from this article: '“We do not know of a single case of a cyclist fatality in which the driver was prosecuted, except for D.U.I. or hit-and-run,” Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told me.'

Big ones off the top of my head: - Amelie de Moullac: police found driver at fault, DA refused to prosecute - Charles Vinson: driver ran a red light. Vinson also technically ran a red, but had the walk signal. Vinson was found at fault; driver not even 50% fault.

These are pretty SF-specific examples, but I don't think it's an SF-specific phenomenon.

Its crazy to me that California requires so little coverage, on the order of 30k. If you wipe out the sole bread winner of a household, they can expect to make something like 1yr or less of replaced income.

In other countries, say canada, insurance minimum can be 1M .

The fact that you don't have a lot of insurance doesn't mean you're not liable for damages. If you hit someone with $30k insurance in CA and the court awards them $1M, you still owe $970,000.

Would bankruptcy absolve you of that though? Or is it one of those long term things where they'll garnish your wages as much as they can? In Canada if you get in a bad accident w/o insurance the government fronts the money and then uses its power to garnish wages/make your life hell to collect as much as it can.

Bankruptcy doesn't erase a court judgement, though it might make it easier if you stiff your other creditors. The state doesn't front the money, and the court will garnish your wages and any assets you may acquire until your dying day. And after, come to think of it.

You're comparing completely different scenarios, trying to paint the US in an artificially bad light.

If you intentionally drive over a pedestrian multiple times to try to kill them, you're going to prison potentially for decades. One scenario is purely an accident, the other is intentionally trying to make sure you murder the pedestrian.

What if driver has some issue with someone and intentionally drives over him (no alcohol or drugs on the driver), can they get away with it?

Yes, we all understand that stupid little non-analogy that you US haters use.

The template is as follows:

Something bad happens in some other country. The America hater immediately responds with something that the US does that is usually nothing at all to do with the point of the story.

Yes, we understand your retarded tactics. Try again.

Yep. As a non-American, it gets a little boring when people keep bringing America up in threads that aren't about America.

I do not understand the downvoting of this post.

It is messed up. Completely messed up. Downvote if you disagree.

But please do 'fess up to the fact that you downvoting because you think it is OK to transform an accident into homicide.

People a down-voting because the comment uses an appeal-to-emotion to vilify an entire culture.


> Found the asshole

We've asked you many times to abide by the HN guidelines when commenting here. Instead you've been breaking them worse. Since you won't follow the rules, I've banned your account. If you don't want to be banned, you can always email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

Yet it is terrible. Almost as bad as driving without a license plate so you hit and kill somebody you can flee the scene and nobody would be able to identify you. But that does not happen, right?


They don't have car insurance in China?

In many of these cases bribes are what get people off not stupidity.

PS: Granted, in a functional democracy changing the perverse incentives is a much better option. But, unfortunately in China the only reasonable response to this IMO is to find and brutally kill the driver and then publish this after the fact. Accidents happen, but murder should never end up as the 'better' option.

So your 'better' option to "getting off the hook" is murder?

On a related topic - if you're dying on the streets of China, your chances of receiving help are slim. Anyone who attempts to help you is responsible for your medical bills. They'll let you die on the streets.

The problem here is laws regarding expenses.

When the state executes someone for a crime it's generally not considered murder.

Vigilantism is considered a wide range of things in various cultures, but even in the US if a someone saw a driver drive back and forth over there kid and they pulled out a gun and shot the driver in rage then they would likely get off.

Doing the same thing in cold blood would be considered murder in the US, but we have a mostly functional court system. Without that Vigilantism may preform similar functions as state sponsored executions. Sure, it's far from ideal, but so is cold blooded murder of a child.

PS: Actual death would not be a requierment, but a level of harm that causes people to avoid murder is.

"we have a mostly functional court system"

I think we actually have a manifestly dysfunctional court system. But I suppose comparatively it works at some level.

Please tell me this is not true. How someone can so ruthless? I just can't believe this

China is apparently a bigger hell hole than I could have ever imagined.

I've heard of a similar story, but in a different context. One of the asian airlines (I don't remember whether it was Taiwan, South Korean, etc.) had problems and lots of crashes. Turns out, people were not accustomed of questioning their bosses, and if this boss was your other co-pilot you would've never even try to correct them. I can't find the article, but it went something like "a western professor" goes to the troubled company and fixes the problem "overnight" by simply retraining the employees that they should be able to judge their superiours.

I'm sorry for missing the critical part here - the actual article, but such cultural traits can definitely surprise people from other countries (like it did me with this one).

It's in the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.

More info: http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2008/12/04/malcolm-gladwell-...

Thank you! Yes, I believe this was the original article, but I've never bothered to read the book. Maybe I should!

Edit: From the last comment found this article - which goes a bit against Malcolm Gladwell's findings - interesting read indeed - http://askakorean.blogspot.kr/2013/07/culturalism-gladwell-a...

Gladwell is definitely hand-wavy. I think this article's most compelling point is that Gladwell apparently did not ask a person of Korean culture to interpret the copilot's speech. In particular, one wonders, were the copilot's warning of adverse weather put lightly? Or did Gladwell misinterpret this man's usage of English language + Korean culture which, while seemingly more polite, may have different signals for urgency?

I work in Taiwan and disagreeing with the boss, while unpopular everywhere, is certainly less tolerated here than my experience in the west (east coast US). So Gladwell's story is compelling and built on a known difference in cultures. Yet, as usual, he is missing some facts to make his case.

The real question is, how is the airline performing now after the culture change brought in by the "western professor" as noted in the above comment by malkia? Are they still operating with his suggestions and have they been operating more smoothly? How do employees there feel about the change?

There's exaggeration on both Gladwell and Ask A Korean's side. I have been living and working in Korean for the past 5 years, and have been married to my Korean wife for 6 years. Based on the transcript that Ask A Korea posted, it's very clear that that first officer is acting deferentially to the pilot. Specifically, the first officer uses polite speech with the pilot, and the pilot uses familiar speech with the first officer. In my company, neither my manager nor my manager's manager uses familiar speech with me, I'd have to go up 3 levels for that to start happening. Also, when I described what Gladwell mentioned in his book about hierarchy to my wife, she didn't think it was exaggerated. There's likely a large grain of truth to Gladwell's representation of what happened. Also, Ask A Korean is usually fairly nationalistic in his posts, which is a common trait amongst Koreans that I have interacted with.

Thank you for posting this. I wish more people were aware that Gladwell needs to be read with skepticism.

Definitely a cultural thing, definitely not perverse incentives at all. See: http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2013/07/culturalism-gladwell-...

1. The analogy in the link is very poor. 2. Cultural differences are real. Offense is no refutation.

You're thinking of the story from a Malcolm Gladwell book, either Blink or Outliers, I don't remember which. It analyzed the countries with the most airline accidents. South Korea followed by some South American countries was the worst, for the cultural customs of deference that you describe.

Something similar happened on Tenerife in the 70s:


It led to widespread reform encouraging aircrew to speak up if something is wrong.

CRM – crew/cockpit resource management. This was (and is) a big deal in aviation across the board.

Korean Air is the commonly cited case, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Cargo_Flight_8509 is the crash the recommendations came out of.

IIRC the solution was to speak English. The reason being that speaking English (when that is not your native tongue) put the cockpit crew in professional mode, where it was okay to question superiors.

It's a cute mental trick if you ask me.

The fact that this story is the top of hacker news should indicate to us all that this site has lost what it had. How is this different than reddit? How do we want it to be different? This is simply a sensational, horrifying article that has been up voted because of its shock value. We can do better.

I'm quite happy to see this story on Hacker News. Yes, it has shock value but also leads to some deep questions about human nature, cultural relativism, morality, criminal justice, etc. For example, it has made me wonder whether an every-man-for-himself culture necessarily leads to a poor outcome for all involved, a bit like the prisoner's dilemma on a large scale. Can China become a first-world country without changing this aspect of their culture?

Most people didn't read up to the core part of the article

> In China the compensation for killing a victim in a traffic accident is relatively small—amounts typically range from $30,000 to $50,000—and once payment is made, the matter is over. By contrast, paying for lifetime care for a disabled survivor can run into the millions. The Chinese press recently described how one disabled man received about $400,000 for the first 23 years of his care

It's not some Chinese specific culture problem, it's economics.

I don't think it's a bad article but what I have noticed is that the discussion threads under articles of this type on HN are of a generally low quality.

I was about to make a snarky reply about your complaint, but first I wanted to remind myself what HN was like when it first started and I had my original account. So I headed to the archives and realized I'd forgotten how great HN was in 07/08. So thanks for the nostalgic moment.

Shocking content does not mean it is shock value.

I would say: https://news.ycombinator.com/classic but that doesn't seem to help much.

What is that page?

Stories ranked using votes from old accounts.

I rarely downvote. However I did this time. Last I checked, Hacker News comment guidelines specifically request you NOT post comments in the vein of "this site is becoming Reddit."

Oddly enough, I thought the same as you, but it actually says that rule is for accounts less than a year old, so I guess he's technically okay.

Participation on topics is entirely voluntary. If you don't like a subject, don't participate. There are other people you use this site who might find things interesting that you do not. Don't like it? Shut up and don't respond.


Because you can find a few exceptions among tens of thousands of examples, doesn't mean it's a commonality. That's the critical distinction, and it makes your post obviously disingenuous. If anything the US has too harsh of a punishment system overall. The US is infamous for the exaggerated punishment of crime, not the lack of punishment.

You might want to do some actual research before making a comment to the effect of "citation needed".

Start with the term "NYPD likely to die". Only crashes where a victim is either dead or likely to die will even be investigated; this of course has huge ripple effects to all other ways to justice, as without a proper investigation it is similarly difficult to obtain a judgement in civil court.

Traffic violence in the US is absurd. If you want to kill someone you might as well just do it in a car. Nobody will even bother investigating.

The most recent atrocity was this week when a notorious reckless driver ran over a child and killed her. The driver is not charged with anything, but an outraged bystander who assaulted the driver at the scene was charged.


Well, if you have alcohol in your system you'll be hypothetically hung in court.

So you're implying that most lethal car accidents in the US are intentional?

Also in the US just because you escape criminal charges it doesn't mean that you won't be liable for heavy damages in civilian court.

Does the US have a widespread problem of people trying to kill their victims after an accident to avoid paying legal damages?

Don't forget that that time when Laura Bush ran a stop sign and killed someone t-boning them at 50MPH and she was never even fined.

Why should I trust an article like this?

Outrageous claims. No sources. pageviews.exe

The second paragraph links to security camera footage.

Even though it is something I wanted to know, unfortunately this is not a story that I want to read at hacker news.

I thought it was very interesting to learn about the effects of certain societal aspects on human behavior in societies at large.

Hackernews serves as a distribution vector for most content which expands the mind to new technologies, cultures, science, or entrepreneurial techniques.

For you, there is still quite a fair amount of technical content posted daily :-).

If you don't want to read it then don't. But if it's being upvoted to the front page it usually means other people here find it interesting and want to discuss it.

Agreed. Can't believe this is the top link on HN.

On a related note, there is crazy stuff like this in China everywhere.

In china where the population density is so high that there's no room left for humanity.

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